The vast majority of playsets sold in this country today are made in China. Brands like Backyard Discovery, KidKraft, Gorilla, and Swing-N-Slide are all from China.
The problem with the vast majority of these “playsets-in-a-box” from China is that they are of poor quality, they are very difficult to assemble, the wood is thin, lightweight, and brittle. It’s important that your children are safe, and your investment is long-lasting.
What is often touted as “cedar” is not real cedar at all. It is sometimes called “China Fir” by the lumber industry. In truth, it is actually a Cypress (Cunninghamia Lanceolata).
There is no mistaking this wood to the trained nose. As soon as that cardboard box is opened there is a sweet, pungent smell of the Chinese Cypress. This is a very fast-growing softwood and a major export of China. While it does have some similar pest and rot-resistant characteristics of cedar, it is in my experience a much more brittle wood that is very susceptible to splitting and warping.
It is very important when using this wood that the thinner boards are pre-drilled for screws, bolts, and other fasteners to prevent the wood from splitting.
Another major complaint of mine is that the sets are too lightweight and tend to be less sturdy. The deck boards are too thin in my opinion. Often the assembly crews are fearful that they are going to fall through the deck while trying to assemble them.
All of the swing beams on these sets are only 8 feet long. That’s because they need to be able to fit in the 8-foot box to be shipped to the US in a shipping container. 8 feet is barely long enough for a crowded three 3-position swing beam.
If you check the warranty period you will find it is very short. They look very nice with often very creative designs and an attractive finish. However, many states in the assembly manual that they need to be stained and sealed within the first 90 days or so (see below).
Backyard Discovery Assembly Instructions: “A waterbourne transparent stain has been applied to your playset. This is done for color only. Once or twice a year, depending on your climate conditions, you must apply some type of protection (sealant) to the wood of your unit. Prior to the application of sealant, lightly sand any “rough” spots on your playset. Please note this is a requirement of your warranty.”
Gorilla Playset Assembly Instructions: “Apply a sealant or semi-transparent stain with sealant within the first 90 days of owning the swing set.”
Here in New England, we recommend our local manufacturers. Companies like Creative Playthings, Triumph Play Systems which are both right here in Massachusets. Then there is CedarWorks in Maine.
All three of these local ‘Made-in-the-USA’ companies offer a high-quality, child-safe product with a significant warranty. Remember, you get what you pay for. Please don’t buy simply on price and appearance.
Tell them Stan from New England Playset Assembly sent you.
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