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One of the more frequent questions I'm asked is "Jay, what's the difference between Sunbrella, Vinyl and a wood roof on a swing set?"
While looking at playsets for your child, one consideration is the type of roof or top that will be used on top of the main deck. There are several different types of tops with different features available.
The vinyl canopy roof is the least expensive option, and, depending on your climate, will last approximately four to five years. Vinyl tops are great because they allow a nice breeze to enter onto the deck. They are also fairly easy and inexpensive to replace. Vinyl roofs resist mold and mildew and can withstand harsh weather for a few seasons.Vinyl will crack and fade as it ages. If you live in an area with severe winters or scorching hot summers, vinyl will tend to crack and fade more quickly.
Sunbrella Fabric Canopy
The Sunbrella fabric canopy roof is the mid-priced option, and will last the longest - at ten to thirty years. Sunbrella fabric is breathable, so it does not trap moisture that causes mold. Sunbrella will not crack like vinyl. The environment below the Sunbrella canopy will stay drier longer than other options. There is a larger selection of fabric colors to choose from, which will remain rich and vibrant after years of use. The real strength of Sunbrella is the color will not fade with bleach, rain or chlorine. This style is also breezier and cooler than a wood roof. The Sunbrella fabric canopy is easily replaceable if you ever decide to change the color or pattern. Sunbrella canopies are also recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation to aid in the reduction of sun induced skin damage.
A wood roof is the most pleasing to the eye, very sturdy and will not tear. This option is the most expensive and the hardest to repair. Most wood roofs feature tongue in groove boards for a tight seal and smooth finish. You will find that this choice will be hotter than the vinyl or Sunbrella roof, because the wood holds the heat on the deck. There is also less of a breeze due to the rigidity of the wood. Yearly maintenance is recommended on wood roofs.
So Should I Choose Vinyl, Sunbrella or a Wood Roof?
Obviously that depends on your wants and needs, but here is a summary:
Vinyl Canopies - Least expensive up front, but must be replaced every 4-5 years due to cracking and fading. Buy vinyl if you want to save money now and don't mind replacing the material every 4-5 years on your own.
Sunbrella Fabric Canopies - You pay a little bit extra for Sunbrella up front, but in my opinion, its worth it. Sunbrella lasts much longer than vinyl and the colors do not fade. It is the longest lasting option that will keep a new appearance and supply an ample amount of shade and breeze.
Wood Roof - The most costly, sturdiest and most beautiful option is the wood roof. Let's face it - a wood roof is beautiful. If you have the money, you will not regret having a wood roof covering your main deck. The downfall to having a wood roof, however, is they tend to keep the deck warmer, and if the wood breaks, it is more of a hassle to repair than vinyl or sunbrella. The wood roof option will also require a bit more maintenance than a vinyl or sunbrella tarp. The wood on a swingset should be sealed at least once a year.
I hope this has helped clear up the differences between Vinyl, Sunbrella and wood roofs.
If you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call, ask in the comments below, or visit us on our Facebook page.
Best of luck on your purchase!