Outdoor Climbing Frames

Girl on a climbing frame

Outdoor climbing frames, also called gym sets, swing sets, activity gyms and activity centres, can provide hours of fun for children. Whether the kids like to climb high like explorers, swing fast like circus performers or zip down the slide like speeding bullets, outdoor climbing frames provide amusement of all kinds.

With a dollop of imagination and a pinch of adult supervision, outdoor climbing frames are the perfect recipe for fun in the sun!

Built to Last

Outdoor climbing frames are usually constructed of either metal or wood, and often come with a plastic slide and plastic swing seats. When you are deciding what type of outdoor climbing frame to buy, mull over factors such as:

  • Metal frames are usually rust resistant and withstand high winds.
  • Wooden frames look more natural in outdoor environments.
Life Span
  • Metal frames are worn down more quickly than wooden frames.
  • Wooden frames can be guaranteed for up to 10 or even 20 years.
  • Regardless of the materials used, always ask for a warranty!
  • Metal frames may require maintenance to nuts, bolts, stabilisers and paint.
  • Wooden frames may require maintenance to sanding, staining, treating, painting as well as general checks to all nuts and bolts.
Weight Standards
  • Galvanised steel frames are usually very sturdy and strong.
  • Wooden frames may sometimes hold more weight per child than metal frames.
  • Always check the maximum weight limit for children using a climbing frame!
  • Metal frames are generally cheaper than wooden frames.
  • Costs will increase with the number of accessories (swings, slides, shoots, bridges, etc.) on the outdoor climbing frame.
Kid's climbing frame and play centre
Metal Explorer Climbing Frame
Multi-purpose climbing frame and play centre
Available from johnlewis.com

Some Assembly Required

Most outdoor climbing frames, particularly wooden frames, require some amount of home assembly. If you are not the DIY type, frames can often be delivered and assembled for an extra fee. Important points to consider about assembly include:

  • Do you have the required tools?
  • Do you have enough room to lay out materials and construct the frame away from children?
  • Will you need a building permit or other type of planning permission to construct a wooden frame at home?
  • Is paint, sealant or stain required?
  • Is sanding and/or treat the wood required?
  • Are stabilizers such as pouring cement blocks required?

Safety and Supervision

Accidents happen, and outdoor climbing frames have seen their fare share of them. To guard against mishaps, adult supervision is the first line of defence. In addition to monitoring the kids’ outside play, take into account:

  • Some towns and councils may require a fence around the garden containing an outdoor climbing frame in order to keep unsupervised children away. Check with your council to see if anything particular will be required for your frame.
  • Some insurance companies require the outdoor climbing frame to be insured so that you are not held liable if a visitor is injured. Check with your insurance company and make any necessary adjustments to your policy.
  • All minimum and maximum weight and height restrictions for all parts of the outdoor climbing frame should be observed.
  • All children invited to play on the outdoor climbing frame should use each part as intended. For example, standing on or jumping across swings increases the chance of injury.
  • Outdoor climbing frames should not be used during inclement weather.

In the confusion and craziness of buying an outdoor climbing frame, don’t forget to ask for your children’s opinions. Find out what your kids want in an outdoor climbing frame, and how they intend to use it.

As time goes by, a good outdoor climbing frame will grow with your children. A great outdoor climbing frame will be a treasured childhood memory that they can’t wait to share with their own children!

See Also
Teepee-style playhouse
Outdoor Playhouses
Kids playing
Bring Back Childhood