How to Choose the Right Outdoor Playset for Older Children and Adults

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 8 min.
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Young kids quickly grow out of everything, so if you’re in the market for an outdoor playset, it’s important to consider one that will be appropriate for older children and adults.

Choose the outdoor playset for older children tips
Choose the outdoor playset for older children

There are many different options available, so it can be tricky to find the right one.

The right outdoor playset won’t be geared toward small children, and you’ll be able to modify parts of the playset as the kids grow.

How Do Playsets Differ

The cute playset that only stands about 3 feet tall will undoubtedly be cute for your kid’s first few years, but it will be outgrown pretty soon and you might find yourself getting rid of that cute playset, or buying a new outdoor playset.

Not all outdoor playsets are good for a range of ages, and playsets with these features should be avoided if you want something that can still be used for older children or even adults.

Playing Pretend

Young kids play pretend. It’s a crucial part of their development.

Having fun with outdoor playset
Having fun with outdoor playset

They might want to play house and use a sandbox to make pies or climb the rock wall like a superhero, or swing as high as they can and pretend they are an astronaut.

But pretty soon that isn’t the “cool” thing to do anymore.

Sand pies are too messy, the rock wall isn’t challenging, and they know that no matter how hard the swing or how high they go, they won’t make it to space.

So when you’re looking for an outdoor playset for older children or adults, try finding one that doesn’t have a play kitchen, but instead has somewhere that kids of all ages can hang out.

Somewhere like the area at the top of the slide, where it has shelter from the sun and enough space to read a book solo or have a friend over.

Learning

Some of the outdoor playsets are designed to help your kids learn while they’re outside.

Beach Front All Cedar Wooden Swing Set

There are bright, primary colors, and plenty of different shapes, some even have the alphabet, numbers, matching games, or instruments to play music on.

Don’t Forget – These will be fun and engaging for young children, but older kids and teenagers might find these a little too childish to even be seen around.

Size

Size is going to be a pretty big factor when choosing an outdoor playset for older children or adults, and there are multiple areas where size matters:

  • Overall height of the playset
  • Width and height of the ‘doors’
  • Width and length of the slide
  • Length of the swing chains
  • Height of the monkey bars
  • Size of the rock wall grips
  • Size of the steps
  • Size and height of tables

Just about every single part of the playset should be the proper size for older children.

Many of them are fun and functional features, but some of them have to do with safety.

Consider the size of any staircase you encounter in your daily life, whether that’s in your house, at your front door, at school, at work, or the mall.

The depth of each step is designed so you can fit your foot on it and not slip.

If you buy a playset that has stairs that are far too small and meant for small kids, the big people might end up tripping.

Then there are features like the length of swing chains.

Smaller children have much shorter legs and will need their swing to be much closer to the ground so they can get on.

But with a few years of growing, those legs are going to get longer, and if you can’t adjust the length of the swing chains, that kid’s legs are going to be dragging in the dirt.

There are also the simple “you need to fit” features.

Keep In Mind – Not fitting through the doorways at the top of stairs or rock walls, or having your bum stuck in the slide is going to make you want to avoid that playset forever.

Unless of course, you win big on America’s Funniest Videos, but who wants the embarrassment?

How to Look at the Construction

The construction of the playset should always be considered, even if you’re looking for ones for small children.

Outdoor playsets are usually made of two materials:

  1. galvanized steel
  2. pressure-treated wood

Both of these are durable and can withstand the elements, but there are some advantages and disadvantages to each.

Galvanized steel is going to be more expensive than pressure-treated wood, but it will also last longer.

Lawncare guide x
Lawncare guide

It won’t warp or crack in the cold weather, and it won’t rot or get eaten by bugs in warm weather. 

Pressure-treated wood is going to be less expensive, and if you find an outdoor playset made of cedar, it will also act as a natural insecticide keeping bugs away.

Some outdoor playsets made of wood can be poorly manufactured, and some of the main support beams have several pieces of wood glued together.

If this is the case, the glue could come loose over time, and the structure may not be as sturdy as it seems.

Look for a playset that’s made of one big piece of wood wherever possible.

Key Takeaway – Wooden outdoor playsets can also warp over time in extreme weather conditions. This can cause the structure to become unstable and dangerous, while metal playsets will be just fine.

Consider Your Space

Before you go out and buy the biggest outdoor playset you can find, take a look at the space you have to set it up.

Little Tikes Real Wood Adventures Bobcat Ridge Backyard Playset Climb Swing Outdoor Activity Play Structure with Slide for Toddlers, Kids Climbers & Wooden Play Structures

This doesn’t just mean how big the space is, but where it is and what’s around it.

You might have a nice space for an outdoor playset, but it could be right beside a power line.

There could be a clothesline running through the space you have, and that wouldn’t be great for taller playsets.

Luckily there are different types of playsets to suit the areas you have and still provide fun for the whole family.

Freestanding structures

Freestanding outdoor playsets do not require any anchoring or installation, which makes them perfect for those with limited space.

Backyard Discovery Buckley Hill Wooden Swing Set

They are also a good option for renters, as they can be easily moved if you need to relocate.

Instead of a large playground with multiple areas to climb up and down. free standing structures are only one part.

These could be:

  • a slide
  • monkey bars
  • swing set

If you’re looking for something specifically for older children or adults, a swing set is a great choice.

It provides somewhere to sit and hang out with friends, without being too “childish”.

Towers

This is when combination playsets start appearing.

The standard tower set is a swing set, a tower, and a slide, but there are so many adaptations of this.

There can be:

multiple towers

  • rock walls
  • bridges
  • fire poles
  • multiple slides
  • monkey bars
  • balance beams
  • and so many other pieces

The main difference is that all of these components are connected and usually branch off from the tower.

Playhouse

Now take a tower playset, and make it even better by adding a playhouse.

Bonus points if there is a tunnel that connects the tower to the playhouse, or you can climb up through the playhouse into the tower.

These are great playsets for older kids and adults, even if they are past the point of playing house.

The playhouse shelters them from the sun and is a place to hang out with their friends without feeling like they’re being watched all the time.

With some books, card games, and snacks, you’ll have the perfect setup for older children or your adult friends.

Final Thoughts

Older children need outdoor playsets that are large and challenging, with features that are appropriate for their age group.

Playsets made specifically for younger children may be too small or have features that are too easy for older kids, leading to boredom and a lack of challenge.

Outdoor playsets should be made of high-quality materials that can support more weight, especially if they will be used by adults.

Cheap materials might not hold up under repeated use or stress from environmental factors, leading to safety concerns.

But with a little planning, you can have the perfect outdoor playset for the big kids in your life (including you)!

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