What is pressure treated wood used for?
What type of wood is recommended for an outdoor climbing frame?
The materials used for the exterior are cedar and pressure-treated wood.
Many prefer cedar, and most of the kits you see in large stores and other sources use it. It's generally more expensive, but lighter and softer (for drilling and hammering). It will last a few years untreated and even longer if pretreated with pervious sealant and occasionally withdrawn. Be sure to coat the end cuts for maximum benefit.
Pressure treated woods are also very durable and last for years with little or no maintenance. In the past, treatments used harsh chemicals (called CCA for short) that were not ideal for skin contact, and dust protection measures were required when cutting the wood. Newer forms use less harsh chemicals and may be acceptable in your jurisdiction. (Personally, I would avoid pressure treatments when it comes to food or kids).
While all outdoor projects require weatherproof hardware, pressure treated woods require specially coated fasteners to prevent a chemical reaction that causes corrosion.
After pricing good quality materials, you may find that kits from manufacturers are reasonably good value. I recently built a swing set with a fortress, slide, and climbing wall from a major manufacturer. It arrived on a 4x8 foot pallet with all of the cedar, hardware, and plastic parts. The instructions were surprisingly good, all parts in place and in the correct order. Cedar, stainless steel and plastic. Even pre-drilled properly (one hole on the wrong end - not a biggy).
An online search will show you these options both in large stores and directly from manufacturers or their dealers. There are certainly units that cost many thousands of dollars, but a significant set can be bought for several hundred. Many sources offer on-site assembly for a few hundred dollars. But where would the fun be? The look on my grandchildren's faces made the cost and time of construction worthwhile.
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