How Much Does it Cost to Build a Playground?
Playgrounds are an important place for recreation for children. Playgrounds give a way for children to blow off some steam and stay active while socializing with their peers. As such, many people wonder about building a playground. Of course, the next logical question is: how much does it cost to build a playground?
Overall, you can expect to spend between $500-$1,000 for a good quality prefabricated playground. A custom-built private playground will cost a minimum of $2,500 after factoring in materials, landscaping, and labor.
A community playground that can support 30 children will cost an estimated $30,000, which is about $1,000 per child.
There are several factors that go into determining the cost of a playground. So we put together this comprehensive article on the costs to build a playground. We will cover the costs for land, materials, and construction costs.
Cost to Build a Playground
There are two types of playgrounds that exist: private ones for home use and community playgrounds that anyone can use. The costs and process of building are very different for each type, so we will cover both in separate sections.
The first option is to build a private playground for family use. Homeowners have a lot of options for playground structures, ranging from pre-built plastic models to custom-built wood and metal models.
Most of the time, there are few restrictions on the kind of playground you build, but certain HOA and communities may have rules on the size of the structure in your front or back yard.
You can have a small private playground for as little as $100. A small playground may include one of two swings, and possibly some kind of climbing structure. However, if you want to purchase a full-size playground, you will most likely end up paying anywhere between $500-$1,000.
Some pre-built options cost over $2,000. Below is a table showing various popular pre-built playgrounds.
|KidKraft Andorra Cedar Wood Swing Set||$350|
|Backyard Discovery Buckley Hill Wooden Swing Set||$500|
|Beach Front All Cedar Wooden Swing Set||$800|
|Swing-N-Slide WS 8354 Knightsbridge Super Swing||$1,600|
|Gorilla Playsets Outing Wood Swing Set||$1,400|
|Step2 Naturally Playful Woodland Climber II||$340|
|Little Tikes Real Wood Adventures Grizzly Grotto||$1,700|
|SupremeSaver Premium Play Sets||$321|
These playgrounds are out-of-the-box solutions that you can buy and put together based on the instructions. For most of them, you will have to prepare some kind of land plot to keep it secure on the ground.
If you do not want to buy a pre-built solution and instead want to build your own playground, then you are looking at an absolute minimum of $2,500. There are companies you can hire to design a custom playground or you can draft up designs on your own. Whatever you decide, you need to choose materials.
Instead of purchasing a complete playground set, you can purchase several elements and arrange them however you want.
For example, many manufacturers offer standalone swing sets that can be paired with other fixtures like slides, sandboxes, jungle gyms, and climbing playsets.
Slides are a classic playground installation and can either be a standalone fixture or attached to the playset.
A good quality standalone slide will cost about $300 on average, though you can find options for around $100. High-quality slides can cost over $1,000.
Sandboxes are another common playground installation and can be made from plastic or wood. Sandboxes will cost an average of $300, with most people paying between $100-$500.
Sand itself is fairly cheap and costs about $10 per bag.
Jungle gyms range in cost from $200 to over $1,000, but most people will end up paying around $400 for a good quality climbing gym.
Jungle gyms come in pre-configured models and also models you can modify yourself.
Swing sets are one of the most popular playground fixtures and can cost anywhere between $100 to $3,000. Swing Sets come in several materials including plastic, metal, and wood.
Generally speaking, wooden stand-alone swing sets are the most expensive.
Climbing playsets can include several fixtures such as slides or swings, or they can just be a standalone tower with several levels.
Climbing playsets can cost anywhere between $300-$4,000, depending on the material and size. Larger playsets tend to come with more parts and accessories.
If you have a small playground, then you can probably set it up directly on the grass. However, larger structures will require a surface to stabilize. Surfacing also prevents scrapes and bruising when kids fall over.
Common materials used for surfacing include mulch, pea gravel, sand, rubber mulch, and rubber tiling/poured rubber.
Below is a table showing the average cost for surfacing with various popular materials.
|Surface||Cost (per sq. ft.)|
Generally speaking, mulch is the cheapest option, followed by pea gravel. Rubber mulch and poured rubber are the most expensive per square foot, but they are the most durable and require less maintenance than mulch, gravel, or turf.,
Community playgrounds are a different beast than private playgrounds and have higher safety and landscaping requirements. The typical community playground has enough space for 30-50 children at once.
A good rule of thumb when calculating costs is $1,000 per child. So for a playground designed for 30 kids at once, you are looking at at least $30,000 to build.
Larger playgrounds or playgrounds that have special accessibility features will be more expensive, around the range of $50,000 to $70,000.
Community playground costs are split between 4 main categories
Generally, the playground equipment (e.g., supports, slats, slides, etc.) will be the most expensive part and will take up between 50%-60% of your total budget.
When looking for equipment, make sure to choose high-quality materials that are safe and will last a long time.
Installation is the next largest cost and will account for 20%-30% of your budget. Most areas have local regulations and safety standards for public playgrounds.
You can either hire a professional company to do the installation, or you can save money by doing a volunteer or community build. Community builds are performed by the community under the guidance of a certified installer.
Community playgrounds cannot just be installed on the bare ground. You will have to prepare the location with fencing, landscaping, drainage, and surfacing.
Community playgrounds typically use rubber tiles for surfacing or rubber mulch. Depending on the level of preparation needed, this can be a significant cost.
Shipping and freight costs will come out to between 5%-15% of the total cost. Shipping will cost more depending on your location from the shipping center.
So, assuming a $30,000 budget for a playground for 30 children, the estimated cost breakdown would be:
|Cost ($)||Cost (%)|
Keep in mind that these figures are just averages and the actual costs will vary based on your location and manufacturer.
How to Fund a Community Playground
Community playgrounds cost a significant amount—more than the typical individual could finance comfortably. However, there are several avenues to explore to fund the construction of a community playground.
There are several non-profit organizations that offer grants and funding to community projects such as playgrounds.
These organizations can offer up to $100,000 on average for playground construction. Overall, experts estimate that nearly $3 billion in playground grants exist around the country.
Schools often have stretched budgets, but that does not mean they won’t be able to spare some money for the construction of a playground.
You can often receive partial donations from local school districts, even if they can’t fund the entire project.
Private individuals are another potential source of revenue. There are several private donors looking to do some good in the world. Many playgrounds are dedicated to donors who financed their construction.
It’s important to build a relationship with the community where you want to build your playground. Getting on the good side of PTA and HOA organizations will make funding and construction a lot easier. These kinds of organizations can raise money for the construction of new playgrounds.
Factors that Affect Playground Construction Costs
Number of Children
The first thing you should figure out is how many children will be using your playground. If it’s a private playhouse, then this is easy—it’s just the number of children in your home.
If you plan to build a local community playground, you need to estimate the total number of children in your area that are close enough to use the playground. The typical community playground is about 1,000 square feet and can comfortably fit about 50 children at once.
The three major materials used on modern playsets are p0lastic, metal, and wood. Wood and metal provide the strongest structures and are on the more expensive side of the scale.
Plastic is often used for fixtures such as slides and swings, but only cheaper prefabricated playground sets will use plastic as a main structural element.
Other materials include mulch or rubber tiling for the ground. Rubber tiles are more expensive to purchase and install than mulch but are more durable and easier to clean.
Custom or Pre-Built
When it comes to playgrounds, you essentially have two options. Either you can buy a prefabricated option and put it together according to the instructions, or you can do a custom playground build.
A custom build will give you a lot more options for installation, but it will cost more as you will have to buy the materials and design them separately. You can also hire a professional and they can install it for you.
If you are building a community playground, you will most likely have some kind of custom build. There are companies that offer commercial playground installation for locations such as parks and schools.
Given the difference between size and scope, the process for a custom community playground is much higher than for a prefabricated private playground.
Unless you happen to have a perfect plot of land already, odds are you will have to do a bit of landscaping before building a custom playground.
Landscaping for playgrounds includes leveling the land, removing rocks/branches, putting up borders, creating drainage for when it rains and covering the main ground with a soft material to protect against falling.
Site preparation is important because it can affect the safety and longevity of any playground you build.
Most playgrounds have at least a few amenities, such as benches, tables, trash cans, bike racks, and grills. When talking to the construction company, make sure to inquire about the cost of playground fixtures.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to build a playground?
For a private pre-built playground, you can expect to pay an average of $500-$1,000 for a good quality wooden set. If you want to make a custom build for private use, you will end up paying at least $2,500 for materials, landscaping, and materials.
The cost for a community playground is approximately $1,000 per child. So a 30-child playground would cost an estimated $30,000 to construct.
Can anyone build a playground?
Anyone can build a private playground on their own land with little to no restrictions. For community playgrounds, locations are usually chosen by planning committees.
You will need to present plans for a playground to the relevant community authorities as well as relevant public officials. Generally, community playgrounds receive funding from their residents.
How big is the average playground?
The typical commercial playground for community use is approximately 1,000 square feet. Private playgrounds can be anywhere between 300-800 square feet.
Can I build my own playground?
Yes, it is possible to DIY build a playground if you have the materials and the tools. You can create the design yourself or hire a professional firm to design it for you.
Playgrounds are a staple of childhood, and every kid should have some kind of playground to explore. Fortunately, building your own playground is well within the means of most people.
Private playgrounds provide privacy and activities for your children, while public community playgrounds offer a place for children to socialize and blow off steam. If you are considering building a playground, make sure that you plan out your budget, including costs for equipment, labor, and landscaping.