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Benefits of Metal and Steel Products on Outdoor Playgrounds

When it comes to building playgrounds, there are plenty of materials to choose from, but nothing quite matches metal in durability or longevity.  Commercial establishments frequently turn to metal playground sets because they know they’ll always getting their money’s worth.  Posts, decks, and clamps are just a few of the components for which buyers overwhelmingly choose metal.

Why Metal?

Metal outdoor play equipment is durably constructed of high-grade steel and applied with a special coating to eliminate rust damage.  It’s non-splintering and offers the ability to be painted in a wide spectrum of colors.  This grants the playground owner complete freedom to design, and redesign the aesthetics whenever they need to.  

A popular misconception is that metal playground swings and slides are more dangerous than other designs.  This is categorically false.  Metals are just as safe as wood or plastic when installed and maintained properly.   Most metal surfaces are now applied with heat-coating to help regulate surface temperatures on hot days.  Scientists also developed a new glass-based paint to help deflect heat from metal surfaces:

Additionally, metal will outlast any competing element.  For a commercial swing set, there’s no other choice.  Metal is the most reliable construction material out there.

Wood is far more susceptible to weather conditions, and will require regular maintenance inspections for splintering or decay.  Even weather-seal wooden playground sets are more vulnerable to natural variables than a typical metal playground.

Wood has become popular, especially for backyard use.  This is mostly for aesthetic and easy-assembly.  Developers with a commercial budget have been moving away from wood over the last few decades, simple because metal or plastic are longer-term investments.

The only advantage wood has is that it will not get as hot during the summer months.  During this time of year, non-coated metal structures can become dangerous to the touch and require constant parental supervision.

Contrary to what many believe, the heat-risks of metal and plastic are very similar.  Darker colored plastics, especially, can generate exceptional heat when standing in direct sunlight.

Metal playset are also more resistant to vandalism than plastic, as steel playground equipment is difficult to break or deface.  Unfortunately, graffiti artists will find a welcoming canvas on any surface, so you will need to take extra precautions to prevent this.

The one venue where plastic beats metal is cost.  No matter how to cut it, playground metal is going to run you a bigger bill than plastic.  That’s why commercial developers working under tight budgetary constraints are drifting more and more toward plastic as an alternative to the classic metal playground.

Metal Parts

Even if the bulk of your playground is wood or plastic, odds are you’re still employing key metal components somewhere.  Climbers, posts, hinges, clamps, and ladders are often metal, even when the surrounding structure is another material.  Galvanized steel chains and hangers are also used with most swing sets, even if the core structure is wood or plastic.. The classic geo-dome climbers are constructed of galvanized steel parts as well.

Other steel components on a playground include platforms, perforated and coated in textured polyethylene for slip resistance.

Cost & Benefits

Unlike some playgrounds of the past, modern metal playground equipment provides a safe and durable option for play. Every year, as steel prices increase, unique engineering solutions will be required to proactively combat commercial playground inflation. As of 2017, no affordable alternative provides the same support and durability as metal playgrounds.

Contact to learn more about any of our metal playground components.

Edited by: Ben Thompson