How Long Does Playground Equipment Last?

Playground equipment has a long life and can last for decades - if properly maintained and used. The durability and lifetime of playground equipment largely depends on the construction and type of materials used in manufacturing and installation. Here is everything you need to know about the lifespan of different playground equipment materials.

There are a lot of misconceptions about playgrounds. Some people believe that play equipment will last forever, but this isn’t the case. With improper maintenance or exposure to harsh climates, even seemingly indestructible products can corrode and break down over time. To get the most out of your outdoor playset purchase, it is essential to understand how long typical playground equipment lasts, so you know when to replace them. This way, you’ll get many years of safe playtime from your investment.

So, how long does playground equipment last? The lifespan of playground equipment varies depending on the materials it’s made out of. Wood is the most durable material for playground equipment because it does not corrode or warp in extreme weather conditions, and it can last for many years. Metal can last up to 30 years if properly maintained but must be repainted every few years. Plastic lasts about 10-15 years before needing replacement parts.

In this blog post, we cover everything you need to know about the lifespan of playground equipment. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

What Do People Think About the Lifespan of Playground Equipment?

The playground is one of the best places for your child to play, not only because it’s fun but also because it encourages children to try new things. They learn how to make decisions and problem solving by figuring out what they like and don’t like about different pieces of equipment.

A colorful outdoor playset.
For some reason, people believe that playground equipment last forever, but this is not true.

There are a lot of misconceptions about playgrounds, though, like people believing that play equipment will last forever. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. If your playground equipment is improperly maintained or exposed to harsh climates, even seemingly indestructible play structures can corrode and break down over time.

If you want to get the most out of your outdoor playset purchase, it is essential to understand how long different pieces of playground equipment last, so you know when to replace them. Let us find out in detail below.

How Long Do Playground Equipment Last?

The lifespan of playground equipment varies depending on the materials it’s made out of. The three common materials used to make playground equipment are wood, metal, and plastic.

Let us find out how long each of them will last if you take good care of your equipment.

1. Wood

Wood is the most durable material for playground equipment because it does not corrode or warp in extreme weather conditions. You may have to replace the wood every ten years if you live in a hot, dry climate, though. If you take proper care of your equipment by applying wood preservatives regularly, it could last for many years.

Keep in mind that we have different types of wood in the market. Cedar and redwood are considered to be top-of-the-line when it comes to durability, but you can also opt for pressure-treated wood to save money.

A empty wooden swing set.
Along with featuring the natural look, wooden playground structures are among the most durable options.

Other than durability, people love wooden structures because of the natural look they provide. The problem with this type of equipment is that it will need regular maintenance to ensure it doesn’t deteriorate.

If you’re willing to maintain your equipment regularly, wooden playground equipment can last for many years without any issues at all.

2. Metal

If appropriately maintained, metal playground equipment lasts up to 30 years but needs to be painted every few years. You may also need to replace parts here and there, especially when children are rough on it or if you live in an area that experiences a harsh climate.

Metal equipment provides an industrial feel that isn’t for everyone, but the lack of maintenance requirements and high durability makes this type of playground equipment unique and worth considering.

Different play structures are made of different types of metal. For instance, stainless steel is used for your more delicate swing sets, while aluminum is usually used to manufacture heavy-duty climbing frames.

A typical maintenance schedule for metallic play equipment involves washing the equipment using a pressure washer to remove dirt and debris, then applying an industrial-grade paint that can withstand heavy impact.

3. Plastic

Plastic equipment is popular because it comes in different shapes and sizes, making it easy to incorporate into your play structure design. It also doesn’t require much maintenance or special tools for upkeep.

Unfortunately, plastic equipment only lasts around ten years. This means that if you’re looking for something durable, this isn’t the best option. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something cost-effective but convenient to replace every few years, then this is your safest bet.

A toddler having fun on a bucket swing.
Plastic playground equipment pieces are quite popular as they come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.

Different types of plastics are used to manufacture playground equipment, but the most common is polyethylene. This plastic can last anywhere from five to ten years, depending on how much traffic it receives.

It’s important to note that different types of plastics are used for equipment intended for children of different ages. For example, inflatable play equipment made for toddlers would not be manufactured out of the same materials as climbing frames designed for older children.

What Can You Do to Prolong the Lifespan of Your Play Equipment?

Although most playground equipment have an almost definite lifespan, there are many things you can do to prolong it.

Here are the top three things you need to remember if you want to properly take care of your equipment.

1. Check for Rust or Corrosion Regularly

Rust is one of the most common problems associated with outdoor play equipment. It will weaken metal infrastructure, especially in areas that receive high amounts of rainfall, which is why it’s essential to check for rust or corrosion regularly.

Even if your equipment appears to be in good condition, you should still try and remove as much rust as possible because you never know when it could come back.

A metal swing set.
Rust weaken metal infrastructure, especially in areas that receive high amounts of rainfall.

The first sign of corrosion is an orange-red color on the surface which means that there is moisture within the metal. If left untreated, it could cause serious damage to your playground equipment.

2. Seal the Wood Once Every Two Years

If you have wooden play structures, you must maintain them regularly. As soon as you notice weathering or exposure, immediately apply a sealant on the surface of the wood.

Although different types of wood come with different maintenance requirements, applying an external sealant is crucial unless you want your equipment to wear out quickly.

3. Maintain the Surface of Plastic Equipment

Plastic play structures are one of the most popular types of equipment on the market today because they’re relatively inexpensive and do not require much care. On top of that, they’re easy to replace when damaged.

If you need to prolong the lifespan of your plastic equipment, then maintaining its surface is critical. This means regularly cleaning it using a pressure washer or mild detergent to remove dirt and debris.

It’s also recommended that you paint over plastic surfaces with an industrial-grade paint that can withstand heavy impact (this is usually done once every five years).

What Makes Some Metal Play Equipment More Durable?

Since metallic play equipment doesn’t require much maintenance, many people prefer it over plastic and wooden alternatives. But what exactly makes them more durable?

First, most metal equipment is made out of heavy-duty steel (usually galvanized) that can resist corrosion for a long time. It means that you won’t have to regularly check for rust – your equipment will last longer because of this.

In terms of strength, steel is stronger than both plastic and wood – meaning it’s also more durable. Metal equipment can also handle sudden impact from children or other objects without showing significant signs of damage.

A metallic playground structure.
Oftentimes, metallic playground structures resist corrosion and are more durable than wood and plastic.

Which Material Is the Most Expensive?

Durability and price are often related because it usually takes more resources to create products that are resistant to wear and tear.

But which material is considered the most costly? Well, there isn’t a definitive answer, but it’s essential to consider the following reasons:

First, plastic equipment is by far one of the cheapest types on the market today. This makes it the most popular option for DIY enthusiasts and people on a budget.

However, although plastic equipment is cheaper than metallic alternatives, it will require more frequent maintenance to prolong its lifespan.

Wooden play structures are usually more expensive than metal ones, but their price varies depending on different factors such as the type of wood, size, and quality.

Final Thought

To summarize, if you’re not too concerned about durability and want something that’s low maintenance, then plastic equipment is your best bet. If you want something that will last for years without needing much attention, wooden equipment is the way to go.

On the other hand, metallic playground equipment can provide all of these benefits but is also the priciest option out of all three.

If you are not bothered so much about durability, you need to look for low-maintenance equipment.

If you are buying a swing set, be sure to buy plastic swings instead of metallic ones because the metallic ones will rust over time and become too hot during summer, increasing the risk of kids sustaining sunburns on their delicate skin.

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