Since I wrote this article, I added two more features to look for in the best swing sets. See the updated version where I talk about the top 7 qualities of the best swing sets in the video below! (Fun Fact: Before NJ Swingsets existed, we were called Arizona Playsets! That is why you see Arizona Playsets in the video below)
It’s easy to go into a store or browse a catalog and buy a swingset for your children, but the only thing easier than buying a swingset, is buying a bad one.
These are the top five features you should look for if you want a swingset that your children will enjoy for multiple years. You’ll avoid a lot of hassle by doing a little research upfront.
1.) The best swing sets have at least a 5 foot high deck
Why at least 5 feet? Because if your swingset has a deck that’s shorter than that, your kids are going to outgrow it very quickly, and when you look at sets online that don’t have clear specifications, it’s easy to buy a set that’ll be too small when your kids get older.
Sets that have 4 foot decks look almost identical to the 5 foot decks online, but they’re SO much smaller, and once your kids become 8 or 9 years old, the four foot swingset is just not going to be enough for them.
I’ve heard this same complaint countless times from parents who’ve come in to buy a second swingset for their 9 year olds — they have to get a new one because their kid got too big, and now they have to buy ANOTHER swing set.
(Oh how I wish i had ONE swing set when I was younger, let alone TWO!)
A set with a five foot deck is going to give you the most value, because you can use it for your younger kids who have no issue getting on the deck, AND it’ll last when they grow up.
The size of the bigger swingset is still compact enough to fit in smaller yards, younger children can still play easily, and even children into their early teens will be able to enjoy it.
Also, the extra foot doesn’t add much cost considering the extra flexibility you’re going to get with the larger set.
If you choose to go with a set that has a six or seven foot deck, then even teenagers and adults will be able to play on it.
Oftentimes, parents will buy the larger sets when they want to entertain the whole family — from the littlest kids, up to their older brothers and sisters.
The main takeaway is this: sets with a four foot deck are very small. You may save a little bit of money upfront by going with four feet, but in the long run, you’re going to wish you’d gone with a bigger set, and you might have to buy a new one in couple years.
Take a look at the Gorilla Playsets Nantucket, which has a 4 foot deck.
Now take a look at the Gorilla Playsets Riverview, which has a 5 foot deck.
They look almost the same right? 99% percent of people who view these sets online cannot tell the difference in size.
However, the Riverview is significantly larger.
2. The best swing sets cost at least $1,500 (2021 Update: about $2,000)
I used to think you could get a decent set for around $1,000, but learned that thinking you could get a great swingset for that price was like walking into Best Buy thinking you could get an awesome TV for under $500.
Once we go into the store and look at the TVs they have on display, we realize that the $500 ones are cheaply made, the warranty is bad, and they’re probably going to break within a year.
Swingsets are the same way — $1,500 is a good starting point for swingsets with a 5 foot deck that are going to be safe, sturdy, and have a great warranty. (Update from Jay in 2021 - "I would increase the price now to around $2,000 as many cost have increased since this article was written.)
You’ll find a bunch of sets that are cheaper than that online, but if you look into it, you’ll realize that those cheaper sets always have additional costs like shipping, or the quality of the sets are degraded in some way.
Most of the time you won’t even realize the quality is bad until you’re sitting in your backyard watching the swingset being set up - and something breaks.
Swing sets in the sub $1,000 range, usually have the following problems that you should look out for:
* They have a 4 foot deck, which is too small for older children
* They aren’t constructed from solid 4x4 beams, meaning they can break more easily
* The swing beams are pieces of wood glued together instead of a solid 4x6 inch beam, which means the set is susceptible to cracking and splitting
* Lack of predrilled holes, meaning the installers will have to drill them manually, causing them to crack a lot easier than factory drilled holes, and
* The base of the set isn’t constructed with solid 4x4 beams, so even the foundation is weak
Going for a swingset that’s at least $1,500 (in 2021, thats $2,000) will help you avoid most of those flaws.
3. The best swing sets have AT LEAST a 10 year warranty
As a general rule, most cedar swings have a 10-15 year warranty, and most premium preserved pine or redwood sets have lifetime warranties.
Getting a warranty is no joke, this isn’t like buying a blender where if it breaks you can get a new one easily. This is a swingset, it’s a piece of your house, meaning you’ll want to have it work for a long time.
Any serious manufacturer will provide a warranty, because with wood anything can happen, and you never know what mother nature’s going to throw at you.
Remember, all wood swingsets should have at least a 10 year warranty from a reputable manufacturer, or else they’re not worth buying.
All Gorilla Playsets come with a 10 year warranty. (If purchased with installation through NJ Swingsets, they come with a lifetime warranty!)
All Superior Play swing sets come with a 10 year warranty.
All King Swings Vinyl Playsets come with a lifetime warranty
4. The best swing sets have solid 4x6 inch swing beams
Another major feature of the best swingsets is that they have SOLID wood over the swings, with holes drilled through the middle — this makes them virtually unbreakable.
The larger and thicker the beam, the less likely it will be to snap while your child is playing on it.
Many poor quality swingsets have multiple 2x6 beams glued together as the swing beam instead of a single solid piece. You can see it in the picture to the right.
Since those beams are held together by multiple wood beams, you’d need to be careful playing on it, especially if slightly heavy or older kids are playing on the swingset.
The weight limit on the sets with the glued 2x6’s is drastically less, and I’ve seen them come apart WAY too many times.
I would never sell a set without a solid swing wood beam, nor would I ever recommend you buy one.
You can see the quality difference in any Gorilla playset, especially if you read reviews on how long they last vs. other sets.
5. The best swing sets have 4x4 inch beams holding up the set, NOT 2x4's
In the safest playsets, the frame and the A-frame (the part of the set that looks like a giant letter A) are made with solid beams of wood, whereas in the lower quality sets, they’ll be made of 2x4’s.
This is HUGE, because if the base of the playset is made with low quality wood, you run the risk of the entire set toppling over. Again, see what happens when you ignore this in the picture above.
Take a look at the wood that supports the base in the picture, as well as the wood that makes up the A-frame over the swings — they’re all 2x4 pieces of wood.
In any quality swingset, the wood that makes up the four corners of the base AND the A-frame are going to be 4x4’s. Check out the Gorilla Playsets Frontier Deluxe, you can see that the green coated beams of the base and A-frame are made of solid 4x4 pieces of cedar, so you know that this playset is going to last a long time, and it’s not going to randomly fall apart on you.
Following the tips above will help you find an awesome swingset for your kids.
If you want to take an easier route, you'll find our online store ONLY stocks the best swingsets - swing sets that include all 5 of these qualities.
Better yet, you can always give us call at 1-201-670-4000 and get in touch with a knowledgeable swingset specialist. We'd love to help you find a swingset you and your family are going to enjoy for years!