In the information age, it almost always boils down to reviews and price.
Many of us are used to doing hours and hours of research on a product we want to buy. We scour through product reviews, weeding out the fake and unhelpful ones. Once we've narrowed it down to the product we want, we then scour the net for the lowest price.
Unfortunately, this doesn't work with buying swing sets online...yet.
The reason is two fold:
1.) There's not enough accurate information online about swing sets yet. Most searches for swing sets yield results from the big box storeswho sell swingsets on their website only. The descriptions of the sets are all from the manufacturers.
2.) Swing sets are large and varied, and are therefore difficult to gauge from pictures and descriptions online.
I started the NJ Swingsets blog to combat the lack of accurate information online about swing sets. The NJ Swingsets blog seeks to educate moms and dads about swing sets with as little fluff as possible.
I started the NJ Swingsets Youtube channel to give parents videos of swing sets so they can see their actual size and hear accurate descriptions.
Another one of the many reasons I started NJ Swingsets is because people kept coming into my store who had previously purchased a cheap swing set a few years back. They came into looking to buy a new set because they were very unhappy with their purchase.
Their swing sets had broken or rotted and they were stuck with no warranty. The wood and materials had broken and they had no way of replacing it.
Their children had also grown out of the sets, as the sets were smaller than expected. Or they hired an installer who botched the install.
These parents, sadly, had no guidance when they purchased their set.
Had they known what they were getting for their money, they surely would have made a different decision before buying that set.
Online swing set reviews, generally, are not as helpful as they should be.
Many people review a swing set as soon as they have it installed. Their children are swinging on it, they're super excited and everyone is happy.
This is well and good, but a quality swing set is a long term investment!
What we rarely hear about in swing set reviews is how a cheap set starts breaking and falling apart after a few years of normal wear and tear.
Most parents are too embarrassed at this point to write a review. Other parents are too busy, or forget where they bought their set, to sit and update their review of a swing set.
Think about it - would you leave a review about a swing set two years after you purchased it? After you gave the set glowing reviews a year or two ago?
The point is - online swing set reviews are usually not accurate in terms of a set's long term build and quality. Cheap swing sets will last you a year or two. A quality swing set will last you 10 years to a lifetime.
I really wish I had put all of this information online sooner to help parents.
Let’s try a little experiment: go over to Google and search for swingsets. Notice how all the links you see are Home Depot, Toys R Us, Walmart, BJ’s and other stores selling sets. They all list swing sets on their website, but few few of these stores have swing sets on display. Very few of these stores have the support network to field in depth questions about swing sets.
Where is helpful information on what you need to know when buying a swing set?
Too many times I've seen parents buy something for their children, unpack the box, and then get disappointed when the swingset is not what they thought it would be.
I've even heard of children getting hurt on lower quality sets.
And it’s not the parent’s fault -- it’s the lack of information.
I want your children to be happy and safe! I know you do too.
And with that being said, let's talk about cheap swing sets - and why you should avoid them.
How Much Does a Cheap Swing Set Cost?
Many people want the cheapest swingset they can find, but don’t know what to look for to get the best value. It’s especially common with users that are shopping online.
Out of frustration, and the desire to own a swing set, they purchase a cheap swing set and hope for the best.
I do it with a bunch of products, looking for the cheapest deal — I do my research online and try to find the best bang for the buck. The problem is, in the swingset world, the best bang for the buck exists, it’s just not as cheap as most people think it is.
Rather than looking for a swingset that’s $500 or $1,000 and trying to find value there, it’s MUCH easier to find a swingset you’ll be happy with if you start looking in the $1,500 range.
What constitutes a cheap swingset, and why shouldn’t you buy the cheapest one?
A cheap set is any playset under $1,000. I haven’t, in my years selling swingsets, seen a set in the sub-$1,000 range that didn’t sacrifice something in the areas of either safety, size or durability.
Keep reading and we'll get into this a bit more.
And why shouldn’t you buy a cheap swingset online?
For one, it’s nearly impossible to understand everything about a set without seeing it, and understanding what it takes to build one. That’s why you really want to speak with someone who’s been around swingsets for years before making a purchase.
There are a lot of factors most people don’t think about that have a huge impact on your child’s safety, and the joy they’ll feel playing on the set.
Certain factors -- such as wood composition, having pre-drilled holes and deck height -- play a significant role in a set’s size, sturdiness, durability and cost, and each one of these factors is easy to gloss over when making your first purchase.
Can you tell the difference between these two swingsets?
Swing Set #1 - Backyard Discovery Tucson Cedar Wooden Swing Set
Swing Set #2 - Gorilla Playsets Chateau Deluxe Wooden Swing Set
To the untrained eye, there is not much difference in these two sets.
Both sets have a slide, two swings, a step ladder, a picnic table, a deck and a vinyl roof. Both sets are made from cedar. Both look equally safe and fun.
To the trained eye, however, there are a number of significant differences.
The Gorilla Playsets Chateau Deluxe costs about $1000 more than the other. That's a good chunk of change, so let’s look at where that money goes, and the value you get by paying the extra cash.
1.) Cheap Swing Sets Do Not Come With Pre-Drilled Holes
This may not sound like a huge deal, but it is.
The Gorilla Playsets Chateau Deluxe has predrilled holes, which are one of the main things you should look for in a swingset. If holes aren’t predrilled, the wood that the swingsets are made of can easily crack from drilling, and most of the time this kind of damage isn’t covered by the warranty.
I’ve seen a lot of people hire contractors off craigslist to install a playset. Or they just do it themselves.
The contractors will drill holes into wood at the wrong angle and split or crack the wood. When this happens (and it happens very often) the manufacturers do not cover the cracked wood under the warranty.
There’s really nothing parents can do at this point. They have a defective set now and need to spend more money to buy replacement wood, AND pay another installer to come back out and fix it.
Make sure you always get pre-drilled wood, because it’s going to save you a lot of time and huge headaches in case anything goes wrong.
2) The warranty on the cheap set is usually 1-5 years.
Compare that to the warranty on the Gorilla Playset or a Superior Play Swing Set, which covers the wood for 10 years, and accessories for 1 year.
Think about that for a second: you make an investment in a swingset, you hire a contractor to install it, you show it to your kids, and then they play on it. The swingset is part of your house now. Do you really want that playset’s warranty to be gone after a year?
Also, if a company doesn’t believe in their product enough to give you more than a warranty for a single year, what does that say about the quality of the swingset?
3) Look at the wood - on the swing beam, the base and the A-Frame
Another great feature of the Chateau Deluxe, and other great swingsets in this range, is that the swing beam is a solid 4" x 6", which means it’s very sturdy, while the $500 Tucson swing set has thin wood beams that are glued together.
To illustrate the difference, look at the picture below to see the what happens to a cheaper set, with thin wood beams, during a storm. It completely falls apart.
Now, look at the Gorilla set’s swing beam below: It's a completely solid 4" x 6" piece of wood, and it comes with pre-drilled holes, meaning it’s nearly impossible to break it under normal conditions.
Another thing to look at is the wood used on the base of the set, AND the wood on the A-frame.On cheaper sets, the wood is either 2x2,3x3 or 2x4’s — not solid enough for support structures. On the Gorilla sets and Superior Play sets, all the wood used in the A-frame and base is pre-drilled 4x4’s, making it safe and sturdy.
That Gorilla or Superior Play set is going to last YEARS longer than the other set - AND its covered under warranty.
The bad news is bigger guys will let you fall right into those traps. They just sell sets online in volume. They don't care about the quality because they're not responsible if something happens!
These were three factors, but there are a lot more we didn’t cover yet. You can either spend hours researching articles online and hoping you did enough research, whichwe make it easy to do by the way, or you can call us and we can walk you through getting a great swingset.
What kind of support do you think you’ll get at a huge chain store, or other large chain, compared to a local business? Try calling that huge chain store and asking about the wood grade, or the quality, or the durability of one of their swingsets.
What about guiding you through the installation process? Again, call a big store and ask how to install any one of their items, and you’ll get silence.
At NJ Swingsets, we’re easy to reach on the phone and online to answer any questions you might have. We also work with people who have been in the business so long that we can solve any problem you might have with shipping, delivery or installation — try getting that from the bigger guys.
You can see our full range of playsets here, or call 1-201-670-4000 to get in touch with an expert that will help you get the best bang for your buck on a swingset. If you need more information before making a purchase, check out the full range of swingset articles on our blog.
Happy Swing Setting!
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