We’ve discussed what type of damage to look for when evaluating your swing set for safety, but what can you do to maintain and extend the life of their swing set before it’s time to change out parts? After all, there’s no reason a responsible homeowner should wait for something to break before addressing a problem.
By performing regular and appropriate maintenance, you can make sure that your swing set looks great and remains safe to use for far longer than it otherwise might. That means a safer play experience for your kids, and peace of mind, as well as long term savings, for you.
The best types of wood for outdoor construction are cedar and redwood, because they’re naturally resistant to rot and insect infestations. However, many swing set frames are made of cheaper, inferior lumber, which is far less likely to stand the test of time. Regardless of the type of wood used, you’ll be able to keep the wood in good condition far longer if you regularly stain and seal the beams.
A semi-transparent or solid stain will minimize bleaching and sun damage, while the sealant will reduce moisture absorption throughout the year. This will help prevent the formation of cracks, and make it more difficult for insects to attack the wood. While good solid stains can provide sun protection for several years, semi-transparent stains and sealants tend to only last for a season, so they should be reapplied every summer or fall. It’s generally a good idea to do this later in the year, to ensure that the sealant is as effective as possible during the winter.
While few swing sets still contain large amounts of steel, homeowners shouldn’t forget to regularly check various nuts and bolts, as well as any other uncovered steel parts their swing set might have. This is especially important if you’re dealing with an older swing set that hasn’t been well maintained in the past. Even galvanized and stainless steel will eventually rust in the right conditions. Household acids like regular white vinegar can be used to dissolve rust, and reveal how damaged a rusty bit of metal actually is underneath.
Ropes and Swing Seats
Winter weather is hard on most materials, and that’s especially true for ropes. The constant moisture and repeated freezing and thawing weakens them, and makes especially natural fibers vulnerable to fungus and insects. Similarly, most of the weathering damage a wooden swing seat is forced to endure will be a result of winter weather. You can minimize this by staining and sealing it, just like your wooden swing set frame, but there is also a simpler solution.
You can greatly extend the life of your swing by simply removing it and storing it indoors over the winter before reattaching it in the spring.