Bubby Cubby lists some of the best wooden cubby houses and outdoor play equipment available. We’ve selected them because of these manufacturer’s reputation for quality products, using sustainable high quality timber that is properly treated to widthstand the rigors of the Australian climate and conditions.
So why is timber such a great material to build outdoor play equipment from?
To answer that, we’ll have to answer some questions about Timber as a building material.
What is wood?
Wood is a general category of materials made of natural materials from trees. It includes Timber, MDF boards, plywood, and sometimes other man-made compressed natural materials.
Timber specifically means whole wood from a felled, or cut tree. It is cut down from a whole tree, and shaped for its purpose. For example, a timber pole is made from a single tree that has been cut to size. This retains the natural strength of the wood from the tree, and when timber is treated and dried properly, it increases in strength and durability because the process shrinks and removes the naturally occuring air and water spaces in the wood, making the timber more dense.
Sometimes, timber get’s stronger with age because it continually looses moisture to create an even more dense material. Which is why recovered old timber from large buildings can sometimes fetch a very high price because of its hardness and look.
Compressed wood like MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) boards, are made of wood fibres from different types of wood and compressed with a natural or artificial materials like wax and resins to create a dense board. Or in the case of plywood, sheets of wood are compressed together to form a large board.
Wood structures like homes, sheds, fences, and furniture use treated timber to provide the strength and durability it needs to stay standing for many years. where as the walls and partitions within homes can use plywood, MDF wood, or planks.
All you need to do is look around your neighbourhood, unless you live in a new estate, to see how some of the homes in Australia have been standing for over 40 years; and most of these homes, even the brick veneer or double brick homes have a timber structure.
Hardwood and Softwood
Contrary to the obvious, hardwood and softwood is not a definition of the density of the wood, but the type of tree and the seeds it uses to propagate itself.
For example, anyone who has done some art and craft work with balsa wood will know how soft it is, and yet is is actually a hardwood.
So if you hear about hardwood timber floors, it does not automatically mean that your floors will be made of denser wood and hence better. When properly treated, both hard and soft wood are very strong, and can be used in variety of applications from building houses, to fences, to outdoor play equipment, to decks.
The choice of which type of timber to use will depend on what you want to build and the finish you want to achieve, and of course cost.
Properties of Timber
Natural timber, being cut from trees, will have the natural finish of wood. The surface will be imperfect with small knots and cracks in the wood. Cracks in timber don’t generally affect the strength of the timber. If you think about the trees in your nature reserve, and I mean the tall trees that have been there for years, you will see cracks in the trunks of these trees (and in some cases, trees have hollows in them), but the tree itself still standing tall, and taking whatever punishment Australia’s weather is throwing at it.
Different cubby house and play equipment manufacturers use different timbers that are processed differently, but generally, the timber is pressure dried, sometimes, in an kiln, to remove as much of the moisture from the wood as possible. The timber is usually also given a chemical treatment to help preservation of the wood by making it more resistant to mold, rotting and insect infestation.
Depending on the wood, the drying process removes up to 70% of the moisture in the wood making the wood even denser.
However being a natural material, all timber will be affected by moisture and natural “predators”.
For example a wooden fence post, if unpainted, can absorb moisture from the air, or rain and expand by 5% of its dried width. That is why unlike indoor timber furniture, where you can cut the timber exactly to size, at the joints, outdoor timber structures like sheds, fences and play equipment need to have some space to allow for expansion and movement of the timber.
In other words, when timber is used to build outdoor equipment and structures, expect to see some natural imperfections like knots and cracks. These do not affect its strength. You may also find that the joints may sit a little looser than expected, but it is to allow for the expansion of the timber when it meets with the moisture in the air, and rain.
Natural and Sustainable
Trees and plants are nature’s way of keeping too much Carbon Dioxide in the air. They naturally absorb the CO2 and produce oxygen, and lock the carbon away in its body for hundreds to thousands of years.
So logging and deforestation is an environmental problem, but sustainable farming and logging of wood, and subsequent re-cycling of wood can be a great way to help the environment.
The manufacturers that we have selected for our products use certified sustainable timber. This means that from logging to the start of the manufacturing of the final products, the timber is obtained in the most environmentally sustainable way, and the local communities who depend on logging for their lifelihoods are involved in taking care of their forests, so that they can produce wood and ensure that their children will still have forests to play in and may be work in.
Why is Wood Great for Play Equipment
Bubby Cubby is committed to providing beautiful, safe, and sustainable cubby houses and play equipment for our children, and that is why we have a large range of wooden play equipment that are not just fun to play with, is made with safety in mind, and also ensure that it is sustain-ably manufactured.
Wood is such a wonderful material to use for building because it is easy to shape, strong, and natural. It can be cut and carved to various shapes and sizes and designs, and in some cases, can even be bent and shaped to create amazing artworks.
Using wood for outdoor play equipment allows it to blend well with the outdoor environment, and it is very easy to fit it into any garden landscaping style.
If treated properly, and maintained, wooden play equipment will last as long as your home.