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Three Ways to Maximize Your Playground Budget

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More Play. Less Money.

“How much will a new playground cost?”

It’s a question we get asked often when people are considering a new play area for a school, church or youth center. High-quality commercial playground equipment that can stand up to decades of use and environmental conditions can cost between $15,000 and $40,000. If you are trying to estimate costs for your project, a good rule of thumb is to budget $1,000 per child. So, if your playground needs to accommodate 20 children at once, plan on spending $20,000 on the equipment. Items such as installation, safety surfacing and other site amenities or services are additional expenses that you should factor into the total project cost.

It’s no surprise that this price tag can be overwhelming, and many customers want to know how they can maximize their playground budget. That’s a question we appreciate too because it helps our customers think through ways to provide the maximum amount of play and play value within their means. You want to make sure the playground addresses the needs of as many children as possible, both now and in the future.

Consider these tips when trying to make your playground dollars go further:

Choose a play system with a smaller footprint

Sometimes large deck platforms are incorporated into the design of a play system to provide maximum capacity in high-use areas like city parks. If your playground does not need to accommodate many people at one time, then consider a small, but still durable, play system. GameTime’s PrimeTime play system line is a great option, since it requires less square footage and still utilizes our patented DirectBolt® connections for compliant, easy installation and our durable steel and plastic construction for long-term use. PrimeTime also utilizes a 36” deck platform that reduces the overall footprint of system designs, resulting in less surfacing required for your play area and a lower overall cost.

PrimeTime play systems use a smaller deck to pack lots of play into a smaller space.


Use a combination of safety surfaces

Safety surfacing can vary in price. Poured-in-place rubber surfacing or rubber tiles offer a low-maintenance solution, but they are more expensive to install. Engineered wood fiber (EWF) is a popular choice for budget projects due to its low installation cost, natural look and superior fall attenuation. EWF can be a great option to use more widely in your play area, and you can always choose other surfacing types to accent your space as budget permits.

Consider using EWF when possible to lower your playground safety surfacing costs.


Consider freestanding play

A fun playground doesn’t require a large play system. Freestanding structures, such as climbers, nets, swings and slides, can complement a smaller play system by providing opportunities for children to engage in imaginative and dramatic play, physical activity or social/cooperative interaction. Freestanding units can be added throughout a play area or adjacent to an existing structure to enhance play value.

Freestanding play activities, like Expression Swing, encourage social and cooperative play and cost less than large play structures.


Workimg with a play expert is the best way to help your money go further because he/she can design a playground that fits specific budget and space constraints while providing the maximum play value for your neighborhood. Contact your local GameTime representative to learn how we can help with your playground project!