How to Design a Wooden Swing Set

By Lisa Baker
A simple wooden swing set.

A backyard swing set is an investment that any parent can appreciate: It's a simple toy that provides children of all ages hours of outdoor exercise and entertainment. Whether you're building your own wooden swing set in your backyard from scratch or custom-designing a set by a company, you'll want to make sure you choose the best design for your family, deciding what features your set should include and how big it should be/

Measure your space. Choose a flat location for your swing set and determine how much space of your yard you want it to take up. Make sure the location you choose will drain well when it rains. If possible, it should have some shade as well. Plan to have at least 6 feet of empty space around the swing set.

Design the play features of your swing set--how many swings and whether to include a slide, a tower or a bridge. Consider the ages of your children and the activities they enjoy most and what they'll probably enjoy in the future: you want a set that your children will continue to love as they grow.

Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines for the playground features you've chosen. For example, the swings need to have an open space in front of and behind them that is equal to twice the height of the bar that the swing is hanging from. Also, any platform that's higher than 30 inches off the ground should have a guard rail around it.

Draw your swing set design, including exact measurements. Based on the space you have available, determine what sizes of lumber you'll need and what additional pre-made equipment you'll need, such as swings and slides.

Research and choose the materials you want to use for your swing set. You can get wood from a lumber yard, or you can get it as part of a playground kit from a playground equipment store. Some woods, such as cedar and redwood, are naturally rot-resistant; you can use other woods if they're treated for outdoor use. If you use treated wood, make sure it's approved for residential use and is not toxic.

Research and choose your protective surfacing material. Most swing sets should have at least 9 inches of padding material such as wood mulch, rubber mulch or sand to help soften any falls.

Design the color scheme for your swing set. You can leave wooden swing sets unpainted for a natural wood look with colorful plastic swings or paint the wood if you want a brighter look. If you decide to paint, choose nontoxic, non-lead-based paint.

Warning

Follow all safety guidelines while building your swing set. Make sure the bolts and hardware you use are compatible with any treated wood, and close all bolts and S-hooks properly according to the manufacturer's guidelines. Once it's built, you'll need to maintain your swing set to keep it safe. Check all bolts and hardware regularly, and check your protective surfacing to make sure it is still at the recommended depth. Always supervise your children while they're playing on the swing set.

About the Author

Lisa Baker has been a professional writer since 2001. She has published articles on parenting, environmental issues and religious topics in a variety of print and online venues, including "HomeLife Magazine" and "Pink & Green." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Sweet Briar College.