In the last year or so I've noticed that my kids are getting a little too sedentary for their own good. I'd like them to get out more but we are often too busy with work and other things to go to a park and I don't like them playing in the street in front of our house because people drive like a-holes through our neighborhood. We already have a good backyard but it was a little boring. I decided a playground set would be a good investment. Like most of the things I build I could have purchase a playground set, but building it myself is more fun and I was able to spread the cost out. This build took me about nine months due to work, weather, and costs. In total I'd say I went just north of $1000 in material. Most of that cost was the lumber, and I probably could have cut that cost down by 25% if I had been willing to drive the extra distance to a wholesale lumber yard instead of going to the two "big box" stores. Their mark-up on lumber is ridiculous.
Step 1: The Design
I hate, hate, hate digging holes. I originally tried to create a design that would limit the number of holes needing to be dug to just four. I used small craft sticks to try and model the design. Ultimately I decided that to make a multi-tiered platform I was going to have to dig more than four holes.
Step 2: The Support
I started with four corner posts made from 10' 4x6's. They are sunk about 24" in the ground and are anchored with about 150 lbs of concrete each. This may be a bit much but I've never built one of these before and decided overkill was a good rule of thumb. There are four 4x6 secondary posts that are not anchored with concrete. These posts are sunk in the ground on top of some left over pavers I had to try to keep them from sinking over time.
Step 3: Frame
The base frame is all 2x6 and is bolted to the posts with 3/8" bolts. A coworker of mine has taken to calling this "The Bomb Shelter" due to my using such heavy duty means of construction. Truth be told, I wanted to be able to climb on this thing myself so it needed to be strong since I'm approaching 270 lbs. The keen observer may have noticed that I didn't use pressure treated lumber. Pressure treated lumber is more expensive, and with regular care and coats of sealer or paint the standard lumber will last just fine. After the frame was completed I knew I would have to be taking a long break due to some long work hours and other engagements so I applied a layer of deck sealer. This was mostly to protect the frame from my lawn sprinklers. I live in Nevada so rain and ambient moisture is not that big of a concern.
Step 4: The Deck and Rails
The deck is just 2x4's secured to the frame with exterior deck screws. I used a 1" strip of left over wood as a spacer. The vertical barrier is made up of 2x2's secured with deck screws. I used a 2x4 as a spacer for these.
Step 5: Fitting the Slide and Attaching the Swing Set
The slide, and swing set bracket are bought off Amazon. I needed to dry fit the slide and my kids were dying to try it out so I went ahead and just screwed it in place so they could. I splurged on the slide and got one that could support 300 lbs so I could get on it, and that was highly rate specifically for UV protection. The summer Nevada sun will destroy most regular plastic within days. Its a little narrow for my butt, but it holds up. The slide was $300. The angled bracket on the far side of the swing set was about $50. The near side of the swing set is attached using a wood bracket I made and some thread-rod.
The swings I bought were heavy duty, supporting up to 350 lbs. and the hanger bearings are rated for 700 lbs. each.
At this point the deck has been painted with a first coat of actual deck paint instead of just deck sealer. I had a friend who had just painted a deck and had about $200 worth of deck paint that he wasn't going to use, so he gave it to me. It was a little darker than I had wanted, but it was free and really good quality.
I still have to add the rope ladder and the fireman's pole but they are going to be purchased at a later time when I can afford it. For now the kiddos mostly enjoy swinging while I lay on the slide.