Buying a Sandbox

Buying a Sandbox / Sandpit?

Everything You Need to Know – Shapes, Sizes and Prices

Are you thinking about purchasing a sandbox / sandpit for your child this season? There are almost unlimited choices when it comes to shapes, designs and colors for sandboxes and prices range considerably between materials. Our aim is to inform you of the pros and cons of what’s out there and some handy tips to keep your kids, and your sandbox, safe and clean.

Play time in the sandbox is a great way for toddlers to spend time outdoors.

Playing in a sandbox is the perfect outdoor activity for children of anywhere from 1 to 8 years of age. Depending on their age and skill, each child can experience sand in a different way.

Sand has such unique properties, being fine and slippery when dry, firm and moldable when damp, and sloppy when wet. Kids can dig it, pour it, mold it and all around have a good time whatever its properties. Owning a sandbox / sandpit and providing a few essential props ensures your kids will always have outdoors entertainment.

But What To Consider?
Three main issues will determine the sort of sandbox you purchase.

  How many kids?
How many children will be playing in the sandbox and what ages are they- ie- how big does it need to be? Even if you only have one child, there will always be friends who will want to play aswell.

 How Much Room?
How big is your yard? Will it accommodate a sandbox attached to larger play equipment or are you better suited to a smaller plastic model that is easier to store and get rid of once your children grow out of it.

  Your Budget?
Sandboxes vary from about $50 anywhere up to $1000 for models that are included as a part of an outdoor play set. If you have a preference for timber, then they tend to be more expensive, but are visually more appealing. If you go for a smaller plastic model like those for a 1-2 year old, it might fit in a standard car to bring home. Larger sandboxes/playsets may require delivery. Keep in mind how much sand you will need to purchase to go into the sandbox as this definitely is not included in the price!

Main Types of Sandbox / Sandpit

Plastic sandboxes are available in many different designs- clamshells, lady bugs, as well as natural brick and timber effects. Smaller models usually come with good fitting lids that come as part of purchase price, for an easy clean up- just put on the lid! If you live in a warm climate over time the cheaper models can fade in the sun and crack due to sun and weather exposure but they are portable, so if you are moving house you can take them with you. Prices range depending on the size and quality- generally from $50-$400.

Plastic Sandbox – $100-400

Basic square sandbox, covers are also available.

This basic 4 x 4 square sandbox is a good budget option for littlies. It includes 4 stacking joints made from composite plastic timbers, and a sandbox liner, and is about 6inches /25cm deep. Sandbox covers are also available below.
Small Square Sandbox

Varied play options in a deeper sandbox.

The deeper 4 x 4 square sandbox provides extra play opportunities with increased depth. It includes 4 stacking joints made from composite plastic timbers, and a sandbox liner, and is about 12inches /50cm deep. Sandbox covers are also available below.
Deep Square Sandbox

A huge sandbox with plenty of room for all the neighborhood!

The hexagonal 10 x 10 sandbox give plenty of space for several children and all their sand play equipment. It includes 16 stacking joints made from composite plastic timbers, and a sandbox liner, and is about 12inches /50cm deep. Sandbox covers are also available below.
Large Hexagonal Sandbox

Toddler sandbox, perfect for two.

This 6 x 6 toddler sandbox features natural brick/stone effects and is 12inches /50cm deep. Sandbox covers are also available below.
Toddler Sandbox

Elevated Sandbox / Sand Table
An elevated sandbox or sand table sits at about waist height, children do not actually sit in it like they would a standard sandbox. It often has separate compartments for sand and water allowing for varied play experiences. It minimizes mess in that kids are only using their hands rather than putting their whole body into the sand. (We all know what can happen once kids remove their shoes and socks inside after being in the sandbox!)

Elevated sandboxes are often better able to cope with larger numbers of kids as they can stand around and all play in a small area. Elevated sandboxes can also be used inside with a plastic sheet underneath. This makes them a good option if you live in a climate where outdoors play is limited by the weather. They come with their own lid and often convert to a normal play table when not in use, thus being a worthwhile investment.
They range from about $50-$250 but have a limited range available.

Timber sandboxes are available in mostly square and hexagonal shapes in varying sizes. Spruce and red cedar are favored timbers as they are sturdy and weather-resistant. Pine is cheaper, but you will want to check the treatment to make sure child-safe chemicals have been used.

More an more sandboxes are now being constructed in timber / plastic composites giving the appearance of timber but with improved durability. See the plastic sandboxes above.

For sandboxes that are included in timber playsets, you can select either Pine or Other Timbers– cedar, redwood etc.

Timber Sandbox

Lovely little sandbox with shade.

Small sandbox with adjustable roof, is easy to operate, as well as keeping out sun, rain and animals. It is constructed from high quality Honduran Pine. It has a smooth finish and is coated with weather resistant stain.
Easystart Sandbox with Adjustable Shade

Make Your Own / D.I.Y
Many kits are available which provide sandbox plans, instructions, even bolts, everything you need to build a custom sandbox, except the lumber! Basic woodworking knowledge is required. If you are handy in the workshop then these kits are perfect.

When selecting timber check with your local hardware store for recommended varieties that will give long life with minimal splinters and warping while also being child-friendly (check for treatments).
Also available is landscape timber which is made from recycled plastic to look like real wood. It is very hard wearing thus ensuring long life without some of the issues associated with timber.
Kits start from around $80 (lumber not included).

Sandbox Covers

Keep out the weather and animals with a secure sandbox cover.

An outdoor sandbox should be kept covered when not in use. Otherwise it will attract roaming cats and birds who will use it as a litter. If the sandbox did not come with a commercial cover, you can use a canvas or plastic tarp.
Make sure the cover is going to stay on in windy weather by weighing it down or making a cover using tarp/ fine mesh with a timber frame.
Sandbox Covers

What Type of Sand?
Be sure to use playground sand, it’s a cleaner sand and is more like what you would find at the beach.
The sand should be a minimum of 6-inches deep, but no more than 8-inches deep. Avoid builders sand (it is darker yellow/orange in color) it will stain clothes and skin.

**TIP- Before using the sandbox, rub some talcum powder on exposed skin, it will make brushing off any sand much easier when your kids are ready to come indoors. After outdoor sand play, use a soft brush to remove any sand particles from children’s clothes before they go back inside. Keep a mat by the door to reduce the amount of sand that is tracked indoors.

Last of All- Safety

Be sure children are protected when they head to the sandbox. Sunscreen of at least (SPF) 15, hats, sunglasses, and protective cotton clothing will help prevent sunburn if your sandbox is not shaded.

For outdoor sand play, keep eating and drinking areas separate from the sandbox. Food or beverage particles that children leave behind can attract insects and birds.

Make sure children know that throwing or eating sand is unacceptable and that they should be careful not to get sand in their own eyes or in another child’s eyes. If a child gets sand blown or thrown into his eyes, you can take the child to a sink with running water and rinse for a minute or two to get rid of the particles. Most kids will try eating sand at some stage, but will quickly realise that it doesn’t taste very nice. It will not harm them but it is better to suggest right form the outset that sand is for play, and not for eating!

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