Swing Set Buying Guide: How To Choose The Best Swing Set

If your goals are to limit your family’s screen time and encourage outside play, buying a swing set for your backyard is perfect for hours of physical activity and fun. But, with so many models to choose from and a seemingly endless combination of different bases, swings, slides, climbers, and fun accessories, finding the right one can seem overwhelming. Our swing set buying guide has great advice for buying a swing set.

Skip Ahead:

  1. How Long Does A Swing Set Last?
  2. Should I Choose a Vinyl or Wood Swing Set?
  3. What Swing Set Accessories Should I get?
  4. What Safety Features Do I Need to Consider?
  5. What Should Go Underneath a Swing Set?

How Long Does A Swing Set Last?

Our vinyl residential swing sets have a 20-year warranty on the structural components and a 5-year warranty on all metal components, canopies, slides, swings, and accessories. Our wood residential swing sets have a 5-year warranty against manufacturing and workmanship defects.

You can always add new swings, slides, climbers, and other accessories to your swing set! Because of this, your swing set can be updated throughout the years so your family doesn’t outgrow it, or become bored with its features!

Should I Choose a Vinyl or Wood Swing Set?

As parents, you may be familiar with the aluminum swing sets of your youth. Today, vinyl and wood are the most popular construction materials for swing sets. Both are quality materials that are durable and will last for years. So, which should you choose when buying a swing set?

Vinyl Swing Sets

Vinyl swing sets are constructed with pressure-treated wood components that are inserted into thick, PVC vinyl posts. Outside of an annual cleaning, there is very little maintenance necessary for a vinyl swing set. With vinyl, you avoid the need for annual staining, painting, or sealing.

There are several color combinations you can select from when you buy a vinyl swing set, however, there is little opportunity to customize colors.

Vinyl is considered a premium material, and this is reflected in the price.

1601 4x5 A-Frame Tower

Wood Swing Sets

Wooden swing sets are generally crafted from yellow pine, which is extremely popular in the construction of outdoor structures. Wood offers a natural aesthetic that can blend in seamlessly with your backyard. When you buy a wood swing set, you can paint or stain it after the purchase with any color of your choosing, giving you far more color options than vinyl does.

Wooden swing sets will require some upkeep to avoid looking dull or rundown. In addition to an annual cleaning, you will want to repaint or re-stain your swing set periodically. As safety measures, you should also do an annual check of your swing set for any splintering or cracking wood, as well as tighten the bolts on your swing set, they can loosen as a result of the wood shrinking and swelling due to humidity.

What Swing Set Accessories Should I get?

You can create a simple swing set, that brings plenty of enjoyment, with a slide, monkey bars, and a few swings or you can create one that includes all the bells and whistles. But, it’s important that you choose the slides, swings, and add-ons that are appropriate and safe for your children, at their current age.  Your swing set can always be adapted as your children grow.

For Toddlers

For your youngest children, focus on activities that can be done while crawling or cruising. They need fun spaces that are low to the ground and that are easy to navigate, like small sets of stairs or ramps. Toddlers, under the age of two, should not climb more than 3’ from the ground. Consider these add-ons for a toddler swing set:

  • Infant swings
  • Dual or Uni rider swings
  • Tunnels with bubble panels
  • Open slides
  • Ground-level playhouses

For Pre-Schoolers

For children between three and five, their swing set can mimic that of school-age children. It just needs to be smaller, shorter, and lower to the ground. At this age, no piece of playground equipment should be higher than 6’ off the ground. If your children are in this age group, choose from the following:

  • Belt swings
  • Tire swings
  • Smaller rock-climbing ramps
  • Cargo net climbers
  • Enclosed slides
  • Tower-level playhouses

For School-Age Children

At this age, the sky is the limit. Well, not quite. Even at older ages, your swing set should not include pieces that are higher than 8’ off the ground. We recommend adding these features for older children:

  • Larger rock-climbing ramps
  • Trapeze bars or rings
  • Monkey bars
  • Fire poles
  • Buoy ball swings
  • Disc swings
  • Spring swings
  • Water cannons

What Safety Features Do I Need to Consider?

When you’re buying a swing set, be sure that the model you choose incorporates the necessary safety features. Ask yourself these questions as you browse selections of swing sets.

How tall should swing sets be?

As we mentioned above, even for your oldest children, no part of a swing set should be higher than 8’ off the ground. For features that are elevated, make sure these safety features are present:

  • Handrails or hand bars on ladders and ramps.
  • Guard rails for elevated spaces 30” above the ground.
  • A protective barrier on elevated surfaces more than 4’ high.

How much space do you need between swings?

To avoid mid-swing collisions, your swing set should be designed with the following measurements:

  • 20”- 24″ of space between swings with limited side-to-side motion (infant swings, belt swings, gliders).
  • 30” of space between swings that have unlimited side-to-side motion (tire swings, disk swings, buoy ball swings).
  • 20”- 30″ of space between swings and the support poles of the swing beam.

For further swing safety, you should also allow for 6’ of clearance around your entire swing set. This gives children plenty of space to maneuver around the structure without being hit by swinging children.

A final safety precaution, you should make is to check the size of any openings (ladder rungs or slats of railings). To avoid body parts from getting stuck between openings, they should be either less than 3” or more than 9”.

Mulch Base

What Should Go Underneath a Swing Set?

The majority of swing set injuries occur because of falls from equipment. The material you place underneath your swing set can go a long way to creating a safe play environment. It may seem like grass offers a good cushion to break a fall, but rubber mulch is a much better material for soft flooring. Rubber is a more effective shock absorber and reduces the after-effects of a fall.

Rubber mulch is made of 100% tire rubber and is offered in many color options, using non-toxic paints. Although it can be costlier than other ground cover options, it is nearly indestructible and is not stripped away by weather. Once it’s applied, there will be no need to replace rubber mulch in the future.

Have Specific Questions Still?

The Penn Dutch Structures team can answer your specific questions about swing sets. Contact us today before buying a swing set.

Ranger 18'x15' Playset with Deluxe Slide Attachment Platform, Hand Rail, 3-position 8’ High Swing Frame, Tarp Roof, 10’ Wonder Wave Slide, Cargo Net, Two Belt Swings, Trapeze, & (6) Anchors
Ranger Swing Set