curiosity | Oct 18, 2022

Is Pressure-Treated Wood Safe for a Playset?

By Blue Squirrel Team

Is Pressure-Treated Wood Safe for a Playset?


When it comes to your children, we know that safety is always of the utmost importance. As parents, we all value safety when it comes to everything our children eat, wear, and play on. 

When putting together play areas, safety is of the utmost concern. Not only do we want to ensure that the play area is safe and the ground is level, but we also want to know if the materials of the playset itself pass rigorous testing. 

Playsets that your children would be playing with or climbing all over should always be strong and durable, made to last, to ensure safe playtime.  Let’s talk about what pressure-treated wood is, how it’s made and if it’s safe for playsets. Understanding more about this type of wood will also help you confidently make decisions in the future when it comes to purchasing playsets, knowing what to look for and what not to look for.


What Is Pressure-Treated Wood?


Pressure-treated wood was invented in the 1960s in an attempt to create a material to replace creosote. At first, pressure-treated wood seemed like it had the best of both worlds: it was sturdier and appeared to be safer than its predecessor, but concerns would arrive later about the CCA involved in the process. 

Pressure-treated wood has undergone a special chemical process that allows the wood to be resistant to bugs, decay, water damage, mold, and more. This process helps preserve the quality and durability of the wood for years longer than if it wasn’t pressure-treated.

Although pressure treatment does not make the wood “stronger” than wood that’s not pressure treated, it will last longer from other potentially damaging causes.

Being outside, playsets are exposed to many different conditions that could cause wood to lose its durability. Getting rained on for years could potentially cause water damage and mold, as well as insects causing damage to the wood. These two reasons alone are why pressure-treated wood is helpful for keeping the wood used to build playsets long-lasting and safe to use over the years.

Pressure-treated wood used to make playsets in the very early 2000s has come a long way and is hopefully changing for the better. Environmental agencies believe that leaving older pressure-treated wood in the ground presents a minimal risk. Today, pressure-treated wood is being monitored for possible chemical issues


How Is Wood Pressure-Treated?


Understanding the pressure-treating process helps us appreciate the work that goes into preserving the wood used to build long-lasting playsets. To begin, the lumbar is placed into a pressure chamber and then filled with a liquid preservative. With 160 pounds of pressure, the treatment chemicals are forced into the cell structure of the lumber.

This process doesn’t just coat the outside with a substance that can chip or be scratched off; it drives the treatment down into the very core of the lumber, ensuring it is made to last the long haul.


Pressure-Treated Wood vs. Regular Wood


Wanting a durable playset that you know is going to last years is one of the main motivators for parents looking to buy one. A child isn’t only interested in playing on them for one summer; that’s why having a playset that is made to last through all the seasons for years to come is a must.

Unlike pressure-treated wood, regular wood is more vulnerable to mold, water damage, decay, and insect infestations because it’s not ingrained with the same preservatives that pressure-treated wood is. Pressure-treated wood can last up to 40 years without signs of rot or decay.

When it comes to the lifespan of regular wood, there are a few critical differences. For example, home decks will last for roughly 15 years. Structural wood lasts longer; it will need to be replaced around ten to 30 years after installation. A wooden playset’s lifespan depends on a range of factors, namely the wood type. Redwood tends to last longer than cedar (which is reflected in the price).


Is Pressure-Treated Wood Safe for Play Areas?


Nowadays, yes, pressure-treated wood is generally safe for playsets as long as the manufacturers use best practices.

However, before 2003, one of the preservatives used to pressure-treat the wood, chromate copper arsenate (CCA), was found to be harmful. This chemical (that gave this wood the green coloring) was banned in future manufacturing.
Instead, pressure-treated woods use alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) in place of CCA and is certified to be safe, especially around children.

Every parent just wants to make sure their children are safe, especially from anything that is within their control. Thankfully, pressure-treated woods are safe for children to be around and can help their favorite playsets last their whole childhoods. 

Having playsets made from pressure-treated wood will help prevent damage to it, such as mold. Childhood mold exposure has been shown to cause an array of side effects and illnesses. 

Pressure-treated wood doesn’t decay like regular wood can, which means the structural integrity of the playset will be better over time than one that’s built with regular wood. 


Encouraging Kids To Be Kids


In a day and age where technology is so prevalent and accessible, don’t forget to encourage your kids to get outside, breathe in that fresh air, run around, and invite the neighbor’s kids to come out and play some games. Kids need the time and space to just have fun out in nature. 

The best thing about being a kid was getting to explore the great outdoors, play with friends and be creative with new fun activities and games to play. The sky's the limit when you’re a kid, so let’s encourage our kids to keep being creative and adventurous all throughout their childhood. 

Although screen time can be entertaining and educational at times, it can also limit a child’s ability to be creative and resourceful. Making sure your kids get lots of playtime outside or with other children can be great for their development and overall well-being.

Now that you know more about your options, you can make an informed decision when it comes to procuring the best playset for your child.




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