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Wooden Swing Set vs. Plastic Swing Set: Choosing the Best Outdoor Playset for Your Family

Fun in our new playset!

Fun in our new playset!

Deciding on a Swingset

Last summer we made a family decision to get some sort of outdoor play structure. We went back and forth between a wooden swing set or a plastic one. Some of the questions that we considered were what age will the kids be able to play with this until? How long will it last? How old will the children be when they start to outgrow the play set? How much space does it take up and how much room do we have in the yard? What is the cost? There are many things to consider when making this decision because it is likely going to be a somewhat expensive investment and if you are like most people, you want the most bang for your buck! So here are some thoughts to consider. Do you want to get a plastic swing set or a wooden one? Those are the most common choices to day and even within those two, there are many possibilities.

Daddy's little helper.

Daddy's little helper.


The Pros and Cons of a Wooden Swing set


There are many great reasons to choose a wooden swing set.

  • Environment. If you want your yard to have a more "natural" feel then a wooden play set may be your best choice. It will add to your backyard elements much more easily than a plastic one. It is also much more eco-friendly than a plastic set.
  • Choices. It seems as though with a wooden set, the possibilities of what can be built are endless. Do you want the slide on the left or right? Straight or curved? Swings, teeter totter, monkey bars? Imagination is your only limitation.
  • Repair. If part of the set breaks, it is much easier to replace a wooden board than to wait for a replacement piece from the manufacturer.


There are also several things that may deter you from choosing a wooden structure.

  • Maintenance. The wooden structures often need frequent maintenance updates. Every couple of years they need to be painted. They may also need some tightening of screws and bolts.
  • Wasps. If you are allergic to bees or if your children are, this would probably not be the best choice. Often times wasps use the wood to make their nests and are a nuisance in areas with wood.
  • Build time. If you are not a do it yourselfer, this would not be a good selection unless you plan to pay someone to put it together for you. My husband spent many hours himself putting ours together. It was a big task!

Plastic Swing Sets

The Pros and Cons of a Plastic Swing Set

There are also many reasons that you may want to choose a plastic play set. Here are some ideas to help you make the best decision.


  • Maintenance. With a plastic swing set, there is very little routine maintenance that you need to do. In most cases just a rinse with the hose will do the trick.
  • Safety. Many parents worry about their children getting splinters on a wooden set. They can definitely be more friendly in that case. 
  • Cost. The cost of plastic swing sets tend to be a little cheaper than their wooden counter parts. They are easier on the pocket which often makes it a best choice for families on a budget.


  • Age. In my experience the plastic sets do not hold the attention of children for as long as the wooden sets. There does not seem to be as much for them to do and they are not built to entertain older children as well as the wooden sets.
  • Activities. Plastic swing set are usually limited to some swings, a slide, and maybe a little house area. There is not much in being able to redesign the set in the way that you may be able to do with a wooden one.
  • Aesthetics. The look of a plastic swing set is not as appealing to the eye. The sun starts to fade the color of the plastic and it does not look as nice. It also may not fit into your landscape design.

It's done, let's have fun!

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The Final Decision

We opted for the wooden swing set.  We wanted to be sure that our children would want to play on the set for many years to come.  We also wanted to have a more natural look to our yard which led us to the wooden sets.  We also liked the variety of choices that were out there in wooden sets.  What ever your choice is in the end, you will make the best choice for your family.  One piece of advice for which ever set you choose, read ALL of the directions first.  My husband spent a lot of time putting the set together and it was not an easy task.  He also marked all of the pieces with their part label (number/letter) in chalk before attempting to put anything together.  This helped him to see immediately if there were any missing parts and to easily find the pieces that he need.  Good luck and have fun! 


cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 11, 2011:

Thanks Mom. It's true, your mom is ALWAYS your biggest fan! :)

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on April 11, 2011:

Congratulations on having this hub selected as a featured story this week! Woo Hoo-you rock Cara. (4/11/11)

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 04, 2011:

Thanks Simone. My kids loved all summer and winter! We can't seem to keep the neighbor kids off of it either. :)

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 04, 2011:

Excellent comparison! I'd opt for a wood set too :D

cardelean (author) from Michigan on April 02, 2011:

Thanks WillStarr. It's always nice to be able to show off the family!

Well I'm glad this one was thorough Mom because as the challenge goes on, I'm afraid they won't be as thorough!

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on April 02, 2011:

Great info and very thorough, Cara. LOVED the photos. thanks for adding those.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on April 02, 2011:

What a beautiful little family! I enjoyed the pics as much as the article.

Well done!

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