While wood may seem like the perfect material for commercial playground construction, it also has many flaws. Wood is susceptible to the elements more so than any other playground material. Even special treated lumber, such as Yellow Wood will eventually fall victim to moisture, mold and even termites. Another problem with wood is that over time it will shrink, warp and splinter; creating a dangerous play environment. Although the initial expense for a wood playground is small compared to metal or composites, the amount of money that will be spent long term in maintaining the playground will make it less affordable. Considering that the average life of a wood commercial playground is around ten years, we do not recommend using wood for any playground other than a residential swing set, it’s just not a good product to use for commercial playgrounds.
When it comes to commercial playground equipment, there are a number of material options available on the market today. From metal playgrounds, to composite and even plastic playgrounds. Because a commercial playground is such a large investment, it important that you make the right choice for your commercial playground the first time. Let’s take a look at some common materials used in playground fabrication and see how they stack up.

Wood Playground Equipment

Wood is the oldest material used to make commercial playgrounds. Some of the benefits of wood playgrounds are:
Wood playgrounds are low cost
Wood playgrounds are highly customizable
Materials are readily available
Wood playgrounds give a natural look and feel to the play environment

Metal Playground Equipment

Metal has been used in the production of commercial playgrounds since the late 1940s. The initial problem with metal was its tendency to oxidize, leaving a rusted surface. Do to technological improvements like galvanization and coatings such as powder coating, metal is the preferred material to use for commercial playgrounds. Metal playgrounds are usually constructed using galvanized steel or pure aluminum, both of which will not rust, especially with a powder coated finish. Some additional benefits of metal commercial playgrounds are:

Metal playgrounds are the most durable of all playgrounds, and can easily last in excess of fifty years when properly installed.
Metal playgrounds will be the safest of all playgrounds, since they are not only the strongest, but will not fail due to decomposition.
Although commercial metal playgrounds are by far the best choice when designing a playground, they are also the most expensive. The cost of steel and aluminum, along with all of the welding, hardware and shipping costs due to its heavy weight can create a hefty price tag for metal playground equipment. We feel that although metal playground equipment is the most expensive, it is by far the best choice for a commercial playground environment.

Composite Commercial Playgrounds

In recent years, new materials called composites have began to appear on the playground equipment market. Composites are made using wood fibers and recycled plastic materials. They are more durable then wood and more cost effective then metal. We have installed a number of composite commercial playgrounds and find them to be well suited for commercial play environments such as schools, parks and daycare centers. There are some additional benefits to composite playgrounds that make it an attractive material:

Composite playgrounds cannot rust. Composite playgrounds have the colors blended into the material, this means the color will never fade and no painting will ever be needed. Composite playgrounds do not absorb and retain heat at the high rate that a comparable commercial metal playground would. This makes them safer for children to use in the hot summer months.

Conclusion

When it comes to commercial playground equipment, there are literally hundreds of companies to choose from, with endless playground design possibilities. Always remember that in the end you will get what you pay for, we think it’s wise to do things right the first time around.