Purchasing a swing set for your backyard can be a big investment, so it’s important to know what materials are used in the construction of your family’s playset and how those materials will hold up throughout the years.
Playset Structures – Which Structure is Best?
Vinyl Swing Sets
Swing set construction using vinyl offers the least amount of ongoing maintenance, coupled with durability and longevity. Vinyl playset structures are constructed by using treated wooden components that are inserted into thick vinyl posts. They may also include components crafted from wood alternatives, made from recycled materials, similar to the materials used in composite decking. Outside of an annual cleaning, there is very little maintenance necessary for a vinyl playset, so you can avoid repeated staining or sealing. Vinyl is considered a premium material and this is reflected in the price of the playset.
Pros of Vinyl Swing Sets:
- Low Maintenance – Avoid repeated staining or sealing.
- Withstands outdoor elements
Cons of Vinyl Swing Sets:
- Price Point – Vinyl swing sets are the premium, high-end swing set option, so naturally these swing sets are often more expensive.
Wooden Swing Sets
Wooden swing sets are generally crafted from redwood, cedar or pine. While wood offers a natural aesthetic that can blend in seamlessly with your backyard, it also requires a lot of upkeep to avoid looking shabby. Natural wood with no preservatives will need to be cleaned and stained or painted periodically. Wooden swing sets should also be checked regularly for splinters. Additionally, wooden structures are a favorite place for wasps to build their nests which can lead to potentially painful play experience.
Pros of Wooden Swing Sets:
- Natural aesthetic
- Easier to build
Cons of Wooden Swing Sets:
- Requires a lot of maintenance – Cleaning, staining, and painting
- Potential for splinters
- Wasps may build nests in wooden structures
Treated Wood Swing Sets
Pressure-treated wood is treated with preservatives in an effort to make the wood material last longer. Applied deep into the wood, the preservatives keep away decay and termites. In 2003 the EPA discovered that the preservatives used in pressure-treated wood included highly toxic materials including chromium, copper, and arsenic. Today’s pressure-treated wood is treated with preservatives that contain much lower levels of toxicity.
Pros of Treated Wood Swing Sets:
- Treated to last longer than regular wooden swing sets
- Preservatives keep away decay and termites
Cons of Treated Wood Swing Sets:
- Preservatives may potentially have toxins / be toxic.
Metal Swing Sets
Although they are the least costly alternative, metal swing set construction poses the disadvantage of having to dig holes in your yard and pour concrete to anchor the structure. This can mean a lot of extra work as your children grow older and you decide to remove the swing set. Although the metal used to construct these playsets are powder coated for protection from the elements, rust and corrosion can still be persistent problems.
Pros of Metal Swing Sets:
- Least expensive
Cons of Metal Swing Sets:
- Having to anchor the structure by pouring concrete in your yard
- Difficult to remove
- Potential rust and corrosion.
What Type of Swing Set is Best?
There is no definite answer as it depends on your preferences and goals, but we strongly believe that vinyl swingsets are the best choice for almost any situation. Vinyl swing sets are longer-lasting, more durable, lower maintenance, and are safer for kids to play on. By purchasing a vinyl swingset you avoid having to stain and seal wood with wooden swing sets. You also would avoid the hassle of pouring/removing concrete, or watching for rust and corrosion on metal swing sets.
Vinyl swingsets may cost a little more up-front, but you get a premium, high-end product that will last many years with minimal time spent on maintenance.
Swings & Slides
Yellow Stays Cooler
With all the color choices available to choose from when purchasing your playset add-ons, including slides and swings, sticking with a standard yellow color can be your best choice as it remains cooler in the hot summer sun. This may be especially important if your swing set is constructed in an area that doesn’t get much shade.
Many types of slides are made using fiberglass. You can easily tell if it’s a fiberglass slide by looking at the underside of the slide for loose fibers, as the underside is often left unfinished. One concern about using fiberglass material is that the fibers can loosen and stick into your child’s skin (much like a splinter), as they sit or slide, causing an itchy rash.
Most homeowners may incorrectly think that their backyard offers enough natural protection against slips or falls from their swing set equipment. However, grass and the ground offer very little support in cushioning the impact of a fall. Grass is also the most maintenance-heavy of ground materials.
Wood or rubber mulch is more shock-absorbing and provides a very safe base for your playset when applied 6 feet in all directions and 9 inches deep. Wood mulch will most likely need to be reapplied each year. However, rubber mulch may never need to be reapplied.