With the holidays well behind us, kids are getting stir crazy and parents are beginning to make plans for spring. For many of us, that means shopping for a swing set for the backyard, to give the kids a chance to burn off all that excess energy. Of course, finding the right swing set for the right price can be an enormous headache. Every parent wants their children to have the coolest play equipment in the neighborhood, but no one wants to break the bank to do it. To know whether you’re getting a good deal, it’s important to be able to determine the quality of the product you’re looking at. Here’s what you need to look for when looking at a new swing set.
The screws, and the bolts and often the frame that everything is mounted on are all made of steel, but not all steel is equal. Talk to a sales representative to ask about the materials used, or find the manufacturer’s website to find any available details. The most resilient will be galvanized steel, while other metal frames are simply coated in a resilient layer of paint designed to keep the moisture off. It’s also a good idea to check any available online reviews and make sure there are no complaints of broken bolts, nuts, screws, or welds, since this could also be a sign of low quality materials or workmanship.
Parents often don’t give the ropes a second thought when hanging a swing, but they’re an important safety issue. Natural fiber ropes tend to decay like any other organic matter, and polyethylene is quickly degraded by ultraviolet light, making them a poor choice for hanging an outdoor swing. Despite this, both are very common options.
Many public playgrounds avoid this issue by using steel chains, however, chain links have a tendency to painfully pinch small fingers. The best ropes for outdoor use are made of nylon, which is both comfortable to grasp, and very tolerant of wind, rain, and sunlight.
Possibly the most important material to vet when buying a new swing set is the wood used. Most swing set frames are made of wood, and poor quality wood can limit the life of the equipment to just a few years. If it isn’t perfectly maintained, repeated freezing and thawing over winter can quickly make the wood vulnerable to fungi and insects. Redwood, cedar, and pine, on the other hand, are durable and naturally highly resistant to weathering, making them easier to maintain. If it’s properly maintained, the quality swing set you buy for your kids today might still be around for your grandkids.