A playset is a huge financial investment for many families, so longevity is such an important buying factor. But how do you keep your playset in the best condition after years of play?
Whether you choose to buy wood, metal, or vinyl, the key to a long-lasting playset is restoration. We’re sharing some of the best playset restoration tips to keep your children safe and your playset looking sharp for years to come.
How To Know If Your Playset Needs Restored
There are a few telltale signs that indicate it’s time for some playset restoration. Here are 5 simple things to look out for:
1. Cracks or Other Signs of Damage
Starting with the most obvious: any sign of damage is really an indication that your playset needs some tending to — and promptly. This could include anything from cracks in the wood to damage to any of the plastic accessories like the slide, rock wall, or swings.
2. Rust or Splintering
If you have a metal or wood playset, be on the lookout for rust and splintering, respectively. Though there’s nothing inherently harmful about rust, it can leave a stain on skin or clothing. Splinters on the other hand can be painful for young children.
When you start to notice your swing set begin to splinter or rust, it’s time for some playset restoration.
3. Missing Nuts or Bolts
Similar to looking for cracks or other damages, you should look into restoring your playset immediately if you notice any hardware is missing. These are what help keep the integrity of the structure intact. If they’re missing, your playset is not safe to be played on.
This is also true for nuts, bolts, screws, and even swing ropes that are loose. Loose hardware can also become a safety hazard if not tended to quickly.
4. Dirt, Grime, or Other Debris
Removing any dirt or grime that may have built up over time is another important sign your playset needs some maintenance. Even if the build-up is light, we recommend cleaning it once a year before the spring season to keep your playset from rotting over time.
5. Duller Colors
Another sign that indicates it’s time for some playset restoration is dull, faded colors. After years of surviving seasons of extreme heat and cold, it’s natural that the materials may start to weather.
If you notice the wood is duller or the plastic/rubber play accessories are starting to fade in color, it’s probably time for some revamping.
For an extended list of items to look for, see our playground maintenance checklist. This checklist breaks down the damages to look for in each feature of the playset from the actual structure to the surface it sits on.
Tips for Playset Restoration
Determining if your playset needs restoring is the easy part. Using the 5 signs above, you should be able to conclude if restoration is necessary. The challenge is actually restoring what needs to be fixed.
The restoration that your playset will need is unique to any other, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some general tips that can help guide your process. Whether your playset is made of metal, wood, or vinyl, here is the best advice for fixing up your playset.
1. Make a List
Whether it’s a mental list or it’s written on paper, make a list of what needs attention. From there, you can easily determine what tools and materials you will need to restore your playset.
2. Gather Your Tools
When you complete your list of restoration plans, it’s time to start gathering your tools. The tools that you need will obviously depend on what needs to be repaired, but also the materials used to build your playset.
If your playset just needs some simple restoration like tightening of bolts and screws, at minimum you’ll need:
- A socket wrench or an adjustable wrench — to tighten any loose nuts or bolt heads.
- A drill — to remove and/or replace rusty screws.
- A hammer — to remove and/or replace rusty nails.
Regardless of what materials your playset is made from, these tools should help you tighten loose hardware or add new hardware where it’s missing.
To fix a rusty metal playset, you might need:
- A wire brush and rust remover solution — to treat and scrape off small rust patches.
- A rust converter — to cover up large patches of rust without the elbow grease.
To repair damages on a wooden playset, you might need:
- Wood filler — to fill in significant cracks, chips, or splits in the wood.
- Sandpaper and a sander — to file down any sharp edges or smooth out splintered pieces.
- New wood — to replace wood that has rotted or is too cracked/chipped to restore.
- Sealant or stain — to coat the wood after all repairs are made. Staining or resealing after repairing the damages will help add a layer of protection to the wood.
One of the perks of choosing a vinyl playset is the minimal upkeep required. Vinyl is the most durable playset material because it doesn’t require repeated staining or sealing.
A playset made from vinyl uses treated wood components that are covered with a thick, vinyl casing. The strong vinyl outer layer protects the wood from rotting, splintering, or fading over time. If you’re looking for a playset that only requires seasonal cleaning, Swing Kingdom has plenty of vinyl playsets to choose from.
Contact A Swing Kingdom Expert to help you find your dream vinyl playset
When it comes to cleaning your playset, you’ll have to be careful about the products you use. An aggressive cleaning product with harsh ingredients can damage the wood or cause rusting to occur.
The materials you’ll need to clean your playset includes:
- Soap, water, and a soft bristle brush — any mild dish detergent diluted with some water will do. Use an old rag or a soft bristle brush to scrub away the dirt.
- A hose or power washer — to remove difficult dirt or mold with ease, or to clean hard-to-reach places.
*Note: Be wary of using a power washer on wood that looks decayed. Too much pressure can damage the wood further. A hose is a safer alternative if you’re unsure.
3. Prep Your Playset
Now it’s time to prep your playset. Start with a good cleaning. If the dirt level is minimal, your garden hose and some light elbow grease might suffice. For tougher dirt and grime, a soft bristle brush might be required.
Make sure it’s soft-bristled. Brushes with tough bristles can leave scratches on the surface of your playset.
If your playset is especially dirty or moldy, a power washer might be necessary.
During this step, you should also inspect your playset accessories. Are they all intact? Do they have any cracks or significant damages? If the answer is yes, you might need to consider replacing them.
You can purchase new swing set accessories from most swing set manufacturers, dealers, or even online. Whether you need something small like a new swing or something larger like a new rock wall, Swing Kingdom has every accessory you can think of.
4. Complete Your Repairs
Once your playset has been cleaned, you can start your repairs. Start with the smaller tasks like sanding down rough edges or scraping off small rust patches where you can.
Next, tackle the larger items like filling in cracks or replacing rotted wood with new materials. If your playset is metal, use your rust remover solution or rust converter to restore large patches of rust.
The final step is to tighten or replace any new hardware on your playset. This includes replacing the old damaged accessories with new ones. If you’re planning to stain or reseal your wooden playset, now is the time to do it.
After everything has dried, your playset is ready to be played on again!