What’s The Best Material for a Playset?

When it comes to selecting an outdoor playset, wood matters. Dave Byrum, owner of Kids Gotta Play with retail locations in New Hudson and Utica, is proud that the Rainbow Play Systems line of equipment he sells relies on the two highest quality woods in their structures: California redwood and western red cedar.

“Rainbow is darn smart,” he says of its wood selection. “It’s extremely careful about what it exposes kids to.”

Among the qualities of these two woods that make them particularly appealing to families in the market for a playset are their strength and stability.

“With these woods, you won’t have any warping, twisting or bowing,” he says. “They can handle the outdoor elements, and they have a high strength-to-weight ratio.”

Unlike pine, California redwood and western red cedar aren’t highly flammable. They’re also naturally resistant to termites.

“Rainbow is confident there is no problem with that species,” Byrum says.

As for splinters, Byrum says no wood provides a 100 percent guarantee of splinter prevention, but redwood and western red cedar are much less likely to produce them than other types of wood.

“I tell families if they notice a rough area on the wood of one of our playsets, to put on a pair of work gloves and flake off any potential splinters,” he says. “Splinters are always going to be a possibility, but much less likely with these two woods than with pine or Northern white cedar.”

As for the elements, Byrum says many people are surprised to learn that it’s the summer that is hardest on outdoor playsets, not the winter.

“It’s the UV rays,” he explains. “But redwood and western red cedar are element resistant.”

Families may notice some seasonal changes in the wood on their playset, just as they would on a wood fence or deck.

“These are typically just surface cracks,” he says. “If it is something more serious though, we’ll go out and check it, and we offer a lifetime warranty to original owners of our playsets.”

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