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How to Compare Swing Sets

We have all been there... You overhear your neighbor Alan or Janice showing off about their Cedar Swing Set from some Box manufactured in China. The Wood on the playground is more brittle than a Nature Valley Granola Bar. It looks cute on Day 1 in spite of the cracked wood... Day 30 The Swing Set has begun to defy gravity and looks like the leaning tower of Pisa, one less trip to Italy... Day 90 even the slightest bit of eye contact with the Swing Set makes it begin to tremble like a boxer who just took a punch from Mike Tyson... 6 Months in, Alan and Janice are now standing over a Rotten pile of broken wood fighting over Alans poor decision making. Alans Sunday plans to go Fly Fishing in the Everglades have turned into breaking down and throwing away his Amazon Special Swing Set... life is about choices Alan.

Sound extreme? Not to worry, Playkids is here to make sure you don't turn into Alan & Janice!

Choosing the best Swing Set comes down to 3 factors:

1. Type of Wood - Cedar vs Pressure Treated Pine

  • Rotting Cedar has properties that are naturally resistant to moisture, which leads to rotting. Pine is Pressure Treated with Copper Azole(eco-friendly) to prevent rotting. It is like eating an apple (Cedar) instead of brushing your teeth (Pressure Treated Pine).
  • Durability - Cedar is naturally more Durable than Untreated Pine. Once you Pressure Treat Pine it is far superior to Cedar. Don't believe us? Every Wooden Deck in South Florida is made from Pressure Treated Lumber, these decks endure the harshest conditions in the world being in the Hurricane capital of the world and being walked on and anchored to boats daily.
  • Strength - Cedar: 220 pounds of force per square inch. pressure treated Pine: 290-470 pounds of force per square inch
  • Weight - Pressure Treated Pine weighs up to 50% more than Cedar.
  • Maintenance - Cedar requires more maintenance than pressure-treated Pine. Its natural color fades in 1 to 2 years. This means you need to stain it annually to retain its protection and appearance. Pressure treated Pine is easier to clean and needs far less maintenance.
  • Weather - The climate in your area is one factor to consider when choosing between Cedar and Pressure Treated Pine lumber. In particular, it is important to think about the humidity levels in your area and the amount of rainfall. Cedar is a drier wood than pressure-treated pine. It copes very well in dry climates like Las Vegas, but in very wet and humid places like Florida, the boards may expand over time, which can cause problems. Pine does better in more humid areas because it is Pressure Treated for that specific reason
  • Playkids used Pressure Treated Pine.

2. Grade of Wood - Structural vs Type

  • This is the #1 question to ask your Swing Set shop..."What Grade of Wood do you use?"  Let the Panic ensue... 
  • Structural Grades - Ranked 1-5 from best to worst. Anything below Grade 2 is dangerous for a Play set.
  • Lumber Types - is either "Above Ground" or "Contact" Lumber. Above Ground lumber rots when in contact with ground or water. Contact Lumber can withstand ground and water.
  • Playkids uses "Contact" Grade 1 Pine Lumber made in North Carolina, USA. Every boxed Swing Set uses "Above Ground" Mystery Grade Cedar from China. 
  • Fun Fact: Cedar originates from America, so how/why are the big box companies manufacturing their Cedar in China? Red Flag...

3. Maintenance - Stain/Sealer & Maintenance Costs

  • The common protection placed on Wooden Swing Sets is called Stain & Sealer. Different types of this Stain/Sealer will provide different levels of protection for your wood. This is Body Armor for your Swing Set.
  • Stain/Sealer Types - None - 1 Year of Health, Transparent - 3 to 5 Years, Semi-Transparent - 6 to 8 Years, Solid - 10 Years.
  • Boxed Swing Sets like Kids Craft typically offer No Stain. Big Chain stores like Rainbow use Transparent Stain. No one uses Semi-Transparent. Playkids uses Solid.
  • Maintenance Costs - It costs $400 - $600 to Service a Swing Set. The Boxed Sets require you to Service every year to keep warranty. After 10 Years of yearly servicing... you do the math! At Playkids you need one Service every 10 years.