When you see a local park or school remodeling its playground, you may wonder about the used equipment. After all, your children loved playing on it at the park; wouldn’t they love it even more in your backyard?
Used commercial play equipment often costs significantly less, and, let’s face it—it usually comes with way cooler features than a standard backyard jungle gym. But is buying a used commercial jungle gym worth the risks?
Read on to learn everything you need to know before making a decision.
Advantages of Buying a Used Commercial Jungle Gym
There are some obvious advantages to buying used jungle gym equipment, especially if you have a large family. When lots of little ones run around the yard, commercial play equipment seems like a wise investment, but buying it new is usually cost-prohibitive.
Below we explore the two significant advantages to buying a used commercial jungle gym: the money you could save and the inherent durability of the equipment.
When schools or city governments purchase commercial playground equipment, it usually comes with a ten to fifteen-year warranty. Often, the equipment actually lasts closer to twenty years or more before showing obvious signs of wear and tear.
Of course, how long the equipment holds up depends on how much use it receives. A jungle gym might only last ten years in high traffic areas, but in a small school or daycare, it could last a lot longer than the warranty implies. In a home setting, it could last for several decades before breaking down.
Oftentimes, schools and governments decide to revamp their playground equipment before the warranty is up. They do this for various reasons. Maybe the school board decides they want to replace equipment to accommodate the diversified needs of their students better. Or they may simply have the budget to switch things up.
Schools, daycares, and parks also close at times, leaving gently used playground equipment behind.
All of these situations leave durable playground equipment available to parents. This equipment could easily last in a home environment for a couple of decades, making it a much more durable option than standard home setups.
Value for the Price
Buying a used commercial jungle gym is much less expensive than buying a new one, and if the equipment is in good condition, it could be a great value given the price.
While new commercial playground equipment could cost upwards of $15,000 or more, a used commercial jungle gym could run for as little as $3,000.
Disadvantages of Buying a Used Commercial Jungle Gym
Used playground equipment may be more durable than your typical backyard swing set, and buying it used is a lot less expensive than purchasing it new.
However, there are some downsides to buying used jungle gyms that parents need to consider. For one thing, commercial equipment isn’t easy to move around. Beyond that, there are maintenance issues to think about.
Not Very Portable
Commercial jungle gyms aren’t meant to be moved from one location to the next. Usually, they’re mounted in place with concrete footing on their posts. The concrete footing alone can weigh several hundred pounds, so lifting the posts out of the ground is no easy task.
Removing and reinstalling playground equipment comes with risks. The removal process could damage the jungle gym’s posts, making it unsafe to install somewhere else.
Plus, parents will need to ensure that where they place their new-to-them jungle gym is a permanent location. Moving it from the school or playground where it was originally installed is already a risk; you won’t want to move it again.
Could Have Maintenance Issues
When cities, schools, or daycares purchase jungle gyms, they come with a warranty that usually states manufacturers will maintain and replace the equipment pieces as needed. However, warranties are not transferable to new owners, which means parents who purchase used commercial equipment may run into problems.
Maintenance issues would be a particular concern if the previous equipment owners didn’t keep up with things. There could be hardware that parents will need to replace or recalls on specific pieces that the previous owners didn’t address.
Unfortunately, without the warranty in place, these updates and replacements can come at a high cost, if they’re feasible at all. The equipment manufacturer may not be willing to sell new parts to parents directly, and sometimes the manufacturing company no longer exists. It’s crucial to consider this before purchasing a used commercial jungle gym.
It’s also important to realize that once the gym is in your backyard, you’ll have to handle any further maintenance on your own. That means you may have to address things like replacing step treads, loose screws, or pieces that break without the manufacturing company’s help.
Main Criteria You Should Consider Before Buying One
If you decide that buying a used jungle gym is worth the potential risks, you should consider a few things when choosing the equipment.
Previous Maintenance and Any Imperfections
Before purchasing a used commercial jungle gym, consider how well the previous owners maintained it. You can evaluate this in a few different ways.
First, look at who the previous owners were. Was it a school or church in your neighborhood that has maintenance records available to you? Or are you purchasing the equipment online from who knows where?
Second, look at the equipment itself. If there are signs of rust, loose screws, visible bolts, or cracks in plastic pieces, you might want to reconsider the purchase. You should also look at equipment areas that should have traction pads, like steps or ramps. If the pads are missing or worn down, you should consider that as well.
Finally, consider the equipment’s age and whether it was in a high traffic location or not. The more use it got in its original home, the less life it likely has left. Normal wear and tear breaks down even the highest quality equipment over time, and older or heavily used pieces won’t last as long in your backyard.
Play Elements and Accessories
The jungle gym itself might be in good shape, but you’ll also want to evaluate the play elements and accessories. Ropes, swings, and plastic pieces may age faster than the jungle gym frame.
If you think you’ll need to replace them, ask yourself if that’s feasible. You may want to contact the manufacturer directly to see if they’ll sell you replacement parts.
You’ll also want to consider whether the accessories are pieces your kids are safe to use in your backyard. For example, if there’s a built-in rock wall, you might want to consider what type of ground you’re installing the play equipment on. If you’re moving the jungle gym from a rubber mulch pit to hard-packed dirt, a taller climbing wall might not be safe for play.
Size and Age Appropriateness for Your Kids
You’ll also want to look at the size and age appropriateness of the jungle gym. Remember, you’ll want space around it in your yard. You don’t want to install a jungle gym too close to a fence or walkway that could make a fall extra dangerous.
It’s also crucial to consider the age appropriateness for your kids and keep in mind that that changes through the years. In the 1970s, metal playground equipment was common for all ages, but we don’t consider hard metal pieces safe now. If you’re looking at a jungle gym that’s on the older side, you might want to consider the way times have changed.
You’ll also want to think about how long your children will want to use the type of equipment you’re considering. If you have seven- or eight-year-old kids and are buying equipment from a nursery school, you might find they’re already on the verge of outgrowing some of the pieces.
Price and Value
Finally, when considering a jungle gym purchase, you’ll want to weigh out the price to value ratio. Think about how long the equipment will be usable for your children, given the expense.
Make sure you consider hidden costs as well, such as shipping, installation, and the need for replacement parts.
Final Comments: Is It Worth It to Buy a Used Commercial Jungle Gym?
In some scenarios buying a used commercial jungle gym is worth it. If you find one that’s well-maintained and the right size for your yard, purchasing the jungle gym could be a good option.
If, however, you may move in the next few years, your kids are on the older side, or the only equipment you find would need significant repairs, you might want to reconsider purchasing it. Take a look at our jungle gym buying guide for more considerations.
Where You Can Buy a Used Commercial Jungle Gym
You can find used commercial jungle gyms online from eBay or Craigslist. Sometimes you’ll also find them on sites like govdeals.com.
The best place to find them, though, is probably from a local school or city auction. That way, you can inspect the jungle gym in person before you make the purchase.