How to Refinish a Playset

About five weeks ago our neighbor gifted us their used swing set.  Their kids had grown out of it after about 12 years of enjoyment and it had gotten to the point where Frugal Boy was going over to their yard and playing on it more than their own kids were.  With the help of a few muscular neighbors and a little disassembly, we shuffled the structure across the property line and placed it in its new home.

We are incredibly grateful for such an enormous gift, because even though it looks a bit rough, Shae and I knew we could refinish it and make it look like brand new.

Here’s a view from the other side.

To make this shine again, you are going to need a few tools.

  • A 5″ orbital sander
  • 40 or 60 grit sandpaper for the sander
  • impact driver
  • hearing protection
  • safety goggles
  • respirator
  • paint brush
  • 1 gallon of solid waterproofing stain & sealer (I used Behr Premium sold at Home Depot)

Start by removing all of the hardware.  For our playset, that meant the rock holds for the climbing, the steering wheel, and the green plastic reinforcers.  Spray down all the plastic bits with the garden hose and save all the hardware in a 5 gallon bucket.

Next, put on the protective gear and sand down the entire structure using the orbital sander.  Depending on the size of your swing set this could take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days.  I spent a couple of nights working on this one.  You should see good wood underneath all the dirt, mildew, and crud after sanding.

After it is all sanded down, you’ll need to stain it.  If you don’t stain it, it’ll turn gray again within a year.

I used Behr Premium Waterproofing Stain and Sealer.  You can tint it any number of different colors at the store.

Follow the instructions on the can and apply the stain.  Even though it is advertised as 1 coat, I needed to do two coats.  The old cracked pressure treated wood is just too hard to get one coat coverage on.

After you are finished staining, reattach all of the hardware.

Tada!  It is now ready for another decade of fun, enjoyment, and the elements.  The total cost of refinishing is around $50 making this much cheaper than buying a new set.

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