Playground Safety and Design/Playset


We are building a wooden kids playset with a playhouse on top and a sandbox underneath.  We are doing it ourselves to save money and design it ourselves so we don't want to purchase a pre-made canopy.  Most of the ideas I find on line are wither pre-made canopies (for a bought playset) or diy made out of outdoor fabric.  We were planning on using a tarp.  I realize there are different materials (vinyl, poly, canvas...we were thinking a heavy poly tarp)

Have you seen/tried to make a canopy using a tarp?  A tarp is cheaper than a purchased canopy or even outdoor fabric to make your own.  But I can't seem to find anyone online who have made one using a tarp.  Why not, am I missing something?

The secrete to a good material roof is the method of how you connect it to your playhouse as much, or more, than the material you choose. Must everyone uses grommets installed in the material to attach the roof. Bad system, especially when a strong wind comes along or ice and snow. For 25+ years my company built an average of 125 to 150 residential playhouse a year. We used 18gauge vinyl with a sleeve sown along both ends, this allowed us to slide a 2x4 into the sleeves and attach the 2x4s at the corners to the playhouse posts. What this accomplished was spreading the stress on the roof and the vinyl, along the length of the roof rather than just at a few grommet points which would surely, eventually, fail. The material we utilized and our system of connection allowed our roofs to stay installed all year and last an average of 10 to 14 years. Please be extra careful in just duplicating a pre-manufactured kit, most are poorly designed and can be very unsafe especially for older siblings. Remember your children grow up fast and you can be dealing with a wide age range. Most common mistakes, swings too closely hung or from monkey bars, playhouse to small and roofs to low and finally, head entrapments, any opening greater than 3.5 inches and less than 9 inches. Good luck, Bob

Playground Safety and Design

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Bob Meihaus


I can provide experienced answers, options, solutions and personal opinion on almost any topic concerning children`s playgrounds residential or commercial. Including questions on design, construction, maintenance, groundcover, accesiblity and most importantly safety.


For 23 years owner of custom design and build playground company. Over that time designed and built thousands of residential and commercial play structures.

Certified Safety Inspector and member ASTM committees on playground safety for commercial and residential play areas.

©2017 All rights reserved.