Last Updated on May 1, 2023 by lindseymahoney
This old swing set has had some great times, but it was in dire need of a DIY makeover! In a few short days, we turned a tired, old swing set into a beautiful swing set that looks brand-new.
Swing Set Before
Shortly after we moved into our home, my friend offered us her swing set. We could have it for free but we had to remove it from her yard. The swing set is 20 years old, but it’s well built and the Mahoney’s never shy away from a challenge.
My husband and father-in-law disassembled the swingset and reassembled it in our backyard. We replaced a few structural pieces of wood and the swing set works great for our family.
Affordable Swing Set Makeover DIY
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For a complete list of project materials, scroll to the bottom of this post.
I have had “stain the swing set” on my to-do list for a few years now and am so happy to finally check it off my list.
If your kiddos need a swing set and you don’t want to spend the money on a brand-new playset, there are a lot of people willing to give theirs away if you handle the labor.
1 | Power Wash the Structure
One of the more noticeable eyesores of this old swing set was the two-toned wood. It had the original weathered wood and then the new wood used to rebuild the swing set structure.
I used our power washer to remove dirt and grime from the swing set as well as the reddish stain on the original structure. Overall, it took me about 2 hours to power wash the entire swing set. My forearms got a great workout too!
Here is a section of the swing set before power washing it.
And here is that same section after it was power washed and dried.
Isn’t power washing so satisfying? The entire swing set is now clean and has more of a neutral base for the stain to apply evenly.
2 | Stain the Swing Set
DISCLAIMER: Removing all of the accessories from the swing set before applying the stain will yield the best (cleanest) results.
Before applying the stain, I removed the old swings, red binoculars, and the wooden bar that used to hold the tent on the platform. I decided to keep the handles intact because they already look worn and have various stains on them.
In an effort to hide any wood discoloration on the swing set, I chose a dark brown stain color. The color is Wellington Brown from Valspar and it is an outdoor semi-transparent stain and sealer. I tried to get away with using only one can of stain, but in the end I needed about a quarter of the stain from a second can.
When applying a dark stain over light wood, it is much more obvious when you miss a spot. I spent a lot of time brushing stain into all of the cracks throughout the swing set for that finished look.
My kiddos were so excited to help me paint the swing set! It is hard for me to give up control when it comes to painting projects, but the swing set really is the best place to learn and practice painting skills.
The yellow handles definitely have more stain spots on them, but overall, the kids were a huge help. I love seeing how proud they are of their hard work.
3 | Add Accessories
The original swing set included a large tent above the swing set landing, but it tore off in a storm. For the last few years, the center beam of the tent has stood alone on the landing and it it looked very odd.
We finally took that center bar down and added solar light caps to the four corners of the platform structure. The cap lights really elevate the look of the swing set!
I replaced the old swings with two new swings and a trapeze bar that my daughter loves! The old red binoculars were replaced with a green and yellow telescope to match the swings and trapeze.
Swing Set Reveal
I could not be happier with how this swing set makeover turned out! Before, it looked worn and weathered. I really disliked that this old structure was so visible from the street in this condition.
Now this swing set looks brand new! The stain color was a little darker than I wanted, but I am really happy with the end result.
When we first installed the swing set, I told the kids that they had ownership over this space. My son got a little overzealous and the next thing I knew he painted one of the shutters blue!
Luckily, the blue paint came off when I power-washed the playset. The dark stain seamlessly blends the old and new wood together for a fresh and cohesive look.
This view of the swing set shows all of the different colors and shades of wood before the makeover.
What a difference! The swing set really improves the overall look of our backyard. It also improves the curb appeal from the street because you can see the structure from the main road.
And here is another angle of the swing set before the makeover.
And that same view after!
The children who originally owned this swing set had signatures from friends and family under the platform. My kids told me that they didn’t want to paint over the names because it was part of the history of their swing set.
I absolutely love that they came to this conclusion on their own. Once we finished the swing set makeover, I had both of them sign and date the same board since they were now a part of the history of the swing set.
Swing Set Makeover Materials
- Semi-transparent exterior stain and sealer – Wellington Brown (2 gallons)
- Paint roller for stain & Container
- Power washer
- Solar light caps
Repurposing a family’s old swing set is not only a great way to save money, but it keeps a usable item out of the landfill!
If you already have a swing set, they generally need to be restained every 3-5 years and yours could be in need of a little glow-up! I hope you found this tutorial helpful as we head into summer and begin tackling outdoor projects!
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