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Wooden Playsets

10 Tips for Choosing the Best Wooden Playset

A back yard can be a great place to spark imagination in a child. But when you add a playset to this play area, you convert your yard into a wonderland of creativity and activity. With so many choices for play systems—from simple to sophisticated—choosing the right playset for your child can be a tough decision. So, here are some tips for getting the safest, most durable, and activity-rich playset.

First and foremost, decide on the material for the play system. Metal, plastic, and wooden playsets are readily available—but not equal.

The vibrant color of plastic playsets make them visually appealing, but plastic simply can’t endure the outside elements without showing wear and tear. While plastic is good for accessories like slides, it is not sturdy enough to support active, growing children for a long period of time.

Metal offers sturdiness, of course, but there are more considerations that make it less than ideal for playset construction. Metal is likely to rust or crack, causing dangers to children. It also conducts heat and cold, so youngsters can be hurt simply by touching the metal in the wrong type of weather.

Wood is definitely the best choice of the three materials. It is long-lasting and naturally withstands not only the weather but also insects. Wood also provides the density that delivers a sturdy, safe playset. In addition, the woods commonly used for playsets, such as cedar, are sustainable, so it’s an eco-friendly choice!

Now that you know that wood is your best option for durability and safety, you still must evaluate some key points before purchasing the best wooden playset for your family:

1. Start with quality wood.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) certifies the quality and safety of building materials, which includes the wood used for a wooden playset. Be sure you see the ASTM certification. And look for strong woods like cedar, cypress, and redwood. They can handle many years of exposure to all kinds of weather conditions, as well as naturally resist the threat of insects and wood rot.

2. Avoid chemical treatments.

Some woods are treated with chemicals to prevent decay. Since these chemicals could be hazardous to children, ask if the wood has been treated in any way.

3. Opt for bigger beams.

The larger the beam, the denser the wood, which means that your wooden playset will not warp or crack. The 4” x 4” beams are the best choice here.

4. Look for triple joint construction

Years of rowdy play can take its toll on lesser joints, causing them to loosen and wiggle. Avoid this threat by buying a wooden playset constructed with triple joints.

5. Choose recessed hardware.

Exposed bolts can injure children and snag clothing. Avoid such mishaps by looking for a wooden playset that features only recessed hardware.

6. Check the ladder.

Playset accidents most often occur when kids fall from a ladder. Make sure the ladder on the wooden playset you’re considering is sturdy and well connected. The rungs should angled correctly for little feet, and the surface should be skid-proof.

7. Examine the guardrails.

Prevent falls from the platforms by ensuring that the guardrails are securely fastened and that they are spaced properly so that small heads cannot become trapped.

8. Consider versatility.

Get the most from your investment by choosing a playset that can be modified as your kids grow. Ask about the accessories options, like a climbing wall, crawl tunnel, trapeze, monkey bars, swing beams, and different slides.

9. Purchase strong rope.

To prevent falls from ropes that stretch and break, invest in double-braided rope. This type features a tight weave that maintains its size and durability. Small hands can better grip a thicker rope so consider a one-inch diameter rope for swinging and climbing. Finally, remember that UV rays can damage rope fibers! Ask about UV protection.

10. Read the warranty.

As with any big investment, understand what the warranty covers. The better the warranty, the more you can trust the reliability of the company. The warranty should cover structural integrity, but be clear that this means the wood, components, accessories, and craftsmanship all fall under this category. Ask about the procedure for warranty claims as well.

A wooden playset should give your children a lifetime of imaginative, active play. By paying attention to the small details, you’ll get a huge return on your investment: happy kids who enjoy outdoor play!