Are Metal or Wood Swing Sets Better? Metal vs Wooden Swing Sets

  • By: Kevin
  • Date: October 7, 2021
  • Time to read: 14 min.
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Whichever is better between metal or wood swing sets depends on what you wish to get out of a swing set. If you want something that will add to the curb appeal of your backyard, then you should go for a wood swing set. If you want something that is almost maintenance-free, a metal swing set will be perfect. 

The debate of metal vs. wood swing sets has been around for a long time. Some parents believe in having a wood swing set, while others swear that metal ones are the best. If you are confused about the ideal material for you, you have come to the right place. 

We will evaluate the pros and cons of each material in-depth and heal you make an informed decision. It is essential to remember that your situation and budget will determine the best material for you.

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Are Metal or Wood Swings Sets Better?

Most parents are torn between buying a metal or wood swing set for their children. Honestly, both materials have their pros and cons. It will depend on what you are looking to get out of a swing set in the long run. 

Therefore, it would be best to start with a list of what you want and then compare what you want with the benefits of wooden and metal swing sets. 

Overall, it is hard to say that wood swing sets are better than metal ones and vice versa because they have equal benefits. It all comes down to what you prefer in your backyard when choosing between the two materials. 

Metal Vs. Wood Swing Sets 

To make an informed decision on whether to buy a wood or metal swing set, you need to compare the performance of both materials on several aspects. Some of the elements include durability, maintenance, cost, installation, and customization, among other factors. 

You can choose the material you feel is suitable for your backyard. 

Durability 

Metal can last for 20 years or more when it is treated against rust. Metal can withstand all weather conditions without deteriorating. Therefore, you can still have your metal swing set in your backyard 20 years later with the proper care. 

Wood swing sets can also last for 20 years with proper care and maintenance. Wood treatments allow the swing sets to last for long without rotting or water damage. 

Also, treatments ensure that wood swing sets can stay out all year round without significant damage. 

Overall, both materials are durable, and they can serve your family for many years without fail. It will be a matter of which type of swing set is available if durability is the deciding factor for your purchasing decision. 

Cost 

Wood swing sets tend to be more expensive than metal swing sets because wood is a costly resource. Also, the quantity of wood necessary for a swing set is higher than the quantity of metal for a swing set. 

It would be best if you were prepared to spend hundreds of dollars to buy wooden swing sets, and it will take a while to assemble them. 

Metal swing sets are smaller, and they can hold a high weight load. Metal is an available resource, and you can find metal swing sets fast. Also, the swing sets are not bulky compared to wooden swing sets. 

You can save a couple of hundreds of dollars when you opt for a metal swing set over a wood one. 

Overall, metal is affordable than wood when it comes to swing sets. Metal swing sets are not of poor quality because the cost is reasonable. 

The availability of metallic resources is the reason why the swing sets are cheaper. 

Purpose 

Metal swing sets are made for commercial use, like school playgrounds and parks. They can withstand the constant abuse by hundreds of kids per day for years. 

On the other hand, wood swing sets target parents with kids. They are common in residential areas where parents and grandparents install them in the backyard for a few kids. 

You need to buy a metal swing set if you know more than five kids will be using the swings to have fun. Metals have a higher maximum weight load, and you don’t have to worry about the swing set coming apart because kids use it a lot. 

Wood swing sets are perfect for use by 1-3 kids in a day. Most parents with one or two kids have a swing set in their backyard. 

However, few wood swing sets are ideal for daily use by many kids. The wood will begin to wear out and crack as kids use it regularly. 

Overall, you should go for a metal swing set if you intend to have many kids use it per day. Wood swing sets are perfect for home use, where one or two children will be using the set in the backyard. 

Therefore, keep the size of the target users when selecting the ideal swing set material. 

Customization

Many parents are interested in doing DIY projects at home, including customizing children’s toys and playground equipment. Wood sets are easy to customize compared to metal ones. 

You should choose a wooden swing set if you intend to add or reduce features as your little one grows older. 

Wood is simple to customize because you can use tools that are available around the home. You can get supplies from your local hardware store and add features to a swing set. 

You need a drill, saw, bolts, and screws, and wood to make customizations. 

Metal swing sets require welding skills, which most parents do not possess. You have to use welding tools to make additions to a metal swing set. 

The alternative is to hire a professional who knows how to customize metal equipment. It is such a hassle to customize a metal swing set to add fun features for your kids. 

Wood is the best material if you look forward to making additions, replacements, or reductions to a swing set as kids grow older.  Also, select wood that is readily available in your area so that you can provide the same treatment and maintenance to the equipment after customization. 

Appearance 

Backyard equipment needs to be fun to attract kids and get them excited to play outside. Metal swing sets come in bright colors that kids find appealing. 

You can apply multiple colors to metal equipment to make it appear fun. 

Moreover, you can change the colors on the swing set as your child’s preferences change as they grow. It is possible to paint a metal swing set every year if you want to give it a facelift and add a pop of color in your backyard. 

Wood swing sets are available in natural colors, even when they are pre-treated. The only way to add color is through the swing seats, chains, and plastic accessories. 

It is hard to make wood swing sets pop with color. However, the natural color of wood adds aesthetic value to a home. 

Overall, metal swing sets are more attractive than wooden ones because they are easy to paint. Many parents don’t mind the natural color of wood playground equipment, but they can go for metal ones when a child insists on specific colors. 

Installation 

Installing metal swing sets is a breeze because the pieces are straightforward compared to wooden ones. There are fewer pieces to assemble using a wrench to tighten the bolts and get the swing set upright. 

Also, it takes a short while to install metal playground equipment, and you don’t have to spend one or two weekends on the installation. 

Wood swing sets are complex, and most of them come with many pieces that need assembling. Moreover, not all parts are labeled correctly, and it gets confusing to put the pieces together. 

It is rare for parents to build a wood slide or swing set on their own, much less in 24 hours. You will need help from friends and family to put together the playground equipment. 

Overall, wood swing sets are more complex to install than metal ones, even when the manufacturer provides clear instructions. It also takes longer to install wood playground equipment than it does to put in metal ones. 

Therefore, you should be prepared to ask 2-3 buddies to help you install a wood swing set. Alternatively, you can opt to have professionals do the installation. 

Maintenance 

Maintenance is an essential part to consider when buying playground equipment because it is a recurrent expense you will incur. It is ideal to choose equipment with low maintenance so that you don’t spend a lot in the long run. 

Metal swing sets need maintenance to ensure they are rust-free, which is achievable by using dust coating. Metal can be coated with rust-resistant paint to prevent water from reaching the bolts and other critical parts that can rust. 

Otherwise, there are no significant maintenance expenses associated with metal swing sets. 

Wood swing sets do come with a huge maintenance bill if you do inspections far apart. Wood tends to rot, crack, and break over time. 

You have to carry out checks monthly to ensure that everything is okay. Water affects wood, and you will have to do repairs after the winter or rainy seasons. 

Also, wood attracts pests that may create nests, and you will have an infestation on your hands.  You need to treat the wood every 1-3 years to ensure that it is protected from weather elements. Make sure to keep the bugs off your playset.

Over time, wood will begin to warp because of too much humidity or sunshine. Therefore, parents have to be vigilant when they have wood playground equipment than metal ones. 

Safety 

Safety should be at the forefront of your mind when purchasing a swing set for your little one. Always check the materials that manufacturers use on a swing set to ensure that they are child-friendly and do not contain any toxic materials. 

Also, check whether a product is compliant with ASTM and other international standards organizations. 

Wood is a relatively safe material as the latest wood treatments are child-friendly and don’t contain toxins. A wood swing set poses the dangers that the wood may warp and have splinters that hurt your little one. 

You should check the wood equipment regularly to ensure there are no splinters. Parents may have to sand down a few places on the swing set to ensure that it is smooth. 

Wood is also prone to pest infestations, and some of them, like bees or wasps, can hurt your child. Keep an eye out for any sign of infestation so that your child doesn’t go into a nest without knowing. 

Another common danger is for rotten parts to break when your child steps on them. A child can get severe scraps when wood on the swing set breaks. Always check for rotting wood regularly and replace them as soon as you can. 

Metal swing sets still need to meet compliance requirements like other children’s equipment. Most metal swing sets use child-friendly paints to keep the metal from rusting. 

You should know that metal grows extremely hot or cold, depending on the weather. Therefore, check the chains when the weather is extreme to ensure your little one doesn’t get heat or cold burn. 

Metal equipment manufacturers may use protective materials on the chains to regulate the temperatures when they go too high or too low. 

Also, metal playground equipment is prone to bending over time. Keep an eye out for any signs of weak points that the metal parts may have to ensure that the equipment doesn’t bend when your kids are using it. 

Replacement Parts 

At some points, you will have to replace something that is broken or stopped working. It is easy to replace parts on wood swing sets because you can repurpose wood lying around. Also, you can get wood at the local hardware store and cut it to size for the replacements.

Metal swing sets require most parents to order replacement parts from the manufacturer because it is hard to customize metal parts. Most pieces are custom-made for the swing set, making it hard to find replacement parts locally. 

Therefore, if a company closes down after buying a metal swing set, you will have to look for replacement parts from other companies with similar products. 

Overall, it is hard to use materials around the home as replacement parts for metal swing sets unless bolts. You have to ask for replacement parts from the manufacturer if you want to keep your equipment looking flawless. 

Wood swing sets are easy to make replacement parts from new wood or repurposing wood in your garage. 

Summary of Wood Vs. Metal Swing Set 

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of both metal and wood swing sets. 

Metal Swing Set Pros & Cons

Metal Pros 

  • It can last for 20 years with proper care.
  • Metal is safe for kids. 
  • You will spend less on maintenance and care in the long run. 
  • Metal swing sets can be applied in various colors. 
  • Affordable for parents on a budget. 
  • Installation takes a few hours. 

Metal Cons 

  • It’s hard to customize metal swing sets. 
  • The metal can get too hot or cold, depending on the weather. 
  • It’s hard to find replacement parts. 
  • Metals bend over time. 

Wood Swing Set Pros & Cons

Wood Pros 

  • Wood adds to the curb appeal of your backyard. 
  • Wood is safe for children.
  • It’s easy to customize wood swing sets. 
  • Wood can last for 20 years with the proper care and maintenance. 
  • Wood swing sets are perfect for home settings. 
  • You can make replacement parts at home. 
  • Wood doesn’t get too hot or cold as the weather changes. 

Wood Cons 

  • Wood swing sets are expensive
  • The material is prone to water damage and rotting. 
  • It can take up to 48 hours or more to assemble wood swing sets. 
  • You will incur higher maintenance fees in the long run. 
  • You can’t paint them.

Metal vs Wood Swing Set Buyers Guide

It would be best to consider other factors when selecting the ideal swing set for your child other than the material. You need to understand all the factors that will affect your decision-making to make a sound decision. 

After all, your swing set may last 15-20 years in your backyard. You need to make sure you make a choice that you can live within the long term. 

Space and Size  

The space in your backyard will determine the size of the swing set you can install there. You need to go to your backyard and identify a location where you want to install the swing set. 

Proceed and measure the size of the area. Leave space for the sides so that kids and adults can walk around the swing set. 

Swing sets are available in all sizes, and it can be a bit confusing to select one size. Therefore, knowing the space, you can spare for playground equipment helps you narrow down the size you should pick. 

Number of Users 

Each swing set specifies the maximum number of children who can play on it simultaneously and the maximum weight limit. You may have two children, but their friends tend to come over to play with them. 

Also, you may have relatives who bring their kids over for sleepovers during the weekends. 

It would help if you accounted for additional kids playing with your child or children to be on the safe side. It is hard to tell some kids to sit on the sidelines while others have fun on the swing set. 

Features

Your ideal swing set should have several features other than swings. You can opt for something with a slide, monkey bars, a climbing wall, climbing rope, trapeze swing, or a sandbox. 

A swing set with several features provides several games that will engage your child for several hours and help them burn excess energy. 

Also, children tend to get bored fast when they do one thing repeatedly. Playground equipment with at least three features will keep your child there for hours at a time.  

Playground Characteristics 

The terrain, drainage, and surfacing of your backyard will affect the kind of swing set you will buy. You may opt for a swing set with stakes when you have artificial turf in place. 

Others may opt for metal swing sets when the soil in the backyard isn’t well-drained. 

Another characteristic you need to consider is the ideal playground surfacing you can use in the backyard. Some of the surfacing options include mulch, pellets, or sand. 

Research the best surfacing for your top three choices of swing sets before you make the final decision. 

Safety 

Safety is an essential aspect of the playground. In addition to the safety measures for wood and metal swing sets, you should think about overall playground safety. 

The playground shouldn’t be near trees or places when sharp objects may end up near the swing sets. 

Also, the swing set should be in a location you can monitor children with ease when you are in the house or on the patio. Research other safety measures specific to your local area and finds out whether you can implement them.

Budget 

The material of your swing set will weigh in on how much you pay for it. Wood swing sets tend to cost $500-$1,500, depending on the size. 

You will probably spend close to $1,000 when you buy a cedar wood swing set that can accommodate older kids. 

Metal swing sets cost $400-$600 because metal is an available resource and cheaper than wood. You will get an enormous swing set for $500 when you opt for metal over wood. 

Overall, metal is more affordable, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t durable. 

Installation Costs

Not everyone can assemble a swing set for their children because of a lack of time or skills. Other times, a swing set may be too complex for you to assemble on your own. 

You will need to bribe friends and family with pizza and drinks to get their help in building a swing set for your little one. 

Alternatively, you need to hire professionals to do the installation. They may charge $100-$200, depending on the time it takes to assemble the equipment. 

Check the manufacturer’s installation time estimate to get a rough idea of how long it will take to install it. Overall, it would be best to account for the expenses you will incur to install the swing set in your backyard.

Conclusion

So, are metal or wood swing sets better than plastic ones? Yes. They are more durable and can accommodate more kids. 

However, most wood and metal swing sets have several features made of plastic, like the rocks on the climbing wall. 

Overall, your choice between metal and wood will depend on what you want and how much you are willing to pay for a swing set. Both materials are excellent for swing sets, and that is why they are popular. 

You have to figure out which one of the two materials is the best for you and your kids. Swing sets are very calming and provide great exercise for years to come.

After you have made your purchase, next you will want to know where to place your swing set in the yard and how to anchor it on grass.


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