Wood vs Metal vs Plastic Swing Sets: Which is Better?

Decisions, decisions. Even when it comes to swing sets, there are decisions to make. With only 3 basic construction materials for swing sets, it can be tough to choose which one, wood, plastic or metal, is right for you and your family.

What we will do in this article is a little comparison to give you the facts you need to make a great decision.

Looking for a Swing Set? Don't buy something you'll hate

Comparing Swing Sets - Metal vs Wood

The facts about metal swing sets:

You may have used or seen the metal swing sets in your yard, your friend’s yard or public parks and playgrounds. Of course, that was probably years ago when the only construction material available for swing sets was metal.


Metal has had a good run and there are reasons why it is still used today despite stiff competition from wood and plastic swing sets. Here are the pros and cons for metal swing sets:


  • They are common and very inexpensive
  • Easier to get parts
  • ​Easier and quicker to assemble
  • They are strong and last a long time


  • Not as strong as wood
  • Can bend or break
  • ​They can rust
  • Needs painting from time to time

The facts about wood swing sets

Using wood for swing sets has come on strong over the past 2 decades or so. This construction material has made great inroads in the metal swing set territory. Here are the good and bad points for wood swing sets:


  • They feel and look natural
  • Endless design possibilities
  • ​High weight capacity
  • Durable and an be built to last


  • High maintenance
  • Bolts need to be constantly tightened
  • ​Attracts bees, wasps, insects
  • Takes a long time to assemble

Comparing a Wood Swing Set vs a Plastic One


Like wood, plastic has become a popular swing set construction material in recent decades. It has its own appeal for many parents with young children. There are a lot to reasons why these parents choose plastic over wood.

Wood can be very heavy and it is a hard surface. If a child falls into a wood post, etc., they could get hurt a little more seriously. Wood swing sets can be quite high adding a long fall to the list of risks. So it makes sense that parents go for plastic over wood swing sets.

The facts about plastic swing sets:


  • They are lighter and easier to move
  • Light cleaning to keep it clean
  • ​No splinters, bright colors. Low to the ground
  • They are cheaper than wood or metal swing sets


  • Best for very young children
  • Low weight capacity
  • ​Limited design options
  • Colors can fade

Are Wooden or Metal Swing Sets Better?

You have seen the pros and cons lists and those points are valid and need to be taken into consideration. But they are not the whole story in judging which one is better. Here are some more factors to consider when deciding which is the overall best swing set construction material:


#1. Installation:

Plastic- lightweight, easy to put into position, easy to put together and you shouldn’t break a sweat doing it or spend a lot of time putting it together.

Metal- a little harder to assemble and it may take a little more time but once you are you have a solid swing set that you put together

Wood- this is more difficult to install, takes a long time, pieces can be heavy and you will need help. But once you are done you know you achieved something for your children

#2. Users

How many children will be able to use the swing set at one time? Will there be enough play options for all the kids to have fun?

#3. Extra costs- by this we mean do you need to level ground to make it usable, bring in special base materials, need paint or wood stain, etc., before using the swing set

#4. Weight capacity- will you or your spouse be tempted to sit or stand on the swing set? If so, will it hold your weight without cracking, etc?

#5. Space- do you have enough space in your yard to create a safe play zone for the model of swing set you want to buy?

Overall Assessment

Plastic - with this construction material you are not going to get a lot of weight on the swing nor can a lot of children play on it. There are few extra costs involved and installation is simple and easy. You also do not need a lot of space to use them.

Verdict - these swing sets are good for tots and toddlers who are just beginning to or are developing their key motor skills and balance. They would not be that much fun for older children due to the limitations of the swing set.

Metal - they are not that expensive, can be installed easily with little extra costs except paint, some leveling if needed and base material . If you have the space, you can always get models with more seats and play options. Design options may be limited.

Verdict - they are still a very good swing set option. They are tough, can handle rough treatment and still last you a long time. Good for kids of all ages, including adults. They hold the weight.

Wood - this swing set style will hold lots of weight and allow for many users at the same time. With their limitless design options you can add in as many play features as you want. As long as you have the space. With some maintenance they will last.

Verdict - their flexibility, versatility, longevity and other fine characteristics you can’t beat wood as a construction material. While the other materials have their purpose, overall wood tops them and runs away with the competition.

Some Final Comments

In looking at which style of swing set is better, you have to look at several factors. One factor not mentioned is if the construction style and design is right for you and your family. You do not want to overspend when you do not need to.

Also, the final factor is your preferences. You may like metal over wood and that is fine. The better swing set style is the one you prefer and the one your children have a lot of safe fun playing with.

Looking for a Swing Set? Don't buy something you'll hate

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