What wood to use for swingset

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Forum topic by pete79 posted 04-06-2011 08:17 PM 35913 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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154 posts in 4155 days

04-06-2011 08:17 PM

I’m building my kids a swingset this weekend and have the plans all figured out, as well as my materials list. I’m just not sure what kind of wood to go get from the lumber yard/mill.

I was thinking I’m between cedar and pressure treated, but I’m curious if there’s something else that I should be looking at? I don’t want to stain/finish the thing very often. I don’t really care too much if it turns gray over time. Cedar seems like the clear choice, but i’m trying to see if there’s something that might be a little less expensive. I’m apprehensive about PT because of the warping/cracking. Any suggestions?

-- Life is a one lap race.

20 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1819 posts in 3874 days

#1 posted 04-06-2011 08:25 PM

Cypress would be good if you can get it in your locality.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View MrsN's profile


988 posts in 4541 days

#2 posted 04-06-2011 08:28 PM

Ours is pressure treated. Cedar was almost double the price when we built it, and was a huge consideration.

View pete79's profile


154 posts in 4155 days

#3 posted 04-06-2011 08:35 PM

MrsN – did you have any problems structurally with warping/twisting/cracking over time?

-- Life is a one lap race.

View MrsN's profile


988 posts in 4541 days

#4 posted 04-06-2011 09:24 PM

It has been fine, it has only been up for a couple of years. We also have a pressure treated deck that has been up for 10+ years with no problems.

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3690 days

#5 posted 04-07-2011 05:50 AM

I built one in 1999. April to be exact. I laminated some 2×6’s for the cross beam. This twisted as little on mine but not too bad. I haven’t needed to replace it and it is usable. I used the pressure treated lumber of the day. Cedar will be soft and screws probably won’t hold. I had brackets that were made for screws in places. Thos things get a lot of movement and twisting action when the kids get going on it.

View saw4fun's profile


176 posts in 4354 days

#6 posted 04-07-2011 03:57 PM

White oak, Black Locust, and Honeylocust are a few more domestic woods excellent for outdoor applications. No worries with these whether they will hold screws or not!!

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4592 days

#7 posted 04-07-2011 05:07 PM

Cedar is to soft I would use pressure treated or just plain doug fir if you keep if painted.


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Bill White

5343 posts in 4975 days

#8 posted 04-07-2011 05:15 PM

Pressure treated will expose the kiddies to all the chems, and the stuff will be really wet at first. You will have to use SS or dip galvanized screws/bolts/nails or the new pt stuff will corrode them.
If you can swing it (get the pun?), use white oak. It will last forever without all the associated problems.

-- [email protected]

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118161 posts in 4592 days

#9 posted 04-07-2011 05:26 PM

Unlike the old pressure treated woods that had arsenic in them there’s one chemical used in most pressure treated wood coppersulfate it has been proven safe to use in garden growing and I believe is the same spray they use to spray fruit trees to prevent white fly. If none of that feels good they sell a heat treated wood that has zero chemicals in it to replace standard pressure treated wood. White oak will work for sure but is pretty pricie for a swing set.

it looks like I’m wrong about what’s in pressure treated wood.
Here are the facts


View Jack_T's profile


623 posts in 4046 days

#10 posted 04-07-2011 05:57 PM

If money is not a concern – Ipe.

All the structural members should be bolted with washers on both ends.

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View Jeff's profile


543 posts in 4209 days

#11 posted 04-07-2011 05:58 PM

I don’t know the age range of your kids. Mine were two years apart and only used the thing for about five years. I’d say the thing is almost disposable. I agree about the pressure treated toxicity. If your kids are going to rub up against it or chew on it (don’t laugh they do) then I’d go for cypress or cedar.

View bubinga's profile


864 posts in 3682 days

#12 posted 04-07-2011 06:53 PM

Maybe redwood

-- E J ------- Always Keep a Firm Grip on Your Tool

View edvan22's profile


2 posts in 3621 days

#13 posted 04-07-2011 07:07 PM


I built one 2 summers ago using pressure treated. The warping/cracking has been really disappointing. (Big box lumber seems to want to warp around a corner.) Nothing structural but it introduced rough edges/splinters, etc… I added onto the set last summer and built some benches for a community group and used a product called Rain Coat which can be applied to wet pressure treated lumber and it claims to “slow the drying process” which helps minimize warping and cracking (It’s a fairly clear stain). I figured I had nothing to lose and am surprised to see that so far, everything seems to be crack free 8 months later. I’m waiting to see how it handles the direct summer sun before I give it any kind of recommendation.

I also used composite decking on the horizontal surfaces to minimize splinters while crawling etc… I’d carefully consider the PT route if I did it again.


View CptWingnut's profile


34 posts in 3684 days

#14 posted 04-07-2011 07:22 PM

My vote is for pressure treated, thanks for the info about modern pressure treatment. Besides I grew up playing on a swingset I think was made out of old split telephone poles (don’t ask me how they split em’), and besides how else are they going to get their daily serving of creosote.

View airamb's profile


38 posts in 3626 days

#15 posted 04-08-2011 12:53 AM

Because your in Michigan you should be able to find some white oak hemlock or black locust which I beleive some one above posted. Just have to be careful with the hemlock, get it smooth you don’t wont a hemlock sliver there seems to be something in hemlock that makes slivers angry.

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