Refinishing a Wood Swing Set

A wood swing set in a backyard.
What You'll Need
Paint supplies
Screwdriver or wrench
Replacement screws, nails or bolts
Wood filler
Paint stripper
Putty knife

When you have a wood swing set, it can last for years. Being left outside all year long for several years, causes the wood to become damaged, hardware and nails or screws rust, and paint or stain fades or cracks. To maintain and rejuvenate a wood swing set, refinish it with the steps below.

Assess Your Needs

An aging wood swing set can have many issues. Always look it over from top to bottom. Determine where paint or stain is bad, and where hardware is loose, missing or rusty. Take very special care noting areas of wood damage like cracks. Once you know everything that's wrong, you can set out to repair it.

Replace Metal

When you have screws or nails that are loose or missing, you need to replace them with a size larger than what was originally used, as the holes have gotten larger. This also applies to bolts or anything too rusty. Make sure you use galvanized metal in anything that you replace. Also, replace any hardware that is loose or rusty.

Remove Old Finish

If your wood swing set is stained, use an electric sander to sand it down to the bare wood. Use rough grit sandpaper switching to fine grit to finish the sanding after the stain has been removed. If your swing set is painted, scrape off loose paint and then apply paint stripper. Wait for the paint to bubble or crack, then wipe it off with a rag and repeat until it is down to the bare wood. Sand the wood swing set with fine-grit sandpaper to remove any leftover paint and wood splinters.

Cracked Wood

The sanding in step three takes care of small splinters but large pieces may remain in cracks. Use a piece of medium-grit sandpaper and sand inside the cracks as best you can. Go to each crack in the wood and fill it with wood filler. Even it out by sliding a putty knife over the crack. This pushes the wood filler into the crack and tapers it for a better bond and easier sanding. Once the filler has dried, sand it down flush with the rest of the wood.

Painting or Staining

If you choose to stain the wood, paint it on with a bristle brush, using a foam brush to get corners and other hard to reach areas. You can also stain the swingset by using a rag dipped in stain and then wiping it on the wood. If you choose to paint the set, choose a good outdoor paint and then brush it on the set in corners and hard to reach areas. Use a roller or brush to finish the set. Apply at least two coats of paint.

A wood swing set is a big investment. Spending a little time and money upfront will keep it in good condition for years to come.