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Why Not Pine

Many of our competitors use pine for their wooden climbing frames because it is cheap, but it also has the drawback that it must be chemically treated to preserve the timber. Untreated pine will only last outdoors for 1-2 years, so it must be chemically treated with chemical pesticide, fungicide and biocide products to make it last.

All wooden garden products will need oil, sealant or stain applying to keep them protected from weathering, reduce the risk of splits and splinters, and keep the vibrancy in appearance. These products are frequently used to maintain appearance of pine, cedar, redwood or teak products, such as sheds, fencing, decking or climbing frames, but pine wood also requires pressure treating before it can be used outdoors.

What is pressure treatment?

It is the process used to force chemicals into wood to aid the preservation process. This process includes the below steps where the wood is placed within a sealed cylinder, chemical treatment is forced (under extreme pressure) into the wood and then drained.

Pine Pressure Treatment Process

Pressure Treated Pine - Advice

Up until the European Directive 2003/2/EC companies were using CCA chemical treatment – sounds pretty innocuous until you find out CCA is an abbreviation for Chromated Copper Arsenate - Copper is a fungicide, arsenic is a fungicide and pesticide, and chromium is a fixative which also adds ultraviolet (UV) resistance.

Pressure Treated Pine Warnings

Even with the clear health risks involved with the use of CCA, most companies were forced to switch to another chemical treatment when the European Commission had to take action to ban CCA treated wood, so it was no longer permitted to be used in residential or domestic constructions. Users of pressure treated pine have moved to various wood preservative chemical treatments such as Tanalith E & Tanalith M, however, these products still come with handling precautions including:

Wear gloves to protect from abrasions and splinters
Keep wood stored in well ventilated areas
Avoid accumulations of airborne sawdust
After handling treated timber all exposed skin should be washed before commencing other activities
If sawdust accumulates on clothes, wash before re-use
Treated timber should not be used where it may come into contact with drinking water or food preparation surfaces
If planning to use near a fish pond seek advice first
Sawdust & off-cuts should never be used as animal litter or bedding
Pressure treated timber should never be burned as fuel for BBQ, cooking stoves or grates

What Does Selwood Product Use?

Selwood Climbing Frames have been manufactured from cedar (cunninghamia lanceolata) for many years due to the wood’s natural beneficial characteristics which make it ideal for outdoor play equipment. The wood is strongly resistant to rot, is not eaten by termites, and is easily worked, which is why it’s been used for hundreds of years to make buildings, bridges, ships, furniture, and now climbing frames!

However, we do believe there is a place for pressure treated pine, but it is at the bottom (cheap) end of the market, where pine is the only wood that is cheap enough to be commercially competitive for such basic structures. This is because the pressure treated pine is prone to cracks, splits, and splinters which don't affect the structural integrity but aren't good for children's soft skin. The pole sets are not intended to be touched, rubbed against or climbed on, so there is no fear of you children coming into prolonged contact with chemical treatments.

Our play equipment is constructed from cedar due to the natural advantages, of:

Natural resistance to rot
Naturally resistant to insect attack
Less prone to cracks, splits and splinters
Gentle on small hands
No chemical treatment with fungicide or pesticide
Easy and quick to re-stain

In summary - Which wood is best for Climbing Frames?

Cedar. Pine is great if you’re looking for something simple, cheap and rustic, but cedar is the best choice for a product that is going to look attractive in your garden and provide your children with many, many years of fun, safe and enjoyable play.

Selwood Climbing Frames has the advantage of economies of scale, we make thousands of play sets a year so our prices are cheaper than our competitors who sell far less products with similar (or lower) specification, and that are manufactured from cheaper wood.

As an example, why not compare other products for finish and quality? If you were to buy a garden table, fencing, shed, outdoor building would it be from Pine, Cedar, Redwood or Teak?