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Choosing the Right Playset for Your Backyard

Rainbow Playset Showroom Cincinnati Ohio

How to Choose the Right Swing Set for Your Backyard

Spoiler alert: I already have a recommendation. In this article I’m going to explain why I personally think Rainbow swing sets and play sets, especially the Monster Castle models, are the best option in almost every way. Their wood choice, weight, and stability are unmatched in the industry. But before we get into the details, let’s first discuss how backyard play sets are designed.

Playset Design 101


Most playset manufacturers make highly modular products. They want to be able to sell any or all of their play features (which is a catch-all word for slides, swings, wheels, climbing walls, etc.) with any of their models. So they typically design two or three base plans with standardized attachment points and use those plans, in different sizes, for all of their products. This design process produces hundreds of different playsets that all look about the same, which can make it difficult to choose the exact model you want. Fortunately for us shoppers, it’s more efficient to figure out which base plan you want, and then choose from a much smaller set of models that have the specific features you need with that base. We’re also lucky because almost every swing set manufacturer tends to describe their base models in similar ways. For example, let’s look at the two base models Rainbow offers, Castle and Clubhouse.

Rainbow Castle Model Package 2

Here’s the standard Rainbow Castle model (Package II, the most popular model). You can tell it’s a “Castle” model because of the high deck height, large deck area, and lack of support beams directly underneath the deck. The lack of support beams allows other features to be placed beneath the deck, such as tire swings and swinging tents. Additionally, the large deck area allows multiple ladders to be placed side by side, which means more than one child can climb up to the deck at once.
It’s important to note some of the unique features that can be installed on a Castle model and not the Clubhouse. These include extra swing bars, tire swings, bridges, and periscopes. In general the Rainbow Castle models have more options for adding active features like swings, slides, and walls.


The other popular model is called the Clubhouse, which does not have as much headroom or deck space but is more compact. Unlike the Castle models the Clubhouse models have passive special features added beneath the main deck, which can include things such as picnic tables, sandboxes, general stores, and lemonade stands. These features take advantage of the extra support beams that the Clubhouse incorporates to provide an “indoor secret meeting” area. The Rainbow Clubhouse Package II is the most popular model of the Clubhouse.

Rainbow Playset Clubhouse in Cincinnati, Ohio


You can see the extra support beams that frame the picnic table in this model, which means the upper deck has less surface area and expansion points than the Castle models. However, the Clubhouse models are fantastic for small backyards because they are more compact.

The Castle/Clubhouse Pattern

The two basic models of swingset, which I’m calling Castle/Clubhouse, are similar across all playset manufacturers. For example, here’s a standard model from Backyard Adventures called Olympian Outlook 1.

Rainbow Outlet Playset or Swingset

You’ll notice that the Outlook has the four support beams, a picnic table, two swings, and a climbing wall just like the Rainbow Clubhouse model did. They refer to this as a square base model, and they would also describe the Rainbow Castle as an angled base model.

The Olympian Summit Playset or Swingset


The Olympian Summit looks very similar to the Rainbow Castle model, with an angled rock wall, two ladders, a slide, a tire swing, and a Jacob’s Ladder.

Aside from specialized models like treehouses, pirate ships, and other unique designs, the vast majority of play-sets available to consumers today fall under either the Castle design (angled base, tire swing, extra space) or the Clubhouse design (square base, picnic table/general store feature, and less deck space). Having industry-standard frames makes purchasing a swing set much easier for consumers like you and me, because we can tell at a glance what kind of features will be suitable for each of the two models. For instance, if I know I definitely wanted a play general store as part of my swing set, I can immediately rule out buying a Castle model in favor of a Clubhouse. But if I wanted a bridge feature, I’d have to rule out the Clubhouse instead.

Rainbow vs Backyard Adventures

Since the most important models for each manufacturer, we can easily compare the quality of Rainbow to other brands by directly comparing their standard Castle and Clubhouse models. Let’s check out the Rainbow Castle first. Its deck height, deck area, and warranty have been added to the chart below.

Castle Monster Castle II Summit I
Deck Height 6’ 6’
Deck Area 27 ft^2 “over 20 ft^2
Warranty Lifetime warranty 10-year warranty
Price $5,399 $3,400


Our first contestant will be the Backyard Adventures Olympian Summit 1. Comparable to the Rainbow Castle II in terms of features, it has a similar deck height and less deck area. Although the weight isn’t listed on the Backyard Adventures site, examining their photographs reveals that the planks are much thinner than the planks used to construct the Rainbow. Plank weight has a huge impact on the structural stability and longevity of the playset, as demonstrated in this video:

This direct comparison also applies to the Clubhouse model from both manufacturers, Rainbow Clubhouse Package II vs BA Outlook I:

Clubhouse Monster Clubhouse II Fancy Outlook I
Deck Height 6’ 6’
Deck Area 40 ft^2 “over 20 ft^2
Warranty Lifetime warranty 10-year warranty
Price $7,729 $2,894.60

The Rainbow models have more deck space, stability, and a better warranty for the same class of product (wood backyard swing sets). Other popular manufacturers such as Swing Kingdom and Gorilla Playsets which are sold at Home Depot and Lowe’s, are either not constructed using real wood (vinyl plastic for Swing Kingdom) or only offer models that your child will outgrow in a few years (Gorilla). Rainbow models are future-proof because they’re large enough for multiple ages to enjoy, even up to 13-14 years old. And they’re made of Cunninghamia Cedar, which is an extremely durable and strong type of lumber.

Rainbow vs Playground One

Another common playset manufacturer is Playground One, which operates under a similar dealer-distributor model that Rainbow does. They do not make a model with a 6’ deck height, so I’ve chosen to compare their 6.5’ models to Rainbow’s 6’ models.

Castle Monster Castle II Supreme Playcenter Combo II
Deck Height 6’ 6’5”
Deck Area 27 ft2 25 ft2
Warranty Lifetime warranty 10 year warranty
Price $5,399 $4,499

Although the Playground One model has a higher deck height, it actually has a smaller deck area than the Rainbow! In addition the Playground One model only has a 10 year limited warranty instead of Rainbow’s lifetime warranty. I mentioned earlier that in my opinion, not providing a lifetime warranty on the major components of your playset indicates that you’re not confident in its quality.

Clubhouse Rainbow Monster Clubhouse II Fancy Supreme Fort Combo III
Deck Height 6’ 6’5”
Deck Area 40 ft2 25 ft2
Warranty Lifetime warranty 10-year warranty
Price $7,729 $4,799

Once again the deck area and warranty of the Rainbow swing set compare favorably to a similar model from Playground One. Like most other manufacturers, Playground One’s model comes in at a lower price than the Rainbow, but without the lifetime warranty you can’t be sure the playset will last while your child or even grandchild wants to use it.

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind, this is only my personal opinion. I highly value the lifetime warranty of Rainbow products which is unique among most playset manufacturers, and I also value the large deck area of most Rainbow products. When you have multiple children playing on a swingset, ensuring there’s enough area for them all to enjoy the swingset at the same time is very important. It’s even a safety concern: if there isn’t enough deck space, kids could fall off while they’re moving around to make room for others climbing up or down. As a kid from a very large family, I loved my Rainbow Monster Castle’s deck space because my sisters and I could comfortably have secret meetings in our playset, with extra room for treasure maps and other important documents.
So if you’re in the market for a new swing set, you’ll be able to identify which model of swing set will be best for your and your kids: Castle has room for under-deck swings, Clubhouse is square with shop features. If you have multiple kids, want role-play features like a shop or picnic table, or are concerned with having enough room in the deck area, the Clubhouse models are probably your best bet. If you want more room for features such as tire swings, monkey bars, and extra long slides, the Castle models will serve you well.


With Specialized financing on the Goalrilla Hoops, Vuly Trampolines, Rainbow Playsets, and Goalsetter Trampolines.

Swingset and Playset Superstore in Cincinnati