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5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Playset

Get the right playset for you

Perfect Playset

If you’ve decided that a playset would be a great option for backyard entertainment, we have some helpful points to consider before making your investment.  To be sure you’re choosing the right playset for your family, you should consider the following:
1. space
2. material 
3. activities and options
4. safety features 
5. installation process

The most crucial factor when selecting your  playset is the space you will be putting it in. Not only does it need  to be big enough to accommodate the set, but also the children while they play.  There will need to be enough room in the front and back of the playset to accommodate a child that is not only swinging, but jumping out of the swing.  When shopping for playsets, you may come across what is referred to as The Recommended Safety Zone.  This is the area the Playground Safety Commission recommends should be provided around the playset. It needs to be at least a 6-foot perimeter surrounding the playset.  You should also check for low-hanging branches or electrical wires that are potential safety hazards and could obstruct the use of the playset.

When it comes to swing sets , there are two choices of framework material on the markettoday:  metal or wood (not including the all-plastic preschool playsets for toddlers).  As far as the actual accessories, like the belt swings and the slides, they’re made of high-density plastic for both metal and wooden playsets.  You’ll also find the same metal handhold bars on both metal and wooden playsets.  So when we’re talking about the difference between metal and wooden playsets, we’re strictly referring to the actual framework structure.

The beauty of stained wooden playsets has a natural look that is very appealing. The lumber used in wooden playsets on the market today is pressurized and treated to prevent rotting and insects from destroying the wood.  However, some wood treatments are controversial because they use arsenic which is a known carcinogen.  If you choose a wooden playset, be sure to confirm the pressurized wood treatment is safe.  Wooden playsets need staining and special wood preservative treatments on a regular basis to prevent the system from fading, splitting, and warping.  If such damage occurs, the wood dries out and splinter, and the nuts and bolts loosen, causing the playset to become wobbly and unstable.  If you’re willing to commit to the regular upkeep, you may enjoy the beauty of a wooden playset for many years.  However, if you have a hectic  life like most, you may want the alternative.

Metal playsets are constructed from steel for long-lasting strength and durability and are available in a variety of colors. Manufacturers, including Lifetime, apply a powder-coated finish to prevent rusting and heat retention, protecting your children and making the set’s beauty last over time.  Maintaining a metal playset requires touching up scrapes and scratches in the metal to prevent rusting.  With the proper maintenance, a metal playset will last for years.

Some playsets give you the option for customization.  For example, the Lifetime Monkey Bar Adventure and the Lifetime Double Slide playsets allow you to put the slide on the front or back of the set.  You can also switch out the swing bar activities to accommodate the child’s age or preference.  For instance, if you have a young toddler, you could replace a belt swing with a toddler bucket swing!  Perhaps your children would rather switch out the trapeze bar for a regular belt swing.  It’s nice to have some options!  Playset activities range from the traditional favorites to fun new innovations that appear on the market every season.  Some of the activities currently available include:
• Belt swings
• Wavy slide
• Climbing Wall
• Climbing Cargo Net
• Trapeze Bar
• Monkey Bar
• Club House
• Chalkboard
• Captain’s Wheel

While FUN is the name of the game, a lack of safety features can ruin all the fun in a hurry. Be sure the design and construction of the playset has your child’s safety in mind.  Check that:
• All edges are rounded or capped with no exposed rough or sharp edges to scrape, scratch, or cause injury. .
• Clubhouse decks and slide platforms that are designed to prevent a small child from falling off.
• Swing chains are covered with hand grips to prevent fingers from getting pinched.
• The structure has no lead paint or a wood treatment that may be hazardous to your child’s health.

Ease of installation is another factor to consider when.  Many backyard playsets today look like the mega-playsets you could only find in parks and playgrounds a few years ago, and huge elaborate structures require an entire weekend for assembly.  If you’re intimidated by the amount of assembly involved, keep in mind some playsets may require an additional cost of professional installation.

For the more adventurous and experienced do-it-yourselfers, assembly should start with a quick read through the Owner’s Manual and a complete inventory of parts and hardware, making sure nothing is missing, damaged, or defective.  If so, call the customer service department for assistance.

Be aware that some playsets may require an in-ground cement installation to provide stability, while other playsets incorporate stability into a freestanding design by having a broader leg stance.  All Lifetime playsets are freestanding with a broad leg stance, which not only provides excellent stability but also allows the option of relocating the playset if necessary.

In conclusion, backyard entertainment has come a long way from old hand-made tire swings.  With some thoughtful research before making the investment and some dedicated maintenance afterwards, your backyard playset can keep the kids happily occupied in the fresh air and sunshine throughout their active childhood years.

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