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Timber - An Undervalued Playground Material

Timber is a fantastic medium for playground equipment. Aside from the aesthetic and tactile advantages (see below), the timbers used by Andrew Smith Timber Creations are hard-wearing, long-lasting and resistant to fire and pests.

A common misconception is that timbers do not last as long as plastic and metal play equipment. All playground materials do eventually break down, and while plastic will split and metal will rust, creating laceration risks, timber will deteriorate softly and gradually, meaning the equipment is still safe to use while repairs are organised. With an annual check-up, timber play equipment is extremely long lasting.

Andrew Smith Timber Creations Pty Ltd use sustainably sourced and recycled Australian timbers.

Over time, we have been able to source more Red Ironbark and White Cypress to improve the quality and the longevity of our elements.

White Cypress

Timber Creations have a sustainable source of white cypress that is regularly available for use. White Cypress is a great softwood timber for playgrounds as it is highly durable, not susceptible to Lyctid Borer, resistant to termites, and has an extremely low shrinkage rating. It also has a wonderful scent!

Cypress Stilts

White Cypress has many interesting features like dark brown knots, but a great, very fine texture and beautiful grain that children love to explore, making it perfect for play sculptures.

For more information, download our factsheet, with information sourced from the Australian Standards for Timber – AS1720

Red Ironbark

We currently have Red Ironbark available, sourced from discarded, recycled trees. Red ironbark is an Australian Hardwood which is highly durable and hardwearing. It is fantastic for outdoor structures, as it is sturdy, reliable, durable and long-lasting in weather-exposed structural applications.

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Red Ironbark is also a very beautiful timber, with heartwood colours ranging from a deep red to red-brown, and a distinctive yellow sapwood. It blends seamlessly in outdoor environments.

For more information, download our factsheet, with information sourced from the Australian Standards for Timber – AS1720


Blackbutt is a strong and durable Australian hardwood timber species. It is excellent for a range of structural exterior and interior applications. The timber is resistant to termites and is not susceptible to Lyctid Borer. It naturally fire resistant and is marine borer resistant up to 40 years.

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Blackbutt heartwood is a golden yellow to pale brown, and its sapwood is much paler. Blackbutt has an even texture and straight grain, making it aesthetically pleasing for sculptural use. The timber is suitable for landscape design, outdoor furniture and construction, as it is very durable and strong.

For more information, download our factsheet, with information sourced from the Australian Standards for Timber – AS1720

Benefits of Timber Elements

Environmental effects

Timber Creations uses recycled timber for all our products, which has a very positive environmental effect. Recycling wood saves massive amounts of heat energy as well as reducing deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

Apart from the fantastic environmental advantages of recycling discarded timber (of which there are many), timber products contribute to a wonderful sense of place and beautiful environmental surroundings. Timber elements provide visual continuity with the landscape gives a feeling of spaciousness and tranquillity. Natural materials result in no jarring of colour which creates feeling of peace.

Child Development

Connection to Nature

Children have an inborn inclination and interest in the natural environment and its elements. It makes them feel comfortable and appeals to the senses as it is our biological home; we have an organic connection to nature that we often underestimate (Pelo, 2008).

It has been shown in multiple studies over the last decade that natural settings enhance cognitive abilities, in particular executive functioning. For children and young people it has been shown that exposure to natural elements leads to an increase in attention span and focus, creative thought processes, problem solving abilities, self-discipline and self-regulation as well as reduced stress levels and increased physical and emotional health (Driessnack, 2009).

Developing Naturalistic intelligence

One of the biggest problems of today is concerned with children perceiving themselves as separate from nature. Nature is the dirty, scary thing somewhere out there – no relation at all to their own lives of school, homework and TV.


Children need to be able to connect more with nature; studies say it is a necessity for general well-being. The first step towards this is the incorporation of natural elements into their everyday lives; a connection between the scary nature out there and the structural safety of the school playgrounds and parks that they are used to (Dore, 2010).


Dore, B. (2010, September 13). Nature helps children learn faster. Hindustan Times. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Driessnack, M. (2009), Children and Nature-Deficit Disorder. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 14: 73–75.

Pelo, A. (2008). Rethinking Early Childhood Education. Rethinking Schools, Ltd. Milwaukee, WI.

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