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Tips for Restoring Your Old Wooden Playset

Old wooden play sets offer a sense of nostalgia that new plastic ones simply cannot. While time and play may have taken a toll on your wooden play set, it doesn’t mean you have to replace it with a costly futuristic-looking alternative to keep a creative outdoor play area on hand for your kids. When properly restored and well maintained, your time-tested wooden play set can still provide years of value and fun.

Understanding Wear and Tear

Play sets are the perfect setting for childhood adventures. They can turn into pirate ships, tropical tree houses, fairy-tale cottages, and more as children let their imaginations run wild. All this adventuring naturally puts some wear and tear on the play set. To keep your kids safe, it’s important to regularly inspect the play set and look for issues, such as the following:

  • Rough, gouged, or splintered wood.
  • Discolored areas that may indicate mold, mildew, or water damage.
  • Loose hardware.
  • Broken plastic pieces, such as slides or swings.
  • Signs of insect damage or infestation.
  • Loose or misshapen hooks or connections.
  • Damaged ropes or chains.

Professional installation and properly treated wood will extend the life of your play set. The more use your play set gets, the more often you should inspect it for wear and tear.

Weather can also contribute to wear. A play set that is exposed to lots of moisture and sits in a shady area will be more prone to mold or mildew, while a play set that bakes in direct sunlight all day may crack or splinter.

Safety Inspection

It’s important to keep an eye out for problem signs on your play set to ensure a safe experience for every child. Worn or damaged wood can lead to splinters, loose boards may cause a child to trip, and damaged fixtures, such as swings or slides, can result in hazardous falls.

An outdoor play set can look as appealing to insects and animals as it does to children. Unwanted visitors, such as bees, wasps, feral cats, and other critters, can cause damage and safety concerns. At a minimum, you should inspect your play set whenever the seasons change. If your play area sees a lot of traffic, including visits from unwanted critters, inspect it monthly.


Periodically, your play set inspection will reveal the need for some attention. You might need to tighten bolts and screws, repair broken pieces, or sand down splinters. Once a year, you’ll need to conduct a more thorough restoration. To do this, you’ll need the following tools:

  • Wrench, drill, and other tools needed to remove accessories.
  • Pressure washer.
  • Multipurpose cleaner.
  • Sandpaper.
  • Lubricant.
  • Wood sealant.

If you want to thoroughly upgrade your play set, you may need some additional equipment, such as the following:

  • Replacement boards.
  • Replacement accessories, including climbing ropes, swings, and slides.
  • Spray paint for accessories.
  • Paint or wood stain.
  • New tarps or canvas for canopies and coverings.

Before you begin the restoration process, you should remove accessories from your play set. Take off swings and slides. Detach handholds and ropes. Remove roofing materials, such as tarps and canvases. Strip the play set down to the basics so you can focus on restoring the wood, and gradually rebuild it from there.

The Restoration Process

A full restoration of your wooden play set requires several steps. Each is crucial to give your old play set a new life.


The first step to restoring your old wooden play set is thoroughly cleaning it from top to bottom. You can spray down the wood with a commercial cleaning product designed for the type of wood that you’re working with. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions. Most products recommend leaving the cleaner on for a few minutes.

Once the cleaner has had time to soak into the wood, rinse it off with a pressure washer. Adjust the pressure setting so it removes grime and dirt, but don’t use a setting that’s so powerful you damage the wood.


The next step is to sand down the wood until it’s smooth and splinter free. If there are any areas that are scratched, splintered, or otherwise damaged, give these more time and attention. Sand them repeatedly until they’re completely smooth. Areas that are less damaged may need just a few quick passes with your sander.

Brightening the Wood

Once the wood is smooth, coat it with a sealer and protectant. This will help prevent damage from water, insects, and UV rays. If you’d like, you can follow this step with fresh paint or wood stain to update the appearance of your play set.

Restoring Accessories

Inspect any accessories that you removed from your play set. Thoroughly clean anything that you don’t want to replace. This may involve scrubbing swings, removing rust from chains, and repainting handholds. A quick layer of durable outdoor spray paint on such accessories will brighten up the play set in no time.


Once all paint, stains, and protective coatings have thoroughly dried, you can begin the process of reassembling your play set. Check your hardware as you go, and use new screws or bolts any time you encounter parts that are worn, rusty, or otherwise damaged. If needed, drill new holes to make sure everything fits securely.

Ongoing Maintenance for Play Set Longevity

You should plan to reapply sealant every year or two to extend the life of your play set. Our team at Teak Master provides reminders to all our customers when it’s time to apply a fresh coat. Keep up with regular inspections, and clean off your play set with soap and water seasonally to get rid of stains, spiderwebs, dirt, and other debris before they have time to accumulate.

Trust Our Professional Play Set Restoration Services

A well-maintained play set can provide years of safe and fun adventures, giving your kids the same memorable outdoor experiences that you had as a child. Schedule a professional restoration with our team at Teak Master to bring your play set back to its former glory. Contact us today for a consultation or to schedule your service.

Bring Life Back to Your Wood Investment