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How Much Does It Cost To Install A Playground Or Swing Set?

National Average Change Location | View National
$492
Typical Range
$354 - $672
Low End
$180
High End
$900

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Homeowners with children, grandchildren or just friendly neighbors may want to install a playground or swing set right in their backyard. Whether this is undertaken as a DIY project or a professional job, there are a variety of things to be aware of before installation or construction begins. Get to know the average costs, what variables can influence the total prices and what everyone should know about playgrounds before building starts.

Type of Playground or Swing Set

The first major decision to be made is what kind of playground or swing set is desired. Most playground equipment is made from three major materials: wood, metal and plastic. Plastic playground equipment is often the cheapest, but it is also the least durable, the most likely to have its colors fade in sunlight and the worst choice for older children. Plastic can be durable, but many pre-made plastic playground equipment pieces are designed for toddlers rather than older children.

Metal swing sets and playground equipment are often very affordable as well as durable, but they may not be as aesthetically pleasing. A big concern when contemplating metal playgrounds is also that it can be very hot to the touch in direct sunlight, which may discourage outdoor play or potentially cause discomfort for children.

The best material for playground equipment is arguably wood. It may cost more initially, but it is both durable and attractive. In addition, wooden playground equipment can be built to hold any weight limit, meaning that teens can also use swing sets in the backyard.

Choosing a Base for an Outdoor Play Area

The next step is choosing the right base for an outdoor play area. There are several options to select from, but the most popular include grass, soft tiles, wood chips and sand. If budget is not a concern, soft rubber tiles are kid-friendly, relatively easy to install, slip-resistant and ideal for high-rain areas where drainage is a concern. However, they can be expensive, typically coming in at $5 per square foot or more. The cheapest option is natural grass, which in some cases may already be in place where the playground is to be built. While affordable, grass requires ongoing maintenance, so this should be considered.

Sand is another base material popular in outdoor playgrounds. Sand can absorb falls, protect children and be quite affordable, but some homeowners find it a hassle to contain. A final option is wood chips, which look attractive, can be ideal for young children and come in several colors. Drawbacks of wood chips include their expensive price and the fact that they can house insects.

Site Prep for a Playground

Many homeowners don't expect site preparation to be as lengthy or as expensive as it may end up being. The soil itself may need to be dug up, rocks removed, roots and trees removed, and topsoil replaced. Play structures need to be built on level ground that won't shift over time. The area where the playground will go needs to be cleared of all debris and structures, graded to be level and then covered in topsoil if necessary. In some cases, the ground may also need to be compacted before materials like rubber tiles or wooden mulch can be safely installed. Site prep can be done alone, but it may be easier to enlist professional help for this stage of the process.

Securing Permits for Building Permission

Although a simple swing set or small playground might seem like something that homeowners can choose to install on their own as desired, the reality is that some cities require a structural work permit first. Not all destinations require homeowners to apply for a permit, but it is important to check and comply with all local laws before moving forward with site prep or buying any playground equipment. Homeowners living in a subdivision may also need to check with their homeowner's association to find out if there are any restrictions in place when it comes to building outdoor play equipment.

Assembly and Installation of Playground Equipment

Actually assembling the playground equipment may be the final step in the equation, but it is far from the simplest. Those who want the easiest option for a swing set or playground equipment ranging from slides to monkey bars can opt to buy pre-made sets that only need to be put together rather than built. These sets could be made from plastic, metal or wood, and they typically require minimal labor and tools.

Those who feel ready to tackle a bigger challenge may instead prefer to build their own playground equipment. Keep in mind that this can be a major task, and some larger structures could require an additional permit or safety check to ensure that the structure is sound for child or adult use. Due to the heavy nature of timber and metal rods, building a playground structure from scratch may require at least one extra set of hands during the installation process. Pre-made playground sets are more expensive than those made by hand, but they save time. Builders should be sure to test all equipment before letting children use the toys, which will give peace of mind about the stability of slides, forts or any other structures intended for their use.

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