Play equipment takes a beating, and saving money on a good swingset can be a challenge. You should definitely not skimp or buy very old equipment, but you also do not need to pay thousands or even several hundreds for an awesome swing set. There are a few sure fire ways to stretch your dollars and buy years of fun for your little one.
Search for Used Toddler Play Equipment
Search on Craigslist first for moving sales or in the Kids section. It is kind of hard to get a good play place on Craigslist – they go fast – but if you are faster you can score an awesome Little Tikes or Step 2 type of play place. These chunky plastic sets are durable and can really take a beating. My kids had one for 3 years and it lasted through Washington storms and snow just fine. We gave it away when we moved and our family friends still have it three years later. Amazingly it still looks new.
Play Equipment for Older Kids
If you want to get the best deal for play equipment for older children, then I suggest making your own set. It sounds overwhelming, but it really isn’t. A simple swing set will go a long way and HGTV has simple plan for building a children’s Custom A-Line swing set. I took the plans and broke down the prices of the basic items.
- Pressure Treated Lumber: $118
- Swings: $82
- Hardware: $20
- Miscellaneous Items: $$
- Total: $250-$300
The project will cost between $250-300 depending on the swings you choose, hardware, and personal touches like paint. The bulk of the cost is in the lumber. Make sure to buy pressure treated posts to protect from insect infestation and wood rot.
If making a set is not your thing, opt to buy a wooden set from a discount dealer, or buy one used. I worry about used wooden sets only because of age. Pulling apart a set only to put it together can compromise the wood over time.
Metal Swing Sets are the Best Store Bought Value
A metal swing set will cost you $100-200 for the basic slide-swing-teeter-totter combination. Overstock.com has some choice sets for $102 and up. While these sets are inexpensive they do not last as long as wooden sets. The diveted metal starts to bend and rust after a few years, especially in wet climates. (I was the bad kid that destroyed my cousin’s swing set back in the 90s…perhaps the metal is more durable now). They are best as a transition set from the chunky plastic equipment to a stable wooden set.
No matter what set you choose, remember to use it! Encourage kids to play outside and use and abuse of their set!
Other easy do-it-yourself and inexpensive items: