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Wood vs. Metal Playground Equipment

Choosing the right material is an important consideration when purchasing new equipment for an outdoor play area. Playground equipment is typically made of wood, metal, or plastic. Plastic is generally used for smaller items or indoor equipment, while metal and wood are used for large outdoor pieces like slides, swing-sets, and large-scale play structures. Metal sets are a traditional favorite, but wooden sets are increasingly popular. While both wood and metal playground sets are great choices for outdoor play equipment, each material has different benefits and drawbacks. Your choice will ultimately depend on several factors including aesthetics, durability, and flexibility.


One of the major benefits of metal playground sets is that they are quite durable. Metal sets are made of sturdy steel and coated to prevent rust damage. Properly treated and maintained metal playground equipment can easily withstand the elements and has a long lifespan. This is particularly useful if you are in an area with inclement weather conditions, plan on heavy playground traffic, or equipment use by older children. Well-built wooden sets are also quite sturdy, and the material is also more forgiving for younger users likely to fall while playing. Wooden playground equipment also requires proper inspections and maintenance. Just as metal structures should be checked for rust and sharp edges, wood structures require regular inspections for dangerous splinters and wood decay. While you can also weather-seal wooden playground sets, they are still more susceptible to environmental deterioration, termite damage, and general decay than metal. Properly maintained wooden equipment, however, can have quite a long lifespan if owners remain vigilant with sealant and quickly address damage to the wood. Despite the increasing popularity of wooden playground sets for backyard use, metal is a popular choice for commercial grade equipment and many popular active play structures are still generally made of metal. Typical metal playground equipment includes large swing sets, slides, and climbing structures. Most metal play sets are now treated with heat coating, but this can wear off over time. If you live in a hot climate, it's important to remember that a large structure like an untreated metal playground slide can get very hot during high temperatures and requires close adult supervision for young children.

Aesthetics and Flexibility

Metal playground sets are generally treated with brightly colored coatings and come in many different shapes, while wooden structures generally have an unobtrusive, natural look. This rustic charm makes wood playground structures a popular choice for residential playgrounds and parks, while schools and churches may prefer the fun and energy of bright metal equipment. Wood playground equipment is also customizable. While less durable than metal playground structures, it can be more cost effective to create a unique and customized wooden set. One of the reasons that metal equipment is so sturdy is that it is typically held in place with a set foundation. While this adds to its durability, there is little flexibility. Choosing wooden playground equipment gives your playground flexibility. Wood playground equipment is versatile, allowing you to change playground layouts and incorporate new equipment or add-on features.

AAA State of Play offers a large selection of commercial grade wood and metal playground equipment. Search our online shop for colorful metal swing sets, customizable rustic wooden play structures, playground safety products, and more. Our knowledgeable team can answer any questions you may have, at any point during your purchase. We can help you determine the protective landing surface to buy for a metal playground slide, the proper installation of a climbing structure, and more. AAA State of Play is always dedicated to providing customers top notch products and customer service.

Find more about the author: Kim Hart