Playgrounds are an essential part of childhood, providing children with opportunities for physical activity, socialisation, and creative play. The type of equipment used in playgrounds plays a significant role in determining the quality of the play experience. Two common types of playground equipment are metal and wooden equipment. In this blog post, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of both types.
Metal Playground Equipment
Advantages of Metal Playground Equipment:
- Durability: Metal playground equipment is generally more durable than wooden equipment. It can withstand harsh weather conditions, including rain, snow, and extreme temperatures, without warping or deteriorating.
- Low Maintenance: Metal equipment is easy to maintain, and there is no need to worry about rotting, splintering, or other issues commonly associated with wooden playground equipment. Additionally, metal equipment is easy to clean, and it does not require staining or painting.
- Wide Range of Designs: Metal equipment is available in a wide range of designs, styles, sizes, and colours, allowing playground designers to create unique play areas that are visually appealing and engaging. The nature of steel means there are less limitations to form and scale. Curves are a lot easier to create in steel; this allows more possibilities in design. Paint also lasts longer of metal playground equipment. This mean that metal playground equipment can look newer for longer and can be repainted if needed.
- Safe: Metal equipment is generally safe when installed and used correctly. Many metal structures are designed to meet or exceed safety standards, including EN 1176 and ASTM International’s F1487 Standard Consumer Safety Performance Specification for Playground Equipment for Public Use.
Disadvantages of Metal Playground Equipment:
- Hot to the Touch: In hot weather, metal playground equipment can become hot to the touch, potentially causing burns or discomfort to children. In cold weather it’s very cold to touch making it less appealing to use.
- It call feel sterile, clinical and unnatural. This might be good for parents but less so for children.
- Limited Cushioning: Metal equipment does not provide much cushioning or shock absorption in the event of a fall, which can increase the risk of injury.
- Steel playground equipment is generally more expensive than wooden playground equipment.
Wooden Playground Equipment
Advantages of Wooden Playground Equipment:
- Natural Aesthetic: Wooden playground equipment has a natural look and feel that blends well with outdoor environments, making it a popular choice for nature-themed playgrounds. Wooden equipment blends into a natural environment well making it look less intrusive in sensitive areas.
- Absorbs Shock: Wood provides some shock absorption in the event of a fall, potentially reducing the risk of injury.
- Sustainable: Wooden playground equipment can be made from sustainable materials, such as bamboo or FSC-certified wood, making it an eco-friendly option.
- Nicer to touch and hold. This makes using the playground equipment more appealing in all weather conditions.
Disadvantages of Wooden Playground Equipment:
- Maintenance: Wooden equipment requires regular maintenance to prevent rotting, splintering, and other forms of deterioration. Additionally, it must be treated with sealants or stains to prevent damage from exposure to the elements.
- Susceptible to Pests: Wooden playground equipment can be susceptible to pests, such as termites, which can weaken the structure over time.
- Limited Design Options: Wooden playground equipment is limited in terms of design options, as it is not as malleable or versatile as metal.
- Safety Concerns: Wooden equipment can pose safety concerns if it is not maintained properly or installed correctly. Good maintenance can be expensive and can be unaffordable.
Both metal and wooden playground equipment have advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, the choice between the two types of equipment will depend on factors such as the playground’s design, location, and maintenance requirements. This is why here at PlayEquip, we are now using a combination of steel and wood to create the ultimate playground equipment. We use metal for areas of playground equipment that are prone to rot, such as ground connections (where we use steel shoes on wooden playground equipment) and sub-frames and timber in areas that are more likely to be touched and held. You can see from some of our bespoke playgrounds just how this is done very successfully.
To ensure the safety of children, it is essential to install equipment that meets or exceeds safety standards and to provide appropriate supervision during playtime. Regardless of the type of equipment used, a well-designed playground can provide children with a safe and enjoyable environment for physical activity, socialisation, and creative play.