A slide is one of the most fun elements in a playground for children. You can make it steeper or smoother, depending on your wishes and on the people you build it for. Luckily, there are plenty of ideas to customize it, so you can build the perfect slide for your backyard. Today we are going to look at how to build a slide for your children and how to customize it.
How to Build a Slide in Your Backyard 101
1. Choose the Materials
Before getting down to building the slide, you should think about what materials to use. You can make a slide of mostly anything. If you want to build a strong, resistant slide, the best idea is to use a heavy steel pipe. The easiest way out is to use long, linear materials, to make your job easier. Use recycled steel rods placed next to each other, melamine, or old countertops from your kitchen. Sheet metal, Masonite or Plexiglas are also good ideas.
Alternatively, you can use other different shapes of materials as well. For instance, use bentwood chair backs. Another option is to craft a slide from several sections of a 55-gallon drum. Concrete and plaster can also be used for this purpose; though you need to be more careful when handling them. The advantage is that they can be very smooth, plus they have an organic quality.
2. Gather What You Need and Decide on a Shape
The next step when deciding on how to build a slide in your own backyard is to choose the shape. If you have enough space and materials, you can create a winding slide. The more children slide through it, the happier they’ll be. However, if that project seems a little bit too complex, you can stick to a simpler, straighter slide. The building principles remain pretty much the same, regardless of the shape you choose.
Besides this, you also need to gather all the materials you need. Get the plastic, concrete, or metal and keep them close to you. You wouldn’t want to stop what you’re doing and run around for a piece of material you forget in a corner somewhere.
3. Set Up the Platform
The platform is the transitional area found between the actual slide and the steps you climb. It is supposed to offer the users a safe area where they can go from a standing or climbing position to a seated one with feet first. It’s important to be horizontal, functional, and comfortable.
Handholds are essential, so don’t forget to add these. At the same time, pay attention to how much space you need to allow. The handles should fit anybody who is using the slide, so think of that beforehand. Both toddlers and grown-ups need to use them, in case you are building it for the entire family. Make it as wide as you can, and ensure 20 inches in depth.
In case you’re building a platform with a cage around it (which is recommended for toddlers and young children), there is an extra thing to consider. Pay attention to handrails and avoid any danger for your children to catch their heads between the bars. To avoid this, test the bars with a 4-inch sphere. If the sphere can’t pass between them, it’s safe.
4. Build the Chute
The chute is the incline of the slide itself. Obviously, the more inclined it is, the faster and further you’ll go. But how can you know what the right incline is for toddlers? A general rule says that a toddler slide shouldn’t be steeper than 24 degrees. For school kids, the average is 30 degrees. Even though you can include some steeper areas in your slide, don’t exceed an angle of 50 degrees.
Regarding the width, you shouldn’t use a chute that is narrower than 8 inches in the case of toddlers and 16 inches for school-age children. Most people prefer it to be 18 – 20 inches wide. Besides this, ensure that the slide has a side wall minimum of 4 inches. This makes the body of the slide head in the right direction. Make sure you attach it to the chute bottom and leave no gaps between the two. Considering all these measurements, a 55-gallon drum cut in half would be a perfect solution if you want to know how to build a slide without too much trouble.
5. The Slide Exit
It’s very important to have a smooth exit for the passengers. This area needs to be horizontal, set on a ground plane, or at a slightly tipped down angle. Kicking the slide up abruptly at the end can be dangerous.
Make sure that the exit areas are clear and open. Otherwise, someone will risk getting their arms or legs hit. The exit length is an essential factor to keep in mind when designing the slide, especially when it comes to children. Make sure the area where they stop is safe. It’s better to leave a larger area available, than risk seeing the passenger get hurt.
6. Smooth Everything Out
Another element to consider when deciding on how to build a slide is how smooth the surfaces are. Considering this can cause a lot of problems, make sure the slide surface, the platform, and the landing area are smooth. In fact, it would be better to ensure that no surface has any gaps, protrusions or bumps. Even though it may seem like a small factor, a tiny protrusion, grit in the paint job or an exposed edge can cause rashes, cuts or other wounds.
Not to mention, that small gaps or fasteners can catch on shoe strings, zippers, fingers, and so on. In that case, the passenger would spin around or even flip. Make no compromises when it comes to your safety!
7. Other Safety Issues
Learning how to build a slide in your own backyard might not be as simple as you thought in the beginning. But wait, it gets even more complicated! There are other safety issues you need to pay attention to. Make sure the area around the slide is clear. If you can, prevent bystanders from getting too close to the slide when other people are using it. For this, you can use a rope playground nearby, to make kids stay away from your slide.
The sun is another thing to keep in mind. Not many people think about this when they learn how to build a slide for the first time, but they see this problem occur later. If you choose to build a slide from metal, it will be baking in the sun’s rays during the summer. When a passenger gets on it, they might even suffer some burns. In this case, you can shade it or coat it to prevent this from happening. It’s not hard to install a cover and it can even protect the slide from the rain or wind.
8. Connections and Fasteners
Another issue you need to keep in mind when learning how to build a slide by yourself is what connections and fasteners to use. Ideally, the best way to manage slide surface connection and attachment is to use elements that are not on the slide itself. Once you decide on a material, you also need to think about what connections and fasteners you can use.
Welding is one of the best solutions if available. It fills the gaps and offers you a strong joint. At the same time, it can be ground down and you can polish it to be smooth and even with the slide surface. An industrial adhesive is another solution that works in a similar manner, only you can use it on non-weldable materials as well. It’s great if you use it in layers of slick materials, not if you’re building with it.
Connections like bolts and screws can work well if you use the adequate type. It’s important not to place them straight in the middle of the run. Use less contact and wear-on fasteners placed outside the center area. Leave 8 – 12 inches area in the middle that is untouched.
9. Test It Out
Finally, the last thing you need to do is to test the slide. Make sure you test it for various passengers; both children and adults. Check the connections, bolts, welding, as well as the resistance of the materials. If there is a way to protect the materials from damage, such as coating wooden or metal pieces, now is the time to do it.
You can learn how to build a fun slide for your children in your own backyard with a little bit of patience. Gather the right materials and follow the steps above if you want to have a great slide for the entire family. Complete the area with other DIY backyard playground ideas and all your neighbors will envy your play space.
Image source: depositphotos.com