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Choosing A Climbing Frame

We hope this quick guide will help answer all your questions about which
climbing frame is the right one for you. We are not just an e-commerce site
and since 2001 we've been involved in all aspects of wooden climbing frames.
We've met with all the major British manufactures and have selected only
those makes that we feel represent unquestionable quality and value for money.

Knowing what our customers want, we have worked with Home Front and Cedartree to help design many new products. Importantly too we have spent many a day assembling climbing frames for our customers so know each product inside out.

We have Climbing Frames on display in our sizeable indoor display site so you have the opportunity to see the towers in the flesh and we are on hand to talk you through your options and advise you as to what will work best for your children.

How Much Space Do I Need?

Whatever the dimensions are of the frame that you buy, bear in mind that you need a safety-zone around it. For home as opposed to commercial use in a play-ground or at a school, there are no hard and fast rules, but as guidance the following safety zones should be allowed for around pieces of play equipment:

At the end of slide – 1.5m.

At the front and back of a swing – 2.0m.

At the bottom of climbing-walls, cargo nets etc – 1.5m.

By a ‘safety zone’ we mean an area free of a hazard such as a tree, brick wall or concrete path, something that could harm a child.

So your first task is to decide what is the total area of your garden you are prepared to give over to your child’s play area?

Garden Design For Wooden Climbing Frame

What Size of Play Equipment Do I Want For The Age Of My Children?

When considering ‘size’ we are not necessarily considering the length and breadth, but the height, the height of the swings, the slide etc. One of the biggest mistakes that mum and dad make is to buy a climbing frame that has a low platform height and consequently a low roof height. Though there is a certain appeal to this as this will be cheaper and look less opposing in the garden, if the climbing frame is too low, the slide will be shallow and the climbing elements not over challenging.

Though there is no such thing as an average child, they all differ in terms of their physical coordination and bravery there is no reason that a 3 year old child should not play safely and happily on what we deem to be ‘full-sized ‘ wooden climbing frames (please though always refer to individual manufacturer's recommendations). The critical dimensions to look out for area.

The platform height – 1.5m | Swing arm height – 2.4m | Overall height - circa 3.0m

If your proposed purchase meets all of these measurements your child will have a play frame that they will find challenging until they are a teenager. Many manufacturers make ranges that are far smaller and lower than this and though they are more than adequate for 3-8 year olds, they will soon lose their appeal as your child gets older. So though the climbing frame may look big in a brochure or website, always check the dimensions.

What Size Of Wooden Climbing Frame

What Timber Should It Be Made Of?

90% of climbing frames sold in the UK are made of pine and though this sounds like it could be vastly inferior to a hardwood such as oak, remember that there are different types and grades of pine. A good quality pine such as Scandinavian Redwood, as used by Home Front Climbing Frames is nearly a hard-wood and should last just as long.

Very few manufacturers use oak as this is hugely expensive. The other common material used is cedar as it is relatively cheap but has built-in preservatives, so needs no maintenance.

So check what material your potential purchase is made of, what treatment process it has had, what maintenance is needed and what warranty is offered.

As well as choosing a good quality timber, question how thick each piece is. There is an obvious link between the strength of a climbing frame and how long it will last. Ideally 4” square timbers will be used for the main uprights and a swing beam should be 6” x 4”.

What Timber For Wooden Climbing Frame

Do I Go For Round Pole Or Square Timber Frames?

TP Toys and Houtland, both major manufacturers, used to make towers from round 4” timber. Though there is nothing particularly wrong with a round pole system, round timers are more prone to having splits and warping over time. These days most systems are made of planned and finished square timber which is inherently stronger and though it is subjective, better looking than a round timber.

Another benefit of a square timer frame is that where two sections meet and are bolted together, the join is far neater than on a round pole system. In conclusion, round pole systems are likely to be a fair bit cheaper than a square pole system, but the build quality and durability is not the same.

Round or Square

Do I Need Safety Surfacing?

This is a question that is often asked. The simple answer is that if your wooden climbing frame is situated on an average lawn and does not have a Critical Fall Height of over 2.0m, you do not need Safety Surfacing.

Grass is deemed to have sufficient impact absorbing properties. Critical Fall Height is deemed to be the maximum height from which a child can reasonably deemed to be able to fall from. So on an average play tower, with a platform height of 1.5m, the Critical Fall Height is deemed to be 1.5m. The tower might have a roof that is 3.0m tall and a swing arm at 2.4m and though a child could climb on to the roof or on to the swing arm, this is not deemed to a regular occurrence and hence not deemed to be a factor in the Critical Fall Height.

When purchasing a wooden climbing frame always ask the manufacture or retailer what the Critical Fall Height is.

What Surfacing Options Are There?

Wet Pour

Play Bark

Rubber Matting

Wet Pour

Play Bark

Rubberised Tiles

If you have ever been to a council run play-ground, it will use wet-pour, which once laid, looks like soft rubbery tarmac. This is a very good surface, but be warned it is expensive and as a result is seldom used domestically.

Bark is the most commonly used material for use at home as it is relatively inexpensive and does not look out of place in the average British garden. There are many different types of bark. What you will ideally use is ‘Play-Grade bark’. To be deemed ‘Play-Grade’ the bark must be chemical free and the individual bits of bark not small enough to present a choking hazard. Play-Bark is more expensive than other types of bark, but it is worth the investment. For domestic usage, we recommend 6-8 inches of depth for the average wooden climbing frame.

Rubberised tiles have the distinct advantage of being able to be laid straight on to most existing surfaces, saving time and money. These tiles, sometimes known as Grass Mats are available from various sources and will typically be 1m square or 1.5m x 1.0m. If ordering also check how thick they are. Standard thicknesses are 16mm and 22mm and expect to pay around £20 per square meter. You can lay these tiles yourself and you can choose to use them solely in the most important areas eg around the immediate vicinity of the swings. For most domestic wooden climbing fames, 16mm is more than adequate.

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