How to Stain a Playset – 8 Simple Steps

In this article I will discuss step by step process of  How to Stain a Playset. If you’ve had your playset for more than a year it’s likely that you’ve noticed some fading, cracking, splitting, or even rotting.

Your playset has endured extreme weather conditions like hot sun, rain, snow, harsh winds, and high humidity. It’s no surprise that it has lost its initial attractiveness and vitality. Thus, it’s time to stain it and give it a fresh new look.

Related: Best Stain for Swingset

How to Stain a Playset

  1. Ensure the weather is sunny
  2. Remove everything except the wood
  3. Clean the playset
  4. Allow 24 hours for the playset to dry
  5. Inspect the playset carefully and fill up any cracks
  6. Sand where necessary
  7. Cover the surface underneath the playset
  8. Apply your stain or sealer starting from the top

Related: Best Stain for Cedar Swing Set

Just a reminder, ensure all the tools or equipment needed for the project are close by and you can easily get your hands on them without much hustle.

Ensure that you stain your playset during the sunny days so that it dries up quickly. This allows your children to embark on their play without much disruption.

How to Stain a Playset – Details

Step 1: Ensure the Weather is Sunny

Before you embark on your staining project check the weather and ensure it’s sunny. Avoid staining your playset during the rainy season.

We recommend doing the staining during sunny days. The sun aids in the quick drying of the playset after you’ve cleaned up with water.

After applying the stain, you also need to let it dry. Once the stain has dried you might want to add a sealant which is optional. Therefore, warm weather is crucial for a successful staining project.

Tip: staining on damp wood will not bring you the desired results. Damp wood doesn’t absorb the stain properly.

Step 2: Remove Everything except the Wood

Playsets usually feature various plastic accessories that provide additional play activities for the kids for a fun-filled playing experience. These accessories may include swings, slides, telescopes, and steering wheels among others.

You should remove all these accessories. You can also remove the canopy roof.  Just eliminate Anything that is not wood from the playset.

Removing all these things from the playset will make staining less difficult. You’ll also know what needs to be repaired or replaced. In addition, you protect them from being messed up with the stain.

Step 3: Clean the Playset

Once you have removed all the plastic accessories, clean them up and store them properly. Start cleaning the playset to remove bacteria, dirt, and mold.

Never stain your playset before cleaning it up. Cleaning the playset provides you a perfect opportunity to inspect it closely.

Thus, you get to understand whether you need just normal cleaning with soap and detergent or power wash.

How to Clean the Playset

  • Mix bleach and water (half-and-half)
  • Pour the solution into a pump sprayer
  • Attach the sprayer into the hose
  • Clean the playset thoroughly to remove all the dirt, mildew, or bacteria. Use a large sponge or just a rag to scrub the surface of the swing set.

However, if you’ve got a garden that’s close by and you’re afraid of the bleach effects on the plants get an environmentally friendly cleaner for your swing set. I recommend Genesis Natural, Non-Toxic, Enzyme Solution.

Step 4: Allow 24 Hours for the Playset to Dry

After you’re through with the washing allow the playset to dry. It’s important that the playset dries up well. So when the 24 hours lapses and it’s not well dried let it sit for a few more days.

Allowing the swing set to dry up will help to yield the desired results during and after staining. Dried wood absorbs stain better.

Step 5: Inspect the Playset Carefully and Fill Up Any Cracks

Once you’ve confirmed that your playset has dried up completely. It’s time to inspect it closely. Check for any holes, cracks, or damaged areas.

If there are, any cracks or holes fill them up with wood putty. Putty will blend well with your wooden playset.

In addition, a careful review of the playset will enhance the overall safety of the structure for your children. You’ll be able to notice any rough or pointed edges and take appropriate action.

Step 6: Sand Where Necessary

Using sandpaper, work on all those rough and pointed edges.

If you’re covering a bigger area consider using an electric sander to speed up your project. I recommend BOSCH Palm Sander.

The good thing with buying a sander is that you’ll use it anytime you’ll be doing any project with wood structures.

Step 7: Cover the Surface underneath the Playset

Drop a rug or cover below the swing set to prevent messing up the place.

Cover nearby plants to protect them from the stain.

Cover yourself wear protective add-ons like gloves or eye protectors. Otherwise, you can just wear overalls or old clothes that you don’t mind disposing of after the project is over.

Step 8: Apply Your Stain

You’ll need to choose the best stain for your playset. I will cover that below. In the meantime, you can check out this article on the best stain for a swing set.

You can use either a brush or a Paint Sprayer to do your staining project. Apply the first coat of the stain. Stain from top to bottom.

Brush off or wipe the drips that accumulate at the bottom to enhance the final look of the playset. Ensure that you stain every area of your playset.

Further, you’ll want to ensure that you’re staining the playset under favorable weather conditions.

Check the staining instructions plus the appropriate temperature on the packaging. Overall, the temperature should not be more than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It should also not go below 50 degrees.

After you’ve applied the first coat and you feel that the color has not come out well. You can apply a second coating.

If you feel that, you need to do more on the playset. You can apply a sealant on top of the stain. Just ensure that the stain on the swing set has dried properly before applying the sealant.

Next, attach back all the accessories you had previously removed from the playset. Your playset is now ready for use. 

How to Stain a Playset

Why Do You Need to Stain a Swing Set?

You need to stain your swing set for the following reasons

  • To enhance the color and overall appearance of the swing set
  • Staining provides you a perfect opportunity to examine the safety of the swing set and pinpoint the accessories that need repair or replacements
  • You’ll need to stain the swing set to enhance the longevity of the structure

What Kind Of Stain Do You Use On A Swing Set?

The kind of stain that you use on your playset will determine whether you’ll have a successful project. The best stain for swing will protect your playset from extreme weather conditions. Hence, stains are available as oil-based or water-based.

Oil-based stains provide a thick coating for the wood. It offers the wood prolonged protection. On the other hand, water-based stains don’t offer long-term protection. With the water-based stain, you’ll need to stain yearly or after every two years.

Check out my article on the best stain to use on a swing set. If you’re in a hurry, you can use my top pick on this article. The product is a combination of stain and sealer.

Before staining the playset check whether it’s pre-stained. This aspect helps you to know the color option to choose.

However, if you want a different color from the one on your playset, you’ll need to remove the stain first before applying the new one.

Use a stain stripper to remove the stain on the playset. You’ll need to apply the product on the playset and let it sit for about 10minutes then wipe it off. It will come out with the stain.

When should you stain a playset?

You should stain your swing set during the summer or sunny days. The wooden swing set should be stained or sealed once per year. Regular staining will enhance the appearance of the playset while ensuring it remains protected under harsh conditions.

Your little ones will thank you for the tender care you’re giving their play equipment.

Hence, it’s important you understand the difference between a stain and a sealer to provide the best care for your playset.

Stain and Sealer For Playset

A stain and sealer are both excellent options for your playset. You can use them both to enhance the look of your playset.

However, if you decide to use both ensure that you stain the swing first; once it’s dry you apply the sealant.

A stain will add color to your playset. it makes the structure visually appealing while providing protection against extreme conditions.

Conversely, the sealant is clear or tinted, it doesn’t add any coloration to the swings set. It provides excellent weather resistance and inhibits the growth of microorganisms in the playset.

However, you don’t need to add a sealant frequently as you would the stain

How much does it cost to stain a playset?

One gallon of stain goes for about $45-$80 depending on the brand you’re using. You’ll also need brushes and a sprayer.

If you’ll do the work alone, you’ll only need to buy the things needed for the staining project. However, if you’ll seek professional assistance, you’ll need to include the labor cost. Thus, set aside about  $200- $400.

How Much Stain Do I Need For a Playset?

You’ll need 1-3 gallons depending on the size of the playset.

The amount of stain needed will depend on the size of your playset and the budget you’ve set aside for the whole project.

Generally, you’ll need a gallon for swing sets with one clubhouse. However, for larger playsets or those that have several wooden components like monkey bars, wooden roofs, among others you’ll need 2-3 gallons of stain.


After reading this article, I hope that you’ve realized that staining your playset is something you can do on your own. It’s not a difficult task. You just need to plan and have everything you need for the staining project.

After you’re through with staining your playset you’ll be glad you did it. You’ll love the new fresh look of your kid’s playset

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