Customizing a vinyl swing set is a fun experience! You get to pick all the fun accessories that you want on your playground, including slides, climbers, and other things! From the roof to the bottom of the tower, it is all up to you!
But this can be an intimidating proposition. Where do you start? How do you know if your design fits your yard or your children’s needs? What do you need to get started?
Welcome to the ultimate guide to customizing a King Swings vinyl swing set! This guide is geared specifically for playgrounds from King Swings, but you can use it for other manufacturers’ swing sets as well. This guide is not intended to tell you where to put what but rather to educate you on your options and what certain pieces of equipment do well.
Another great starting point if you are not much of a reader is our Instagram. We have hundreds of custom swing sets posted there. Many moms and dads find their perfect custom swing set on our feed and tweak it a bit to make it their own.
Also, if you are the type of person to really deep dive into a subject but are more visual, our Youtube is packed to the brim with all kinds of helpful videos. We do our best to cover everything between our blog and our videos.
If you are still here, let’s get started.
The first thing you need to nail down is your space, budget, and needs.
Walk into your yard with a tape measure and take some quick measurements. I would recommend mapping out two different size areas: one that is 18’x24’ and another that is 25’x30’. These are common playground sizes and a great place to start when understanding how much of your yard you are willing to dedicate to your play area.
If you want information on how far each piece will stick out from the swing set tower, you can check out this blog post.
As you work with our swing set design team, you will get updated drawings with the needed play-use zones on them. You can remeasure at that point, but knowing how much space you have at the beginning can keep the conversation going forward.
Also, think about what parts of the swing set you to want to see from your house. Do you want clear visuals on the swings? The climbers? That will help you decide on your swing set layout and provide peace of mind.
Now that you have a good handle on your space, it is time to think about your budget. While planning this, taking a quick look at our sets online will help give you a good idea of how much a swing set will cost. Also, you can request a price list from us which will give you the price of every single item we offer. This allows you to get a very accurate estimate of how much your dream swing set will cost.
Don’t forget to factor in delivery and installation. You can find all of our delivery and installation prices here in this blog post.
Here is where the fun begins. Take a moment the next time you are at a public playground and observe what your child gravitates to. Do they like swinging? Do they spend a lot of time going up and down the slides? Do they use the equipment as a canvas for an imaginative game? All of these answers and observations can help guide your design.
Now, let’s break down customizing into the individual swing set parts and discuss things you will need to consider when designing your own swing set.
Your vinyl swing set is built around your tower. Whether a 2’x2’ or a massive 8’x12’, everything connects to the tower. Our standard height is 5’, but our towers can soar up to 9’. This is the place to start, and here are a few observations to help you.
- Taller towers generally are better for older children or for growing well with your children. The taller climbers, faster slides, and higher swings keep the swing set fun as the kids grow.
- Space is critical. Lots of space allows creative play to take off since all the children can be in the tower at once.
- Think about your access points. Staircases and ramps take up more space than ladders but are much easier to use.
- The larger the tower, the more fun items we can safely attach to the tower.
We made a helpful video depicting the different sizes of towers, with my kids committing hardcore to their job. Check it out here.
Spend time looking at standard designs. For a wide range of deck sizes, check out the Cubby’s Fort’s 4’x4’, the Sea King’s 6’x8’, the Captain’s Castle’s 4’x8’ double deck, and the Launching Pad’s 6’x8’ double deck.
A defining moment of your design is whether you choose a playhouse or not. Let’s cover playhouses next.
A playhouse provides an excellent place for imaginative play to blossom. The playhouse will become the hub of fun activities in your backyard.
All playhouses come with 5’ tall walls and functioning windows, though if you intend to use your playhouse in water or nerf gun fights, you will want to remove the screens.
So what can you customize on a playhouse?
- The Size: You can go from a 4’x4’ playhouse clear-up to a massive 8’x8’ playhouse. In general, the larger the playhouse, the higher the roof peaks.
- The Roof: You can pick from our normal roof or our new 2023 lean-to style roof. Normal roofs come with a circular window in the front gable, while the lean-to roof has a horizontal window. We did a whole video about roofs. Watch it here! We do cover roofs later on in this post.
- Windows: You can replace our smaller windows with large windows or bubble tube panels. This allows for more natural light and you to be able to see in at all times.
- Slides: The walls of your playhouse are very versatile, and we can attack our slides to the sides of the walls.
- Colors: The walls and roof can be blue, red, green, gray, white, or black. The lean-to roof can be white or black.
When deciding how big you want the playhouse to be, consider how many children will routinely use it, if you want to use it yourself, and what other items you want to place inside the playhouse.
Ok, now that you have decided on a tower alone or a tower with a playhouse, let’s cover roofs. Yes, I will make that pun every chance I get.
We made a whole video on this. You can view it here.
If you are getting a tower without a playhouse, you have three options.
- Fabric Roofs: Fabric roofs are economical and have a colorful striping pattern. They can be taken down and cleaned but can’t take a hit from a stray branch or hot dog stick, as well as our other roofs can. Their value is in their price.
- Poly Roofs: Ploy roofs have that classic play set look. They are made of interlocking boards. They span roofs 4’x4’ and up.
- Plastic Roofs: Our plastic roof is a rotationally molded roof made right here in the USA. It is only available for 4’x4’ towers or balcony 4’x6’ towers. It is our best roof for 4’x4’ play decks.
If you are getting a playhouse, you have two options for a roof.
- Poly Roofs: Ploy roofs have that classic play set look. They are made of interlocking boards. They span playhouses that are 4’x4’ up to our biggest playhouse. This roof comes with a circular or octagonal window in the gable.
- Lean-to-Roof: New for 2023, we have our modern lean-to-style roof. This roof can be white or black, has metal roofing on top, and a horizontal window in the gable.
Here is an excellent place to talk about how waterproof our roofs are. Practically, none of our roofs are waterproof. Technically, the lean-to roof would shed water, but practically, we do not caulk around the things like the windows or slides, so water does get into the playhouses. The cost to make a waterproof playhouse would be exorbitant.
Now that you have your tower picked out and decided on whether or not to get a playground, it is now time to figure out what kind and where to place your access points.
Here are some general guidelines/considerations.
Think about the flow of play: Don’t put an access point where children have to run past swings or slides to get to it. For example, place a ramp between the slide and the swings so children can access it without dodging swings or children coming down the slide.
- Ladders: Ladders are the most space friendly and economical. However, they are the most difficult for older children and adults to use, as you must duck under the railing as you go up.
- Ramps: Ramps are the most simple access point and can have either rope or solid railings. I have observed younger children who are not steady on their feet be a little unsure of the rope railing. This will go away as they age, but if you are just starting your family, it may be a smart investment to get the poly railings.While accessible, our ramps do stick out 12’ from the tower. This makes them eat up a good bit of space in your yard. Ramps are not a good option for those who need to conserve space. Ramps are only available on 5’ tall towers.
- Staircases: Staircases stand nicely between ladders and ramps. In my opinion, they are the best access point we offer. For a 5’ tower, they stick out 5’ from the tower, increasing by 1’ for each additional 1’ height of the tower. They are easy to get up and down and can have metal or poly railings.The only flaw of the staircase is that you must put them under the roof’s peak. If you try to tuck stairs under the edge, taller children and adults will have to duck to avoid hitting their heads. This is also true for ramps, but ladders can be placed anywhere.
If you intend to use the set a lot or have taller children, I recommend the staircase. It is friendly to all ages and sizes of adults and kids.
We got fast slides, twirly slides, and straight slides. Let’s take each slide one at a time to discuss what they do well and what you need to know.
- Waterfall Slide: This is your tried and true classic design. These are economical and can be added side by side for slide races. They are fast and just an overall good slide. Their one downside is that they end abruptly, so sticking the landing can be a learning curve for small children. The waterfall slide is only available for 5’ towers.
- Avalanche Slide: A heavier-duty version of the waterfall. If you live in a hot climate, intend to use the set yourself, or have larger children, the avalanche slide is the better choice. It also has a safety lip at the bottom to help with a smooth landing. This slide can be on 5’ to 7’ tall towers.
- Super Spiral Slides: These slides are open twirly slides. Younger children gravitate to them as they can see out all the way down. While older kids can use them, if they hit their growth spurt early, they may have to tuck in their legs as they come down. These slides can be on 3’ to 9’ tall towers.
- Turbo Tube Slides: This is the covered version of the super spiral. And yes, you do have to clear out spider webs once in a while, but in general, the turbo tube is faster than the super spiral and doesn’t have as sharp a turn making it better for older kids.
- Tube Slides: Both the tunnel express slide and the sidewinder slide are fast slides. These will shoot you out like a Pez dispenser. Brave little ones will have a blast, but these slides work best for older kids.
- Ball Pit Blasts: A ball pit is fun, and so is a slide. But what about a slide that goes into a ball pit? Yes, we can do that! This is a very custom piece, though, and we have very exact measurements to abide by. The best move here is to talk to one of our sales team members.
All slides can be attached to a playhouse though the tube slides work the best. This is because they have a flange that covers the entire slide entry. Slides like super spirals or avalanches must have an exit hole cut from the panel with no covering. This does help add light and ventilation to the playhouse but sacrifices the cool factor.
Another neat trick with playhouse slides is that you can attach them higher than the deck height. For example, the Cottage has a 5’ high tower, but you can attach a 7’ turbo tube to the sides or back. It is an excellent way of getting taller, faster slides without needing a taller tower.
If you want a more in-depth look at our different types of slides, check out this blog post.
Rockwalls and cargo nets can add a lot of fun to a vinyl swing set and help spark creativity and build strength, coordination, and confidence. Here are a few things to help you add to a custom swing set.
- Full-Width VS Combos: Full-width climbers are better for climbing, but combos (such as a rock wall/ladder combo) are more economical. If you are going with a climber that is 6’ or taller, I would highly recommend full-width climbers as it is such a better climbing experience.
- Cargo nets: Cargo nets are a great climbing alternative. One benefit of a cargo net that is often missed is you can see through them, helping your playset feel more spacious and allowing you to see your kids at all times. The cargo net doesn’t resist fading as well as the rock wall.
- Half-Width Climbers: If you have a small space left and really want a climber, you can do a half-width climber.
In general, there are not a lot of unique or special things you can do with climbers. They attach to the towers and provide lots of fun but are not super flashy.
Nothing attracts kids to a playground like a wobbly bridge. Swing sets or play sets that have bridges have an extra layer of epic. Here are a few things you need to know about bridges/connectors.
- Wobbly Bridge Heights: Do not go higher than 5’ for a wobbly bridge if young children use the set. This can be scary for little children.
- Solid Bridges: Solid bridges are very versatile as they can be a wide range of lengths. They can have slides, climbers, and fun accessories attached to them. You do have to make sure your solid bridges connect to each tower under the peak of the roof to avoid having a head-bonking situation. Solid bridges can also double as monkey bars. This clever idea can save space. Also you can hang swings under a bridge as well, though, for best results, it should be at least 6’ tall. Anything shorter makes for stubby swings.
- Tube Connectors: Tube connectors can have a clear or solid top. Three is the max we can attach together.
- Flat Ground: Swing sets with bridges tend to be very long, thus making them more sensitive to any slope in the yard. The flatter your yard, the better the result. If you have a really nasty slope, we may have to slant a bridge to get it to connect properly.
Bridges are a great addition to your vinyl swing set. They are very versatile and can do many things, so go wild!
Under the Tower
Now that you have big set pieces planned on your vinyl swing set let’s talk about what can go under your playset tower. With sets like the Homestead having incredible clubhouses under the tower, the options are getting more and more epic. Here are a few to consider.
- Clubhouse: We can enclose the bottom of the swing set tower to make a clubhouse. For towers that are 5’ tall, the headspace inside the clubhouse is about 4’ once you consider flooring and the rafters overhead. Generally, the taller the tower, the more spacious the clubhouse feels.Clubhouses can have all sorts of things inside them. We have seen ball pits, coffee bars, half walls, lemonade stands, big windows, and doors. It is an excellent space for creative play as it is ground level and can be accessed on all sides.
- Ball Pit: Ball pits are a fantastic addition to a swing set. They all come with Trex flooring and with plenty of balls. We get asked all the time if the ball pits get gross, and the simple answer is no. Since it has a floor and the balls are round, air can pass through the entire pit, quickly drying it after rain.
- Decking: Adding in Trex decking under the tower adds a great place for storing outside toys or working in concert with our coffee bar or lemonade stand.Adding decking under your tower kills the grass under it. However, if you have a clump of aggressive grass or weeds, spray them out before we install the swing set.
- Lemonade Stand and Coffee Bar: The Lemonade stand can be as wide as your tower and has a serving bar that extends out from the tower. The coffee bar is L shaped and can be built with or without the surrounding clubhouse walls. The serving bar extends inward. Both of these are so cute and add great value to the bottom of your tower.
- Picnic Table: You can have a picnic table built in or loose under the tower. If it is loose, it is part of the structure. If you choose a loose picnic table, it can slide in and out from under the tower. This can be nice if you want to move it around the yard.
- Checkerboard Sandbox Cover: While we don’t include sand, you can use the bottom frame of your tower as a sandbox. If you have a 4’x4’ or 4’x6’ base, you can get our solid checkerboard sandbox cover to keep cats and debris at bay.
We have seen an uptick in our customers really maxing out the bottom of their play sets. With so many cute and fun options, it is a great way to double the fun without increasing your footprint in your yard.
Now, it is time to start filling in any extra space you have left with fun accessories.
While we have far too many to cover here, let me highlight a few. You can view all the options here.
- Fireman’s Pole: This single piece is, in my opinion, one of the best bang-for-your-buck fun accessories we offer. Not only that, it has small dimensions making it easy to fit in without destroying your budget and engulfing your yard.
- Connect-Four-In-A-Row Game: Another great item, this can be used in place of railing on a 4’x4’ tower or added below the tower. It is a great game and adds a lot of color to your swing set.
- Ship’s Wheel: The ship’s wheel can transform your child into an admiral at sea, a pilot in his plane, or an astronaut zooming into space. It is versatile and fun to use!
Whether you add one or all of them, fun accessories are a great way to add a splash of color and a bit more fun to your play set.
If you read this whole blog post, you deserve a high-five! Customizing a swing set is a fun process, and it will serve you well to spend some time looking at all of our standard vinyl swing sets and our custom swing sets on Instagram.
If you have any customizing questions, please contact our swing set design team. That is what they are here for, and we don’t mind your thousand questions!