How To Choose The Best Swing Set for Your Playground
When you start shopping for the right swing set, you can easily get overwhelmed by the options. Do you build it yourself from scratch or a kit? Do you buy it and hire someone to set it up? Do you want an a-frame or a t-frame? We can see how frustrating it is, so we decided to take some of the load off. Give this a read-through to learn more about your options.
Things to Consider When Choosing Your Playground Swing
There are a lot of things that can help you decide what’s right for you. We put together some things to ask yourself along the way so you can get the best swing set for your playground.
Who Is Going to Play On It, and How Often?
Your anticipated traffic on your swing set will significantly impact the kind of swingset you should look for. The key components are age range and how much use it will get.
How old are the kids who will be using your swing set? If families with small children are going to be using it, you might want to have a toddler seat installed. Elementary-age kids can sit on their own, so special seats aren’t necessary, and you might be able to use a t-frame if you don’t need many seats.
If you’re looking for something that could easily handle teens or adults from time to time, a metal a-frame will better manage their weight and height. You’ll also want the seats hung higher to accommodate them. If you’re planning on a mix of the two, seats set at different heights will make it easier for everyone to play comfortably.
How many kids are you expecting to use it at a time, and how often? A swing set that gets daily use is going to need to be sturdier than one that only sees a few kids every weekend. Swing sets designed for residential use aren’t made for the wear and tear of commercial use.
We’ve found a lot of instructions on building your own, but most are for personal, residential use and just wouldn’t suit something commercial.
Additionally, think about adding an ADA-compliant swing platform for wheelchair users!
We should also think about permitting since we’re talking about commercial use. Permitting varies from city to city and county to county; we recommend looking into local building codes before you get started on construction to avoid fines. If you’re having trouble finding the information you need, don’t think twice about giving the county office a call. They’ll steer you in the right direction and save you a lot of trouble.
Where is it Going to Be?
The terrain and your local weather conditions will impact where you want your swing set to be installed.
The area where you’re going to build your swing set is vital for many reasons. Hard-packed dirt might be good for stability, but we don’t want kids to get hurt if they fall. An area with lots of rises and dips might look nice but will make it hard to install your swing set, which you’ll need to sink into concrete for stability. Smoothing the area and adding a safe play surface will help solve both problems.
Keep your local weather in mind when deciding where you’re building your swing set, what materials you’re using to build it, and what you might need to add to your space to make it safe and a solid long-term investment. Heavy rain or sitting water will degrade wood. You might think sealing it will solve that, but wood needs to be sanded and resealed yearly. A wet environment might be better suited for another material.
We recommend metal for plenty of reasons, and one is that moisture doesn’t affect metal the way it does wood. You’ll want to provide shade for your swing set if you choose metal because direct sunlight will heat it up and could cause burns.
How Much Space Do You Have for It?
Swing sets need more space than other playsets for safety. How much space your swing set needs will depend entirely on its height.
Have a Perimeter Around the Swing Set for Safety (Use Zone)
This section gets a little muddy, so we’ll try to keep it simple. The use zone is the area around and under any playground equipment where a child could fall. If a kid could jump from a piece of playground equipment, in this case, your swing set, the furthest point they’d likely fall is the end of the use zone. With most playground equipment, there’s just a six-foot perimeter around it. Swing sets’ use zones depend on their size.
The Size of Your Swing Set and Your Use Zone
There’s a bit of extra math involved with swing sets when you figure out your use zone. We found a formula: your use zone is its height times at least four. Basically, 4 x H = your use zone.
If that seems excessive, why don’t we take a minute to remember playing on swings as a kid? Do you remember how high you could swing if you had your friend or someone push you? Maybe you were the daredevil that jumped when they got as high as they could go, or maybe you saw that kid. Think about how far they could go. You want to be cautious creating your use zone and make sure you make a safe terrain for kids to land.
Types of Swing Sets
Swing sets come in a variety of materials, all with different benefits and disadvantages to each.
Wooden swing sets have a lovely, rustic look, and you can build them from lumber following instructions you can find online. But, as we talked about earlier, they can be easily weathered and require maintenance and care, which we’re going to go into more here. Wooden structures need regular checkups to ensure they’re in good condition. That means at least once a year, looking at the posts, beams, and any hardware to make sure your swing set is still safe.
If you’re not looking for something that will require checkups and maintenance, there are other options out there for you.
You can find vinyl playground equipment in various colors and styles, and it isn’t limited to the same structures and shapes as wood since its melted and pressed into shape. It’s already waterproof and doesn’t need regular maintenance to keep it in good condition. Care involves clearing the area to protect it from damage and removing or replacing damaged hardware. Vinyl also doesn’t absorb heat the way metal does, but it’s harder to find.
Metal swing sets are the easiest to find, sturdy, and, like vinyl, come in multiple colors and shapes, including arches. If you’re planning on including an ADA-accessible option, metal is the only material we found that supports them. Painted or finished, metal won’t absorb heat as effectively. The only maintenance you’ll need to handle is occasional oiling and checking hardware to make sure it’s seated firmly.
Of the options, metal is what we recommend most. It’s reliable, durable, and comes in a wide variety of choices from plenty of suppliers, so you can find just what you need.
What’s Your Budget?
Swing Set Price
Before we start talking numbers, remember that this is an investment in your playground. You want safe, quality play equipment that’ll last you a long time. We found commercial swing sets typically start around $1,500 and can easily run as high as $4000, depending on what you’re looking for. Custom swing sets could run even higher, but may better fill your playground needs.
Professional installation can cost around $1000, and you can often get it done through the company you’re buying your swing set from. Professional installation means a licensed and insured contractor, making your playground that much safer. Otherwise, all it’ll cost you is a few hundred dollars in tools and concrete, and a day or so of work as you put it together and sink it into the ground.
We can install swing sets with the purchase of a playground.
You don’t need to be overwhelmed thinking about getting the right swing set for your playground. Your expected age range and amount of use will give you a starting point. Your local weather helps narrow down your options, and your terrain can easily be adjusted to make it safe for the kids. You can calculate your use zone with the formula we provided once you know how big your swing set should be.
Talk to your local government bodies to ensure you get any necessary permitting before you start building. Commercial metal swing sets are what we recommend since DIY and wooden sets can be unpredictable, and hiring a contractor to install it will help minimize your risk. You can still build and install your own if you want, and there are plenty of tutorials to guide you!
Whether you’re looking to build your own two-seat swing set or want one custom-designed for eight seats and a wheelchair ramp, there are options out there for you, and we hope this helped you make your decision.