Winter weather can do a number on your outdoor play equipment. Throughout the year,
repeated freezing and thawing will do more damage to your swing set than actual use
throughout the rest of the year. To protect your swing from weather damage, and to keep it
safely usable during the winter, you’ll need to take a few preventive measures.
How Ice Damages Your Equipment
When it rains and snows during the fall and winter, water seeps into every permeable surface. Organic materials, like wood or natural fibers, not only trap water along their their uneven surfaces, but also deep into their cores. For living plants this permeability is a helpful feature, but for wood, it can be a real problem. As the water freezes in colder weather or at night, it expands into ice, and puts incredible stress on the material from within. This damages the materials on a microscopic level, while also directly widening any cracks.
Treat and Cover Wooden Swing Seats
The trick to protecting wood isn’t necessarily to get it out of the cold, you just need to ensure that it doesn’t soak up water. Some types of wood, such as cedar or redwood, have some natural protections against water, and will last longer than other species. Regardless, it’s a good idea to paint all wooden components of your swing with a sealant to help keep the moisture out as much as possible. Sealants degrade over time, however, especially on horizontal surfaces where water can pool. A good way to deal with this is to place a cover over the seat of your swing while it’s not in use. This will keep falling snow and rain off, while also protecting the surface from frost and rime.
Use Nylon Ropes
Natural fiber ropes are very popular for swings, because they have a comfortable feel, and they don’t conduct heat very well. This latter point means that they don’t chill or burn your hands the way a metal chain will when using it in cold or hot weather. Unfortunately, they’re very vulnerable to weather damage, especially if your kids are using the swing during the winter. Icy ropes are stiff, and temporarily make the fibers more brittle. When a child is using the swing, the fibers can be suffer damage as the rope is forced to flex and bend.
The simple solution is to use a nylon rope. Nylon is extremely durable, and impermeable.
Additionally, it’s also a poor heat conductor, giving it many of the same benefits as natural rope. This, along with a well protected seat cover, can ensure not only that your swing won’t suffer weather damage this winter, but that your kids will be able to freely continue to use it throughout the entire year.