Can You Stain a Children’s Playset?

Wooden playset in need of staining

Can you stain a cedar playset?

Before you know it, spring will be here and summer right behind it. We’re lucky that way in this part of Texas. Our winters can be brutal one day, but then they are gone! Poof! Just like that. We are already getting the backyard ready for spring weather in these parts, and that may include checking the roof for winter storm damage, getting the grill ready and even playset staining this year.

Yeah, that wooden playset you got the kids (or grandkids) for the backyard summer is looking kind of dirty and old after our Texas-style winter. You may ask “Why playset staining?” and we will talk about that, explain the benefits of playset staining and the different types of playset stains to choose from.

So, answer to that first question of why, because it wasn’t cheap!  Those wooden playsets and forts are wonderful, safe entertainment or the kiddos, but they are a small investment too. Another reason you want to know how to stain playsets or find somebody that can is because they look better! Playset staining is one of those expenses you want to ignore, but after it’s done, the whole yard looks better!

Yes, any cedar playset can be stained, preserved, or treated with a suitable cedar finish. Just like you would your deck or any wooden structure, cedar playset staining should be on that getting ready for spring/summer list.  You want to keep it looking as good as you can.

What do you seal a cedar playset with?

Cedar playsets are expensive, due in part of the color, the grain structure, and cedar has a natural resistance to insects. You can preserve that beauty, grain structure, and insect resistance by keeping it stained each year.  Here, we have listed 7 options to consider for your cedar playset staining:

  • Opaque Finish: Many people buy the cedar playset because they like the look of cedar, and understandable, it is handsome, hardy, and smells wonderful. If you like the cedar look, go with a clear finish for the playset staining to keep the real characteristics of the cedar showing. This type of finish will endure the weather longer too.
  • Water-Repellent: If an all-natural look is for you, then go with a water-repellent preservative for playset staining the parts above ground and add a fungicide to minimize any decay and mildew growth. It also gives the wood reinforcement, lowers the absorption rate of water too. Choose one that is high in a low wax to control the discoloration that wood naturally does when exposed to the elements.
  • Oil-Based or Water-Based Polyurethane: An exterior polyurethane applied for playset staining will look good and depending on the weather, can extend its life. Not only is a playset exposed to UV rays, but it can also take some damage from hail, high winds, and rain beating. Best if playset is sanded before applying and then apply 2 or 3 layers over 1 or 2 days. If the playset is exposed to a lot of sun, this is not the best product unless you have time to recoat every 2 or 3 months.
  • Sealer: Using a clear sealer for your playset staining will keep the original cedar color and natural feel. It will penetrate the wood and bring out the cedar colors. There is a tinted sealer as well that will perform the same but leaves a tint to the cedar. Choose a sealer that has UV absorbers that will protect the wood. Sealer needs to be reapplied once a year.
  • Semi-Transparent: This stain comes in latex or oil-based and protects the playset by fighting algae, mold, and other growths. It penetrates the wood deep and creates a strong bond with the fibers of the wood, forming a protective coating that fights the unwanted elements while maintaining the basic texture and natural appearance.
  • Spar Urethane or Varnish: Spar Urethane or Varnish is ideal for wooden playsets. The Varnish will give a clear coat malleable while safeguarding the layers to keep them from splitting in exposed to UV rays. The spar vanish deteriorates slowly, giving you a better value for your money and time. It is best when the wood has been lightly sanded.  
  • Solid Stains: Solid stain is an opaque wood finish that conceals the grain but allows the wood texture to show. It seals and stains, protecting the wood from moisture and UV ray damage, leaving an opaque and rich color. It will not penetrate the wood, meaning it is easily chipped or flaked off. There are no anti-fungal properties to protect the wood from water, algae, or mold.
  • Untreated: This is the perfect solution for a tight budget or if wood naturally changing colors with weathering doesn’t bother you. Once a year, a light sanding and gentle was with a brush and mild detergent solution will remove any algae and mildew. 

How long does it take to stain a playset?

The process can take hours, depending on big the playset staining job is.  A small playset, staining could take 3 to 4 hours. A large playset, staining could take all day. The focus you need to have it the time it takes for whatever stain you choose to use, the average being 24 hours.

Annually, when you inspect the playset staining needs, also do an inspection off all the joints and pieces.  Any broke, cracked wood pieces should be repaired or replaced before staining. Make sure any ladders, slides, swings, and other parts are still in good condition and secure. And make sure the playset is level and secure from tipping over.

Nice playset with two different wood tones

Can you restain a playset?

Yes, and if it has been a few years since you installed the playset, it probably needs it! The simplest way is to have a professional that builds wooden fences and playsets.  They have the equipment, experience, supplies and most importantly, the knowledge.  For the DIY person though, here are the steps you must follow to do a playset staining job right.

  1. Remove any parts and pieces that aren’t made of wood, like the canopy, ladders, steering wheel, swings, etc.
  2. Using a solution of bleach and water, clean the swing set first, then rinse off with a water hose. Allow to dry 24 hours before going any further.
  3. Inspect the playset for grain lifting and rough spots, sand as needed. Check all the hardware, make sure the playset is still level.
  4. For most clubhouse/playset, staining takes 1 gallon, a larger set will take 2 gallons of the stain or sealer you choose. To make this easier and faster, purchase a pump sprayer to apply the sealer or stain. Remember, using a sealer eliminates the need to make it look even because it is clear.  If you choose a stain, by hand with a brush may be the better way to apply.
  5. Allow the playset to sit for 24 hours – keep the kiddos away!  

How do you stain a Rainbow Playset?

Every Rainbow playset comes stained that will protect it for years, but not forever. If your Rainbow playset has looked old and worn, it is time to restain it. The following steps will make it easier for you:

Step 1

Using a power washer, clean the playset to remove algae, bird droppings, dirt, and mud, then let it sit till completely dry.

Step 2

Cover all plastic parts with a drop cloth and remove slides, swings, tubes, and other play pieces.  

Step 3

Wearing rubber gloves and using a paintbrush, apply a liberal layer of paint stripper. Wait, a few minutes to let the stripper rest, the remove it. 

Step 4

Wipe with old towels then scrub any area that the stripper didn’t come off. Repeat the process for removing stripper. Using power washer again, rinse the pay set and let sit to dry.

Step 5

Using 100-grit sandpaper, sand the wood, following the grain, and removing any old stain. Brush the playset with a room or an old towel.

Step 6

Using a paintbrush, apply the stain with a back-and-forth motion, starting at the highest point and working down. Allow the stain to dry.

Step 7

Repeat step 7 for the second coat and sit until dry.

Once you have a wooden playset in your backyard, it becomes a fixture, like your deck, garden, pathways, etc.  Taking care of this will give your kids years of enjoyment and you will get the best ROI for a parent or grandparent. Call (817) 506-7722 today for your playset staining in Fort Worth and Arlington, TX.