Without proper maintenance, even the best of playsets can wear out as they get old, needing to be restored. Canopies get sun damaged and ripped, wood can become dried out, rotted or splintered, and plastic slides and accessories can get brittle and faded.
Of course, the best way to avoid deterioration is by regularly inspecting and caring for your playset as it gets older (you can find more information on this here). Regular maintenance is far easier than performing a complete restoration, but in case you need to fully restore your old wooden playset, here are some helpful tips to guide you:
Inspect for Worn Parts and Accessories
Before you break a sweat, you better take some time to see what you’re in for. Inspect the playset and decide what pieces can be restored and what needs replacement. Remember, children will be playing on this playset without hesitation no matter how old it is, so make sure it’s going to be safe and restored as needed.
Splintering or rotting wood can be especially problematic, so if you’re unsure about whether or not to restore old, degrading playset parts, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Certain accessories may need replacement as well, such as canopies, flags, and plastic parts. If replacement accessories are needed, contact your local Rainbow Play dealer. They’ll be happy to help you out!
Get Your Tools Ready
Restoring an old playset takes some time and effort, so be sure to set yourself up for success with the right tools. Even if you don’t need to replace any wood or accessories, you’re still going to need a socket wrench, at minimum, to ensure all bolts are tight and secure.
For anybody needing to replace accessories and/or worn-out wood, you’ll need a socket wrench (and probably a deep socket set), adjustable wrenches, a drill, a hammer, some lubricant spray, and some pliers for disassembly.
Before you start taking things apart, snap pictures of anything you’re about to disassemble. You’ll be thankful later if you forget how things go back together.
You’ll also want to check all moving parts to ensure they’re safe and rust-free. If your playset is especially weathered, it might be difficult to move some of the nuts and bolts. However, using a combination of lubricant and some elbow grease will usually do the trick! Once you’ve removed all the hardware and accessories, you’ll want to place all the small parts in labeled bags or containers. Again, you’ll be glad you did when it comes time for reassembly.
Clean and Prep the Playset
Whether or not you’ve had to remove any wood from your old playset as you’re restoring it, it’s time for a good cleaning! While some people opt for power washers during this step, too much water pressure could potentially damage the wood. A safer bet is to use a regular garden hose. However, if the playset is moldy, a power washer may be necessary (just be sure to wear a mask).
Sanding is required to restore any spots on an old playset affected by minor splintering or checking. If a thorough sanding doesn’t do the trick, it may be a sign that the wood is beyond restoration and needs replacement. Sanding can also be a great way of cleaning the wood, removing stuck-on dirt, grim, cobwebs and more.
No matter what method you use to clean an old playset, or how much sanding you have to do, make sure the wood is fully restored before proceeding. It should be smooth and clean, free of any serious splintering, checking or debris.
Install Replacement Wood
If you had to remove any wood from the playset, now is the time to install the new pieces. The new wood should already be clean and ready for treatment. Hold off on installing any of the accessories, which could become stained or get in the way during the next step.
Apply Treatment to the Wood
Although some people will be tempted to stain or paint their wooden old playsets as they restore them, we prefer using a non-toxic sealant or preservative. This will ensure the wood is as protected as possible, maximizing the life of your playset. We recommend contacting your local showroom to buy our Rainbow Play Systems patented sealer.
Clean All Salvageable Accessories
If you’re planning to restore or reuse any accessory parts, it’s a good time to clean them while waiting for the sealant to dry. This can be done using soap and water. If, during the cleaning process, you decide that you need replacement parts instead, your local showroom can help.
Put Everything Back Together
Once the sealant has dried, it’s time to reassemble the playset! Refer to ‘before’ pictures for help figuring out what goes where. This is the most exciting step – where the fruits of your labor finally pay off! Your playset should be looking as good as new after the restoration process.
Once all the parts are back together, make sure the playset is nice and level to prevent any unnecessary strain on the structure. If everything is looking good, then congratulations! You just restored your old wooden playset! It’ll provide years of exciting play and wonderful memories.
If you need new parts, have children who have outgrown their current accessories, or want to purchase a new playset,