Climbing Frames – Which wood type is best?

Climbing Frames UK often get asked why the majority of our play sets designed by selwood are made from cedar wood when our competitors use pine wood on their climbing frame sets.

The most frequently asked question – Is cedar wood better than treated pine wood?

The answer: Yes, cedar is better to use for durability and longer lasting. Pine is soft, whether treated or not, and usually much cheaper to purchase. In the long run cedar is the better choice.

But although cedar is better, it also depends on what you need it for. If your doing craft and its not going to be weathered or battered around then pine is better. Treated pine is good for craft work as it is easier to shape, and bend then cedar. However, climbing frames are going to be weathered because they’re going to be in your garden for years, and battered because they’ll be well used by children, making cedar the best choice.

Cedar Wood Lasts Longer

Cedar is commonly used if you want to make something that last longer and are not concerned about the additional cost. The knot structure is small, sound and tight and with natural oils found in the lumber, cedar is naturally resistant to rot and insect destruction. This makes it a perfect product for both interior and exterior applications, and particularly play equipment. The tight, small knot structure means cracks are small and splinters are rare.

In comparison, natural pine is a light-colored softwood with straight grain. It is very cheap and harvested mainly from forests in eastern Europe but also from all around the world. There are two types of pine used for outdoor products; pressure treated and untreated. Untreated pine has low resistance to the elements and is less durable than pressure treated pine and a water or oil based sealer should be applied to untreated pine every year. Pressure treated pine needs no sealer but can be painted or stained if desired. Either type of pine can be cleaned with soap and water. Mildew will need removing with a standard bathroom cleaner intermittently. Pressure treated pine is incredibly susceptible to cracks and splinters. This is expected on rustic style round beam swings and of other part of the reason people buy, because they are looking for a rustic, weathered swingset. This is often a surprise on more american style sawn (square cut) climbing frames and playsets.

Wood Requires Treatment

If properly taken care of, cedar or pressure treated pine can last up to 20 years, but all will require maintenance, care and treatment. Wood is a natural product so cracks and splits are inevitable as the moisture content of the wood changes. We strongly advise making an educated choice when picking your climbing frame or swing to ensure you find something suitable for you, your children and garden.

Cedar looks nicer, cracks less and splinters less, so we believe cedar is much more suitable than pine for structures where children will be climbing. Pine is good for rustic weathered appearance and is great for cheap round wood swing sets.

We at Climbing Frames UK hope this article is useful in your hunt for a suitable climbing frame or swingset.

Chris has been working in the outdoor toy industry since January 2008, with Selwood Products Ltd View Chris's full profile here:

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