Everyone has their own reasons for choosing a particular wood for their swing set. Some buy pine because of budget restrictions, others select cedar for its low maintenance and buyers of redwood may do so just to match their deck. All those woods are available to you as well, but before you decide there are a few facts you should know about redwood that makes it the better choice.
In order to fully understand the qualities that make redwood the best choice for your swing set, you need to know a little more about the wood itself. Not all redwood is the same and it’s important you know exactly what kind you’re paying for.
Although redwood is available in several different grades, a commonality between them is the pink/red color that ages to gray over time. A widely used grade of redwood is Con-Heart, which means it’s a construction grade wood that comes from the heart of the redwood tree.
It’s this redwood that is naturally resistant to insects and rotting. Wood taken from the outer part of the tree must be stained each year to prevent decay. Many companies offer redwood swing sets, but if it isn’t taken from the heart of the tree, it will require some maintenance. You’ll never have to do any staining or sanding on swing sets made from Con-Heart grade Redwood.
If there are any white parts in the redwood, it’s called sapwood and it has virtually no resistance to rotting or insects. Again, you’re protected with Con-Heart Redwood, because it contains no sapwood. Heart redwood has a natural resistance to insects and decay that goes all the way through the wood, not only the surface. This is important because it means the exposed ends and edges created from sawing or nailing are just as resistant as the outside surface of the wood.
Redwood is also naturally stable and while all woods swell and shrink to some point depending on moisture in the environment, redwood does it less than the others. This means redwood stays flatter and retains its shape much better, with a lower risk of warping, splitting, or cracking.
The true test of durability comes in how your set looks after many years of use. Redwood is very durable and even after as long as 20 years later, will hold its looks better than most other woods of the same age.
Some companies will use just enough redwood in the construction of their sets that they can legally call it ‘redwood’, when in fact it may be a mixture of redwood and red cedar, or even Chinese Fir. Read all the fine print and if in doubt, ask! If you’re paying a higher price for redwood, you certainly want to be sure that’s what you’re getting.
Before you finalize a purchase, especially if your swing set is made from Con-Heart wood, find out if Con-Heart was used for the entire set or just for the larger pieces. In order to enjoy the most benefits from heartwood’s natural protective ability, the whole set should be constructed with it, not just the beams and bigger pieces.