We know there’s a ton to consider when you’re in the market for a play set – including what it’s made of. That’s why we’re weighing the pros and cons of wood and vinyl playsets in this guide, so you can make the right choice for your family and get playtime started ASAP!
What is a vinyl playset?
“Wooden playset” is pretty self-explanatory, but what exactly is a vinyl playset? You might be surprised to learn that vinyl playsets also contain wood, but this wood is surrounded by a PVC vinyl coating, giving the swing set a plastic appearance. The support beams of a vinyl swing set are usually made from solid pine, while the deck and other parts are often made from composite woods (mixtures of recycled wood chips and plastic).
Pros and Cons: Wooden vs. Vinyl Playsets
Wear and Tear
Wood: Both wood and vinyl playsets can last against years of wear and tear if cared for properly. Quality wood swing sets are made from rot-resistant woods like redwood and cedar or are pressure treated, so they can withstand the elements. Over time, some wear and tear such as warping and weathering are normal and don’t necessarily affect the structural integrity of the swing set.
If a wood swing set does begin to rot (usually due to neglect or extreme age), rotting boards will need to be replaced to maintain safety.
Vinyl: The coating of a vinyl playset is prone to very little wear and tear. As a plastic material, it will never rot, splinter, or warp. However, the interior wooden core can experience rot.
While the vinyl coating will protect the wooden core for quite some time, it also traps any moisture that does get into the wooden interior. Over time, this can cause the wood inside to rot, and if this happens, very little can be done to salvage the playset.
Wood playsets will require a yearly coat of water repellent stain. Other than that, wood and vinyl playsets are very comparable in their maintenance requirements and usually just need to be spot-cleaned and monitored for rust, loose bolts, etc.
When properly assembled and cared for, both wood and vinyl playsets can be safe choices for your kids. Most safety issues appear over time as the playsets age. Wooden swing sets do have one major benefit over vinyl playsets in this area: any safety issues will be readily visible. Any overly-weathered wood is easy to spot and can be addressed before it becomes a hazard.
With vinyl swing sets, however, those issues are often invisible. Because the wooden core is hidden by the vinyl exterior, rot is usually invisible. You may not even know it’s occurring until the structural integrity of the playset is already dangerously compromised.
Of course, style is a matter of personal taste, but we do think wood swing sets have an edge on vinyl ones here. The aesthetic of wooden swing sets is a highly sought-after look at the moment, partially because wooden swing sets are so easy to customize. Whereas vinyl swing sets can’t take paint or stain, wooden swing sets can be easily painted, stained, and decorated to match your taste. And if those tastes change? Wooden swing sets can easily be re-painted and decorated to always be on season and on trend for your family. Check out our Instagram to see some of the gorgeous DIYs parents have done with KidKraft play sets.
In general, vinyl swing sets are significantly more expensive than wooden swing sets due to its low maintenance requirements.
For minimal maintenance and similar or superior quality, KidKraft’s wooden playsets come in at a fraction of the cost. Applying a yearly coat of stain means you can pay up to three times less than you would for a vinyl playset and get a product that is equally durable and arguably safer.