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Metal vs. Plastic Slides: Picking the Best for Your Playground

a playground with a yellow winding slide

When public playgrounds began to take shape in the early 1900s, they included slides. Over the years, many different kinds of materials have been used, and even today, there remains a debate over the best material for a playground slide. Some materials might be easier to clean or cheaper to produce, but might not last as long as others and could present safety dangers. The slide is the main attraction of many playgrounds, so if you’re creating your own, you’ll want to consider your choices carefully.

Today, we’re going to be looking at two of the most commonly used materials for the production of slides and evaluating both their benefits and their drawbacks.

Metal Slides

The Good

Metal slides are a nostalgic playground staple. They were especially popular in the 1950s, due in no small part to their excellent durability and thrilling performance. When children are looking for a fast, smooth ride down the slide, metal slides are the ones that get the most use. They stand up to the test of time, so the odds of you needing to replace a metal slide are slim.

The Bad

Metal might look good and perform well, but it’s also hard and unforgiving, and metal slides usually have sharp or pointed lips that make injury more likely. The biggest complaint against metal, however, is the fact that it can reach dangerous temperatures in sunlight.

>A child may not realize just how hot the metal is until they’re already going down the slide, and by that point, it takes less than a second for their skin to begin to burn. This means that unless you have a consistently shady spot somewhere in your playground, you run the risk of causing a child serious injury.

Plastic Slides

The Good

Plastic playground slides are prevalent in many modern playgrounds, and for good reason. Their bright, fun colours attract and excite children, and their rounded edges decrease the risks of injury. Plastic slides can usually be made from recycled material, making them more eco-friendly than their metal counterparts. They also don’t conduct heat nearly as well as metal, which means they’re better suited to sunny locations. They’re easy to clean, easy to replace, and surprisingly durable.

The Bad

Plastic slides are less slick than metal slides, which means that while younger children might be satisfied, older children who crave adventure may be left bored and unengaged by the slow ride. Plastic slides do also tend to discolour and crack in direct sunlight over several years, which means they’re more likely to require replacement than metal.

So, Which One is the Right One for You?

Ultimately, the decision to go with either a metal or a plastic slide is up to you. A metal slide might be perfectly suitable and safe in an indoor space, while a plastic slide might be the ideal choice for an outdoor playground that sees many visits from younger children. You’ll want to consider the chosen location and average environment of your playground, and what kind of design you’d like it to have. If you find yourself at an impasse, don’t be afraid to ask for professional input. You may also discover that your city or province has pre-existing rules that define the materials acceptable for use as a playground slide.

Plastic Slide Designs From SPI Plastics

There’s a surprising amount of variety to be found in the styles of plastic slides. Plastic slides can be designed and configured to almost any specification, from double-rail slides that allow several children to safely slide at once to spiral slides that take up a minimal amount of vertical space. If you have a specific idea for a slide in mind, you can have it specially created at low cost thanks to rotational molding techniques. No matter whether you want a pre-made slide or a custom creation, SPI Plastics has both the experience and the expertise to deliver.

For more information on our plastic slides or other plastic playground equipment, give us a call at (519) 935-2211 or contact us online.

SPI Plastics Inc.

165 Stoneman Drive, Box 100
(Shouldice Block Road & Joynt Street)
Shallow Lake, ON
N0H 2K0

T   519-935-2211
TF 800-269-6533
F   519-935-2174

Business Hours

Monday - Thursday: 8am to 4:30pm
Friday: 8am to 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

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