Swing sets are a popular spring project for families with young, energetic children with energy to burn. Installing a swing set is not difficult but it does take more time and patience than most people realize. Home owners should be realistic in estimating how much time they need to assemble the swing set and whether they have the time to complete the project.
One way to decide how much installation will cost is to take the price of the swingset and divide by half and add another $100 dollars or so. The smaller swingsets tend to cost $250-$350 for installation and go up from there. Paying for installation allows you to complete the assembly quickly rather than letting the project take up all your free time for several weeks.
Today’s swing sets are really more like playgrounds – the larger the swing set the longer it will take to assemble. Some creative ideas for completing the project include:
• Have a weekend party and invite 1 or 2 skilled friends (with their own tools) to help with the project. Start fresh on Saturday morning and decide end of day, what help you need on Sunday. You’ll enjoy the project more when you’re working at a comfortable pace and look forward to the “we got it done” celebration on Sunday night.
• Recognize that you may not be able to assemble and install the entire swing set over one weekend, when working by yourself. You’ll enjoy a busy weekend and avoid delaying completion of the project if you schedule a local handyman to complete the project if you’re not done on Sunday. At my handyman business we’ve had several homeowners schedule us to come on the following Monday to finish the project … and once in a while, they have canceled because they got some extra help over the weekend.
• Explain to your children that it’s a big project and you need their help. Set expectations that it will take several days to complete the swing set project. Review instructions and pick logical end points for each day, so you and the children know what to expect. Children can learn a valuable lesson about working hard to get what you want.
Tips on Installing a Swing Set
At Backyard Imagination our swing set installers assemble swing sets all over the country and we learn from each project. Do not become intimidated by the instruction manual. These cedar playsets were made knowing most of the time they would be assembled by parents like you and me. You can do this. Here are some tips to help.
• Swing Set Problem: Part way through the assembly, you may realize the location selected isn’t level or you only have 3 ft of clearance from a fence or other unmovable fixture.
o Solution: Swing sets should be at least 3 feet from any potential hazards with more room suggested behind swings(6 feet). When selecting your location, place small stakes in each corner and run string between the stakes. Make sure ALL strings are level which may involve removing or adding dirt. You should also consider using an absorbent fill underneath like sand, pea gravel or synthetic mulch for safety. Shade is also a good idea as direct sunlight will cause the swing set materials to get overheated which may cause burns.
• Swing Set Problem: Delivery company dropped the boxes at the end of the driveway on a rainy day causing all the stickers identifying individual pieces, to come off so it took several hours to lay out 100s of different shapes and create new labels so we could find them quickly during assembly.
o Solution: Identify where you want the delivery company to leave the cartons and have a tarp available if it’s raining. Move the cartons to the location where the swing set will be installed before unpacking them. You won’t finish the job in one day so have a tarp to cover everything up overnight.
• Swing Set Problem: There are thousands of pieces of hardware (2,316 for the one shown in the photo) and they are not shipped in individual, one size/shape per bag.
o Solution: You’ll need 10 to 15 containers, i.e. what you have for storing left overs. Paper bowls are an alternative but the hardware is heavy and doesn’t have covers for storing them over night. Sort all the hardware prior to beginning the installation and you’ll save time by placing each type in individual containers. For safety, you want to insure:
o Use of self-locking nuts or lock washers to prevent loosening
o Exposed bolts should be capped
o hooks should be tightly closed
o Hardware should be resistant to corrosion.
• Swing Set Problem: Like the hardware, there can be hundreds of pieces of wood (472 in the swing set shown here) and they may or may not be labeled making assembly a challenge as many pieces are similar in shape.
o Solution: You will want to label all wood pieces ahead of time. It’s helpful to line them up numerically on the ground next to where you’re working, to speed up the time used to find them. You can also identify any missing pieces and call the company or purchase wood to use instead (take the dimensions with you to Home Depot if you don’t have the tools to cut the wood in the required shape).
• Swing Set Problem: This manufacturer’s estimate for installation was 5-7 hours with 2 people. But in reality we estimate it’s going to take us a lot longer…
o Solution: With 2 skilled people, each with their own tools, assume you will need the maximum suggested install time and allow for at least 50% contingency. With a team of unskilled people, you probably want to double the estimated time. Write down how long each page of directions takes, and adjust your schedule after completing 3 to 5 pages of directions. You can celebrate when you get done faster without worrying about the clock.
For more information visit www.backyardimagination.com/ or contact us at 800.239.0362.
Backyard Imagination | Wood Playsets & Swingsets | 6 Vicksburg Street, Richardson, Texas 800.239.0362