How To: Stain Your Swingset and When

Protecting Your Investment

Natural cedar swing sets are the benchmark wood for a quality swing set. You’ve bought the best and now you want to know how to protect your investment.  This blog will go through how we decide when staining is necessary, prepping and staining your natural Eastern Jungle Gym swing set. Following these easy steps can keep any cedar swing set looking great for years to come.


In a backyard setting we typically start looking for wear towards the end of the second full year.  You will notice at first the horizontal surfaces such as play decks, forts decks, wooden ladder steps, gang planks, etc will show wear more then other locations. This is a good thing! It means your kids have had some good use of the backyard playset. All these surfaces are sites where climbing, crawling and dirt covered shoes might have dragged across them.  Due to the increased friction and chance for contaminants to settle in these locations, you may need to lightly sand in these locations in future steps.

Besides playing marks, the next step is to inspect the Eastern Jungle Gym Swing Set after it rains.  If you notice the swing set is not beading water on the horrizontal surfaces and the rain is just soaking into the lumber, this means the sealer has worn away and is in need of a recoat. Its okay if rain does not bead exactly like a fresh waxed car, however you are still looking for beads or small pools of water that show no, or minimal soaking into the cedar.

The last critical item to check is for tree berries and saps sitting on the surface of your swing set. Trees like mulberries, cherries, and certain evergreens will drop fruit and sap that can either gum up the protective coating or stain the wood. If you have kept up on your staining/sealing you should be okay. Just make sure that the fruits and saps are washed off as soon as possible. if staining remains a light power washing should lift it. just remember anytime power washing is preformed you will need to recoat with a stain/sealer.If you do not see any of these tall tale signs or they are very light go ahead and skip the year and check next year.

Stain Fading And PeelingFadingHeavy UseScuff Marks


Go to the local home improvement store’s paint section and pick up the following:

  1.  A Quality Semi-Transparent Stain/Sealer – The best choice is one that is slightly darker in color.
  2. Medium and Fine Grit Sand Paper or sponge
  3.  2″ and 4″ Stain Approved Brush
  4. A Mini-Roller And Roller Pan
  5. Cleanup Solvent For Your Chosen Stain/Sealer
  6. Painters tape
  7. Pressure Washer with fan spray pattern (25 to 75 Degree)

You may also want the following:

  1. Gloves
  2. Eye Protection
  3.  Old Pair Of Clothes to Wear
  4.  Clean up rag
  5.  Newspaper and/or a tarp
  6. Tools for partial swing set disassembly
  7. Sturdy Ladder

The Process

Start by taking off the accessories, such as grab handles, climbing rocks, swings, slides, etc. Anything that is not part of the structure should be okay to take off. At this point make sure the kiddos are inside and you are taking special care not to fall while disassembly. Do not remove any support structure such as metal rung ladders. These may not look like supportive but they might be or might help keep the structure square preventing sway.

Next is powerwashing. Use a residential grade gas power washer. Commercial is too strong unless you are trained. Some electric power washer may be used, but make sure it has a fan nozzle and not just a rotating 0 degree tip.  Attach the widest degree fan tip to the powersasher and start it up. Move back and forth in a sweeping motion, never staying stationary or you risk gouging the cedar and revealing too much grain. Your goal here is to remove loose stain, dirt, and sap. Make sure you start the power washing wand far away from the wood and slowly get closer until the level of cleaning is desired. You may or may not wish to use a cleaning solvent such as deck cleaner. Remember if you do use a cleaning solvent, you must thoroughly wash all the detergent off after you are done.

Let the swing set dry over night or at least 24 hours. At this point if any areas appear rough, you can lightly sand areas smooth.

Once dry, prep the swing set non-wood areas with painters tape, and newspaper so you can keep these areas stain-free. During the warmer hours of the day and above 45 degrees or what is stated on the stain can, start to apply your stain like a paint. Stain will be more “runny” then paint so keep a clean rag handy for drips. Spread the stain in a “back and forth” motion being careful to blend the stain into a previously stained area after dipping the brush or roller back in the stain pan. Blending and not over applying will keep the swing set looking smooth and even.

After your stain/sealer is dry and you are satisfied you do not need an additional coat, you can put all the accessories back on the swing set. Be careful not to over tighten and strip the wood hole when the accessories are being reattached. This can be easy to do because cedar is a soft wood. All accessories should easily screw or both back in the same holes. Now is a good time to do your usual set specific safety check. This is usually be found on your instruction booklet or by calling the manufacturer.


You are now finished and kids can start playing around 24-72 hours after stain is dry to the touch.

*Disclaimer* This is our process when restaining an Eatern Jungle Gym swing set. We will not be held liable in any way for the use of information in this blog post. If you are in any way unsure of the process, please call us or well known and reviewed wooden swing set or deck refurbisher for a quote. You may also consult the swing set manufacturer for additional information.