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Tips for Buying the Perfect Swing Set

By Nikki Thomas

Swing Set Buying Guide

Find the Swing Set That's Right for You: A Guide to Purchasing an Outdoor Play Set

Purchasing a swing set is a big decision that should not be taken lightly. Not only does it require you to find a quality product that will last a long time, but it also needs to provide safety for the little ones in your family who will be using it, and needs to fit into your personal budget as well.

The product experts at Totally Swing Sets want their customers' swing set buying experience to be positive and effortless. That is why they have collected their years of learning and experience in order to provide you with this comprehensive guide on purchasing the swing set that is perfect for your family.

Start Preparing

As with any large purchase, you do not want to proceed with buying a swing set without doing some preparations first. You will soon discover that there are a lot of available options for play sets, so it might help to narrow down your search by starting with a few extremely important factors.

  1. Space – Swing sets come in a variety of sizes and usually require more backyard area than you initially think. In order to meet safety requirements, most swing set manufacturers recommend at least 6 feet of additional space surrounding the swing set. So get out your measuring tape and get ready to do some leg work. You will want to measure as many dimensions of your backyard as possible including the entire area, space between trees as well as fences, and other hazards.

    While you could start by picking out a swing set and looking at its dimensions, it can be disheartening to find a swing set you like only to discover it's too big for your yard and you have to start the search over. Many swing set retailers will let you narrow down your search by size so you don't have to weed through every option to find the right fit.
  2. Materials - A variety of materials including wood, metal, or plastic are used in the manufacturing of swing sets. When choosing which type of material is best you'll want to consider your climate and what kind of weather will be effecting the set. Wet and cold climates can have negative effects on wood while locations near salt water might not be the best for a metal swing set.

    Taking into consideration the sizes and number of children who will be using the swing set and how much daily or weekly use it will get is also a good idea. For larger children a wooden swing set with 4x4 or 4x6 beams is an ideal option, while sets that will only be used by small children can be less bulky.
  3. Time – Shopping, shipping, and set-up, these are the three things that take up the most time when purchasing a swing set. Whether you shop online or in the store you can spend a lot of time looking around at different retailers finding exactly the right set for your family. And it is recommended that you take your time and not rush into the first thing that your kids say looks right. You'll learn more about finding the right retailer in our “Making your Purchase” section.

    While you may get lucky and find the perfect swing set at a local retailer that you can take home that day, most swing sets either need to be ordered through the retailer and picked up at a later date or ordered online and delivered to your front door. Either way, a purchase as large as a swing set will be delivered via a freight truck and can take nearly twice as long as a standard UPS, USPS, or FedEx delivery. Depending on the manufacturer, processing times can also vary from 2 days to 2 weeks. So, if you want that swing set in time for a big birthday party be sure to leave yourself plenty of time.
  4. Features – Here's where you get to ask the kids for their opinion! What do they want in their swing set? After all, they are the ones who will be getting the most use out of it. Do they want more active features like a rock wall, monkey bars, or tube slide or are they more about using their imaginations with features like a steering wheel, play kitchen, or picnic table? While you might not be able to please everyone in the family, by getting their list of priorities you can be assured you're spending your money on something that will get used as much as possible.

Do Your Research

When it comes to choosing the right swing set, the right place to start is by finding out what various products are available and what options there are for each product. You may already have an idea in mind of what you want based on a swing set you've seen or one your kids already enjoy playing on, but once you start doing your research you may come across something you never knew existed or a brand that you've never heard of.

Find a Reliable Retailer

Of course, like anything, the best place to start is the internet. Each brand of swing set available has its manufacturer website as well as many retailers who offer the product. By doing in-depth research you can find who offers the best price as well as the best shipping policy, superior customer service, and ease of returns or obtaining replacement parts. Most of these websites also offer reviews of the products and their service. Allowing people who have already had experience with a particular swing set or company to guide your research is usually a great way to narrow down your choices.

Find a Quality Swing Set

Swing sets come in all shapes and sizes. Some are designed to fit smaller yards while some are built for commercial use. Some are made of wood while others are made of plastic or vinyl, metal, or a composite material. Many brands include a lot of fun features and accessories while others keep their set-up very basic. Certain manufacturers allow for customization while others only sell their products as-is. All of these factors can affect the price and quality of the swing set you purchase, so doing your research and finding the best size and construction to fit your needs is important.

One major factor that you'll want to acquire a lot of information about is the safety features of the swing set. Most of the major brands of swing sets are built and held to a high standard of safety for outdoor equipment so you can be assured that your children will be safe while climbing, sliding, and swinging. Discover which safety features are most important to you and make sure the sets you choose include those features.

As you begin and continue to research the best swing set for your backyard, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  1. What materials were used to construct this swing set?
  2. How much maintenance does this swing set require?
  3. Is this a trusted brand?
  4. How many accessories are included?
  5. Does this swing set meet safety standards?
  6. What kind of reviews did this swing set receive?

Ready, Set, Buy

You've done your preparations and finished your research, so now it's time to make the decision and buy the swing set that both you and your kids are going to enjoy for years to come. So where do you buy the swing set and how do you get the best price? Continue reading for some last minute tips before you make your purchase.

Online vs In-store

As discussed before, swing sets can be purchased either in a retail location or online. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, so you will need to decide which works best for your situation. The list below highlights just a few of the pros and cons to online or retail purchases.

Online Advantages
In-Store Advantages
  • Each store offers more choices
  • No sales tax (most of the time)
  • Shipping is direct from manufacturer
  • Longer customer service hours
  • No leaving home to shop
  • Prices sometimes negotiable
  • Easier to comparison shop
  • See the products in person
  • Face-to-face customer service
  • Store nearby to help with problems
  • Included installation is usually an option
  • Store coupons can be used
Online Disadvantages
In-Store Disadvantages
  • Can't see products in person
  • Customer service by phone/email only
  • Higher prices
  • Must pay sales tax
  • Longer shipping times
  • Must drive from store to store to see different brands

Watch for a Sale

Just like retail locations, on-line stores offer sales on their products too. If you are not in a hurry to get your swing set it might be a wise choice to watch for a sale price. The best sales on swing sets are typically at the beginning of spring and of course, Black Friday. Many stores also allow the use of coupons which can be found in weekly ads or by searching for coupon codes online. If you're in a hurry to get your set, don't hesitate to call an online store and ask if they are willing to negotiate on their price. Or if you find a set you really like online, take their ad into your local store and ask if they are willing to offer a price match for buying locally.

Pay Attention to Shipping Costs

Most online swing set retailers offer free shipping on large products over a certain price. Before making your purchase make sure that the shipping is in fact “free”. While they may advertise free shipping this doesn't always include freight charges for oversized items. This policy can vary from site to site, so make sure this is part of your research. If you are ordering additional accessories it is wise to include them in the order with the swing set as they will then be included in the free shipping as well. Waiting until later to order accessories will usually result in additional shipping charges.

Be Familiar with the Delivery Method

Large items like a swing set are delivered via a third party freight carrier, such as ABF, Estes Express, or UPS Freight. Shipment can take anywhere from 3-7 business days depending on your location from the manufacturer. If you order from a retail store the swing set may be delivered to the store first and then a store delivery truck will make arrangements with you for delivery. While the personal delivery is an advantage it can also add to the time you might have to wait.

Freight carriers do require the customer to be available at the shipping address to meet the driver. Most do not require assistance unloading but will only deliver curbside, unless you choose to pay extra to have it delivered to a garage or backyard. When making the decision to purchase your swing set make sure you will be home during the approximate delivery window. Even if you can schedule an appointment you probably don't want your valuable swing set sitting in a warehouse for an extended period of time.

Congratulations, you're about to become the owner of a swing set, playset, or play system that will provide hours of fun for your kids and endless entertainment for your family. With these helpful tips and advice, hopefully the process was not too daunting and you're comfortable with your decision. Now that your swing set is on its way, you'll need to prepare yourself for the even more exciting task of assembly! Look for our "Guide to Swing Set Assembly" which will be available in the near future.

Still have questions?

Please give our customer service team a call at 1-800-866-3077 or email us. We are glad to answer your questions and help you pick the perfect swing set.

Nikki Thomas - Director of Sales and Services at Totally Swing Sets

About Nikki Thomas

Nikki Thomas is the Director of Sales and Service at Totally Swing Sets. Her main focus is on customer care - serving customers both before and after the sale. With expertise about each product, Nikki also writes and manages the content on the Totally Swing Sets’ website. She works diligently to oversee the sales process and maintain supplier relationships. Nikki resides in Iowa with her husband and daughter and enjoys reading and blogging in her free time.