What You’ll Need
Choosing Your Rope
One of the most important safety considerations, other than selecting a tree branch that can support the weight, is the type of rope you use for your tire swing. Let’s dive into the different aspects of types, fibers, sizes, and safety to ensure you choose the best one for your project.
There are two main types of rope that could work for your tire swing project: twisted and braided.
Twisted ropes are made with individual yarn fibers that get spiraled together into strands. These strands are then twisted together to create a length of rope with a spiral pattern that’s both durable and versatile.
Braided ropes are made by weaving the individual strands together just like you would if you were braiding hair. This also increases the strength of the fibers and creates a different type of pattern.
You can use either type for your tire swing, though twisted ropes tend to be easier to splice. Check the label of the product for the strength to ensure you’re choosing one that can support the weight of both your kids and the tire combined.
Another aspect to consider when selecting your rope is the type of material, or fiber, it’s made with. There are several choices, including polyester, natural manila, nylon, and polypropylene.
Look for options like polypropylene that are lightweight, strong, waterproof, and will hold the knots you tie securely. Avoid fibers like nylon because they are very slick and the knots may come undone, and natural manila because it’s not waterproof and will eventually decay and rot.
Choose a rope that has a diameter of either ⅜ or a ⅝ inch to ensure it’s durable enough to support repeated use.
You’ll also need to determine how much length you’ll need for your project. Our guide gives you the steps on how to make a tire swing with a single rope, and to figure out the length you’ll measure the height of the swing from the branch to the ground, and then add four yards to that total.
Rope Safety Tips
Because the rope is one of the most likely parts of your tire sing to wear out over time, be sure to inspect it yearly for wear and tear. If you notice places where it’s starting to look thin (around the branch and around the tire are the most common), swap it out for a new rope.
Good quality ropes should last five years or more as long as they are waterproof and a fiber that’s designed to stand up to the elements.
Review tire swing safety with your children before they play to help avoid rope burn, pinched fingers, and how to safely climb on and off the swing to avoid injuries.
Step By Step Guide to Make a Tire Swing
Now that we’ve covered the basics of materials let’s dive into the simple, nine-step process of hanging a single-rope swing in your yard.
Find the Perfect Tire
Start by finding an old tire that’s ready for its second life. You’ll want to make sure that it’s in relatively good condition and doesn’t have any splits or cracks that could compromise its integrity under the weight of a person.
Generally, larger tires are better because they’ll give your kids lots of room to climb in or on them, but be mindful of the weight of some of the oversized options. You’ll want to find the right balance of size to the amount of weight your tree branch can support.
Clean Off the Tire
Chances are good the unwanted tire won’t be squeaky clean, so you’ll want to give it a good scrub before you let your kids play on it.
You can use a heavy duty detergent and a scrub brush to remove all the mud and grime and rise it thoroughly both inside and out. It needs a deeper clean, you can use a pressure washer, or take it to a do-it-yourself car wash to use one of their high-pressure nozzles to get all of the dirt off.
If there are any residual grease spots, you can use WD40 or a tire cleaner to remove them. Be sure to rinse the tire again after using these chemicals so that they don’t end up on your kid’s hands once they play on the swing.
Drill Drainage Holes in the Tire
Once your tire is squeaky clean, it’s time to drill a few holes in the bottom of one side of the tire. This will prevent water from pooling inside when it rains, which could lead to mold or rot.
Use your power drill to make three holes in the base, and be careful as you push through the material. Depending on the type of tire you choose, you might hit a layer of metal strands used to reinforce the material, and you’ll need to work through them with your drill bit.
Pick the Perfect Branch
It’s time to select a branch that’s suitable for your tire swing. Start by identifying a mature tree that’s large, healthy, and doesn’t have any signs of decay or weakness. Favorites are Oak or Maple trees, but any species with established roots can work.
Scope out the tree for a branch that’s around 9 feet off the ground, and that’s at least 10-inches thick. Thicker branches will be able to support more weight and will be sturdier.
You’ll also want to search for a branch that extends away from the trunk of the tree so that you have room to swing without running into the base. Although you will still hang the tire swing near to where the branch meets the trunk, give yourself a few feet of from for the best results.
Remember, the higher the branch, the more room you’ll have for the tire to swing. If you’re building for a small child, a branch lower to the ground might be a better fit to limit the movement and how high they will go.
Hang the Rope
This is the most dangerous part of the job, so be sure that you put safety first when it’s time to hang your rope over the sturdy tree branch. Position your ladder securely and climb carefully to the top. It’s smart to have a partner hold it steady on your way up.
Thread one end of the rope over the branch and let it drop down towards the ground so that you can reach it when standing at the base of the tree.
If you don’t have a ladder, there are other creative ways to get your rope up and over.
Try securing something heavy, like a roll of duct tape or balled up socks to the end of the rope and then throwing it over the branch. Once it’s looped over, the weight should bring the rope down to ground level.
Tie a Slip Knot
Use the ends of your rope to tie a slip knot and pull on it until the knot travels upwards towards the branch. You should end up with a double rope with ends at two different lengths.
Hang the Tire
Position the tire so that the drainage holes are at the bottom and tie the rope around the top of the tire. Use a square knot configuration to keep it secure.
Make sure to position the tire so that it’s an appropriate distance from the ground. You’ll want it high enough so that your kid’s legs don't drag when they swing, but low enough that they can easily climb in or on it without needing assistance.
Create a Play Area on the Ground
Although it’s not mandatory, it’s a nice touch to add an area on the ground around the swing of soft surface to make it safer for your children when they play. Consider adding mulch or digging out a section and filling it with sand to cushion landings when kids jump (or fall) off the swing.
Test the Tire Swing
The only thing left to do on your list of how to make a tire swing is to test it out. Have one of the larger, heavier members of your family give it a try to make sure that the knots stay secure that the branch will support the weight.
Fun for the Whole Family
A tire swing is a fun addition to your yard that the whole family can enjoy. This inexpensive, easy to do project is suitable for even the most inexperienced DIYer, and this helpful guide gives you everything you need to get the job done.