Wooden Climbing Frames: A Complete Guide

Why a wooden climbing frame?

Wood has long been considered the ideal material with which to produce children’s play equipment: it’s cheaper than some metal or plastic frames, is less likely to cause injury than a metal frame, is durable and looks good. A wooden frame is also usable for more of the year, as unlike a metal frame, wood is an insulator, so it won’t get cold as easily in the winter and won’t burn children using it in hot weather. But once you look into the world of wooden climbing frames in more detail, it can swiftly become confusing; which wood do you choose? What’s the difference between pressure-treated and non-treated timber? Why don’t we pressure treat our cedar – Read more

Woodchester Garden Climbing Frame

Woodchester Climbing Frame

Types of wood used in climbing frames

By far the most common wood used in children’s play equipment like climbing frames is pressure-treated pine. Pine frames are actually made from a random combination of pine, spruce and fir in most cases, but the woods are so similar as to make little difference. Because these timbers are quite soft, the wood is usually pressure treated in order to prevent rot, insect damage and wear to the timbers. This sounds great at first, until you learn that the chemicals used in pressure treating timber are potentially harmful upon extended contact. Pressure-treated timber is also more likely to crack and splinter than other timbers, and as such is not an ideal material for any kind of equipment where your kids will be touching the wood often. An exception to this rule is in swing sets, where contact is minimised and the lower cost of pine can be taken advantage of safely.
Selwood products climbing frames are produced from cedar. This aromatic wood is naturally tough and durable, and is resistant to rot and insect damage from the outset, without any kind of pressure treatment. It splinters less than pine and has a warmer colour which will look good in any garden. Cedar is an ideal choice for frames and equipment where your kids will have regular contact with the timber.

Kingstone Kids Climbing Frame

Kingstone Climbing Frame

Finishes on climbing frames

Timber for climbing frames usually comes in either rough sawn, planed all round (PAR) or smoothed varieties. The choice between these types is far more practical than might initially be thought, as it has more implications than simply looking different. Rough-sawn timber is exactly what it sounds like; it’s been sawn roughly (usually using a band-saw or similar) and is covered in splinters and sharp edges. This timber is entirely unsuited to use by children, as contact can result in splinters, abrasions and cuts. PAR timber is a better choice, but still retains crisp, sharp edges to the boards, upon which a child could easily injure themselves. Smoothed timber solves this issue by featuring rounded corners upon which it is nigh impossible to get a splinter or cut.

Chris has been working in the outdoor toy industry since January 2008, with Selwood Products Ltd View Chris's full profile here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/108183116829768738869

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