How long should a playground last?

July 24, 2017

Steel or wood: maybe 15 years. EcoPlay plastic lumber: guaranteed for 50 years!

Every playground needs occasional maintenance—some much more often, and much costlier, than others. In a nutshell, here’s what our customers tell us about their experiences with steel and wood playgrounds:

  • Steel playgrounds need extensive, regular treatments to prevent and remove rust.
  • Wood playgrounds need frequent sealing or staining. Cracks and splinters are almost unavoidable.
  • Ultimately, don’t expect a steel- or wood-based playground to last much more than 15 years before replacement is necessary.

Another option is plastic materials. But, buyer beware—not all plastics are the same. Often, key structural members will crack and split after just a few years.

EcoPlay® plastic lumber, however, is guaranteed for 50 years – about triple the lifespan you can expect from a playground made from lesser materials. A longer lifespan means playgrounds made with EcoPlay plastic lumber have a much lower cost of ownership than structures made from other materials.

That’s not our opinion – it’s what we hear, over and over, from our customers. One example is Tributary at New Manchester, a master-planned community in Douglasville, Georgia. The community’s developers set rigorous standards when they evaluated playground suppliers. They sought three key attributes: environmentally friendly construction, longevity, and low maintenance costs. The EcoPlay proposal met all of their criteria.

Tributary’s evaluation resulted in the selection of EcoPlay Playgrounds. The playground was installed in 2005. Over the next dozen years, only a routine maintenance checkup was needed, according to Steve Osterbur, Tributary’s general manager.

“EcoPlay’s structural components are commercial-grade plastic lumber, made of recycled materials that should last us for decades,” he noted.

So, when you evaluate commercial playgrounds, do the math over the life of the structure, not just the year of purchase. You’ll find that minor differences in various vendors’ upfront, initial costs for playgrounds will change dramatically after factoring in replacement costs over periods of 30, 40 and 50 years.

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