We recently purchased a PLAYSET for our young children and wanted to share some things I learned along the way. I actually started looking at playsets a year before we purchased one. (Crazy, huh?! Well, our oldest was still young for a full size playset, so I knew we would want to get one eventually, but we were in no hurry.) I tracked prices, compared retailers for pricing & sales, and really looked at the design of sets to see what I felt gave the most engaging playset for kids.
What I was looking for in a set:
quality at a reasonable price
most engaging elements to foster activity and creativity
ability to keep kids engaged and playing as they grow
lots of things to climb
PIN IT FOR LATER:
What material is right for you?
One of the first things to think about when buying a playset is what material do you want.
Wood is significantly cheaper than vinyl, but does require maintenance during the life of the set to keep it in good condition. You will need to stain/seal a wood set through the years.
Vinyl is a great option because it is low maintenance and can stay in great condition for many, many years. For us, we found that vinyl was not a good option to meet our goals for what we wanted in features. Had I just wanted a basic swing set, I could have went for a vinyl set. But, since one of our goals was to find a design that had a lot of features to climb, wood was definitely going to allow us to get a lot more features on the playset within a price we were comfortable at. For the design we ended up buying I found an equivalent design in vinyl was about 40-50% more in price and I wasn’t willing to spend that much more money.
Metal- Another material to consider that was my second choice was metal. It wasn’t really on my radar until I happened upon a great set that was metal while searching online. I found a nice looking metal set with a lot of great reviews that had the features I was looking for. I liked the look, design, and reviews of this set. Metal seems like a good option to consider, a little less maintenance than wood, but much cheaper than vinyl. (It is recommended to use a sealer on the metal each year to prevent rust.)
Favorite Metal Playset:
This is the Lifetime Adventure A-Frame Playset. At the time of posting this article, the set was priced at $1,788. I liked the design and layout of this set. It is very similar to the set I ended up selecting. I liked the various things that kids can climb. The A-frame design really appealed to me. I like the openness of it and having a swing underneath it, in addition to the traditional swings on the set. I think the price point of this set for the features and the lower maintenance was a good value. The set seemed to have consistently high ratings, as well.
What play features should you look for?
This is certainly something up to each individual…how old are your kids at the time you are buying it, do you have size limitations, personal preference, do you want a table, a playhouse, monkey bars, climbing features, swings?
For us, we have very young children at the time we are buying a playset, so I am looking for a set that has both things they can do now, but that will keep them interested for years to come. Here are some play features I was looking for in trying to find a set that I was happy with:
Deck Height- Look for a 5 foot deck, some sets have a 4 foot deck, which kids will outgrow sooner.
Rock Wall/Rope Climb- I wanted a set that had a variety of things to climb. My hope is that it will not just be a ‘swing set’, but a creative place to play and be imaginative.
A-Frame Design- This is very much personal preference, but as I was searching styles, I kept being drawn to sets that were an A frame style, where one side was generally a rock wall and the other ladders to get up to the playhouse. Many sets have a square base that has either an empty space underneath that could be made into a sandbox or there is a little playhouse with a table. This is personal preference, so that might be the type of style you prefer, but I felt that would have been wasted space for us. Our kids already have a nice play table and sandbox, so I wanted something else. I also like the open feel to the A-frame styles. They often have a tire swing underneath, which I just love!
Monkey Bars- This was more take it or leave it for me. The set I ended up with had a choice of monkey bars or no monkey bars, so I ended up selecting them, but my 2nd Choice Play Set did not have monkey bars, and I was fine with that.
Size- Be sure to measure the area you want to put your playset and take into account the additional safety zone that is needed around the perimeter of the set. If size is a factor for you, I would again recommend you to consider the METAL PLAYSET I discussed above.
Which Playset Did We Select?
The Gorilla Playset Sun Palace II is the set I decided on. I found consistently good reviews regarding the quality of the Gorilla Playsets. Their products seem to be built to be quite sturdy. This particular model has a monkey bar option, which I did choose, it is about a $200 difference on Amazon to get the monkey bars. I like that this model has 4 different things to climb, not even counting the monkey bars. I love the tire swing underneath and the roomy looking play fort on top that is 4×6 feet. This set does have a larger footprint 21×12 feet, so that is something to consider. A safety zone of 24×33 feet is recommended. This set retailed on Amazon for $2,499 at the time this article was published.
Other Playsets to Check Out:
BEST PLAY HOUSE: If a great play house is at the top of your wish list, this set is one you definitely want to put on your short list! I love the design on the Backyard Discovery Skyfort II. This one has a lot going on and a great playfort! I love the upper level and the extra lookout tower, how fun does that look for little ones! If you are looking for a set that has a table, this is a great option. It also has a set of monkey bars. At the time of publishing this article, the price for this set was $1,599, so it is similar in price to the metal set I described above and much less expensive than the Gorilla Sun Palace II.
FAVORITE HYBRID…great play house & lots to climb!! The Chateau Cedar Swing Set is a beautiful playset! If monkey bars are not a must for you, this should be at the top of your list! I love the layout! There are lots of ways to climb up to the fort on the second level. This set has a table on the bottom level, as well as a slide and swings. This set is from Gorilla Playsets, which has great reviews on their quality. This set was priced at $1,849 at the time of publishing this article.
Another great metal playset option is this Lifetime Adventure Tower. It has a fun playhouse on the lower level with a rock wall to climb. It has a fun upper deck playhouse, as well. At the time of publishing this article, this set is available on Amazon for $1,699 and has high reviews.
Great Playset Under $1,000
The Swing-N-Slide PB 8272 Cedar Brook Play Set is a great option to consider if you are looking to stay under $1,000. At the time of publishing this article, this set was $922.84. It has a lot of features to keep kiddos entertained! It has a 4 foot deck at the slide and a 5 foot deck in the play house. It has a fun slide, monkey bars, rock wall, and swings. This set has quite a few good reviews, as well.
I hope I was able to help you narrow your search and help save you some time in searching for the right play set for your family. Start by measuring your area, look through examples of sets and begin finding out what features are your must-haves. I mentioned earlier, but want to remind you again….be sure to take a look at the deck height of any set you consider. I recommend selecting at set with a 5 foot deck height, so that your kids will fit it longer.
Another option to consider is to find a used set. I love reusing things and I love saving money, so it can also be a great idea to checkout Facebook Marketplace and reach out to friends, you might find yourself a great used set and save a lot of money! I kept my eyes open for a used one, but the right one didn’t come along for us. Keep in mind if you look for used ones to price out replacement parts for swing sets, sometimes swings and replacement slides can be expensive, so be sure to figure in the cost of those things when looking as used sets.
Have you found a favorite playset that I did not mention?? I would love to hear about it, please be sure to share in the comments here!
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We are installing our Gorilla Playset Sun Palace II..DIY. Here is day 1. My husband and a neighbor are working on it. So far, they are really pleased with the organization and directions of the materials, as well as the quality. YAY!!