Playsets, or swingsets, as many know them have been the staple of many family fun ideas for as long as I can remember. However, there is a lot more to choosing the right Playset than many realize; especially, first-time parents. So, I thought
I would put together a quick ‘n dirty checklist for newbies to this arena, to bear in mind, when shopping for your little ones’ backyard pleasure!
First, there are many components to envision, and choose, to add or include later when purchasing a playset; such as, the actual swing type, slides, monkey bars, climbing ladders, a trapeze, sound or musical options, climbing accessories and safety equipment. Those options may cause you to consider whether you want a tire swing, a mesh swing, or a conventional rubber (or plastic) swing.
Also, you may want a spiral, conventional, or wave slide; and, how many monkey bar sets you want or how far off the ground they will be is key based on the age and height of your children. Like monkey bars, whether you include climbing ladders, a trapeze, sound or musical options also will depend upon the age and height of your children.
For the aforementioned, bear in mind placement, grip options, how much music may distract from the play experience and what type of music will be funneled through the speakers; as well as, where to place and what type of speakers will work as outside equipment and weather changes.
Finally, safety equipment can range from rubber stoppers, for metal edges and exposed screws, to strategically placed handgrips, to playset floor and ground matting, so they land on shock-absorbent material and potentially minimize injury.
Choose Material for the Playset Mainframe
The play-set mainframe can be wood, metal or plastic. Plastic can be weather resistant; but, may also have serious safety limitations, if not of the most advanced plastic that has been tested for diverse circumstances. Typically, wood or steel is used as a playset mainframe.
As many playgrounds already use this, steel is often used and then painted to resist burns, from heat, and prevent rust from rain or humidity. Choosing the right paint will be key to meet these needs and appealing for kids to play upon. Steel, as a choice, is not as expensive as wood and can last indefinitely, if properly maintained.
Steel sets are often easier to install vs. wood sets, yet still pose a greater risk to burns, or falls, due to its slick characteristics and propensity to heat up, or feel very cold to the touch during Winter. Finally, pressure-treated wood, to provide longevity and resist bugs infesting it, offers greater support and safety when it comes to burns and absorbing the weight and activity of children. Though wood requires higher maintenance, with regular wood treatment to avoid splinters, and can cost more, wood playsets are easily expanded, and seem environmentally compatible, which makes them a growing option among families.
Final Set Up & Other Safety Tips
Because it can be time-intensive to do the job and safety is paramount, it is wise to hire a professional to set up the plates. However, if you can read instructions well and are skilled at assembling and working with heavy parts that often require strength and agility, you may choose to do the job yourself.
That said, if you choose to do it yourself, here are more things to keep in
mind. Though I feel it is better, or best, to have professional or competent eyes on your final steps of assembly, the most important aspect of setting up a playset is to test the set when it comes to weight-bearing and functionality before letting children on it. So, be certain you further inquire, research and apply all necessary assembly instructions, building codes, or regulations, related to installing play equipment.
Whether neighborhood animals, or uninvited guests, anyone gaining access to your playset without supervision is a risk. So, fencing with a lockable gate that is high enough not to be scaled, like a vertical penal wood fence, or similar, and a lock on the inside is an option to consider.Scanning your perimeter of the play area, for unnecessary clutter or dangerous items and machinery (even holes in the ground or other injury hazards) and providing an immediate remedy, will be a key part of playset assembly and fence installation. Further, examining your play-set for hinge or edge issues, resulting from imperfect installation or design flaws, may require further attempts to do aftermarket buffering to minimize injury potential. This may include filing edges down or attaching rubber attachments to soften edges of any surface potentially encountered during playtime. Also, if you have different age children, be sure to segregate the relevant play-set areas, so you have age-appropriate sections for each child to access. And, this should prevent younger children from accessing the sections designed for older, more skilled children.
Finally, ensure your playset meets specifications considered a universal standard and, again, do your research to ensure compliance with applicable HOA or relevant agency standards. Most important, don’t forget to place the playset where you can easily monitor your children’s activities and reach them right away in an emergency!
Hope these tips give you a starting point for your journey, from vision to outcome, and realize a play-set is a can-do option! However, I must emphasize comparing and contrasting your research on play-set companies, design, materials and installation options, so you can narrow risk factors and base your conclusions upon diverse information.
Once done, you should be able to relax and enjoy your new and exciting playset for great backyard adventures and family fun!
Evita E. is a happy Nanny2U customer, photographer, videographer and published travel writer, with a history of rescuing furry angels, spreading the joy of her faith, encouraging others as a special needs mom and feels, of all the roles to play in life, Motherhood is simply the best role of all!