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RENEW A Playground Paint - How to Paint Metal & Wooden Playground Equipment

This article was last updated on June 13th 2023.

Playground equipment takes a beating; between the kids that play on it, the weather that hits it and the sun that it basks in all day. If you want it to last longer and provide your kids with years more fun, you need to protect it.

We have the steps you need to take when you want to paint playground equipment. According to Superior Recreational Products, the typical swing set lasts anywhere from eight to ten years, depending on the quality and how you care for it. You spent money to create a play area for your children, shouldn't you invest some time protecting it as well?

playground painted like new


Before You Paint Playground Equipment

If you are dealing with a metal playground set, there are some things you’ll want to do before painting. Typically, it’s constructed from galvanized steel. That’s to prevent rusting, but it doesn’t make it immune to damage. That’s why you want to give a full inspection of the playground equipment before proceeding.

Carefully inspect it and make any needed repairs. Furthermore, you might need to weld areas before you move forward with your painting task.

If you have a wooden playground, you want to make repairs as well. Go over the entire surface and look for any holes, rotted out areas and splinters. Only after you do this can you adequately protect and paint playground equipment for your children.

Supplies Needed to Paint a Playground

You also want to gather all your supplies before you proceed. This should include:
  • Wire brush
  • Rags
  • Sandpaper
  • Bucket and soap
  • Etch primer (if working with metal) or 2-part water-based epoxy
  • Wood preservative (if working with wood)
  • Lead-free exterior paint or Durabak
  • Paintbrush

How to Protect Playground Equipment

Let’s start with the steps you need if working with a metal playground.
  • Step 1: Repair the playground. We discussed this in more detail above.
  • Step 2: Wire brush or sandblast any new welds you create to remove slag.
  • Step 3: Clean off the equipment with warm, soapy water. Make sure you remove any grease, dirt and debris. Then, rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Step 4: Allow the metal to dry completely before proceeding. In addition, make sure you check the joints as these will take the longest.
  • Step 5: Sand all surfaces. If you plan to apply Durabak, make sure you sand aggressively with 40-grit sandpaper. Then, wipe and clean the surface to remove debris. Allowing anything to reside on the structure will affect the adhesion.
  • Step 6: Apply the etch primer to ensure Durabak fully adheres to the surface. If you are dealing with galvanized metal, you'll need to use a 2-part water-based epoxy instead.
  • Step 7: Paint the surface with Durabak and allow to dry completely. If you choose to use something other than Durabak, make sure it is a lead-free, exterior grade quality.

Painting Wooden Playground Equipment

If you plan to paint wooden equipment, the process is slightly different.
  • Step 1 – Inspect the playground and remove any splinters. Don’t paint anything that needs maintenance or repairs. Then, sand the wood until it is smooth. If you plan to use Durabak, you'll want to be aggressive with 60-grit sandpaper and then follow up with xylene.

  • Step 2 – Use a toxin-free preservative to protect it from the weather. You can choose a clear or tinted variety. Just apply it with a brush and allow it to penetrate the wood entirely. If you use Durabak, you can skip this step because our product fully protects and reinforces your wooden structures.

  • Step 3 – Paint the playground with Durabak or a lead-free exterior paint. Allow it to dry completely before letting the kids play. If the wood is exceptionally absorbent, you might need more than the standard two coats.

Why Durabak is the Choice for Playground Equipment

With the options you have available to you, you might wonder what material is right for painting your playground equipment.  Durabak is suitable in any weather climate, won’t fade in the sun and is available in more than 18 colors.

In addition, Durabak doesn't chip or peel, making it the ideal material for handling the activity from busy children. On top of that, applying Durabak to the walking surfaces creates a safer environment because of the non-slip properties.

That’s why many people choose to paint boat docks with it. When you are ready to paint playground equipment and protect it, Durabak has you covered. Give us a call at 303-690-7190 to discuss your next project.

Want to learn more? Check out our guide on the best paint for wood! or buy durabak for your playground equipment today!

Here's a few pictures of a playground in Florida that was coated with smooth Durabak 18 in a number of colors.


Durabak coated playground bridge Durabak coated ride-on playground bouncer animal

 Durabak coated swings Black and Red Durabak Coating on Playground

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