There are so many things to consider nowadays when buying and investing in your family’s Swing set so here is where I would like to give you some tips on how to buy a Swing Set. You have probably already seen various options but are still undecided – these questions may arise over and over again:
- How many slides do I need?
- Are the climbing walls or monkey bars safe?
- What guarantees do I have?
- Can I afford it?
- Is my garden big enough to accommodate it?
- Which is better – steel, wood or plastic?
And the list goes on and on…
So here is my “How to buy a Swing set” guide based on my own personal experience!!! First of all, it really depends on the size of your family. Even if you only have 1 child, they will no doubt have friends or cousins over for playtime so it would be advisable to have a Swing set to accommodate more than 1 child. Also the age of your children – if your child is only 2 or 3 years old, then a small plastic Swing set will suffice as they will be too small for the larger units and will most likely injure themselves – please refer to age recommended guidelines for individual Swing sets.
How to Buy a Swing Set – Part 1 – Which material should I choose? There are 3 main types which are outlined as follows:
- Firstly you should know that Stainless steel is an alloy and will not rust – it is similar to the type of steel you use in your kitchen sink. Standard Steel on the other hand is an alloy which is a mixture made up with approximately 98% iron with the balance 2% made from a mix of Manganese, Carbon etc giving the Steel superior strength rather than Iron on its own.
- Stainless Steel is basically a Steel mixture with 10% Nickel or Chormium. It can also contain Manganese or Titanium that does not react with oxygen which in turn stops all the corrosive action and rust.
- When choosing a Metal Swing set, make sure that the metal is good quality galvanized steel (layer of zinc or magnesium) and has a rust resistant polymer paint coating for the weather so that it won’t have it rusted in a short space of time. (rust by the way is where the metal becomes oxidized from the oxygen contact in the air).
- A lot of the cheaper Metal Swing sets that are not properly coated will start to rust quickly so if you need to go down this route, please check and treat it accordingly (further details below)
- Also when 2 different types of metal come in contact with each other that are not compatible (for example copper and aluminum) they will corrode also. So the trick to avoid rust is to ensure there are no steel iron bare parts exposed to oxygen and water and that the metal parts are only exposed to other metal parts which are compatible with each other.
- Metal Swing sets if treated correctly and made of high quality steel will need less maintenance however they are not as attractive or as environmentally friendly as Wooden Swing sets. Also if the steel gets scratched, the Iron part of the Steel fixture will rust automatically and will spread very quickly unless its tackled straight away.
How to deal with rust on your Metal Swing Set:
- If rust does start to set in, then there is no point in just adding paint. You need to first scrub it clean with a wire brush or sandpaper removing any old paint and rust particles.
- Once dry – add a Metal primer coat first to the clean smooth surface and allow that to dry also.
- Then add 2 or even 3 coats of high quality polymer paint to give it a good barrier and thick coat – the more layers the better!
- Pressured treated Pine is a lighter plain colour wood and is more durable than the most other options as it can withstand the natural elements best of all. The price is more or less on par with Redwood – the only downfall would be it’s plain appearance. As it is preserved – there is minimum shrinking and warping, plus nowadays, the trusted brands treat their woods with copper based solutions that are certified so they can be 100% safe. Just make sure it is Preserved treated Pine rather than untreated Pine as untreated Pine will not stand the test of time in poor weather.
- Redwood is also very durable with a darker brown/red colour so it is a lot more eye catching and will last longer than Cedar but you will have to pay more for this. It can cope with the weather elements a lot better than Cedar but not as good as Preserved Pine. It is naturally resistant to decay / rot / insect damage so it will stand the test of time a lot longer with a lot less work than Cedar.
- Cedar (eg. Northern White, yellow) is also naturally resistant to decay and is safe and splinter free once maintained properly. This type of wood has a lot of good quality characteristics however there can be batches of poorer quality. The price will generally be the cheapest (some from China) and it is a lighter wood due to its density. It’s ability to cope with the natural elements is not as good as the 2 options above so additional work will be needed on your end to maintain it. Nonetheless, it will stand the test of time as long as it gets maintained regularly.
- Preserved Vinyl Wood Swing sets are excellent also and offer great guarantees. They are coated with a Vinyl (plastic particles included in the mixture) to protect them against the weather and you won’t have to re-stain them like the 3 options above. These tend to be the most attractive of all as they can have various different colour schemes on offer.
Pressure treated woods with CCA (Chromate Copper arsenic) has received a bad reputation over recent years so you should not see this type available for sale. Finally on wood, no matter what type is selected, please monitor the quality and refer to the maintenance tips outlined in the manual of your Swing set as you will in time need to add a wood stain or top up paint to treat any scratches or damaged areas.
- Plastic Swing Sets are really for toddlers that are only 3 years or younger so you have a limited time span with them so be prepared for an upgrade as they grow out of it.
- They one major advantage here is the PRICE! And there are numerous options available to suit almost any budget.
- Less time and work is needed for assembling and maintaining plastic sets but is likely to fade and loose its colour over time.
How to buy a Swing set – Part 2 – Quick summary on 10 Family Considerations:
- Find out if it is possible to add additional accessories as the kids get older. Even one or 2 additional accessories would do the trick for even a birthday or Christmas gift, for example is it possible to change to belt swing or install a Pirate Wheel.
- If you child is quite young – you need to make sure that there is the ability to change the Toddler seat to a standard seat as they get older.
- If you need to seek additional hired help with the assembly and installation, then consider that there could be the cost of 1 or 2 day’s labor so take this into budget consideration as well. If you have limited help, then stick to the smaller less extravagant units.
- Buy from a trusted brand that can provide backup service when needed and try to be on site when the delivery is being made to do a thorough check on inventory.
- If buying a small Swing set directly from the store, then make sure it can fit into the boot of the car! If not, make sure that a delivery service is available before you roll out the wallet!
- The height of the deck should be considered also as you do not want to buy a Swing set that has only a 4 foot deck when you have children that are that little bit older. For the older kids 7 to 9 years plus, you should go for the higher decks for example 5 foot or 6 foot high (or even 7 foot) so at least they can be kept entertained as they get bigger! If you have younger children 3 to 4 years and have limited space, then the 4 foot deck height really should be the option you should take, plus the smaller Swings sets tend to be cheaper to buy.
- Simple but brilliant additional features can save money and space if the Swing set has a sand box on the base or a picnic table underneath so it’s one way of not having to buy additional products if they are already incorporated into the original design.
- Measure the area you have available in your garden allowing for a 6 foot safety zone perimeter around the Swing set, so you know straight away which Swing Sets will work and which ones that are simply too big.
- If you don’t want to dig large holes and install in concrete, then seek options for a free standing design that has a wider leg distance span. This will allow you to move it if you decide to do so down the road…
- Finally double check to make sure the Wooden Swing set has a 10 year warranty but also read the Maintenance guidelines to make sure you live up to your end of the deal as it must work both ways!
How to buy a Swing Set guide – Part 4 – Safety tips
Buying a Safe Swing Set should be one of your main priorities and I have already dedicated a section on this website with loads of tips on my the home page. Rather than repeating myself, I will only give a quick summary on the main points as I see it:
- Buy from a reputable brand who can be trusted that uses top quality materials and parts so that it won’t fall apart and will stand the test of time.
- Please ensure that the assembly and installation process is completed exactly as per the manufacturer’s instructions – it may take a few days and a few additional sets of hands so don’t try to rush it having it completed all in one day.
- Once installed, do a test run and double check there are no sharp edges, loose bolts or splinters and that the Swing set anchors, guardrails and frame are all 100% solid.
- When everything is to your satisfaction, then choose a suitable material for the base, eg Mulch / Rubber mats / Sand so that it can provide additional safety in the event of a fall.
For further safety tips and guidelines, refer to the Safety tips section on the homepage.
One final tip on how to buy a Swing set:
Most importantly check the reviews for customer feedback and who better to ask than your own kids – narrow down your preferred options to 5 within your budget and ask them which their favorite is. That way, they can feel as if they are involved in the buying and selection process and will lead to an overall happier event.
Well I hope I didn’t go on for too long and I really do hope you got some useful tips to figure out how best to buy your new family’s Swing set– I wish you the very best of luck and if you have any particular query, please do not hesitate to leave a comment below.