Children's Outdoor Play Equipment

Buyer's Guide - Make an Informed Choice

Choosing kids outdoor play equipment can be a daunting task for parents. There are many different materials to choose from and prices vary all the way from a couple of hundred dollars up to a couple of thousand for a decent sized solid timber unit.

Kids outdoor playsets can include anything from a simple swing, slide, ropes and bars right up to those that include their own sandpit, cubby or fort.

Depending on the age of your child you may go for a ready to assemble plastic or metal set or opt for a larger timber unit which will grow as your kids do.

Before you make any firm decisions here are your..

Top 6 Considerations..

1. Consult with your Children

  • They will be using the equipment so it is important to purchase something that suits their needs, now and in the future. You can browse online or visit retail premises where your kids can decide which features are the most important to them.
outdoor play equipment for kids
  • Many outdoor sets can be customized and added to as your children grow up. Ideally you want to select equipment that can accommodate them as they progress.

2. Size and Slope of Your Yard

  • The size and slope of your backyard may influence the type of playground equipment you choose.

  • As well as a circulation area around your play equipment, it needs to be adequately drained, and have a safe cushioning material for any falls.

  • Before purchasing, mark out the area that your play equipment will take up in your backyard to help determine whether it is the 'right fit' for the size of your yard.

3. Budget

  • All of the wishes of your kids may come back to the depth of your wallet!

  • Outdoor play equipment is built to last and generally requires delivery and installation.

  • It is an investment in your kids, obviously they will get countless hours of imaginative play and play equipment is always a bonus for whoever may purchase your property in the future.

4. Materials and Durability

  • Obviously there is a vast difference in price and durability for different materials. Use our checklist to better inform yourself of the pros and cons of the materials you might be considering.

  • Plastic- there are many toddler outdoor play sets available in sturdy plastic finishes. They need to be assembled at home and can come with swing, slide, and various features that will entertain toddlers. They can be bought in bright colors or finishes that appears like woodgrain. These sets are generally only suitable for toddlers and will be outgrown by the time your child is 4-5 years old.

  • 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. They are more expensive but will add value to your home because of their durability.

  • Pine- look for 100% chemical free lumber. The chemicals used in pressure treated pine can be dangerous to your children's health. Pressure-treated sets, in pine, fir, or spruce, are significantly less expensive than cedar and redwood but must be treated annually to maintain their resistance to the elements.

  • Metal- if you are going with a simple steel swing set look for heavy duty galvanized steel with a lifetime guarantee against rust. Any metal that starts to rust will be more likely to fail.

  • Hardware- in timber play equipment look for nuts and bolts that are secured flush with the wood. Nuts and bolts that protrude can be hazardous for children.

5. Features and Related Safety Issues

  • When selecting outdoor play equipment you may want to include every feature available but unfortunately we do not all have the budget for this- you can start with a basic set and add to it over time

  • Keep in mind the age of your children and that their safety should be uppermost in your selection. Some features; forts and climbing ropes, are better suited to older kids and can be added in years to come.

See Playground Safety for more handy tips.

6. Beware of 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 put together. 
  •  Warranty- does the company offer a lifetime warranty? Some outdoor play sets (cedar and redwood) are a once only purchase, whereas others have a much shorter lifespan.

Now onto finding some cool play equipment...

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