Swing sets offer a great spot for kids to play outside and enjoy the warm weather months. If you’re considering adding a swing set to your yard, be sure to take your time: you want to ensure safety, quality, and durability, among other things. If you can check each of those off your list, you’ll feel confident with your choice and your children will enjoy their swings for years to come. What types of swing sets are available?
In general, there are four different types of swing sets available for purchase. See below to learn about each one. Wood swing sets:
The most common type of swing set, they’re extremely sturdy and are usually created from pressure treated wood. Be sure you check the warranty on these: wood can deteriorate, and the shorter the warranty, the better the likelihood that the wood isn’t treated as well as it should be. Redwood, cedar and fir are all durable options once stained. Also, these tend to be the more expensive option. Plastic coated swing sets:
Often created from wood and finished with plastic coating, these are ideal for warm or damp climates to protect from moisture. They provide splinter-free play and are long lasting, but are usually the most expensive swing set to choose from. Plastic swing sets:
Made entirely from plastic, these sets are lightweight, can be used indoors and avoid safety problems like heat retention or splinters. However, they have short life spans and limited warranties. Metal swing sets:
The least expensive and most basic design, metal swing sets are usually set up in an “A Frame”. Although these are actually the longest lasting, you can’t add onto them like wood sets and are generally cemented into place for security. How large can your swing set be?
It’s necessary to take a good look at the spot you plan to place your swing set to determine exactly how large it can be. Be sure to appropriately measure the area to be sure it will fit the entire set and all aspects. Don’t forget to account for “buffer zones” around the swing set as well: there should be at least a six foot perimeter to prevent kids from swinging, jumping or falling into something dangerous. How can you be sure your swing set is safe?
This is the single most important factor you must determine when choosing a playground set. Although the majority of manufacturers follow industry guidelines in terms of safety, it’s possible there will be a few who try to skirt the necessities. Here is a list of all things you should guarantee about your swing set:
• Any “S” hooks must be closed tightly. Open hooks might catch clothing, which could lead to strangulation or other injury.
• Ensure there are no exposed moving parts; they can pinch or crush.
• Seek out rounded edges vs. flat on wood swing sets. Flat edges can scrape and splinter over time.
• All hardware should be recessed to prevent clothing being snagged. In addition, bolts corrode over time and exposed hardware could be a tetanus liability.
• Avoid metal brackets and attachments; they will corrode and bend over time, compromising the structure. Choose wood to wood attachments that won’t rust.
• Use 2 x 6” deck planking vs. 1 x 6” as a sturdier option that will support growing, jumping children as well as adults.
• Swing beams must be a minimum of 4 x 6” if not larger.
• Consider some type of “soft grip” coating on swing chains to prevent pinching, like Plastisol. The thicker the better.
• Make sure the swing set is anchored sturdily into the ground before children attempt to swing or play on the structure. How is the swing set assembled?
Depending on how much work you want to put in (and how much you trust your assembling skills), be sure to understand exactly what the swing set requires to get to the finished product. Essentially, you can build one entirely on your own, purchase the lumber separately and build it with a kit, or buy a swing set that is “ready to assemble.” This all comes down to what you feel comfortable with and how much time you want to spend on actually building it. What type of maintenance is required?
It’s inevitable that wood will change shape due to different weather patterns, so yearly swing set check-ups are pertinent. Make sure to tighten loose supports, anchors, bolts and screws, and replace anything that is missing. It’s likely your play-set will need to be periodically sealed, stained and painted to prevent deterioration as well. Confirm the warranty.
Quality manufacturers will issue swing sets with a warranty, and since this is your child at risk, long-term protection is essential. Look for a guarantee that’s backed with a lifetime warranty.
Now that you’re well-versed in swing sets, begin your search by checking out various models here.