Do you remember the things you did in your childhood? How you used to swing in the sunshine all day without care? Well, things haven’t changed, and your little ones still want to enjoy that part of childhood. It means that at some point, you may be forced to purchase and install a wooden swing set in your backyard. However, since a swing set is a significant investment in your kids and backyard, you will want to know how long it can last before you install it.
So, how long does a wooden swing set last? On average, a strong wooden swing set made of strong and durable wood can last 20 years or longer. However, the exact lifespan of your swing set will depend on a wide range of factors, including the type of wood used, how it was treated, how you maintain it, and the overall swing set quality.
The best way to determine how long your wooden swing set will last is to look at the warranty. If it has a complicated warranty or no warranty at all, don’t buy it. Manufacturers of high-quality wooden swing sets will always have confidence in their products and give you a relatively extended warranty.
This post discusses everything you need to know about the longevity of wooden swing sets and what you can do to ensure the playset serves you for a long time. So, let us get started.
Understanding the Lifespan of a Wooden Swing Set
Since a wooden swing set can be a significant purchase for your backyard, it is crucial to select one that will be worth the investment. As mentioned earlier, the average lifespan of a wooden swing set is usually determined by the type of wood it is made of and the quality of workmanship used in the manufacturing process.
Typically, wooden swing sets will last the longest when they are made of durable wood that is well-treated. Warranties for many of the top-quality wooden swing sets are above 20 years, which means that the manufacturers expect these structures to last for at least 20 years before you start experiencing any issues with them.
In fact, some of the best quality wooden swing sets can last a lifetime. The wooden swing sets that last for many years are usually made of thicker and higher quality treated wood. To prolong the lifespan of the swing set further, the structure is sealed and stained.
Proper sealing and staining helps to prevent decay and allows the swing set to maintain its peak form. Always look for consumer reviews online to see how long similar swing sets lasted before you proceed to purchase one.
Types of Woods Used in Swing Set Construction
There are different types of wood with varying durability used in the construction of swing sets. Let us find out how they differ:
Cedar is the least durable and generally least expensive type of wood used to construct swing sets. However, some people like it because it is naturally resistant to decay and bugs. Cedar is not naturally preserved wood, so it must be treated regularly if you want it to last for long.
Swing sets made of cedar come in different sizes. Therefore, you need to be careful which one you buy. Is the frame composed of 2×4 or 4×4 pieces of cedar? Typically, you want the frame to be made of 4×4 parts.
You should also check the size of wood used to craft the swing beam. Is it 2×6 or 4×6? Again, you want the larger size here. Keep in mind that these distinctions will make differences both in price and safety of the swing set.
Be careful when purchasing swing sets made of cedar from China. While most of them are cheaper, the unfortunate thing is that they may not be safe, and won’t last for long.
Most swing sets made of cedar come with a five-year warranty, but they can last for many more years with proper care and maintenance.
In fact, with regular cleaning and staining, untreated cedar can last for up to 20 years, but without proper maintenance, it won’t survive past five years.
Redwood swing sets are usually made of US-grown California Redwood, which is naturally resistant to decay and damage thanks to the high tannin levels it contains. Tannin is a natural chemical that is harmless to humans and animals but highly toxic to fungi and bugs.
Swing sets made of redwood usually stay flat and straight with only a slight warping, cracking, or cupping. Most people love redwood for its beautiful cinnamon color.
While this type of wood is known to last for many years, its quality has decreased in recent years. Cuts from the relatively newer growth trees and non-center cut redwood can easily fool you into purchasing a substandard swing set.
Since redwood is not naturally preserved, you will be required to clean and stain or paint your swing set regularly to keep it in great shape. You should also consider applying a waterproof sealant once every year to stop the redwood from losing its original color.
If well-maintained, swing sets made of redwood can last for more than 20 years. Most of these swing sets come with a lifetime warranty and often receive the highest consumer reviews for durability.
However, some of them become more susceptible to rot and decay after approximately five years. Since redwood is a softwood, you need to take good care of it to serve you well. Redwood swing sets also require extra steel brackets for support if you install them in high traffic areas.
3. Pressure-Treated Pine (PTP)
Pressure-treated pine (PTP) is the most durable of all the wooden swing sets out there. However, some people give it a bad rap due to the arsenic substances used in the treatment and preservation process.
Despite the many myths about pressure-treated pine out there, the wood remains 100% safe for animals, humans, and the environment. Manufacturers no longer use arsenic materials in the treatment and preservation process. Instead, they have turned to a harmless copper-based treatment that also prevents rotting, insect infestation, and decay.
Furthermore, copper-based treatment plays a critical role in minimizing warping, shrinking, cupping, and cracking of the wood. Pressure-treated pine can withstand severe weather elements and absorb more moisture compared to cedar or redwood. Typically, pressure-treated pine will have a lifespan of more than 20 years.
Cost-wise, pressure-treated pine falls in between cedar and redwood.
Although this type of wood is adequately preserved and doesn’t require as much cleaning, painting, or staining compared to cedar and redwood, it is advisable to stain it once every two years to keep it in great shape. Staining also helps to prolong its lifespan.
Which Is the Best Wood for a Swing Set
Before you start shopping around for a wooden swing set, there are a few critical things you need to keep in mind.
You need to understand that your playset will be stationed outdoors under the sun, heavy rainfall, and depending on where you stay, the snow and ice that comes with winter will land on it. Throw in insect manifestation and wood rot, and you have a full blown problem to deal with.
Therefore, you want to find a good wood that can last for long. Although Cedar and Redwood are the most commonly used types of wood in swing set construction, pressure-treated pine offers much more durability and stability.
Pressure-treated pine can withstand harsh weather elements and is resistant to rot, decay, disease, and insect manifestation. It is also relatively affordable. Therefore, if you can afford it, please go for it.
You may also come across wooden swing sets made of spruce or fir. While these types of wood are fine in some aspects, they are generally designed for indoor use since they do not have the natural in-built ability to resist rot, decay, and insect manifestation.
They will require regular maintenance if you want to protect your playset and have it serve you for a relatively long time. Therefore, it would be wise to avoid swing sets made from these types of wood even if they are being sold cheaply.
Does the Swing Set Brand Matter?
The short answer is yes. Typically, the brand of the wooden swing set you purchase will significantly impact its lifespan.
Manufacturers that use superior quality wood and state-of-the-art design equipment will offer unlimited warranties compared to companies that use cheaper materials to produce their swing sets.
Your peace of mind will be guaranteed with a longer warranty period.
A wooden playset is a significant investment for you and your kids. This is the primary reason you need one that can last a long time with the least maintenance. Although some wooden playsets can last a lifetime, others won’t go past five years.
The three most common types of wood used in swing set construction are cedar, redwood, and pressure-treated pine. For value, ease of use, unmatched durability, PTP swing sets are your best option.
While you may pay a slightly higher price than if you purchase a cedar swing set and may not enjoy the beauty of a redwood set, your PTP swing set will last for many years, serving different generations of your lineage.