Please remember that there is no such thing as a maintenance-free playset. A little maintenance will go along way in assuring safe and fun play, and a set that will hold its value for years to come. Maintaining your playset also maintains your Rainbow Lifetime Warranty. Wood will expand and contract as it adjusts to temperature and humidity changes, which will result in “checking cracks.” This is a natural characteristic of all wood, and it will not affect the strength and durability of your playset.
As a safety precaution, all nuts, bolts and lag screws should be routinely checked for tightness. Do this twice a year and definitely prior to the spring play season. Avoid over tightening the bolts. If you notice more sway than usual when children swing, you probably need to simply “tighten up” the set. Review the Playset Maintenance brochure for information on caring for your playset.
Our wood products are preferred for outdoor use because of their attractive appearance, unsurpassed durability, and long-term stability. Any wood product left in its natural state or with inadequate protection can experience a change in the appearance of its color and texture.
Sunlight, moisture, temperature, microorganisms, dirt, and soot can all contribute to the discoloration of any wood used outdoors. Effects can range from wood turning a light gray due to ultraviolet radiation and precipitation, to it turning nearly black as a result of mildew growth, dirt or soot accumulation, or extractive staining. In general, the sequential color change of a playset that is stained only one time will be a transition from the original reddish-brown color, to a lighter brown and then either to a gray patina or dark brown dependent upon climate and/or other factors.
Under normal circumstances, well-maintained playsets will require only very periodic cleaning. We can provide this service for you, however, should you choose to clean and/or re-stain your playset yourself, you may use the guidelines as outlined below.
If you are dealing with minor discoloration on only a few areas of the playset, you may clean and then re-stain only the affected components. However, if you are dealing with a more severe discoloration that covers a large portion of the playset, the entire playset may need to be first cleaned and then re-stained.
To clean your playset, mix equal quantities of common household bleach with water. This solution will also help remove any stain pigmentation in the wood, revealing the wood’s natural color. For severe discoloration, use a stiff bristle brush to scrub wood components with a solution of one cup of trisodium phosphate (TSP), one cup of household liquid bleach, and one gallon of water. After the wood has been cleaned and allowed to completely dry, it should be re-stained.
Due to the increased popularity of outdoor wood products, many commercial products are now available for removing wood discoloration and restoring new appearance. These products are generally available in powder or liquid concentrate form and are typically based upon non-chlorine bleaches, detergents, and/or oxalic acid. The advantage of using commercial products is that they are intended for a specific use, come with comprehensive instructions, and can be very effective.
Power washing has gained wide acceptance as a method of cleaning and restoring wood surfaces prior to refinishing. Properly performed, there are several advantages to power washing, including savings in time and labor costs. Extreme caution should be taken when power washing playsets. Remember that water and pressure are fundamental enemies of wood and that improper power washing can do more harm than good. We recommend that you first strip the playset of all components susceptible to power washing damage (i.e. slides, personalized signs, tent roofs, plastic components, etc). Follow the power washer manufacturer’s directions. Wait several sunny, dry days after power washing before applying a protective finish.
We do recommend re-staining your playset approximately once a year to keep the surface of the wood smooth and to maintain its rich color. We recommend a penetrating stain/sealant that is non-toxic and safe for children. We have specially formulated stain available from the Rainbow factory for you to purchase.
The following items are recommended for a playset re-staining project.
o Staining Mitts to cover large areas of the playset
o Small Paint Brush for detail/edge work
o Paint Trays to hold stain
o Latex Gloves to protect hands
o Paper Towels/Rags for cleanup
o Tools to remove playset accessory components
o Masking Tape to cover ladder rungs or other items
o Ladder for reaching roofs, swing beams, etc.
To re-stain your playset, please follow these steps:
o Remove all non-wood accessory components that could be accidentally stained.
o Place masking tape on ladder rungs and/or other fixed items that should be protected from staining.
o Remove any wood components that will be easier to stain if detached from the main unit (i.e. some roofs, decks, picnic tables, etc.
o Starting from the top and working you way down, stain the main structure.
o Stain detached components.
o Carefully reassemble the playset.
o Wipe down all areas of stain accumulation/dripping.
Remember that with playset staining, a careful, meticulous job will always turn out better than a rushed job.
Please contact us if you have questions!