Purchasing a commercial playset is a big investment. The members of your community, school, or church have dedicated their time and resources to raise the funds necessary for such a large purchase. In return, you want to make sure the playset you choose is a quality product that is built to last while serving the needs of all your members, young and old.
Here are several tips that you should consider when choosing a commercial playset as the focal point of a fun, outdoor play area.
Commercial Playset Tip #1: Opportunity for All Ages & Abilities
Playset components offer ways for young children to become more steady on their feet while they practice balance and motor skills, and for older children to build strength, flexibility, and endurance. Outdoor play is also essential for developing their critical thinking, problem-solving, and social skills. So, it’s important that your commercial playset is built with activities and accessories that are appropriate for all age groups.
For children up to 5 years old:
- platforms of various heights: no higher than 3 ft (up to 2 years old) or 6 ft (2-5 years old)
- open slides
- short ramps with rock climbing grips
- bucket swings and horse rider swings
For children 5 years and older:
- no equipment should be higher than 8 ft
- turbo and tunnel slides
- large rock climbing ramps
- cargo nets or ropes
- trapeze bars, horizontal ladders, and fireman’s poles
When choosing a commercial playset, it’s also necessary that it be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and accessible for children who are living with disabilities. Included in the accessibility guidelines are the need for ground-level play components, as well as accessible routes to each type of component.
You can read more in the Accessibility Guideline for Play Areas document, created by the United States Access Board.
Commercial Playset Tip #2: Safety Standards
When you’re plotting out the location for the new playset on your organization’s property, you need to pay special attention to what is referred to as the use zone. You see dimensions that show a playset as 31’ by 22’ and think “yep, we’ve got space for that!” But, a quality, reputable playset manufacturer or dealer will also provide requirements for use zone.
This extra square footage is a necessary safety precaution to ensure that children on swings don’t collide with a tree or that children winding down the slide aren’t carried by their momentum into a surrounding fence. It also provides a wide space for children to walk around the play structure without getting kicked or injured by those using the equipment.
Do you remember the playgrounds of your youth, that were constructed on top of blacktop surfaces? Considering that most playground injuries result from falls from the equipment, this wasn’t the safest solution. It’s now recommended that your play area is set upon a shock-absorbing surface, such as rubber mulch, rubber mats, wood chips, or sand. This will lessen the impact if a child falls onto the surface.
For additional information on purchasing a playset that will keep the children in your community safe from injuries, read our interview with Phi Viet Le, Certified Playground Safety Inspector. He discusses more playground safety standards of which you should be aware.
Commercial Playset Tip #3: Maintenance
When choosing a commercial playset, you’ll have options that are constructed of vinyl, wood, or metal. While they all have advantages, for example, metal swingsets are the most cost-effective option and wooden playsets offer a natural look, if your priority is ensuring that your playset remains durable and attractive for years, vinyl is a better choice.
Metal playsets can be victim to rusting and chipping powder coating. Wooden playsets will need to be stained or painted periodically, as well as sanded down if excessive splintering occurs. With vinyl construction, your playset will maintain it’s attractiveness with a quick power washing each year. Less time for maintenance means more time for fun!