Having outdoor playsets is very important, especially if you have kids around. Playsets enable your kids to explore their imagination while getting some exercise. However, there are many dangers that come with outdoor playsets.
Some dangers include falls, slips, and exposure to germs, among others. There are many ways to protect outdoor playsets and keep your kids safe. The common ones include regular inspection, keeping everything clean, following age and weight recommendations, and having professionals do the installations.
Read through to learn more on how you can keep outdoor playsets safe and protect your kids.
Inspect the Playset Regularly
Check for any sharp edges, splinters, or other hazards that could injure your child. Make sure all the components of your playsets are inspected regularly, as this is important for the safety and longevity of your playset. If you live in an area where your kids can access their playset all year round, an inspection should be done once a month.
If you’ll be using the play set during the winter month, inspect it in the spring before your kids start using it and at least two more times before the end of the season. While some regular maintenance items or fixes will be obvious, you’ll want to look closer at some items, including swing chains, plastic components, and small hardware.
At the beginning of the season, check all the bolts and screws to ensure they’re not sticking out precariously or broken off, causing sharp edges. Also, make sure you tighten the nuts as required.
- For plastic components, inspect them for cracks
- For metal components, inspect them for rust. You can use vegetable oil to lubricate mots parts and keep them moving smoothly. If you see any rust or cracks, replace them immediately to avoid injuries.
- For wood components, check for splinters and cracking. While you can easily fix wood splintering by sanding the pieces, any cracked or rotting boards should be replaced immediately.
Stain and Seal Your Wood Parts
To protect your wood parts from the elements and increase the life of your wooden play structure, you will need to stain and seal them. You can purchase a wood stain and sealer from your local home improvement store.
Most of these brands will also come with already pre-stained or pre-sealed. If they’re not pre-stained or pre-sealed, it’s recommended that you seal the wood 60-90 days after construction. A waterproof will prolong the life of your wood and, depending on the climate you live in, will likely need to be re-sealed every 1-3 years.
It doesn’t matter whether you use oil or water-based sealant as long as it’s waterproof and protects against UV rays. Some sealants come with a tint if you want to enhance the wood color slightly but prefer not to re-stain everything. Staining your wood is also very important, and you should stain it every 2-3 years.
If you live in an area with cold and snowy winters or seasons where your equipment will not be in use, consider covering it with a tap. This will protect the wood from the elements and help the stain and sealant last longer.
Remove Detachable Parts Before Winter
If you have any detachable parts on your swing set, remove them before winter sets in. This includes slides, ladders, swings, etc. Any part that can be removed should be taken off and stored inside for the winter. If you leave these parts on, they will be more likely to break or become damaged from the cold weather and heavy snowfall.
Store those items in an area out of the weather elements. Garages, shades, and basements are the best option for storage. Even though garages and sheds may get cold during the winter months, the detachable parts are still protected from the snow and ice they might encounter outdoors.
Alternatively, you can cover the playset with a tarp. This will protect it from the elements and prevent any damage that could occur. Use a large tarp to cover the entire playset for the winter months. Attach the tarp securely with rope, bungee cords, or other fasteners to prevent it from blowing off in the cold winter winds.
Covering the entire playset will protect all components, including the wood structure. You keep the snow, ice, and moisture off the structure to prevent the wood from deteriorating. The coverage can also protect the stain or sealant you put on the wood portions of the structure, so you don’t have to redo the coating as often.
Keep Your Equipment Clean
It’s important to clean your playset regularly to prevent the build-up of dirt, pollen, and other allergens. This is especially important if you have children who are allergic to these things. A power washer can be used to clean the structure quickly and easily. You can also use a garden hose with a spray attachment.
Cleaning your playset regularly will also keep it looking nicer and hopefully allow you to avoid having to stain it as often. Many brands also recommend cleaning your playset before re-staining it to remove dirt and debris.
Keep Bugs Away
Another way to keep your swing set looking new is to keep bugs and pests from building nests or boring holes in the woods. To keep bugs away, use a cotton ball to apply liquid dish soap to the edges of the roof lines and inside corners of clubhouses. Pay special attention to roof peaks and inside corners where spiders and wasps build their webs or nests.
Follow Weight Recommendations
Most playsets have weight recommendations to help you choose the right size for your children. Be sure to select a set that will also accommodate your family’s future needs. If you plan to move in the near future, consider the expense of disassembly and reassembly when deciding on a playset.
While your set may seem extremely sturdy and durable, following these weight restrictions is important. This will keep you and your children safe while they play, but it will allow the wood and all other accessories to last for many years without cracking or other damage.
The play platform or clubhouse of your playset will have a varying weight limit. Depending on its overall size. Some manufacturers set this limit by weight while others set it by the number of bodies. Make sure you check the instructional manual of your playset to find its specific weight, number of children, and age limits. Be aware of weight limits for various parts of your playset, and remind your kids to use the equipment to prevent excessive strain or damage to the set.
Remulch the Area
The protective ground cover under your playground equipment is a key safety feature. Grass or dirt is not safe under a playset since it can erode and form potholes. Instead, you should have a layer of wood chips, mulch, or rubber mats at least six inches deep under the entire set. This material will help to cushion a fall and prevent scrapes and bruises. Check the ground cover regularly for any holes, ruts, or depressions, and add more as needed.
Purchase Quality Playset
Starting with a quality playset is an important part of keeping your backyard play area in a peak condition in the first place. Investing in quality equipment now will save you time and money.
A quality set will have features such as powder-coated metal and stainless steel hardware to resist rust. The plastic pieces should be UV-protected to resist fading and cracking in the sun. Look for a playset that comes with a warranty from the manufacturer, and make sure it is installed by a professional.
Getting quality equipment and hiring a professional means an extra expenditure, but for a good course. So, don’t be afraid to spend more for the safety of your playset and that of your kids.
FAQs on How to Protect Outdoor Playsets
Should you seal your outdoor playset?
Regardless of which brand, model and size, you should always seal your outdoor playset. By doing so, you are essentially creating an extra layer of protection against the sun, wind, rain, and other elements that can take a toll on the wood over time. The best time to do this is in the spring or fall when the weather is milder, and there is less chance of rain.
How do you preserve an outdoor playset?
Use the large tarp to cover your outdoor playset for the winter season. Attach the tarp securely with rope, bungee cords, or other fasteners to prevent it from blowing away in high winds.
A playset is a piece of great outdoor equipment to have, especially with kids in the equation. However, you need to keep your equipment in tip-top condition to make it last longer. To achieve that, you need to know how to preserve your outdoor playset properly. By considering these tips, your equipment will last for many seasons to come.