Sometimes those old play structures just start to look run down. They've been baking out in the sun and enduring endless hours of little feet stomping and little hands grasping. You can chalk it up to wear and tear or toss them in the trash, but don't you think after all that suffering that play equipment deserves a little bit of a pampering makeover? Bring the slides, swings and climbers back to life with a clean-up and a fresh new coat of paint.
Use a wire brush to clean up metal play equipment. There may be loose pieces of paint chipping away, and the wire brush will help get them off to make a smooth surface. If you're painting wood surfaces, give them a good hand-sanding with medium-grit paper instead.
Get out that basket of old rags, fill a bucket with warm soapy water and clean off all metal surfaces. This will get rid of any dirt or grease that can get in the way of your fresh coat of paint. Rinse it all off with some water and then let it dry thoroughly. If you're working on wood surfaces, just brush them off with some dry rags – skip the soap and water altogether.
Sand down the metal surfaces with fine-grit sandpaper and then wipe it all down with a dry cloth.
Coat the metal surfaces with an etch primer. This primer is designed to create a very fine, rough surface, which lets the paint really get in there and form a good bond. The application process varies a little bit by product, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions when applying the primer. If you're painting a wood surface, skip the etch primer and treat the wood with a toxin-free wood preservative. This helps to protect your little munchkin's play equipment from weather damage.
Get out your lead-free exterior paint. Whether you're painting wood or metal, you'll want something with a very high gloss to repel dirt and withstand your kiddo's playtime. Apply the first coat of paint evenly over all surfaces and then follow the manufacturer's instructions to apply a second coat.