There are a variety of options to choose from when it comes to purchasing a backyard playset. Some are made out of metal, plastic, vinyl, wood, or some combination of these. Wood alone has a variety of options including cedar, pine, and redwood.
Cedar is one of the more popular woods used in backyard playsets today for a variety of reasons. But it’s not without its drawbacks. This is why we’ve put together this article to tell you everything you need to know before you buy a cedar playset.
Most importantly we’ll discuss safety concerns. We’ll also talk about maintenance, average lifespan, benefits, and drawbacks of owning a cedar playset.
But for those of you who may be asking “Are Cedar Playsets Worth the Money?”
The short answer is yes. Cedar playsets are well worth the money if you want a high qualilty, great looking playset that will last for years with little annual maintenance.
Are Cedar Playsets Safe For Kids?
There’s not much you can do to keep your child from taking a few falls and getting a few scrapes and bumps. It’s going to happen, sooner or later. But you can mitigate unnecessary risks and provide a fun place for them to play in your own backyard.
Playsets of any material come with similar risks and cedar is no different. Most playground injuries occur when children fall off of the equipment, so providing a soft surface underneath and around the set should be the biggest safety concern.
Slip Resistant – Wood playsets do have a leg up on other materials when it comes to slippery surfaces. When metal, plastic, and many vinyl sets get wet they become much more slippery than wooden sets. Plus, cedar tends to dry quicker than other materials because it is naturally water-resistant.
Stays Cool – Cedar also doesn’t get hot in direct sunlight like metal and dark plastic or vinyl. One of the main concerns in the summertime comes from the ability of a hot playset to burn skin. With cedar, you don’t have to worry about playtime turning painful with skin burns.
Repels Insects – Some wood sets tend to attract stinging insects, but cedar is naturally insect-resistant. This also helps to keep termites away, reducing the chances that your playset will become dangerous after being eaten away.
Can Cause Splinters – Like other wood sets, cedar can crack and splinter in areas if not cared for properly. This means that painful splinters can end up in little hands
Maintenance Requirements For Cedar Playsets
There are minimal maintenance requirements with cedar playsets, but they do require a little bit of care to ensure a long life. Generally, plastic and vinyl sets require only occasional cleaning, whereas metal and wooden sets should be tended-to once every year or two.
Cedar is naturally water and insect resistant, but it’s a good idea to apply a non-toxic, protective coating to the wood once every year or two. This helps to keep water and insects out of the wood, and also prevents the wood from splintering.
It’s also a good idea to check for any loose bolts and fasteners on occasion. While the chances of injury occurring as a result of a loose fastener are almost nonexistent, making sure everything is properly secure will ensure the strength of the playset for years to come.
How Long Do Cedar Playsets Last?
How long cedar playsets last is dependent upon many factors including climate, maintenance, amount of use, and whether there is some sort of shade or protective cover over the set. In general, cedar playsets should last between 10 and 20 years. A quality cedar playset with regular use and maintenance should last closer to 20. It’s not uncommon for some cedar sets to last for 20 to 30 years when placed under a tree or other protective covering and undergo regular maintenance.
A good way to determine how long any given cedar playset should last is to look at the warranty offered by the manufacturer. The longer the warranty, the more confidence the manufacturer has in their product.
For the longest-lasting sets, solid-beam construction is your best option. This means that the major components of the playset are made out of solid cedar, as opposed to particleboard or other, artificially fused wood planks. Solid wood construction helps to ensure that the set is water, mold, and rot-resistant.
Benefits of Cedar
Many of the same properties that make cedar insect and water-resistant serve to make it a tough, durable material for backyard playsets.
Cedar is a softwood, which tends to make people think it won’t hold up well over time. But the fact is that cedar is soft, light, and strong, making it ideal for outdoor use. A unique property that makes cedar resistant to water is its closed-cell structure. This also serves to make it mold and rot-resistant, even without the help of sealants or protective coatings.
Cedar playsets are attractive backyard additions because they look natural, unlike metal or plastic sets. The wood blends in well with the backyard instead of presenting as an eyesore. Many people also like the natural smell that cedar wood gives off, making it even more pleasant than playsets made out of other materials.
Cedar is also biodegradable, which can be a plus for those environmentally conscious parents. This means that when your kids or grandkids outgrow the playset, it can either be dismantled and repurposed or it can be recycled back into the environment instead of sitting in a landfill like other types of artificial sets.
Drawbacks of Cedar
Like any other wood, cedar is a natural product and won’t last forever. It does require some regular maintenance to keep it strong and splinter-free for many years.
Cedar by itself is water, insect, mold, and rot-resistant. However, for a longer-lasting playset, you’ll probably want to apply some sort of sealant to the wood every year or two. There are plenty of non-toxic options for this, but many chemicals on the market today pose unknown risks to humans. This is something to take into consideration when purchasing a cedar playset.
For some, the look of cedar isn’t optimal. While this is simply a matter of opinion, it’s true that some people want a playset made with brightly-colored plastics or painted metals. While most cedar sets do come with colored accessories, the bulk of the sets looks like what they are: cedarwood.
How Much Do Cedar Playsets Cost?
Since there are a variety of different styles, manufacturers, and qualities, it’s hard to say how much a cedar playset will cost. Generally, when compared to metal, plastic, and vinyl sets, cedar sets will be in the mid-range.
Metal tends to be the cheapest option. Depending on the quality and size, plastic playsets can range from as cheap as metal to as expensive as vinyl, which is usually the priciest.
A quality cedar set with a basic design should run you somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500. For higher quality and more features, you can expect to spend $1,500 to $3,000. Above $3,000 will be bigger sets and better quality, in general. Of course, always check out customer reviews and warranty information before purchasing a playset made out of any material.
Recommended Cedar Playsets
As you can see, cedar playsets have a lot going for them, assuming you buy one from a reputable maker. There are lots of playset makers out there today all claiming to have some form of advantage over the others.
However, one of the biggest names in the industry is Gorilla Playsets. They have been in business since 1993 and have continued to make fun, new products that kids love.
All of their playsets are built to meet and even exceed ASTM safety standards and come backed by an amazing warranty: 10 years on lumber and 1 year on accessories and all other components. As of now they have over 90 playset models to choose from, each one having its own unique play features. All of their playsets are made from heavy duty cedar lumber and commercial grade brackets and hardware.
Here are a few pics of some Gorilla playsets just to give you an idea. Obviously this is just a small portion of what they have to offer but you get the idea.
Cedar playsets are great for anyone who wants an affordable, durable, and natural-looking playground in their backyard. Cedar is naturally insect-resistant. The wood’s closed-cell structure resists moisture, rot, and mold while releasing a pleasant smell that many people enjoy.
Cedar playsets with solid-beam construction can last for up to 30 years, making it great for your kids and possibly even your grand kids. Unlike metal and dark-colored plastic sets, cedar doesn’t get overly hot in direct sunlight. While yearly maintenance is suggested to prevent splinters and help protect the wood, cedar playsets are sturdy, resilient, and made to last.