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Are Wooden or Metal Swing Sets Better? | Honest Insight

29 Nov 2023
A little girl happily looking up to the sky while on a swing set.

When choosing the right swing set for your family, you will likely be tasked with the crucial question: “Are wooden or metal swing sets better?”  

These two swing set types are the most popular, and we will use our expert insight at gobaplay to detail the pros and cons of each.   

After reading this, you will be equipped with the knowledge to make an informed choice for your next swing set purchase.   

Are Wooden or Metal Swing Sets Better for Kids? 

Before answering whether wooden or metal swing sets are better, we’re going to explain both swing set types with pros and cons.   

Because spoiler alert: The swing set type that is better for you will depend on your goals.   

But you need to know more about each structure before finding which swing set aligns most with your goals.    

6 Pros of Wooden Swing Sets  

Here is a list of the main pros of wooden swing sets: 

A wooden Backyard Discovery Swing Set with multiple features. 

Photo courtesy of Backyard Discovery.  

1. Aesthetic Appeal   

  • Natural and rustic appearance enhances the backyard. 
  • Blends seamlessly with outdoor surroundings. 
  • Elicits a nostalgic and classic playtime experience for children. 

 2.  More Customization Options 

  • Highly customizable with various add-ons like forts, playhouses, and climbing features. 
  • Allows for personalization based on space and preferences. 

 3. Greater Durability 

  • Often sturdier and more durable than alternatives like plastic. 
  • Can withstand various weather conditions WHEN properly treated and maintained. 
  • Wooden swing sets can have a longer lifespan than some other materials if properly upheld.  

 4. Value for Money 

  • Although initial costs might be higher, the long-term durability can provide value over time. 
  • Wooden swing sets often retain resale value better than some other materials due to their durability and timeless appeal. 

 5. Higher Weight Capacity  

  • Generally has a higher weight capacity compared to other swing sets (like plastic swing sets). 
  • Suitable for older children and adults as well as younger children. 

 6. Eco-Friendly   

  • Made from natural materials, promoting environmental sustainability. 
  • Natural materials are less likely to contain harmful chemicals.  

Many swing set brands sell wooden swing sets, but notable ones include Backyard Discovery, KidKraft and Gorilla Playsets 

You can also find wooden (and metal) swing sets at various retailers, like Amazon, Walmart and The Home Depot 

6 Cons of Wooden Swing Sets  

Now, let’s cover the major drawbacks to wooden swing sets: 

 1. High Initial Cost   

  • Wooden swing sets are generally more expensive upfront compared to some other materials. Higher-end models can cost up to $15,000 or more.  
  • Generally, you can find good wooden swing sets for $800-$3,000. 

 2. Maintenance Requirements 

  • Regular maintenance, such as sealing, staining and repairs, is essential to prevent rot and deterioration. 
  • Monthly maintenance checks will need to be conducted to ensure the swing set’s safety. 
  • Whatever surfacing you decide to put under the swing set, like rubber mulch or wood chips, will need to be maintained. 

 3. Installation Complexity 

  • Wooden swing sets are often complex to assemble and may require professional swing set installers to complete.  
  • Professional swing set installation costs $150-$500 or more depending on the location and difficulty of assembly.   

A man preparing the ground for a swing set.

Photo courtesy of The Home Depot.  

 4. Difficult to Transport  

  • Once installed, big wooden swing sets are there for the long term. They are challenging to move compared to portable alternatives. 

 5. Potential for Splinters 

  • Wooden surfaces may develop splinters over time, posing a risk of injury to your kiddos if not addressed. 

 6. Attractive to Pests  

  • Wooden materials can attract insects, leading to potential pest issues without proper preventive measures. This is another maintenance task that may require monthly check-ins.  

6 Pros of Metal Swing Sets  

We’ve assessed wooden swing sets, so let’s flip it over and evaluate metal swing sets, starting with the pros:  

Four kids playing on a medium-sized metal swing set. 

 1. Affordability  

  • Metal swing sets are often more budget-friendly than their wooden counterparts. This makes them an attractive option for families looking for a cost-effective play solution. 
  • Metal swing sets typically cost $100-$600 or more.  

 2. Can Live in Various Climates 

  • Metal swing sets are equipped to survive the elements, including winter, rainy or windy weather.  

 3. Low Maintenance 

  • Compared to wooden swing sets, metal sets often require less maintenance. They are less prone to rot, decay, or insect damage, reducing the need for frequent repairs. 

 4. Variety of Designs  

  • Metal swing sets come in a variety of designs and configurations. They can include multiple play features like swings, slides, and climbing elements.  

 5. Easy Assembly  

  • Metal swing sets are typically easier to assemble than wooden sets. Many models come with pre-drilled holes, clear instructions and can be installed within a couple of hours.  
  • You likely won’t need to hire a professional to install it unless it’s a robust metal swing set.  

 6. Lightweight and Portable  

  • Metal swing sets are lighter and easier to move than big wooden swing sets.  
  • This flexibility means you can move it around for landscaping or yard work. 

Just like wooden swing sets, many prominent brands sell metal swing sets, including Lifetime, Backyard Discovery and us at gobaplay  

6 Cons of Metal Swing Sets  

Finally, let’s cover the main drawbacks of buying a metal swing set:  

 1. Absorbs Heat 

  • Metal can absorb and retain heat, making the surface of the swing set hot on sunny days.  
  • This can be uncomfortable for children using the equipment, so it's advisable to use accessories like padded seats. 

 2. Limited Aesthetic Options 

  • Some people prefer the look of wood in their outdoor spaces, but this also depends on which brand and model you’re looking at.  

 3. Rust Accumulation

  • Metal swing sets can rust, particularly in humid or coastal areas. 
  • You want to ensure that the metal swing set frame is galvanized and powder-coated before buying. 

 4. Stability Concerns 

  • Since metal swing sets are lighter in weight, they might tip over more easily if not anchored to the ground. 
  • Your swing set should ALWAYS be anchored while in use (we have step-by-step instructions on how to anchor a swing set if you need it!).   

Example of a swing set anchored to the ground, courtesy of SportsPowerSwingSets:  

A swing set properly anchored to the ground.

 5. Less Customization   

  • Metal swing sets can come with plenty of swing set accessories, but wooden swing sets can be stained or painted easily to meet your preferences.  
  • Wooden swing sets are generally more customizable than metal swing sets, but this is also dependent on the model.  

 6. Potential for Dents 

  • Metal swing sets can dent if subjected to heavy impacts. While this is generally just a cosmetic issue, repeated dents may compromise the appearance of the structure over time.  

So...Are Wooden or Metal Swing Sets Better? 

Which one should you choose: A wooden or metal swing set?   

While the answer to this question is dependent on your situation and preferences, here is a broad summary of where you should look:  

You’re a fit for a wooden swing set IF: You prefer a natural aesthetic, more customization capabilities and a swing set that will provide long-term value. 

You’re a fit for a metal swing set IF: You prefer a more low-maintenance and affordable swing set that can include multiple features and is easy to assemble.   

Considering all the pros and cons in this assessment should help you decide on your perfect swing set.  

Note: We didn’t touch on swing set safety, but it is model-dependent. Some wooden swing sets will be safer than metal swing sets and vice-versa.  

Let your goals guide you to your swing set type, and from there, find one that includes advanced safety features (sturdy construction, rounded edges, secure fastening, non-slip surfaces, etc.)  

Is a gobaplay Swing Set Right for You?  

Now that you have insight into wooden and metal swing sets, you should be all set for a decision!  

We at gobaplay sell modern, high-quality metal swing sets that emphasize safety and durability above all else. We believe in the concept of safe outdoor play, which we used in the creation of Springfree Trampolines – the world’s safest trampolines 

Explore our gobaplay swing sets for a delightful addition to your backyard, fostering countless moments of joy and smiles for your family. 

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