Things You Should Know About a Swing Set


Looking for the perfect playset can be considered a daunting task. Cedar? Redwood? Pine? Pressure treated? 5-foot or 6-foot deck? Square based or angle based?

There are tons of options to choose from. However, there aren’t many dependable sources to see you on those options and help you find out which is a good for you and just why.

Let’s start simple.

I tell everyone that there are 4 things you need to understand in regards to a outdoor swing sets before purchasing one. Here they are simply, all with explanations.

A couple of three main types of wood used in modern wooden playsets; they are Cedar, Redwood and Pine.

Here is a short version of what you ought to know:

If you’re looking for overall value AND quality, select a good Cedar swing set. It’s an excellent, all-around wood. (A couple of high and poor cedar swing sets on the market today, continue reading to determine about them)
If you’re looking for natural beauty and durability, go with a Redwood swing set. It’ll last just so long as a set made out of solid Cedar wood, but it will also cost you more. Redwood sets are usually 100% farmed in the us, and it’s a truly beautiful wood that on the whole includes a lifetime warranty.

If you’re looking for the most durable wood, select a Premium Preserved Pine swing set. Premium Preserved Pine can last longer than Cedar and Redwood without maintenance. Its price typically falls between that of Redwood and Cedar and usually comes with a lifetime warranty.
If you want a more comprehensive explanation of each wood type, continue reading. Otherwise you can skip to #2.

The agreed upon quality, which range from best (5 stars) to worst (1 star), of the three woods would be as such:

Cedar – Cedar is naturally resistant to rot, decay and damage. Most cedar sets are configured in and imported from China. This affordable, but durable, wood will endure well for a long time. When buying a cedar set, however, pay attention to the thickness of the cuts of wood found in a set. For instance, is the frame of the set made out of 2×4 bits of cedar, or 4×4 pieces of cedar? May be the swing beam made with a 2×6 little bit of cedar, or a 4×6 little bit of cedar?

Redwood – There are different types of Redwood trees, however, the most common type of Redwood found in playsets nowadays is U.S-grown California Redwood. Redwood, like Cedar, is naturally resistant to rot, decay and damage since it contains tannin, a natural chemical harmless to humans and animals, but toxic to fungi. Fungal disease causes decay in other woods. Additionally it is naturally immune to damage from insects.

The reddish-brown color of its bark has earned Redwood (by many people’s opinion) the title of the most beautiful option for playsets, and they have less volumetric and tangential shrinkage, meaning it stays flat and straight with minimal, warping, cupping, or cracking. Quite simply, not only is Redwood easy on the attention but it addittionally includes a natural resistance to deterioration, which means you can appreciate it as you bought it for a long time to come.

The grade of the Redwood recently has enter into decline. If you are in the market for a Redwood set, be sure to ask your dealer if the Redwood is from new growth or old growth Redwood trees. Also, find out if the Redwood is center cut heartwood Redwood. If you’re dealing with cuts of Redwood from newer growth trees and non-centercut Redwood, the product may be inferior to older type Redwood sets. (This is very important! Ensure that your dealer can answer these questions.)

Premium Preserved Pine – Contrary to public opinion, Premium Preserved Pine playsets, rather than Redwood, will be the most durable of most wood playsets used today because the pine is preshrunk and preserved. Both of these processes minimize shrinking, warping, cracking, cupping, and fungal decay. Pine can withstand harsh climate and can take more moisture than Redwood and Cedar, which gives preserved pine playsets a decades-long lifespan.

The deck height is the length, in feet, from the bottom to the bottom of your playset’s main deck. The most frequent deck heights on swing sets are 4-6-ft. Some companies make 7-ft mega sets, & most companies have higher end playsets that contain two decks – usually one 5-ft deck and one 7-ft deck, or one 6-ft deck and one 8-ft deck. The bigger decks (in the cases of the two-decked sets) are usually used for a slide or slides.

Why is deck height so important?

Deck height will determine how big is your deck, the swing arc, the footprint of the set, and ultimately, the price of your set. Generally, the higher the deck height, the bigger the set. The bigger the set, a lot more wood that is used. A lot more wood that is used, the more costly a set becomes.

This is actually the short version:

We recommend a playset with at least a 5-ft deck height so that your children can benefit from the set for years before outgrowing it.
We also recommend a swing set with a 6-ft deck height if you want a more substantial, more spacious playset.
Really the only time we’d recommend a swing set with a 4-ft deck height is if you’re seeking to conserve space, or if you don’t need the set to support children at night age of 8.
If you’d like a far more in-depth explanation of deck heights, continue reading. Otherwise you can skip to #3.

4-ft deck heights – 4-foot deck height playsets are the most compact and economical of all playsets. In most cases, there are two main buyers of playsets with a 4 foot deck height: individuals who have babies and toddlers (ages 1-3) who would like a playset for just a few years, and folks who desperately want a playset but have limited space in their yard.

These sets have smaller deck sizes, smaller swing arcs, and incredibly little room under the key deck. Therefore, I try to recommend buying a set with at least a 5 foot deck height so that the playset can accommodate your kids as they get older.

Important Note: Many playset dealers will advertise 4-ft deck height playsets to lure customers into a store or for sale online, as the costs are lower and the actual size of the set is hard to gauge from an image. But beware – customers who buy a set without actually seeing it first complain to us about it being too small as their children age.

5-ft deck heights – 5-ft deck height playsets are the most typical of most playsets. These are fairly compact but provide an enjoyable experience for both younger and older children. We recommend at least a 5-ft deck height to support your kids as they grow. 5-ft deck height playsets have a more substantial footprint, larger deck and an increased swing arc than 4-ft deck height playsets.

6-ft deck heights – 6-ft deck height playsets have an even larger footprint, larger deck and higher swing arc than 5-ft deck height playsets. They are the most frequent option for many who want a larger playset that everyone can have a great time on. Parents have told us their children use these sets well to their teen years.

7-ft deck heights – When you can probably guess, 7-ft deck height playsets have larger footprints, larger decks, and higher swing arcs than 6-ft deck height playsets. 7-foot deck height playsets are mega-playsets for families with big yards and large budgets. It is not uncommon for parents to work with these sets as well!

7-ft deck heights also exist on sets with several decks. These sets are usually larger in footprint, and the 7 ft deck height on the swing set is usually reserved for a slide or slides.

8 ft deck heights – 8 ft deck heights are just entirely on large sets with several decks. The 8 ft deck height is usually reserved for a slide or slides. Children are in heaven when they go down a spiral slide off an 8 ft deck on a playset!

You will find two types of bases on the playset: a square base and an angle base. (click on the links for examples)

Angle based sets will have a sizable rockwall and room underneath the main deck for a tire swing.

If you want a far more in-depth explanation of the types of bases, continue reading. Otherwise you can skip to #4.

Square Based Swing Sets – (example of a square based swing set) Square-based playsets generally have less room within the deck and can come with such features as picnic tables, sandboxes and clubhouses.

Angle Based Swing Sets – (exemplory case of an angle based set) Angle based playsets have more room underneath the main deck, and usually come with a larger rockwall and a tire swing underneath the key deck.

Many mega-sets can incorporate both types of bases, providing you the best of both worlds.

Side note: most installers Ive caused prefer angle based for individuals with sloped yards. However, most experienced installers can level either type of set. If you’re unsure about if your yard is level enough for a swing set, talk to your local swing set store or local installer.

For many parents, cost is the deciding element in their purchase of a swing set. And I totally recognize that. However, the safety features included on top quality playsets make them well worth the excess costs. It generally does not pay to cut corners here.

This is actually the short version.

The safest playsets feature the next:

The frame and A-frame of the set are created with (at least) solid 4×4 beams of wood.
The swing beam is made up of (at least) a 4×6 solid piece of wood
The wood is pre-sanded and pre-drilled
The playset is constructed with recessed hardwarethat doesn’t “stand out”
Commercial grade hardware is used
If you want a far more in-depth explanation of the greatest safety features, continue reading. Otherwise you can skip to the closing paragraph.

Solid 4×4 Beams of Wood – Within the safest playsets, the frame and A-frame of the set are created with solid 4×4 beams of wood, where as many poorer quality sets will be made up of 2×4’s. That is huge, so please be familiar with this when buying a playset! Inside the picture below, have a look at the wood that supports the bottom, as well as the wood that makes up the A-Frame (which includes been completely destroyed) – all of them are 2×4 pieces of solid wood.

a broken and cheap swing setIn any quality swing set, the wood which makes the four corners of the bottom Along with the A-frame are 4×4’s. Have a look at the Gorilla Playsets Chateau Swing Set here: you can see the cedar beams of the bottom and the A-frame are made of solid 4×4 pieces of cedar.

Solid 4×6 Wood Swing Beam – Another major feature of the safest swing sets is they may have a good 4×6 wood swing beam with holes drilled through the center, making it virtually unbreakable. Many poorer quality sets will have multiple 2×6’s glued together as the swing beam. You can see this again in the picture to the left. The swings are organized by two 2×6 bits of wood.

This isn’t nearly as strong as a 4×6…PLEASE BE CAREFUL!

The weight limit is drastically less on sets with glued 2×6’s, and I have seen these sets break way too many times. I’d NEVER sell a set with out a 4×6 Wood swing beam. (nor would I ever recommend buying a set without one) See the difference in virtually any Gorilla Playset or Superior Play Swing Set.

Pre-sanded and Pre-drilled Wood – Most playsets today come with pre-sanded and pre-drilled wood. Pre-sanded wood comes out smooth, beautiful and ready to use. It significantly reduces the possibility of your son or daughter obtaining a splinter.

Many do-it-yourselfers will bore holes in the incorrect parts of the wood. In some cases, another hole should be drilled, weakening the wood. In other cases, drilling may split the wood and render it unsafe. In any event, pre-drilled wood will make sure you are receiving safe and wood that has significantly less threat of breaking.

Recessed Hardware- Search for recessed hardware that will not “stand out.” Recessed hardware keeps clothing from getting stuck on the edges which stand out.

Commercial Grade Hardware – The safest sets have oversized bolts and heavy lag screws that are electro-galvanized to avoid corrosion. Swing set decks that use commericial grade, zinc-coated screws work best. No set should ever use nails in their construction.

There’s a insufficient information about swingsets on the internet, rendering it much harder to get proper information before a purchase. As you can plainly see, there is certainly a lot more than meets the eye. I have seen way too many parents enter into our store claiming that they wouldn’t have obtained their sets (from other dealers, of course!) had they known about many of these features in advance.

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