Spring is in full swing, so now may seem like the best time to finally buy the playcenter of your child’s dreams. But if you find yourself having trouble remembering the last time you were a child (some of us don’t anymore – easy come, easy go), there are a lot of options for parents to consider.
First off, the playcenter you used to have fun on as a kid was likely made of steel and hard plastic. Safety standards and new technologies have allowed wood and synthetic materials to become the standard. Not to mention dozens of different accessories now allow a degree of customizability unheard of in previous eras.
Let’s go over a few considerations you should think about before purchasing a playset for your children or child.
Things to Know Before You Buy:
1.) Time Changes Your Family’s Needs.
Thinking about purchasing a playset for your two or three-year-old? Examine your budget and ask yourself if you’re comfortable repurchasing a playset or adding modular accessories, such as slides, monkey bars, and belt swings in place of toddler bucket swings.
Your children’s desires and interests will undoubtedly change with time, and the extent of what you’ll need to adjust will depend on your child’s development. Don’t forget that you may want to have children in the future too, and will have to accommodate them as well.
2.) Material Matters, Down to the Type of Wood.
Don’t settle for simple descriptions that describe “high quality” playsets made of wood. Learn what kind of wood the playcenter consists of, and whether the grain has been treated with chemicals. As a rule, avoid pine, spruce, or fir, which are typically pressure treated in order to extend their longevity.
Look for cedar and redwood. Neither have toxins or chemicals added, because they’re naturally resistant to bug infestation, rot, and decay. Redwood is the cream of the crop if you want to avoid warping and cracking over time, and its lovely maroon hue is certainly easy on the eyes.
3.) A Classic Set-Up Can be a Good Base to Start.
You may want to avoid jumping into something with accessories that are trendy, such as tarp awnings or picnic tables, until you know what your child prefers. Is he or she a climber? Add a rock climbing wall to your qualifications. Does your child like to play house? Consider buying a playset with a wooden roof. You can never go wrong with mainstays like slides, tire swings, trapezes, and rope ladders.
4.) Don’t Skimp on Space Around Your Playset. It Can be Dangerous.
We know that not everyone has wide expanses of green lawn to plop down whatever they’d like, whenever they’d like. But your child’s safety is of the upmost importance when it comes to something even as innocuous as sliding down a plastic tube.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests 6 feet of clear space around each side of the playground, and space equal to twice the arc of swings to both the front and back of the playset. You can check the footprint of the playground you’re considering for purchase, and simply add the necessary distance to those dimensions. This will give you an accurate idea of what can fit in your backyard.
5.) Playsets Without Basic Safety Features are Inexcusable.
200,00 children ages 14 and younger are treated for playground-related injuries each year. Your child doesn’t have to be one of them.
We all know rubber mats and tree bark act as a cushion for falls on public playgrounds, but there are other safety precautions to note. Make sure your playset support beams feature no sharp edges to avoid splinters.
Rail cushions are also a great way to stop your child from banging their head on the overhead beams of a playground’s entrance or exit. These bumper pads are inexpensive, durable, and a must-have for any playset.
6.) Fasteners Can Determine the Safety and Longevity of Your Playset.
What joins a playset together can be just as important as what it’s made of. A weak connection can cause a collapse under duress or inclement weather.
The nuts and bolts of the matter? Well, bolts are better, particularly when used in triple-joint construction. Lag screws also serve to hold larger dimension wood in the same way. Wood screws are something you’ll want to question, unless they aren’t bearing any sort of major load. Wood nails should be a red flag – they loosen over time and bend under pressure.
7.) Your Playcenter Won’t Maintain Itself.
Time heals all wounds, and it also ages all playsets. Keep your child’s play center fresh with occasional maintenance and you won’t have to worry about any major tribulations. A power washer loaded with water and bleach can clean off dirt and grime embedded in the grain.
Expect to stain your playset every two years or so. This will keep the warranty in effect while ensuring the wood looks as if it were purchased yesterday.
For a great selection of playcenters at discount prices, check out our Playset catalog at Out Back Casual Living & Fence in Grand Rapids, MI.
On the porch or the patio, next to the pool or even down a small garden path, let Out Back Casual Living create a comfortable retreat where you and your family can relax and enjoy the beauty all around you. We offer Playsets and Playcenters that’ll make your yard a garden of recreational pursuits! For more information, visit our website today.