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  • How to Stain or Seal a Swing Set

    Is your wooden swing set a few years old? If it is, and you have never stained or sealed it, it's probably in need of some tender loving care!

    Just like you cover your BBQ grill when it's not in use, and put your outdoor patio furniture away for winter, you should plan some maintenance for your swing set, too. With more than two decades' experience in the business, we recommend staining or sealing your wooden swing set once a year (if yours is in a shady location, you may be able to get away with once every two years). Doing so will protect the investment you made for your little ones.

    If you're wondering what the difference is between stain and sealer, stain offers a tint to restore the color of your swing set, while sealer is clear. If the color of the swing set looks good, opt for the sealer. If the color is faded, stain is the best option.

    You can stain or seal before or after the season starts, but we prefer before--sometime in the spring--because you'll want the structure to be protected against the strong summer sun. And even if your swing set is brand new, staining or sealing sooner than later is a good idea because it will get you on schedule for years to come.

    Here's a step-by-step guide to get your backyard playset looking like new again:

    1. To avoid any mishaps, remove everything but the wood! That means tent top canopies, swings and slides. You could also remove binoculars, telescopes, steering wheels and so on; or you could work around these toys (like you will do with step and rope ladders).
    2. Clean the swing set. Using a bleach and water solution (half and half), hose down the entire set. This will help to remove any mildew or dirt that may have built up since last season.
    3. After cleaning, allow the swing set 24 hours to dry.
    4. Inspect the swing set and look for rough spots or places where the grain is lifting. Sand wherever necessary. This is also a good time for an annual hardware/retightening check.
    5. Apply stain or sealer. You'll need one gallon for most basic, single clubhouse swing sets. For larger jungle gyms, or smaller ones that have multiple wooden components (wooden roof, gang plank ramp, monkey bars, etc.), purchase at least two gallons. You may want to pick up a pump sprayer from your local hardware store for the application, as this handy tool will allow you to get the job done a bit quicker.
    6. If you're using a sealer, you do not have to worry about the spray not being perfectly even because it's a clear coating. But if you opted for the stain, you'll need to brush it out so there is no excess and drip marks are minimal. You may want to have a small brush on hand to work around ladder rungs, monkey bars, etc.
    7. After staining or sealing, again allow 24 hours for drying.

    That's it! Staining and sealing a swing set is not a difficult task (easily a one-person job), just a bit time-consuming. It's a worthwhile chore though, and it will keep your swing set looking great for years to come.

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