How to Protect and Maintain Wooden Swingsets

  • By: Kevin
  • Date: October 7, 2021
  • Time to read: 10 min.
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There are several steps you can take to keep your wooden swingset in top-notch condition. Here are activities to maintain wooden swingsets in addition to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

  • Carry out regular inspections.
  • Do periodic cleaning. 
  • Reseal the wood 
  • Stain the wood periodically.
  • Put measures against insect and rodent infestation
  • Do repairs after winter

Wooden swing sets are relatively expensive compared to other types of swing sets, and they require more maintenance to keep them in good shape. Most parents purchase a wooden swing set because it adds to the curb appeal of the backyard. 

Since swing sets stay outside, you will need to clean, stain, reseal, do minor repairs, and do some replacement to keep your wooden swing set in top-notch condition.

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Best Ways to Protect and Maintain Wooden Swingsets

It is essential to ensure that parents understand wood swing set maintenance requirements in advance. A wooden swing set will last for longer when you take good care of it through all the seasons. 

This article will explore the various wood swing set maintenance tips to ensure you are taking good care of yours. 

Do Regular Inspections 

The only way to know your swing set condition is by carrying regular inspections to ensure nothing is out of place. You can carry out a thorough inspection once a month when the children are actively using it. 

Also, you need to conduct another assessment after winter before you let your kids get on the wooden swing set. 

Start by checking the wood to see whether there are signs of rotting, cracking, or splinters’ appearance. Shards can injure little ones, and you need to sand down any rough parts of the wood. 

It would also be best if you replaced any broken wooden planks that are cracked or show signs of rotting to prevent an accident in the future. If the top wooden 4×6 beam is showing cracks you should replace it.

Check all the metal bolts and screws to ensure that they are not rusting. If you notice any rust, you should purchase galvanized replacement parts. 

Don’t forget to check the removable parts like the swing chains, swing seats, trapeze, monkey bars, and other removable accessories. Broken plastic parts can still have sharp edges that can scratch kids when they are playing. 

Manufacturers that offer warranties for their products are willing to send parents replacements for free as long as the warranty period isn’t expired. Check with the manufacturer for replacement parts before buying them at the hardware store. 

Clean Your Swing Set

Dirt can make a swing set look old and dull over time. You include cleaning as part of your wood swing set maintenance. Use a mild detergent or dish soap to remove the dirt and grime accumulated on the swing set. 

It would be best if you take out all removable parts for a more thorough cleaning session. Dirt can get under the removable parts and become an excellent breeding area for mold and mildew. 

You can use a washcloth to scrub the dirt away. However, it would be faster to mix water with dish soap and use a pressure washer to clean a wooden swing set. 

Ensure you have the pressure washer on the lowest settings to prevent damage. A pressure washer can crack or break the wood when you spray water using the highest settings. 

You will have to spend extra time on high traffic areas and the parts close to the bottom of a swing set. Use a horizontal motion to spray the soapy water from side to side until dirt and grime come off. 

Once the wood is clean, place clean water in the bucket and rinse off the soap and leave the swing set to dry. If there is a lot of grime on the swing set, leave the soapy water for about five minutes before rinsing the equipment. 

Clean the removable parts while the swing set dries and reattach them when the swing set is dry.  If you have other areas to clean that this has not covered here is a full guide on how to clean a playset.

Reseal the Wood

Wood swing sets come with pre-sealed lumber to protect them from harsh weather conditions. Over time the seal wears off and leaves the wood bare for weather elements. 

Periodic inspections should enable you to see when the seal wears off and apply a new coat. You need to clean the swing sets and remove the attached parts from the wood before resealing them. 

There are many wood sealants available in the market. You can check out the sealant that the wood swing set manufacturer recommends. 

Alternatively, find something child-friendly for safety reasons. Also, find out the right amount to cover the whole swing set before you make an order. 

Apply the sealant on all the wooden parts every 1-2 years to keep the best condition swing set. It would help if you let each coat dry completely before applying a fresh coat of the sealant.  

You need about 2-3 coats to keep the wood from deteriorating due to being outside all year round. 

Apply a Stain

Unlike a sealant, you need to reapply a stain every 2-3 years to be on the safe side. The stain will bring out the natural colors and patterns of the wood. 

You can also choose to go for a deeper or lighter stain when you decide to reapply it. It is easy to find wood stain products at the local hardware store. 

Do some research and find out how much staining product you need for the whole swing set. It would be best if you were careful when applying a stain to avoid applying parts that aren’t wood. 

The stain will look out of place when it is applied to other materials like metal or plastic. Ensure you have ample time to apply the paint without any rush. 

Clean the swing set before you apply a fresh coat of the stain to it. Let each coat dry before you start applying another layer. You can use a spray can for a more consistent result and save some time on the reapplication. 

Do not be tempted to apply a stain every time you apply a sealant on the wooden parts. It won’t have the desired effect you want. 

Follow Care and Maintenance Instructions 

All swingsets come with care and maintenance instructions from the manufacturer, and you should follow those instructions. Make those instructions part of your wood swing set maintenance activities if you want to prolong your swing set’s lifespan. 

Manufacturers tend to post the care instructions on the website in case a customer loses the user manual. 

Prevent Infestation

Wood swing set maintenance should include inspecting the swing set for insect or rodent infestation. Small insects like spiders and termites can take over the swing set and cause permanent damage. 

Sometimes rodents can choose to make the swing set their habitat when the weather gets harsh. 

You can fence the area around the playset to keep rodents away from your child’s swing set. Also, ensure the parts of the swing set are preserved to prevent insect infestation. 

If you notice a severe problem, you should call a pest control company to terminate the insects. It would be best to call a pest control company in advance before the infestation becomes severe. 

Sometimes the care you give your backyard may be the reason why you have rodent or insect infestation. Some pests like termites can create several colonies in areas that consider having an abundance of food. 

A pest control company can deal with any settlements on your property and prevent pest infestation on a wood swing set. 

Before and After Winter Care 

The winter season’s wetness is bound to affect the condition of your wooden swing set if you do not take the proper care of it. Most swing sets are not built to drain water when the snow thaws or it rains. 

You may have to add some drainage avenues to ensure that water doesn’t stay still on the playset and allow the wood to soak up the moisture. 

Too much moisture in a wood swing set will eventually lead to rotting when the wood becomes waterlogged. You can try to remove the snow whenever it gets warm to allow the equipment to dry. Check the ground to ensure that water isn’t sitting still soaking the bottom wooden parts. 

Before winter, detach all the removable parts and store them safely in the garage. You can use containers to organize the removable parts and keep them safe in storage. 

You can choose to cover the swing set for the winter period to reduce the potential water damage. Find a large tarp that is designed for wet conditions to protect the swing set. Ensure you check underneath the tarp from time to time to ensure everything is okay. 

When winter is over, you need to inspect the condition of the swing set before you let your kids play on it. There may be a few rotten wood pieces, rusty bolts, or some mold here and there. 

Do any necessary repairs and replacements to prevent accidents. Take the time to clean the swing set thoroughly to remove any grime that accumulated during winter. 

Replace the Mulch

The mulch or sand underneath your swing set should break a fall whenever a child loses a grip on the swing set when playing. Replacing the mulch or sand is an essential part of wood swing set maintenance. 

The mulch can lose fluffiness over time because kids walk all over it. Also, kids tend to kick the mulch off the playground when swinging or playing. 

You can also choose to replace the sand or mulch if you notice rodents using it as a toilet. You cannot risk having your children touching animal fecal matter. 

Remove the mulch or sand and replace it with clean stuff. Also, fence the play area to discourage rodents from using the swing set area as a toilet. 

Ensure you check the surfacing material levels under the wood swing set periodically to ensure there is adequate material to break a fall. You can use whatever is available in your area as long as you try to ensure the surfacing materials stay clean. 

Don’t forget to spread the materials with a rake after the kids play to spread the sand or mulch evenly.

How Often Should You Wood Clean Swing Sets?

You can clean your wood swing set every 2-3 months, depending on how fast dirt accumulates in the equipment. Parents can manage to clean a wood swing set every three months to maintain high hygiene levels. It is easier to clean a swing set when you are using a pressure washer. 

You can take 1-2 hours to do a thorough cleaning of your child’s swing set, depending on the size. Ensure you use a mild detergent so that you don’t strip the wood of its natural appearance. 

If you have left the wood alone for too long you may need to restore the wooden swing set.

Is Wood Swing Set Maintenance Important?

Yes, it is. Maintenance plays an essential role in determining how long a wood swing set will last. Low maintenance will lead to the swing set falling apart after a few years of use. 

However, regular care and maintenance will ensure that your children use the swing set until they outgrow it. 

Keep in mind that lousy maintenance can lead to injuries when a child steps through a crack or when a rotten part breaks when the child is on the swing set. 

Therefore, doing good wood swing set maintenance in return guarantees the safety of your child. However, keep a close eye on the children when playing to be on the safe side.

If maintenance is not for you, check out our article on metal vs wood swing sets. A metal swingset may be more your style.

How long does it take to do Wooden Swing Set Maintenance

All the steps in this article are easy for a parent to do at home on the weekend. Carrying out an inspection can take about ten minutes if there is nothing wrong with the swing set. 

It may take more time if you are investigating something on it. Cleaning the swing set takes 1-2 hours, and you only need to do it every 2-3 months. 

Overall, a parent should be able to do wood swing set maintenance activities with ease. Alternatively, you can hire someone to do the cleaning or apply a sealant to the swing set. 

Many experts and task doers are willing to help with the maintenance of a swing set.

Conclusion

There are a few essential activities that you should do to ensure that your swing set stays in top-notch condition. It would help if you inspected the equipment at least once a month, and you should spread the mulch before kids start playing. 

Check the levels of the mulch every couple of weeks to ensure you maintain the optimum level. 

Some activities like applying a stain should be done every 2-3 years while resealing a swing set should be done every 1-2 years. Overall, there aren’t many wood swing set maintenance to do, and you can space the regular ones across your free weekends. 

Most activities take less than two hours, and you won’t have to lose an entire weekend.


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