When planning the construction of a new playground, there are many things to consider — from surfacing to amenities, every aspect matters. But if you were to ask kids what part matters most, they’d definitely say it’s the equipment. Duh! 

There are lots of different types of playground equipment out there, and we’re here to walk you toward your best options to earn happy visitors. In this blog, we’ll discuss what you should look for in suitable playground equipment, the different types available and how to buy them.

Why Playground Equipment is Important

Equipment is the star of your playground. It gives children a place to exercise, play, socialize, learn and grow. Physical benefits of including playground equipment at your park include:

  • Improved motor skills
  • Improved overall health
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Better sleep

Playground equipment also helps children with their emotional, social and intellectual development. Playgrounds allow children to engage in free play, which helps them learn to communicate with other kids and practice conversation and vocabulary. During free play, they follow each other’s rules, share, and take turns — increasing their ability to read body language and understand someone’s tone of voice.

Lastly, playgrounds build a sense of community in your neighborhood or town. It’s a place for people to gather, socialize and learn more about the world around them. 

Types of Playground Equipment

Choosing a certain type of playground equipment is going to depend on your budget. There are three main types to choose from: standalone structures, inclusive playground structures and themed playscapes. 

Standalone structures include:

  • Swings
  • Slides
  • Climbers
  • Monkey bars
  • Spring riders
  • Spinners
  • Towers

Many of these standalone structures come in a variety of shape and size options for children of all abilities and ages. 

Inclusive playground structures open your playground to children of all ages and abilities. They’re accessible and inclusive and offer equipment such as musical instruments, ramps, inclusive swing seats, sensory wave climbers, and multi-generational play activities. 

Themed playscapes go above and beyond and transform your playground into a magical wonderland. We’ve helped schools and communities build playgrounds that look like shipwrecks, jungles, outer space, gardens and more. 

Playground Equipment Safety

When choosing playground equipment, go for the best quality for your budget. Choosing lower-quality structures may mean more upkeep and breakage that can lead to trips, snags or bodily injury. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shares this safety checklist:

  1. Make sure surfaces around playground equipment have at least 12 inches of wood chips or mulch, or use safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.
  2. Protective surfacing should extend at least 6 feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, surfacing should extend twice the height of the suspending bar in front and back.
  3. Play structures more than 30 inches high should be spaced at least 9 feet apart.
  4. Check for dangerous hardware, like open "S" hooks or protruding bolt ends. 
  5. Spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or between ladder rungs, should measure less than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches.
  6. Watch for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  7. Look for trip hazards.
  8. Make sure elevated surfaces have guardrails to prevent falls.
  9. Regularly check your playground equipment and surfacing to make sure they are in good condition.
  10. Supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they're safe.

How to Buy Playground Equipment

Before you buy any playground equipment, there are many factors to consider. You don’t want to buy a piece of equipment before you know whether it’ll fit in your space and your budget. Here are a few things to consider before you make a purchase.

  • Measure and measure again. You need to know how much space you’re working with overall before you order.
  • Decide the layout of your playground. Does it make sense to put a slide next to swings? Is there enough space between them for safety standards?
  • Anticipate the age of the children attending your playground. Should your equipment be suitable for toddlers or older kids?
  • Consider the abilities of the children visiting your playground. This will play a big part in which equipment and surfacing you settle on.
  • Choose your material. Playground equipment can be wood, metal or plastic.
  • Settle on an aesthetic. What look are you going for? Colorful? Natural? Playful? School colors?
  • Factor in your budget. Once you have an idea of the space you need to fill, you can start to choose equipment that fits within your budget. 

Once you have all this figured out, choose a playground equipment provider with proven experience and a portfolio to prove it. At MRC, we have 40+ years of experience building playgrounds that are safe, fun and memorable.


Schedule a Consultation