When an Engineer Renovates a Swing Set

By Dan Martel, P.E. | December 16, 2020

Last year our family was lucky to inherit a swing set that had served another family well but was beyond its originally intended service life. Amongst many inadequacies, the original cedar floor framing provided little by way of load capacity, proven by my very imprecise 160lb load test.

But much of it was still salvageable, including the most important part – the slide – so we decided to renovate! This engineer installed guardrail pickets that would not allow a 4” sphere to pass through, just as the building code requires. And for added lateral stability, we added diagonal bracing on the lower part of the columns. Finally, In lieu of cedar floor framing, we went with pressure treated lumber including 5/4 decking. It is rock (or southern yellow pine) solid! Swingsets (at least not ones this size) are not subject to local building codes, but I feel confident the local code official would grant an occupancy permit for this renovation. The kids love it, and we look forward to them enjoying it for years to come.

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