Restoring a Redwood Swing Set

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Project by Mark posted 07-07-2011 05:32 AM 22874 views 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Have a redwood swing set that was eleven years old – and frankly was really starting to decay…

I guess we could have let it go, but when we bought it new (in March, 2000) we decided we would try to maintain it to the point of having it 30 years from now. I’m not quite sure that will be possible – but I plan to do what I can. And frankly, I’m almost half-way there now – so of course it’s possible! But what I’ve discovered is that insect damage, wood rot, rust and sun damage require more than just annual maintenance. It was recently time for a full restoration.

I was [quite thankfully] able to invoke my manufacturer’s warranty to get replacement redwood at no cost other than shipping – and from the photos above, you can see I was replacing nearly half of the swing set. Carpenter bees had really done a number on many of the load bearing supports, and anything that had been touching the mulch was pretty much shot as well.

What was really disconcerting, though, was that once the set was broken down – the damage was far worse than I anticipated. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised; that’s the way things tend to go – especially when they’re sitting in wet mulch for eleven years. Still though, it was more work than anticipated. We had to manufacture new footers on the fly (which we were able to do with some of the older wood), had to replace a lot of the hardware – and had to improvise a bit further here and there.

In the end, though, I now have what I consider to be a “significantly” new set – and possibly good for eleven more years! I’m going to make it to thirty though… :-)

For anyone striving to conquer something similar (even if perhaps with a cedar or pine set – and especially if you’re thinking about buying a used set), you might want to check out a much more elaborate article with many more photos than I have here on my web site at the link just below…

Thanks for reading, and I’ll leave you with this: as much maintenance as these sets are, I have to say I think they’re worth it. My kids are now 13 and soon-to-be 16, and while they act like the set is for babies – they’re still using it all the time when their friends are over. It’s a focal part of our yard. True – they’re probably talking about “cute boys” now while they’re swinging, but they’re still using the set!

-- Mark, Jersey Shore,

6 comments so far

View Konquest's profile


171 posts in 3438 days

#1 posted 07-07-2011 06:01 AM

Wow. You and I have been doing the exact same thing with nearly the exact same swingset. I bought a fancy “Rainbow” swingset for my 4 year old on craigslist about a month ago. Frankly I think the owner was just happy to have someone take it off their property. It was also 10 years old. I dissasembled the whole thing and replaced rotten wood, built a new deck for the clubhouse, pressure washed with mold/mildew detergent, and stained it, also replaced a lot of hardware with galvanized and epoxy coated decking screws. Painted marine epoxy on the end grain of the posts in contact with the ground, which was probably the single biggest thing I could do to prolong the lifespan. The swingset was $475 and I figure I put another $200 into it. Not bad when I looked at the flyer for Rainbow swingsets and they start at $2100.

-- 9 3/4 fingers remaining.

View Hawaiilad's profile


3181 posts in 3015 days

#2 posted 07-07-2011 07:52 AM

This is what got my son-in-law into wood working. He bought a used set (just like yours) on Craigs list and had to rebuild it. His was not as bad as yours, but he still did alot of work on it. Looks like yours will last for years to come.

-- Larry in Hawaii,

View Mark Sanger's profile

Mark Sanger

60 posts in 3070 days

#3 posted 07-07-2011 10:07 AM

This is cool. Wish I had somthing like this when I was young. Wouldn’t mind it now infact. Great work.


View CaptainAhab's profile


214 posts in 2791 days

#4 posted 07-07-2011 02:45 PM

I have built around 300 Rainbow sets…the first one is a pain! Got to where I could do 3 big ones a day by myself.

-- Dave

View Mark's profile


26 posts in 2566 days

#5 posted 07-07-2011 09:40 PM

Mark – Go get one; I use it too. :-)

And 9.75 (Konquest) – The marine epoxy is an EXCELLENT idea; I’ll be adding that as well.

Thanks, everyone!

-- Mark, Jersey Shore,

View dedalo's profile


173 posts in 2892 days

#6 posted 07-12-2011 01:03 AM

Very nice one! I built one copying from internet pictures….


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