I've been asked many times: "Jay - what's the best wood for swing set?"
I'll then reply emphatically - that depends.
"Depends on what?" you might ask. Well it depends on what you are looking for. Are you looking for durability? Are you looking for beauty? Are you looking for the best value? Are you looking for the top of line?
Let's take a look at (in my humble opinion) the 3 best wood for playsets. Each has its own pros and cons. I'll do my best to help you decide which is right for you.
Here is the short version with an infographic that sums everything up:
- If you are looking for overall value, go with a solid Cedar swing set. It’s an excellent, all-around wood.
- If you are looking for natural beauty and durability, go with a Redwood swing set. It will last just as long as a set made with solid Cedar wood, but it will also cost you more. Redwood sets are usually 100% farmed in America, and it’s an absolutely beautiful wood that in general comes with a lifetime warranty.
- If you are looking for the most durable wood, go with a Premium Preserved Pine swing set. Premium Preserved Pine will last longer than Cedar and Redwood without maintenance. Its price typically falls between that of Redwood and Cedar and usually comes with a lifetime warranty.
That being said, let’s dive deeper into the best wood for playset below along with other considerations to help you choose the perfect swing set. First, why is it so important to get the best wood for swing set?
Why You Need the Best Wood for Playset
While vinyl swingsets have become more and more popular, wooden swing sets are still our go-to choice. This is due to the balance of aesthetics and longevity they have to offer. That being said, not all wood swing sets are created equal.
High-quality woods like cedar, redwood, and premium preserved pine are favored for their natural resilience to rot, decay, and insect damage, making them ideal for enduring the rigors of outdoor play and weather conditions.
Additionally, these woods offer the necessary strength to safely support children's activities, minimizing the risk of accidents.
Beyond durability, the right wood enhances the aesthetic appeal of the playset, seamlessly blending with outdoor environments and adding value to your property. Ultimately, selecting the best wood is about investing in a safe, long-lasting, and enjoyable play environment for children.
The Best Wood for Swing Set: Comparing Cedar, Pine, and Redwood
So, what is the best wood for swing set? The agreed-upon quality, ranging from best (5 stars) to worst (1 star), of the three woods would be as such:
The majority of wooden swing sets today are made from Cedar. And rightfully so. Cedar is an awesome wood. It's naturally resistant to rot, decay, and damage.
It is a highly durable wood, used on decks, playsets, and other projects, and remains cost-effective as well. Learn more about the swing set cost in our blog.
This affordable, but durable, wood will hold up well for years. Most Cedar sets come with a 10-15 year warranty. They are generally priced lower than their Redwood and Premium Preserved Pine counterparts.
Most cedar sets are boxed sets, using cedar from cedar trees in the Far East. Keep in mind, as long as your set is made from real cedar (not fake cedar, aka Chinese Fir) it doesn't matter where the cedar is grown.
The most important part of finding a quality cedar set is looking at the THICKNESS of the cuts of wood. For more information on that, please see our post The Top 7 Features of the Best Swing Sets.
Not to mention, new cedar sets smell terrific!
Most top-of-the-line swing sets are made from Redwood. There are different types of Redwood trees, however, the most common type of Redwood used in playsets these days is U.S. grown California Redwood.
Redwood, like Cedar, is naturally resistant to rot, decay and damage because it contains tannin, a natural chemical harmless to humans and animals, but toxic to fungi. Fungal disease causes decay in other woods. It is also naturally immune to insect damage.
The reddish-brown color of its bark has earned Redwood (in many people's opinion) the title of the most beautiful option for playsets, and it has less volumetric and tangential shrinkage, meaning it stays flat and straight with minimal, warping, cupping, or cracking. In other words, not only is Redwood easy on the eye but it also comes with a natural resistance to wear and tear, so you can enjoy it just as you purchased it for years to come.
Redwood is no doubt a beautiful and durable wood. However, due to most Redwood lumber today not being "Heartwood Redwood," Redwood sets have slipped a notch in their durability factor.
Keep in mind that almost all swing set manufacturers who make Redwood sets will tout them as the best, when in fact, the quality of Redwood sets has declined in recent years due to the lack of Heartwood Redwood being used.
Another idea to consider is that Redwood from old-growth forests (with Redwood trees in many hundreds of years) is never used anymore in swingsets. Almost all Redwood swing sets today are made from new-growth Redwood forests.
The Redwood from new-growth forests has not had the same amount of time to develop tannin, nor in many cases does it have the same rich, Redwood color and strength as an old-growth tree.
These are some points to consider before throwing in the cash towards a Redwood set.
Nearly all Redwood sets come with a lifetime warranty.
Premium Preserved Pine
If you are looking for the most durable swing set, I would recommend Premium Preserved Pine. (not regular pine) Contrary to popular belief, Premium Preserved Pine playsets, and NOT Redwood, are the most durable of all wood playsets used today because the pine is preshrunk and preserved.
These two processes minimize shrinking, warping, cracking, cupping, and fungal decay. Pine can withstand harsh weather conditions and can hold more moisture than Redwood and Cedar, which gives Premium Preserved Pine playsets a decades-long lifespan.
Pine is not the prettiest wood, however. Whereas Cedar and Redwood have a darker color and warmth, pine lacks this darkness and warmth. It is by no means an "ugly" wood, though.
One thing to note: Treated woods, such as Premium Preserved Pine, tend to be looked down upon by some playset dealers and manufacturers. The short reason for this is that - in the past - treated woods were treated with a chemical with trace amounts of arsenic - CCA - a chemical toxic to humans.
Playset manufacturers today that use pressure-treated and preserved woods, such as Playnation, however, do NOT use chemicals containing arsenic. The new treatments are copper-based and are Greenguard Certified. They are 100% safe for playgrounds and children.
Nearly all Premium Preserved Pine playsets come with a lifetime warranty.
More Considerations Beyond the Best Wood for Playset
Playset Design and Features
Playsets come in various designs, each offering a unique set of features. From classic swings and slides to more elaborate setups with climbing walls, forts, and monkey bars, the options are vast. Here are some of the most common:
- club house swing sets
- swing set with monkey bars
- swing set with rock wall
- swing set with sand box
- swing set with tire swing
- swing set with tube slide
It's important to choose a playset that not only fits your space but also engages your children's interests and abilities.
Consider the age range of your children and select a design that can grow with them. Some playsets offer the flexibility to add or change features over time, which can keep the play experience fresh and exciting.
Research the reputation of the playset manufacturer. Look for companies with a history of producing high-quality, durable playsets. Check their warranty and guarantee policies, and assess the quality of their customer service.
Two very popular choices are Gorilla swing set and King swings. We have curated a great selection of choices from these brands here at NJ Swing Sets so you can rest assured you’re getting the durability and support you need.
Size and Space Requirements
Before purchasing a playset, assess the available space in your yard. Ensure there's adequate room not only for the playset itself but also for a safe play area around it. There should be enough clearance around the playset to prevent injuries and to accommodate additional features or activities.
Safety should always be a top priority. Look for playsets that have robust safety features like high-quality safety rails, non-slip surfaces, and secure, sturdy construction. Regular maintenance checks are vital to ensure the playset remains safe over time.
Also, verify that the playset meets relevant safety standards and certifications, ensuring it's been tested and approved for safe play.
No Matter What Type of Swing Set You’re Looking For, You Can Count on NJ Swing Sets to Deliver!
Whether you’re looking for the best place to buy a swing set or places for kids birthday parties in Bergen County NJ, you can rest assured we’ll deliver a world-class experience. Our passion for play is evident in everything we do - from the moment you visit our showroom to the final installation process.
With a commitment to safety, durability, and customer satisfaction, NJ Swing Sets offers an extensive range of options, from classic wooden to modern play structures, ensuring there's a perfect fit for every backyard. We’ve curated our catalog to feature swing sets made from the best wood for swing set.
Our expertise and dedication to providing personalized customer service make the process of choosing and installing the ideal swing set effortless and enjoyable. For a reliable, enjoyable, and safe outdoor play experience, NJ Swing Sets is the go-to destination.
Final Thoughts on the Best Wood for Swing Set
Well, there you have it - all you need to know about the best wood for swing set. These are the 3 types of wood you will find when looking to purchase a new swing set. Which one is best for you is yours to decide.
In most cases, as long as you maintain the wood by staining/sealing each year, each of these woods will last you for many years to come.
Feel free to reach out with any questions using the chatbox at the bottom of the screen, or give us a shout at 201-670-4000. We can give you a personalized recommendation on the best wood for playest.
Remember, your choice for a backyard or commercial swing set in New Jersey can be simplified by getting in touch with our experts or paying us a visit in our Bergen County showroom. So, stop by and discover firsthand why we’re the #1 choice for Bergen County swing sets!