This Q&A is the latest in a blog series featuring questions submitted by some of the parents (and even grandparents) who reach out to us on a daily basis. We've started documenting our answers and the subsequent conversations for the sake of you and other parents out there who might be asking the same questions about choosing, buying, setting up, maintaining, and enjoying a wooden swing set for their family.
For today's Q&A Courtney, from our own home-state of Georgia, is wondering about the price of a wooden swing set and how to ensure they are making a smart (and safe!) investment.
Q: We’ve been looking into buying a swing set, and have just about decided that we want a wooden one, but we’re a little nervous that there are hidden costs that will put this dream out of our reach. What do we need to know about to make sure we aren’t taken by surprise?
- Courtney N., Marietta, GA
A: We love our wooden swing sets, and think they’re the best you can own, so you won’t get any argument from us about your plan!
Basically, the way to make sure your wooden swing set is a sound financial purchase is to make sure it is treated to last. When you think of the swing set not as a toy for your children, but as an inheritance for your grandchildren, and perhaps even your great-grandchildren, you’ll treat it accordingly and get your money’s worth.
These days, that usually means pressure-treated pine. “Pressure treated” means that a given wood has been injected with a treatment that turbo-charges the wood to make it stronger, as well as resistant to rot, decay, and bug infestation. Don’t worry! The chemicals are friendly to both the people who come in contact with the wood and the environment at large (once upon a time, that was less the case, because arsenic was used in the process, but no more).
Q: I hear what you’re saying, but we’ve been told that pressure-treated wood IS dangerous, and we were thinking we want a swing set from wood that has not been pressure treated.
A: The arsenic concern was a real issue up till about 15 years ago. A little arsenic isn’t a big deal, but if you absorb it, even via your skin in large quantities, it can cause death. But as SOON as this issue was discovered, the companies that pressure-treat the wood stopped using any and all arsenic, and replaced it with a safe alternative. Believe me when I tell you that today’s playsets do not have any arsenic; the pressure-treated pine of today is safe!
Also, keep in mind that if you want to paint your swing set, and most people do, then the real substance to pay attention to is not the wood itself, but the finish. Then you’ll paint or stain every year, and that, together with sanding down any rough spots and splinters, will keep your swing set as fresh as new.
So…let’s bring it back to your original question. Any wood is rendered more resilient, once it’s been pressure treated. When you maintain the wood, you also extend the life of the playset. And what that means is that your cost per hour of play, let’s say, becomes negligible.
Q: And the actual costs…?
A: If you scour the internet, you’ll seesuch a variety of prices for wooden swing sets. Sets can range from $1,000 to well over $5,000. But beware, any set that costs less than $1,500 is either very small or poorly made. The other items that tend to affect price are the size and heights of the forts, the number of slides and swings, the type of wood, and the pre-assembly work that may or may not be done at the factory.
Also, another cost to consider is installation of the set. Do you need to pay someone to set up the playset in your yard? Another expense would be if you don’t have a suitable surface for it, and need to put down wood chips, shredded tires, or the equivalent. But those expenses are not really hidden, and at the end of the day, they help you get the swing set you want.
Our swing sets come pre-cut, pre-drilled, and come with some parts pre-assembled. That is a rarity in the swing set market, but we believe you should have the easiest time putting your new swing set together. That’s why we do a lot of the pre-assembly for you here at our factory. So since we do a lot of the pre-assembly for you, you will be able to cut out the cost of a contractor to do the installation.
Our Ultimate Swing Set Guide for Parents will also give you a better sense of how you’ll want to treat your swing set for years to come. See there for more tidbits that may have impact on cost.