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Swing sets are most commonly purchased in the spring as the weather gets nice and parents know it's time for the kids to play outside in the backyard. What better way to encourage your children to spend time outside in healthy, physical activity. Yet today's swing sets are more like a playground with ladders, slides, forts, climbing walls and so much more. With this array of choices, parents don't always know what the most important considerations are in picking a swing set. This article provides an outline of the key factors to consider when making your decision. When you first start to think about buying a swing set you probably have a toddler. It's a good idea to think through the following questions to get a better idea of how big a swing set you might need, along with how many features make sense.

How many children do you anticipate having? How many years will a parent stay/work at home versus the children spending time at daycare? How frequently will you host play dates at your home? How often will you entertain friends and their children?

Now pick 2 numbers. The higher number should represent the greatest number of children you anticipate playing on the swing set (and frequency?). The second number is the average number of children playing on the swing set, i.e. you plan to have 2 children with frequent play dates for both, a group of 4 children is your average. While you expect to have 2 or 3 large parties each year, you really only need a swing set for 4 children and can accommodate larger groups with some play toys. Choice of Materials and Design All swing sets are not equal with the most notable differences being size and materials used. Metal swing sets are simpler but make sure the metal is galvanized and coated with a lead-free, rust resistant paint. There are many wood choices and you want to evaluate how much maintenance each requires. uses long lasting northern white cedar which is safer as the wood is splinter free and requires minimal maintenance. Given how popular swing sets have become, there are numerous manufacturers to choose from along with the box stores. Some of the items to consider in choosing a swing set for your family include:

Flexibility in size and shape to fit your location. Options should allow designing your own configuration from mix and match parts plus the ability to add sections as your family grows. With so many features available, you want the ability to swap out a supportive child seat once they're 4 years old. Don't clutter the play area with too many features, but rather create an environment where your children can use their imagination, coupled with great physical activity. Safety is key and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends the following safety guidelines: no spaces should be less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches; platforms and ramps higher than 30+ inches need guard rails to prevent falls; no sharp points or edges in equipment/protruding hardware; no tripping hazards like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps and rock;s and no gaps or things sticking out at the top/bottom of the slide where clothing can get caught and trap a child.

Manufacturers are not equal with some selling a box of parts where you the buyer (parents) do all of the assembly and others ship pre-assembled sections which enables a faster, easier installation process. Most swing set installations don't go smoothly and get frustrated when it takes several weeks and/or they have to pay a handyman more than the original price to handle the installation for them and definitely longer than the manufacturers estimated installation time. The manufacturer wants you to buy their product so they're going to give you the most optimistic estimate. Homeowners should inventory all the parts before starting to assemble the swing set, especially when you're paying someone and want to keep your costs down. Don't be surprised when you discover missing parts which is another good reason for verifying this before you start. When parents find too many parts missing, they have to decide where to find new parts of simply return the swing set to the store where they purchased it. Buy a swing set from an established manufacturer with a reputation based on customer satisfaction. This isn't the case with the box stores which entice unplanned purchases with a display model. These products come from China and when they're a disaster such as Leisure Time's Cambridge kit purchased online from Sam's Club, the company simply disappears although you can see the same/similar design under a new company and product name. This product installation was estimated at 16 to 24 hours for 2 people, but exceeded 48 hours. There were 2,316 hardware pieces (32 different types, shipped in 18 plastic bags and 472 pieces of wood in 124 different shapes plus a 68 page instruction manual. Are you surprised there were problems? So don't buy a swing set before you've researched the manufacturer and product. You'll be glad you did and hopefully you'll select a smaller, less complicated product that you and your children will love.

Tina Gleisner, founder of the Association of Women Home Owners connects homeowners with concepts, terminology and advice to build homes that support today's lifestyles. Through the library and directory at, you can LEARN about your home,

CONNECT with home professionals and CREATE your dream home. We also provide a variety FREE homeowner checklists which you'll find at

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Swing Sets Research Before You Buy One  
Swing Sets Research Before You Buy One  

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