Swing sets provide an outlet for children to burn energy in the great outdoors. They can spend hours pretending that a swing set is a pirate ship or a castle as they swing the day away. Swing sets are available in sizes large and small, can be constructed of wood, metal, or plastic; feature a variety of swings and slides, and much more.
The best swing sets are made of high-quality materials that withstand both the elements and heavy play by rambunctious kids. This guide reviews some of the best swing sets available for the backyard, and provides you with information about the features to consider as you choose the ideal swing set adventure for your kids.
- BEST OVERALL: Gorilla Playsets Chateau Wooden Swing Set
- BEST BUDGET: Swing-N-Slide PB 8360 Ranger Wooden Swing Set
- BEST WOODEN SWING SET: Backyard Discovery Parkway Swing Set
- BEST FOR SMALL YARDS: Jump Power UFO Swing Set
- BEST FOR BABIES: Costzon Toddler Climber and Swing Set
- BEST FOR TODDLERS: XDP Recreation Play All Day Swing Set
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Swing Set
Swing sets are made in a surprising range of configurations, featuring swings, slides, climbing walls, and bars of many shapes and sizes. The materials, age of your child or children, and installation and assembly options are only a few of the considerations to weigh while searching for the best swing set for your yard.
Swing sets are typically constructed of either wood, metal, plastic, or a combination of these materials. Wooden swing sets provide a classic, natural look. Cedar and redwood are the most ideal for wooden swing sets because they naturally resist bugs and weather damage without chemical treatment. Some swing sets feature chemically-treated wood to improve their pest- and weather-resistance. Keep in mind, however, that children will come into contact with chemicals every time they touch treated wood.
Wood models hold up well, but they do require yearly restaining to maintain the quality. Even then, the wood may eventually rot and break down. Slivers are another concern about wooden swing sets. Children will run their hands over the wood frame during the course of their play, so be prepared for occasional sliver removal.
Metal swing sets offer reliable durability. However, the quality of the metal and its protective coating can vary. Small to mid-sized swing sets are often made of steel or alloys with a protective coating. Galvanized steel and powder coats offer the best weather and rust resistance. The coating needs to protect the frame from nicks and scratches since anything that penetrates it can lead to the appearance of rust.
Heat is also a risk with metal swing sets. Metal frames grow hot in the sun and become a burn risk for children. Protective coatings help, but you should check the frame’s temperature by gently touching it with your hand before letting children play on the swing set. The same is true for metal slides, which can also become surprisingly hot, even on a cloudy day.
Wooden and metal swing sets often include plastic parts, particularly in the swing seats. In fact, baby and toddler swing sets are typically made completely of plastic. These plastics should be hardy enough to withstand inclement weather, including prolonged sun exposure.
Take note of whether the plastic on a particular swing set is recommended for both indoor or outdoor use, and remember that—no matter how high the quality—plastic will eventually fade in the sun. However, there is no risk of slivers and rust and less risk of dangerous heat with plastic. You should still check the temperature of plastic slides and swings to make sure they haven’t become too hot for use.
Manufacturers include a recommended age range based on the swing set’s materials, size, and swing/slide design. It’s important to buy a swing set that’s appropriate for your child’s age; a swing set made for an 8-year-old could pose a danger to a toddler.
Baby and toddler swing sets usually have a swing with a 3-point or a 5-point safety harness to securely hold the child while swinging. Their slides and ladders are also much smaller and may be textured to reduce the risk of falls and chance of injury if there is a fall.
Size and Capacity
The size and layout of your yard determines the size of the swing set it can accommodate. As you’re making calculations, consider that you’ll need 5 to 6 feet of clearance beyond the swing set’s footprint to allow plenty of room for children to swing. A smaller set may be required to provide safe clearance in your yard to avoid fences, detached garages, sheds, driveways, and sidewalks.
Swing sets also have a maximum weight limit and capacity. The swings themselves usually have a maximum weight limit as well. If you have several children, you’ll need a model that’s designed to accommodate them all. Match the swing set size and capacity to the size, age, and weight of the children who’ll use it most often.
All a swing set truly needs is a swing. However, many have two or more swings and several other options as well. Monkey bars, climbing walls, slides, rings, ladders, and benches are all common features on larger swing sets.
Some models also offer different kinds of swings, like gliders and trapeze bars, or a swing with a safety harness for infants and toddlers.
A swing set should have plenty of clearance around it so that children in swings don’t hit any obstacles and people and pets walking around the swing set are able to stay out of the swing’s range. Shady areas help prevent the frame, slides, and swings from growing too hot at the height of summer.
Avoid areas near sheds, garages, fences, streets, and driveways to reduce the likelihood of accidents and injuries.
Safety always comes first. The swing set should be age appropriate, but it’s also important to keep an eye on the following components:
- Swings: Swings made of plastic and rubber are safer than metal or wood because they’re more stable, easier to sit on, and don’t grow as hot in the sun. Swings should be at least 8 inches apart to reduce the chances of a mid-swing collision.
- Slides: Light-colored plastic slides stay cooler than metal slides. However, even light-colored plastic can become warm in hotter temperatures. Always check the slide’s temperature before a child goes down it.
- Protective Surfaces: Shock-absorbing surfaces under the swing set protect little bodies when they fall. Shredded rubber, sand, and wood chips are popular options. The protective surface should cover twice the height of the swing set in front and in back of the frame.
- Anchors: Swing sets that aren’t anchored to the ground can blow over in a heavy wind. Most wooden swing sets include metal stakes to hold them in place. Some metal swing sets don’t require anchors, others don’t include anchors even though the manufacturer recommends them, so you may need to purchase them separately to ensure safety.
Check the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) for additional suggestions and guidelines for purchasing the safest possible swing set for your family.
All swing sets require some assembly and installation. Large swing sets with swings, slides, ladders, and climbing walls could take several days to assemble. Some small, simple sets may offer tool-free assembly, while others may require a level, a drill, and other power tools, so make sure you have the necessary tools on hand.
Try to match the swing set to your DIY skill level. The other option with large, complex swing sets is to hire a professional for assembly and installation.
Our Top Picks
Our top picks represent some of the best swing sets available today, offering a range of sizes and designs to meet the various needs of different families and yards. They’re all made of high-quality materials, provide safe play, and boast features that will keep children entertained for hours.
The Chateau Wooden Swing Set from Gorilla Playsets is ideal for families with several children—or even just for a backyard where the neighborhood kids congregate. The cedar naturally resists bugs, and a canopy covers the play deck for a shady play area.
The multitude of play options include two standard swings, a trapeze swing, wave slide, climbing wall, rope ladder, tic-tac-toe station, and an under deck play area with a bench. Children will find places to hide, ride, and burn off pent-up energy.
This swing set is quite sizable at 19 feet by 14 feet by 11 feet and will fit well in larger backyards. Pre-cut, pre-sanded, and pre-drilled, it’s ready for a painless assembly process. The maximum weight capacity stands at 800 pounds or about seven children ages three to 11, depending on weight.
The sturdy construction and swing options of this Swing-N-Slide set encourage young families and families with several children to jump into outdoor play. A gorgeous cedar frame resists the effects of inclement weather and insect infestation. Pinch-free chains coated in plastisol keep little fingers safe.
One of the most practical features of this swing set is the design of the swing attachments, which allows you to alternate between a toddler swing and other swing designs as your children grow. With a footprint of 8.5 feet by 7.5 feet by 6.8 feet, it fits in small to mid-sized yards without taking up too much outdoor space.
Each plastic swing holds up to 115 pounds, and the entire swing set holds a maximum of three children.
A solid cedar frame that’s pre-stained, pre-cut, and pre-drilled creates a wooden swing set that’s ready to go and worth assembling. The maximum weight of 1,080 pounds accommodates up to nine children. Play options include two swings, trapeze rings, monkey bars, a ladder, slide, sandbox, and a covered fort.
Assembly takes some time with this set. You’ll need to use your own tools, but the Parkway set does include all necessary hardware, including extra pieces. It requires sealing after assembly to maintain the 1-year warranty. This swing set from Backyard Discovery is definitely meant for larger yards with dimensions of 19 feet by 11 feet by 9 feet.
The UFO swing from Jump Power features a powder-coated steel frame that offers excellent durability and stability, despite its relatively small size. The frame resists the elements and poses no risk of bug infestation. The dimensions measure 5.5 feet by 5.9 feet by 6 feet for a compact swing set that fits in small yards.
This saucer swing holds two children of up to 100 pounds each. A protective coating covers the swing’s chains to protect small fingers. Designed for children ages three to eight years old, it’s an ideal choice for young families. Anchors need to be purchased separately.
The Costzon swing set offers babies their first taste of swinging. Once babies are able to sit up on their own, there is a safety bar with handles to keep them safe in the swing. The slide accommodates babies as they start taking their first steps and learning to climb. A textured surface on the ladder helps with stability. Plus, there’s a basketball hoop for the budding athlete to work on hand-eye coordination.
For an outdoor model, the swing set is fairly small at 5.5 feet by 5 feet by 4 feet. However, this particular model is appropriate for indoor or outdoor use. The heavy-duty plastic can withstand sun exposure, but it’s also ideal for indoor use, as well as being colorful and eye-catching. The swing holds up to 66 pounds, while the slide can hold up to 110 pounds.
The Play All Day metal swing set from XDP Recreation acts as a transition between a baby swing set and larger playsets. It offers two plastic-seated bucket swings, a trapeze bar, a slide, and a 2-seat glider. Toddlers can enjoy swinging without a safety harness but in a smaller and more secure setting than sets built for older kids.
Designed for children from three to eight years old, this set’s durable metal frame with padded legs offers extra protection for little ones who aren’t yet as aware of their surroundings as older children. The swings have metal bars rather than chains to protect little fingers from pinches.
With dimensions of approximately 6 feet by 11 feet by 8 feet, it won’t completely overtake your yard. Overall, this set offers many of the joys of larger swing sets but with a few extra safety measures to keep toddlers safe.
FAQs About Swing Sets
It’s easy to get overwhelmed about choosing a swing set model out of the numerous options available. There are ways to narrow your choices, including considering the size and layout of your yard, the location in which you’d like to place the swing set, and the features most desired by you and your children. Check out some of the most frequently asked questions about how to select the best swing set for your needs.
Q. What should I look for when buying a swing set?
The first consideration should be high-quality materials. Cedar, redwood, rust-resistant coated metals, and heavy-duty plastics that withstand sun damage are safer and more durable. Make sure the swing set is age appropriate with an in-between swing distance of at least 8 inches. The swing set should fit in your yard with 5 to 6 feet of clearance around the set’s footprint.
Q. How tall should a swing set be?
Height doesn’t become an issue unless the swing set is considerably taller than it is wide, which isn’t an issue with models that are safety approved. However, keep an eye on placement. Don’t situate a swing set near poles or wires that could snag the swings.
Some swing sets feature a roof that should also avoid wires or poles. Children are adept climbers and could end up in places you don’t expect.
Q. How do you level a swing set?
It’s essential to level the ground underneath the swing set. A level base—combined with anchors—prevents the swing set from tipping over. Even if the ground is already level, you’ll need to dig out the area to make room for shock-absorbing ground material. Use stakes, a string, and a carpenter’s level to make sure the entire play area is level.
Q. How do you anchor a metal swing set?
The most common method for anchoring a metal swing set is concrete. It requires digging a hole for each leg of the frame, filling them with concrete, and then inserting the frames.
Q. How do you move a wooden swing set?
Before disassembling, check the swing set for rust spots and wood rot. These are areas where you may need to take extra caution and mark for future repairs. Remove the screws from all major components—frame legs, swings, slides, and other features like a climbing wall. Disassemble the swing set into pieces small enough to fit in your vehicle. Make sure to label all components to aid in easy reassembly.