Climbing Frame Buyers Guide – The Facts You Need to Know

Considering purchasing a climbing frame?  Our guide about climbing frame materials, positioning your frame and types of safety surfacing available is for you. We also have essential tips on installation, climbing frame maintenance & safety requirements available here

Materials

With our wooden climbing frames, you get a 10-year warranty on the wood and all you need to do is apply a sealant to your set. The cedar wood used is from China and comes pre-cut, drilled and stained this makes a truly easy assembly with minimal DIY skill required. With wood laid out, assembly instructions ready you can begin building straight away and see your efforts rewarded as you build something that will last for years and your kids will think you are absolutely amazing for building them their very own playground.

Cedar

Cedar wood requires no pressure treatment meaning it’s exposed to fewer chemicals than pine that needs this procedure to be weather proof. Climbing frames have been building frames since 2004 and we still get customers submitting reviews of climbing frames that are years old and still in use.

Cedar wood contains a tight knot structure meaning it rarely splinters or splits which ensures your kids hands and any exposed skin remains safe, so they can crawl around on hands and knees without fear of getting splinters. Like any natural wood product, it requires treatment to remain splinter free.

Cedar frames really are beautiful structures naturally resistant to rot and decay, they add visually to any garden and fit in with natural furniture that is around in the garden.

Pine

Pine climbing frames are common because of it’s prevalence throughout Europe making it very cheap. Pine, however, is one of the softest woods available so it must be pressure treated to stop it decaying quickly. Pine is used on cheap climbing frames, children should only have minimal contact with the wood due to the chemical treatment applied.

Pine’s natural colour is very light and will weather to become darker when aged, this can be treated and stained normally taking an extra coat or two for any colours to take. Some manufacturers will build Redwood Climbing Frames these, in fact, are a type of pine.

Positioning Your Frame

So you’re about to buy a climbing frame, but where to put it?skyfort

You need a good level surface, with good drainage. It’s not ideal to put it on grass that gets water logged frequently as no matter how well a climbing frame is maintained if it is under water it’s going to succumb to rot. Also, keep away from uneven ground surfacing as it will put a strain on the joints beyond safety tests. Finally, enough space around the frame for a safety zone.

Safety

Check for maximum fall height making sure an adequate safety zone is created, our climbing frames will have deck heights of either 1.2m or 1.5m. Expansion of climbing frames is one key benefit with wooden climbing frames. Most are modular and can be added to so if you think that this may be a possibility look for a suitable area before building.

Supervision is a must and most parents want to see their kids playing, especially with a risk of falling. If you aren’t happy letting them play out of sight, be sure to position your climbing frame so you have a clear view of them while playing.

Consideration

Consider your neighbours, blocking sunlight or overlooking a fence can upset some people. Some council’s also have height restrictions but as this varies between each suburb its best to check with your local council.

A suggestion that could be helpful is not to have the climbing frame right next to your neighbour’s fence.

Climbing Frame Safety Surfacing

surfacing

Whilst planning the location for your climbing frame, you may also wish to consider whether you will be using a safety surface or not. The majority of people place their climbing frame directly onto their lawn, whilst some may use one of a number of options available. Here are some ideas –

Natural Grass

Most people build their climbing frames directly onto their lawn which is more than enough for a playground surface. This is the quickest and most cost effective solution. The impact absorption of grass depends on the soil, and how compact it is, soil type will also have an Althorpeffect. The weather itself will have an effect on the ground’s ability to absorb impacts.

A counter argument is that it will ware well and compression will create a harder surface in high traffic areas. Official view from RoSPA is for fall heights under 1500mm (1.5m) grass is a suitable material for use under play equipment.

Most people already have grass laid in their garden and comparatively, with other surfaces buying seed isn’t expensive. If you’re expecting a lot of use from a frame then a little care may be required, you may need to use a few more seeds to replant an area although left to its own devices grass tends to grow back on its own.

Play Bark

Play Bark is an attractive, alternative safety surface for natural play areas, blending well into garden environments. Bark from different tree species have quite different characteristics in terms of texture, performance and durability it’s important that you don’t use ornamental bark as this will not be suitable safety surface. It’s also important to check expected lifespan of any bark you purchase.

Cedar Summit Climbing Frame

Weed control membrane or underlay is recommended to make sure that any plant life doesn’t grow through. This is not only an aesthetic thing, but this would bind surfacing together reducing its effectiveness of the surface to reduce impacts. It would essentially become a grass area, whilst this is fine it would defeat the purpose of putting down bark.

Rubber Bark

An impact absorbent surfacing made from shredded recycled rubber, rubber bark is highly absorbent but will need regular raking and topping up due to displacement. Rubber mulch as playground surfacing is made from recycling commercial or industrial tyres which are wire free. It is shredded and cleaned and can be bonded together. Generally, it has a 3.5m critical fall height at 20cm depth which compares favourably with wood bark, sand or grass.

Rubber mulchThis means using less to cover more and less work surface maintenance. You can choose to use a resin bonding pieces together, this creates a permanent surface. Permanent surfaces are almost maintenance free in that it will take a lot for it blow away or get moved.

Resin bound rubber surfaces allow water to drain through; it’s often a misconception that these are completely solid creating puddles that will need clearing before play can resume. Assuming that the surface is laid with appropriate drainage it should clear and be ready for play when the rain stops unlike grass that maybe water logged requiring some time to be suitable again.

Safety Mats

Available in a selection of sizes and thickness’s, rubber mats are slip resistant and easy to install and fix. Rubber matting can either be the play areas flooring solution all by itself or use grass matting to create a more natural feel for the play area. Rubber mats will come designed to fit together and is easily and quickly laid. Alternatively, they can be purchased asrubber mat roles that are laid out then play equipment is put on top.

Rubber matting or grass mats are an easy solution to overcome a lot of the difficulties that a grass only safety surface would have. This is because it would negate the compacting effect that occurs in high-traffic areas. Grass matting is especially effective in this respect as grass is allowed to grow through.

Synthetic Grass

Synthetic grassSynthetic grass is an all-weather surface; it is an ideal solution for surfacing play areas to reduce visible wear. Installing artificial grass is a great way out of mowing the lawn also, having annoying muddy patches and the end of worrying about making your grass green all year round. Artificial grass will last for a long time and can look very real depending on a quality of grass being laid.

 

 

To make this a safety surface a shock absorbing surface underneath is needed. In the installation process a flat surface is created by flattening/compacting soil, ensuring it lies securely.

Sand

Play Sand is a popular ‘natural’ impact-absorbing surfacing material to go under playground equipment. Whilst it is undoubtedly an attractive surfacing, it should be noted that it does require a high level of maintenance. Play sand has become a popular impact absorbing surfacing material under playground equipment. Its non-packing characteristics make it an attractive option. It also acts as a play toy in its own right making sandcastles and playing beach games is always going to make sand a popular play surface with children.

Skyline SwingsetWhen talking about sand for a safety surface you must choose play sand that is clearly marked. Using builder’s sand (one part of cement) that is treated to ensure it bonds together quickly and be very strong would be completely unsuitable for a play area. This would form a hard surface when mixed with water so the first time it rains you will find dangerous lumps forming.

Well, maintained sand is an excellent safety surface easy to install natural and washed sand is perfectly safe. However, too often it’s left to become compressed together despite being a non-packing surface it compacts tightly and this affects its ability to act as an impact absorbing surface.

If you can’t decide what surfacing you want to use you can also mix it up and try using a few different coverings. Here are some pics of what previous customers have done

Atlantic Climbing Framesynthetic grass 3mixed 2

 

 

 

 

So it really comes down to personal taste and what will be most suitable for you and your family. There are plenty of options so do some research and use the product that suits you best!