When I was purchasing parts to build my swing set, I was thoroughly confused about which which swing hangers to buy. There were simply too many selections with different performance claims with sprinkles of technical words I did not know. I wrote this article to share my experience to help you decide for your backyard swing set.
I came across many industry-specific terms (i.e. ductile iron, DACROMET) that I’ve never heard of before when researching about different swing hangers,
So I would like share my notes explaining some of these terms:
There are 2 main types of materials used in making swing hangers:
- Cast Iron – Commonly referred to as gray iron, ductile iron or malleable iron. Most cast iron swing hangers are made of ductile iron because of its high tensile strength characteristics when compared to other iron materials.
- Cast Steel – Usually referred to as normal carbon steel or alloy steel; different heat treatment techniques can improve mechanical properties and performance to withstand high tensile strength stress or dynamic load
Tensile strength (TS) is also called as ultimate tensile strength (UTS) which is the maximum stress that a material can withstand while being stretched or pulled before breaking.
Ductile iron has slightly higher tensile strength than cast steel.
Galvanization is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel or iron to prevent rusting (thicker the layer of deposited zinc = better corrosion protection = more expensive).
There are three levels of corrosion protection levels:
- Electroplating – deposits thin layer of zinc; bright, smooth finish;
- Dip-spin zinc flake coatings – deposits medium thick layer of zinc (product and processes are proprietary *); dull, light silver, semi-textured finish;
- Hot-dip Galvanizing – deposits thick layer by zinc; semi-bright, textured finish;
* Dacromet is a proprietary product consisting of dry chromium inorganic polymer which bonds metallic zinc flakes to the surface. Dacromet is applied via its proprietary dip-spin coating process (“Dacrotizing”) which deposits a 6 – 8µm thick film to the surface. According to many industry review sites, Dacromet offers greater corrosion resistance than zinc electroplating.
Most quality swing hangers seem to use either hot-dip galvanization or Dacromet process.
SWING HANGER CHOICES
Here is a list of swing hangers I’ve looked at:
- Kid Creations – Swing Hangers (set of 2)
- Congo Play – Commercial Swing Hanger Galvanized (set of 2)
- Swing Set Stuff – Ductile Iron Wood Beam Hangers (set of 2)
- Swing-N-Slide – Extra-Duty Swing Hangers (set of 2)
- PlayStar – Commercial Grade Swing Hangers (set of 2)
- Eastern Jungle Gym – Heavy Duty Ductile Swing Hangers (set of 2)
QUESTIONS TO ASK
As you search for your swing hangers, you may want to keep some of these questions in mind:
- How long has the company been around? Longer a company has been around, more information will be available for verification;
- How much weight can it support? Usually weight rating is 250 lbs or greater;
- What kind of corrosion protection is used? Hot-dip galvanization or Dacromet is better
- Mounting hardware included? Some bolts included in kits are smaller than other swing hangers that can fit larger diameter bolts;
- Bolts or lag screws? I personally prefer 1/2″ bolts with nuts and washers for strength;
- 2 or 4 mounting holes? More mounting holes usually mean greater weight support. However, I would avoid 4 hole setup with lag screws;
- How long is the Warranty period? – Some companies like to throw around “lifetime warranty”. This is where company reputation and longevity comes into play (lifetime warranty means nothing if a company goes out of business in 2 years!;
- Cost? – Higher price does not necessarily;
Many online stores had INCORRECT specifications and warranty period on their websites.
Information presented here for Swing-N-Slide or Congo Play swing hangers have been VERIFIED.
My initial list of six swing hanger candidates were whittled down to 2: Swing-N-Slide and Congo Play.
Swing-N-Slide has been around since 1985. If you take a look at their swing hanger installation manual (here), it mentioned three models:
- Swing-N-Slide Model # TB1500 – Heavy-Duty Swing Hangers; 1 pair; support up to 250 lbs; model discontinued;
- Swing-N-Slide Model # NE4888 – Heavy-Duty Swing Hangers; 1 pair; support up to 250 lbs;
- Swing-N-Slide Model # NE4888L – Max Heavy-Duty Swing Hangers; 1 pair; support up to 350 lbs; model discontinued;
Although I am reviewing Swing-N-Slide (SNS) NE4888L that is no longer made, I was informed that NE 4888 (current model) is physically identical to NE4888L:
According to SNS’s customer service, NE 4888 Extra-Duty Swing hangers are hot-dipped galvanized cast steel with maximum support weight up to 250 lbs.
Each NE4888L (NE4888) comes with:
- 2, swing hangers
- 4, beam clamps
- 4, 6.5″ carriage (3/8″) bolts
- 4, washers
- 4, loc nuts
- 1, 1.25″ screws
The swing hanger brackets themselves looked great with nice fit and finish. According to my scale, it weighed approximately 1 lb 10 oz.
One thing I did not like about SNS swing hangers was that baseplate corners were tapered. I don’t think this weakens the overall structural rigidity, but when I decided to use 1/2″ bolts (instead of included 3/8″ bolts), my washer ended up sticking out (which makes it look slightly unprofessional).
SNS hangers utilize 2-mounting-hole design which may limit the max supporting weight with clevis (ring that attaches to chains) being perpendicular to its baseplate. When it comes to warranty, it leads the group by providing 5 year limited warranty.
So to recap some pros and cons to Swing-N-Slide NE4888L/NE4888:
- Hot-dip galvanization;
- Comes in retail packaging for physical protection (plastic claim shell);
- Fit and finish is high quality (no nicks to zinc layer);
- 5 year warranty (longest among other brands);
- Includes hardware accessories;
- Brackets corners are tapered;
- 2-mounting-hole design may limit the amount of supported weight (NE4888 max weight is 250 lbs);
- Includes 3/8″ bolts as part of the kit (instead of 1/2″ bolts);
KidWise Outdoor Products
KidWise Outdoor Products Inc. has been around since the early 2000’s and produces Congo Play Swing Hangers (model# SH-04; Item# 5-45-0012).
Please note that if you purchase from Amazon), 2 swing hangers are included (pair.
However, if you purchase it directly from KidWise, they are sold individually).
According to KidWise, this model is a top of the line, commercial grade, galvanized/dacrotized (please refer to the above CORROSION PROTECTION section for more info) ductile iron swing hanger.
This thing is absolutely a beast, weighing in at almost 2 pounds each but keep in mind that Congo Play Swing Hangers do not come with any hardware.
In addition, Congo swing hangers’ baseplates were rectangular, so my Strong-Simpson 1/2″ galvanized washers did not stick out. Unlike the Swing-N-Slide swing hanger, Congo’s clevis (ring that attaches to chains) is parallel to its baseplate.
One nice touch that other manufacturers should follow is the inclusion of PVC Nylon washers which prevent metal-to-metal scraping for quieter operation, which I presume would reduce the risk of rusting.
So to recap some pros and cons to KidWise Congo Play Swing Hanger SH-04:
- Super heavy-duty;
- Very effective DACROMET galvanization with good fit and finish;
- Square baseplates;
- PVC Nylon washers for quieter operation
- Comes in no-frills packaging without any documentation;
- 1 year warranty;
- 2-mounting-hole design may limit the amount of supported weight (SH-04 max supported weight is 300 lbs);
- Does not include any hardware accessories;
SOMETHING ELSE TO KEEP IN MIND
I strongly believe that mechanically sandwiching a wood beam between a bolt head and washer/nut is superior to relying solely on lag screw threads gripping on to wood (especially since swing hangers are subject to harsh impact forced and vibrations).
Also, if you are planning to use a doubled-up 2x8s or 2x10s because you want your beam to be wider than 10 feet, I would ask a local metal fabrication shop to make a rectangular plate to act as a top washer plate (similar to clamp plates found in Swing-N-Slide NE4888).
I am suggesting this method because it’s my belief that threading a bolt through a spot where two pieces of lumber meet is not as strong as threading a bolt through a solid piece of wood.
Here is a screenshot of a person installing a swing hanger on two, 2×6 lumber (I think) WITHOUT THE USE OF TOP WASHER PLATE:
As an alternative idea to the top washer plate, you can buy swing hangers with 4 holes (like this PlayStar Commercial Grade Swing Hangers) but replace the lag screws with galvanized bolts, washers and nuts.
So which swing hanger would I recommend? Both swing hangers are very good, with Swing-N-Slide getting a a tiny smidgen of extra vote because it’s fit and finish seems to be better.
Bottom line is that if you are not comfortable buying your own galvanized bolts, nuts and washer (and cutting extra bolt length with a hacksaw), stick with Swing-N-Slide’s NE4888 Extra-Duty Swing Hangers (set of 2).
On the other hand, you don’t care about buying your own hardware and you want the most massive, extra heavy-duty, commercial swing hangers, go with Congo’s SH-04 Commercial Swing Hanger Galvanized (set of 2).
Well, I hope I didn’t bore you too much with all this information.
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Thanks and good luck!
- AllThumbsDIY – Bolts, Washers and Nuts
- Swing-N-Slide – Customer Service; 1-800-8880-1232
- Swing-N-Slide – Extra-Duty Swing Hanger Installation Instruction (PDF)
- Swing-N-Slide – Manufacturer’s page
- DACROMET – Coating for corrosion protection
- Finishing.com – Galvanizing vs. Dacromet
- Iron Foundry – Cast Iron vs Cast Steel
- Swingsetstuff Inc – Ductile Iron Wood Beam Hanger
- Metal Coating Co. – Dacromet Application Test