Swing Sets and Outdoor Play Equipment- 5 Essential Tips Before You Buy

For first time parents choosing a swing set or outdoor play equipment can be a daunting task. There are so many different materials to choose from and prices can vary from around a hundred dollars up to a couple of thousand for a larger solid timber unit. Outdoor swing sets can be as simple as an individual swing right up to a swing, slide, ropes and bars along with sandpit, cubby or fort.

Before you make any firm decisions there are a couple of main considerations...

1. Consult with your Kids- They will ultimately be using the equipment so it is important to purchase something that suits their needs, now and in the future.

2. Your Yard- The size of your backyard may determine the type of playground equipment you choose. As well as the size of the unit itself, your play equipment needs safe a circulation area around it. For toddlers you may prefer a smaller swing set that can moved between indoor and outdoors.

3. Budget- Outdoor play equipment and swing sets are an investment in your kids, they will potentially get many hours of enjoyment and play. There is a vast difference in price and durability for different materials, see below for pros and cons. Larger sets are generally built to last and often require delivery and installation, so you may need to factor this into your budget.

4. Materials and Durability-
Plastic- These sets are generally only suitable for toddlers, they are affordable and can often be swapped between indoors and outdoors.
Cedar and Redwood- the preferred choice for long lasting playground equipment. These two woods are low-maintenance because they naturally resist rot and insects, and don't require sealing.
Pine- look for 100% chemical free lumber. Pine need to be treated annually to maintain its resistance to the elements.
Metal- if you are going with a simple steel swing set look for heavy duty galvanised steel with a lifetime guarantee against rust. Metal swings are hard wearing but not as visually appealing as their timber counterparts.

5. Hidden Extras-
Delivery and Installation- check if the set is delivered and installed by an installation crew or left at your doorstep for you to set up.
Warranty- does the company offer a lifetime warranty? Some outdoor sets (cedar and redwood) are a once only purchase, whereas others have a much shorter lifespan. If plastic units are left out in the elements they will deteriorate much faster than if they can be stored out of the sun and rain when not in use.
Inspection- you can do plenty of browsing online but may prefer to inspect the set first. By taking your kids to 'try before you buy' you will feel much more comfortable with your purchase.

For the complete version of this article go to Outdoor Play Equipment- Making an Informed Choice

Part II of our feature on swing sets and outdoor play equipment looks at playground safety, a very important consideration for parents. Playground accidents are one of the leading causes for injury to children, so selecting the equipment that is age appropriate is all important. Read on...

The place to go for all your games needs for 0-8 year olds is Kids Fun and Games. Educational baby and toddler games, party games, crafts, indoor and outdoor games, festivals and a new buyers guide for child toys and equipment.

In The News:

Effective parenting is about balancing  Tiffin Advertiser Tribune
Focus on the Family: Effective parenting is about balance  Boyertown Berk Montgomery Newspapers
The incomplete father  The Indian Express
When Parents Get Parented  The New York Times

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