Backyard Discovery Blog
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How to Maintain Your Wooden Playset
You just got yourself a new playset. You’ve assembled it and are now admiring it before you let the kids loose on it. It certainly is colorful and looks appealing! However, even the best wooden playset will start to lose its brightness and vitality without maintenance. Just like your house, deck and other wooden structures, a wooden playset needs tender loving care to keep it at its best.
I have already discussed the importance of locating your swing set on a soft level surface. Your set is, of course, quite heavy, so over time, it will slowly dig its way into the surface, possibly right through into the dirt beneath. Your surface, particularly if it is loose fill like sand, pea gravel, mulch, chips or shredded rubber, will undoubtedly move around over time. This could be through scuffing, kicking, wind, animals or many other reasons. Whenever you notice your surface looking uneven or patchy, you should get a rake out to even it out again.
Depending on where you live, you are likely to have a swing season, when the kids are actively using their wooden playset. At the beginning of each swing season, you should give your set a good check over, to ensure everything is still in a working and safe state. If you are in a place such as Florida where your kids can use the set all year long, you should schedule this maintenance check for the same time every year.
If you do live in a cold region where you get frosts or snow, I advise that you remove any plastic swing sets and take them indoors at the beginning of winter. This will protect them and extend their lives.
The onset of spring would make a good time for your annual inspection. If you have removed any plastic swing seats or other parts, reattach them at the same time as you make your inspection, first checking that they are still in a safe and usable condition, with no cracking in the plastic or exposed metal edges.
It is worth checking that your set is still is a level position. If it has moved since your last check, you need to relevel it.
Go over the entire set. Make an inspection looking for any exposed bolts or sharp edges, and replace any if necessary. Indeed, you should repeat this practice every couple of weeks to avoid any chance of injury to the children as they play.
Check any ropes, cables and chains for any evidence of deterioration. Don’t take any risk with these. If there are signs of excessive wear, remove the rope, cable or chain and replace. Repeat this check at least once a month during the season that your kids are using the wooden playset.
I would also suggest that you oil any metallic moving parts during your annual inspection and again every month during the season.
If you find that any of the metal sections show signs of rust, you should sand and repaint that section using a non-lead-based paint.
Inspect all of the wood parts. It is possible that grain of the wood may have lifted since your last check, exposing splinters. You can remove these with a light sanding. I again suggest that you make this check on a monthly basis. The last thing you need is a crying kid with a splinter in some sensitive place.
You might choose to apply a stain / sealant to your wooden playset at the same time as you make your inspection. It is actually part of the warranty that you do this within the first six months of the assembly of your swing set, and then repeat it every year after that.
Before you stain your wooden playset, I do suggest you give it a good clean first, washing off any dirt or mildew. If you choose to use a water blaster for this, make certain that the water pressure is not so high that it damages the wood. I suggest that you let it dry for at least 24 hours before you move onto applying the stain and sealant.
Backyard Discovery suggests using an oil-based product for your swingset. Your local home store will have plenty of products to consider, many of them with a pigment similar to the cedar color we used during manufacturing. When in doubt, use the same kind of product you would use on a deck. And make sure you give it at least 24-48 hours to dry before the kids start playing on it again.
If you take the time to maintain your wooden playset, you should have a long-lasting source of fun for your kids (and maybe grandkids). You will also have the peace of mind knowing that it will always be in a safe state for the youngsters, with no risk of breakage, splinters or sharp edges to cause harm.photo credit: Swinging via photopin (license)