Swing sets offer endless fun for kids throughout the summer months, but they’re also a significant responsibility for parents. To keep your swing set in top shape, you’ll need to know how to take care of it. Unfortunately, even playsets that are billed as “low maintenance” require regular attention if they’re going to stand the test of time and provide a safe and fun experience for your kids. To get it right, you’ll need to know a few things about what your swing set is made of, and how to spot problems when they appear.
Know your materials
Different types of playsets require different amounts and types of maintenance. Knowing exactly what your set is made of is critical to effectively maintaining it. Make sure to take careful note of all the materials used in your swing set, and be aware of what you need to do to maximize its lifespan.
Cedar, Cypress, Redwood
High quality wooden swing sets require relatively little maintenance, but you should carefully examined regularly to check for cracks, discoloration, and weathering. All of the wood should be stained and sealed before installation, and you may need to reseal it every few years to keep it from deteriorating.
Lower Quality Wood
Many mass-produced swing sets use cheaper, lower quality wood. These will hold up reasonably well over time, but only if they’re carefully maintained. They won’t resist insects and rot the way that higher quality lumber does, and need to be resealed more often. Further, some are simply less structurally strong, making it more important that you notice and deal with any deterioration early.
Metal frames, as well as bolts and screws tend to require very little maintenance, because they’re usually made of galvanized steel. However, temperature fluctuations and weather, together with the physical stresses of someone swinging from the swing set’s frame, can eventually loosen bolts and crack poor welds. You’ll need to regularly examine these weak spots for signs of wear.
Ropes, nets, seats, guardrails, and handles might be made of various types of plastics. Plastics slowly deteriorate under hot sunlight. We use high quality plastics like nylon for our web swings and fabric swings, which will hold up for years, but years isn’t “forever”. Lower quality plastics like polypropylene can lose their structural integrity very quickly. In any case, weakened plastics will take on a bleached look, and become grainy and brittle. You’ll need to keep an eye out for signs of wear, and replace the affected parts when that happens.
When to perform regular checks
The most important time to inspect your swing set is in the spring, before your kids start playing on it as the weather warms. Cold winter weather, and the process of freezing and thawing, is highly destructive, and can cause serious wear during the winter months. To minimize this (especially for wood components), it’s also a good idea to perform maintenance in the fall, before the first freeze. Wood that is properly sealed won’t absorb as much moisture, which damages the wood as it freezes and expands in cold weather.