A reputable playground designer or architect can assist in selecting a brand of rope-based playground equipment. However, not all rope-based equipment is created equal. Here is a short list of things you will want to require and some things you may want to avoid:
- Rope fibers can be made of vinyl (polypropylene), which is much less desirable for its strength and durability than nylon (polymide) or polyester.
- UV protection or color fastness – look for a rating of 7/8 or 8/8. Red does tend to fade a little more than other colors, but if you select a 7 or 8 rating, you’ll notice the fading is considerably less.
- Underneath the rope fibers are steel strands that give the rope its strength. Look for the most steel strands you can find: 144 to 168 galvanized steel strands is preferred. Steer away from any products providing less than 100 strands of steel.
- Connectors, like kids, come in all shapes and sizes and content. Look for compressed connectors that are factory-installed. Avoid plastic connectors or hook-type connectors (think s-hooks on a swing), which can work loose and cause abrasion against the rope fibers making them fray.
- Breaking strength – Ask your net distributor the tested breaking strength of the equipment: the connectors should be able to hold in excess of 2000 lbs. and the cable with steel content should have a breaking strength greater than 12,000 lbs.
- IPEMA Certified – When in doubt, select net products that have the IPEMA Certified Seal of approval on them. IPEMA certification gives inexperienced playground purchasers or first-time net purchasers the assurance that the equipment they are buying is going to meet or exceed industry-accepted standards for quality construction and safety.