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Climbing Frame Buyers Guide

If you're considering purchasing a climbing frame for your children then you should read our guide about climbing frame materials, the most popular features, how to prepare your garden, and type of safety surfacing available. Plus we have included essential tips on installation, climbing frame maintenance & safety requirements.

Beginner’s Guide to Climbing Frames

We understand when you’ve not purchased garden play equipment for your children before it can be a complicated and confusing process.

We have tried to remove the ‘jargon’, and give an honest guide to climbing frames for beginners.

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Here’s what we’ll be covering in this guide

What are climbing frames made from? - Wooden Climbing Frames - Metal Climbing Frames (types of metal, steel, aluminium) - Plastic Climbing FramesWho will be using your play equipment? Babies & Toddlers Younger & Older Children Adults Garden & Domestic Use Public Commercial Playgrounds Outdoor & Indoor PlayPopular Play Equipment Features - swings - slides - monkey bars - playhouses - accessoriesLocating your play equipment - small gardens - large climbing frames - garden access & safety - Safety SurfacingTypes of installation & assembly - DIY flat pack - Build your own - bespoke custom built - modular - Support & AdviceMaintenance & Care Routine Maintenance Maintenance SafetyKnow who you’re buying from - product reviews - UK based company & warehouse----

What are climbing frames made from?

Climbing frames are made from a selection of materials. The material varies depending on the intended use. Plastic climbing frames tend to be for young children. Metal climbing frames tend to be small and basic. Wooden climbing frames are the most flexible as they are suitable for all ages of children, and sizes of gardens.


Wooden Climbing Frames

Many people wish to have a wooden climbing frame in their garden. They look great, are strong, durable and have fantastic play features. They come in a range of sizes, so they suit smaller gardens in addition to being ideal for those with more space. They also include features which make them suited to both younger and older children.

Before you can decide on a set you also need to consider the type of wood it will be made from. For most people china cedar is the best compromise. It is strong, durable and very cost effective. If you are looking for a for a premium bespoke playset (several thousand pounds) then a Western Red Cedar, or Redwood playground may suit you.

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Roundwood or Sawn Wood

There are two main types of wooden climbing frame. One is made from round poles, and the other is squared ‘sawn wood’. The round poles generally look much more rustic, and are made from pine, fir or spruce. These are normally just swingsets, although some may have slides. Sawn wood climbing frames tend to be larger and have more play features. They normally have a ‘fort’ with swings, slides and other play accessories. Different brands use different types of wood as discussed below.


China Cedar cunninghamia lanceolata

Selwood Climbing Frames have been manufactured from cedar for many years. We believe that our premium cedar is ideal for use in children’s climbing frames. The wood is strong and durable. Plus it has minimal cracks, splits, splinters or checks. More...


Pine, Fir or Spruce

Pine, fir and spruce timber needs treating with pressure treatment. This process forces chemical preservative into the wood to stop it decaying. Without this treatment the wood will rot quickly. More...


Redwood sequoia sempervirens

A premium wood, redwood is strong and durable but is also very expensive. The wood is slow growing which also makes it heavy. This makes it costly to purchase, and more expensive to deliver. More...


Western Red Cedar thuja plicata

Not actually a ‘real’ cedar (like china cedar) but has the beneficial properties. This includes the natural oils which are resistant to rot and insect infestation. This is a large slow growing tree which makes it a premium timber.


Metal Climbing Frames

Dome climbing frames are the traditional metal play equipment design. These dome structures are normally made from metal tubes. They tend to be very basic with little or no play deck and minimal features. Metal climbing frames sometimes include slides, or monkey bars. They rarely include swings. A metal swingset would also have to be purchased separately. This would would add to the cost and space required for your garden play equipment.

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Plastic Climbing Frames

Plastic climbing frames tend to be limited in size and strength. Due to this they are ideal for toddlers, but not older children. They can be nice moulded shapes, but due to plastic manufacturing they are limited with features and modularity. This means children can outgrow them quickly.

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Who will be using your play equipment?

Most playsets are designed for children. Depending on your intended use, you may require a different type of climbing frame for residential or commercial use. Residential use would be for private residential gardens. Commercial use would be public playground equipment, such as parks or schools. Residential garden play equipment should be tested to EN-71 safety standards. Commercial play equipment should be tested to EN-1176 safety standards.


Garden Play Equipment Private Domestic Use

There are many retailers of garden climbing frames, but there are few true specialists. Selwood has been specialising in climbing frames since 2004. There are few companies who can off this knowledge and experience. We have been this successful because we have ensured we supply the best value garden play equipment. You can see this from our thousands of customer reviews. We manufacture ourselves, and would advise you purchase from a manufacturer. This enables you to deal directly with the company that had designed and made the product you are purchasing. This generally means you’ll get better service and support.

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Commercial Play Equipment Public Playgrounds

If you require playground equipment for public use then you will need something which meets commercial safety standards. You are best to check with your insurance company, but many will stipulate they require EN1176 testing standards. The main visible difference is that in a commercial environment the swings need to be separate to the rest of the play features. There are many other differences also. Commercial play equipment also needs to be installed with safety surfacing.


Commercial Playground Equipment Suppliers

Selwood Products does not supply commercial specification play equipment. We specialise only in residential climbing frames and garden playsets. Below we have listed some suppliers you may wish to speak with about a commercial playsets: - HAGS SMP - Kompan - Playdale - Fenland Leisure


Babies & Toddlers

Babies and toddlers are already growing fast. They’ll not want to miss out playing with friends and siblings! Our climbing frames are designed for children aged from 3-14yrs. So we wouldn’t advise buying a climbing frame for a baby, but you may want to get them a baby swing. This could be used as soon as they are strong enough to support themselves securely. Obviously adult supervision is required.


Younger & Older Children

Our climbing frames are intended to be used by families. We understand that children will be different ages and abilities. We include features for both younger and older children on all of our products.



We often find mum and dad are at least as excited as the kids about buying a wooden climbing frame for the garden. However, our products are not designed for adults. Our climbing frames conform to EN-71 safety testing, which is intended for children aged 3-14 and up to 50kg per user. We do encourage parents to supervise and participate in play as much as possible though. This will help children remain safe and grow in confidence.

Popular Play Equipment Features

We try to include the most popular play features on all our sets. Our most frequently requested features are swings, slides, monkey bars, integrated playhouses, and accessories.

Climbing Frame Monkey Bars
Climbing Frame Swings
Climbing Frame Slides
Climbing Frame Integrated Playhouses
Climbing Frame Rockwall
Climbing Frame Sand Play
Climbing Frame Wooden Roof
Chalk Wall
Fort Cabin
climbing frames picnic table
climbing frames play kitchens
Glider Swings

Locating your play equipment

It’s important to consider where you’ll place your climbing frame once it arrives. It sounds silly, but climbing frames can be pretty big once assembled. We give measurements for each of our playsets, but remember to add an area for safety and movement. The EU guidelines are 1.8m (approx 6ft) to allow for children to swing, exit the slide and jump/fall without injury from ladders, rockwalls or steps.


Small Gardens

We understand that many towns, cities and new-build housing estates have smaller, or odd shaped gardens. Due to this we manufacture a range of play forts with slides, or small climbing frames for those with small gardens.

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Large Climbing Frames

When climbing frames include one or two slides, swings and monkey bars they can be quite large. This provides ample opportunity for your children and their friends to maximise their garden play time.


Garden Safety

We always recommend that you leave area around your play equipment for children to move. They need to be able to access the play features without clashing with other users. The last thing you want is children running through swings to get to the slide!


Safe Surfacing

We recommend our climbing frames are installed directly on a flat, level grass surface. Some ‘cutting in’ may be required to ensure the fort is flat and level. Our sets are not designed to be installed on a undulating or sloping surface. Some customers choose to install a special safety surface such as play bark, rubber, sand or soft bond.

Types of installation & assembly

There are different types of climbing frame kits you can purchase. It is possible to commission a unique garden playset which is bespoke and made-to-measure for you and your children. The price is normally prohibitive. It is also possible to completely design and make a DIY climbing frame of your own creation. The time is also normally prohibitive. We offer well designed, attractive, strong, safe and fun play equipment for a fantastic price.


DIY flat pack

Our products are delivered to your door flat packed in a double layered carboard box. This keeps all the wood hardware and accessories together. They arrive completely ready for home build so you’ll not have any hidden costs or need to buy any extras.


Build your own

For those customers who have a dream of building their kids the best treehouse ever will love our playsets. The illustrated manual will help guide you through step-by-step. At the end though you’ll be the kids hero!


Professional Installation

Some customers don’t have the time to assemble their playset, or would rather someone else do it. For these customers we advise you use a local handyman or DIY flat pack builder to assemble your set. Click here for our advice and tips for using professional installers.


Modular Playsets

Many of our products are modular, or semi-modular. This means you can add bits on at a later stage if you wish. Many customers choose their perfect setup from day one, but some choose to add playhouses, or monkey bars at a later date for extra play value.


Support & Advice

Our UK based customer service team are always available to help and support you. Whether it’s choosing a product for your family, or with help and advice assembling your playset. We’re always on live chat to help you.


Maintenance & Care

Every wooden garden product needs care. Whether a shed, fence, decking, or dining table. You climbing frame will also need some care and maintenance to ensure it lasts a long as possible and stays looking great.


Routine Maintenance

Wooden products suffer from weathering. This is due to the harsh and variable nature of our weather. Some days are blisteringly hot, some a freezing cold, some are soggy. This can cause the wood in your set to dry, peel or crack. The effects of this can be minimised by intermittently applying a stain, sealant or wood protector. We offer a Selwood Wood Stain and Protector if you wish to colour match your set. Some customers choose something similar from a local supplier, or change the colour of their set altogether.


Maintenance Safety

Your children and their friends will undoubtedly be using the climbing frame. So we advise checking it throughout the play season to ensure there’s no likely areas for them to injure themselves. Ensure no screws or bolts have worked loose.

Know who you’re buying from

Purchasing a climbing frame is a considered purchase for any family. It is important because it has both emotional value as you will spend so much time with you children. Plus it is a significant investment for many people. Due to this we strongly advise you consider who you purchase from before you commit to choosing a product. We pride ourselves on fantastic service, in addition to our unbeatable products.


Climbing frame reviews

You’ll see from our many thousands of customers that many people comment about us on social media, or share reviews about us and with us. From our product pages you can see hundreds of individual reviews from customers all over the UK, Europe and world. We also have a customer gallery where you can browse all our customer submitted images.

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UK based showroom, warehouse & support

We are UK owned and based. Our showroom, warehouse and head office customer service team is located in the UK. We also have customer service staff located in other countries to support our customers all over the world.

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Types of Climbing Frames

There are three main materials used for making climbing frames, these include wood, metal, and plastic.

Climbing Frame Features

Climbing frame features are what makes them interesting for your children. On our wooden climbing frames, you’ll find accessories such as swings, slides, monkey bars, rock walls and more.

Locating Your Climbing Frame

Where you position your climbing frame is almost as important as which climbing frame you purchase. The location of your climbing frame may also have a deciding influence on which playset you can purchase too, especially if you have limited space, you’ll need to look for climbing frames for small gardens, rather than luxury play systems.

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tree base


You’ll need to ensure that you pick a location which is free from obstructions or may cause danger for children running and playing once the climbing frame is built. Ensure that you’re clear of walls, fences or thorny bushes, and try to ensure that you leave a safety area around your playset to ensure it’s safe to walk or run around when the kids are playing. The European guidelines are to leave a 1.8m (6ft) safety perimeter.

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When you’re considering where to locate your climbing frame, ensure you think about where the children will like to play. Whilst some people may wish to play the climbing frame at the bottom of the garden, will the children be happy playing down there, and will you be able to keep an eye on them and supervise them whilst they play? Positioning your playset a reasonable distance from the house, possibly in the sunshine, so children will enjoy running, climbing and swinging with friends and siblings and a safe, but adventurous environment.

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Garden Levels

Level Surface

Regardless of the location, you’ll need to ensure your area is fairly level, especially if you have a swing. Whilst you can ‘cut-in’ and level the fort, the swing will need to be level too, to ensure that the swings are safe.

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Climbing Frame Safety Surfacing

Whilst planning the location for your garden climbing frame, you may also wish to consider whether you will be using a safety surface or not. The majority of people place their climbing frame directly onto their lawn, whilst some may use one of a number of options available.

Installing Climbing Frames

Our climbing frames are designed to ensure home-build is as easy as possible. We include an illustrated instruction manual which will guide you through the build step-by-step. We supply all the required wood and hardware (screws, nuts & bolts) to build your climbing frame, and obviously all accessories (swings, slides etc) you see in the picture are also included in your kit. All you’ll need are basic DIY tools, such as an electric screwdriver, hammer and spirit level. Remember, with our wooden climbing frames there is no need to concrete them in. If you don’t have the time, tools or inclination to build then you could always use an installer or local handy man to build your play set for you.

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Climbing Frame Maintenance

As with any item of play equipment, you’ll need to maintain your wooden climbing frame. You’ll need to routinely check the hardware, surface (if installed) and the swings, and slide to ensure there is no abnormal wear and tear. Occasionally we recommend you re-stain your climbing frame using an EN71 certified water based stain. This will ensure your play equipment is protected, and that your children will not be harmed by chemicals which may be present in oil-based, or non-EN71 stains.

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Climbing Frame Safety Standards

There are numerous safety standards required for children’s climbing frames. Ours are tested to EN71 and ASTM. That means are our play sets are tested to be safe for private and domestic use for children aged 3-12 years old. If you wish to use a climbing frame for commercial purposes (nursery, school, pub) then you will need play equipment which is tested to EN1176 safety standards.

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Climbing Frame Warranty

We offer a 10-year wood warranty with our wooden climbing frames. This warranty will protect you against structural failure due to rot or insect damage. All other parts such as swings, slides, hardware and accessories carry a one-year warranty. A full copy of our warranty is available in the front pages of the individual product manuals. The warranty is not valid for use in commercial environments, as our play equipment is designed for residential use only. Our play equipment should not be used in public settings such as schools, nurseries, playgrounds, pubs or hotels.

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