How to Prevent Metal Swing Sets from Rusting

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Metal swing sets are a big parts of childhood. It seems as though each of us has some memory of a metal swing set and seeing how high we can go as we pump our legs back and forth. You probably have never had to worry about whether or not the swing set was safe, or whether it was rusting or not. Children hardly realize dangerous situations when they arise. Rusty metal swing sets can be very dangerous for children to play on. Rust corrodes iron and causes it to be thin and brittle. This means that it has a much bigger chance of falling apart and breaking while your kids are playing on it. There’s a good chance that your children would get some injuries if the swing set broke while they were playing on it. The key to saving yourself from all this worry is to prevent your metal swing set from rusting. 

What Is Rust and Why Does It Occur?

metal swing sets

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In order to prevent rust you should understand what it is and why it occurs. Rust is also known as iron oxide. Rust can develop on anything containing iron. Rusting is a chemical reaction called iron oxidation which happens when iron is in contact with water and oxygen. It’s incredibly difficult to stop rust once it starts, it’s almost impossible. There is not a total cure for rust. So prevention is very important. You’ll notice rust because it is a bright orange color which will stand out against the color of your metal swing set. Your kids might come in from playing with orange on their hands.

What Can You Do?

There are a couple of ways to prevent rust from developing on your metal swing sets. Some of them seem more obvious and some might take a little more of your time to complete. Here are just a couple of things you can do.

Buy a Galvanized Swing Set

This is a great way to go if you want to prevent rust. A galvanized swing set has a layer of zinc or magnesium that protects the iron from being exposed to water or oxygen. Galvanization works really well because the iron isn’t exposed to water or oxygen at all, the zinc or magnesium is. This means that the zinc or magnesium will be exposed and prone to oxidation instead of the iron within. You’ll save yourself a whole lot of heartbreak if you buy a galvanized swing set. However, galvanized swing sets are more expensive than non-galvanized metal swing sets. This is because of the built in rust protection. Your swing set will last a lot longer if it’s galvanized so you’ll be able to get your money’s worth. Decide if you think it’s worth it to spend the extra money to buy a galvanized metal swing set.

Paint Your Swing Set

This typically doesn’t mean painting your swing set a bright orange or red. Although that might protect against rust as well. There are metal primers and metal paints on the market that are specifically designed to protect against rust and they do a pretty good job at it. You are essentially doing your own galvanization process. Use a good metal primer on all of your metal swing sets, then put on two coats of metal polymer paint. This will protect your swing set just as if it were galvanized. So you can save the money and not buy a galvanized swing set and paint it yourself, but that creates a lot more work for you. Or spend the extra money and have the swing set already be protected against rust. It will probably be easier to paint your swing set before you assemble it, so keep that in mind when you buy one. 

Paint the Nuts and Bolts

It’s very important that the nuts and bolts of your metal swing sets don’t rust either. The nuts and bolts are what hold the entire swing set together. Give each and every nut or bolt a good paint job, ensuring that the entire thing is covered with paint. A lot of people will overlook the nuts and bolts because they have such a small surface area. They focus on the larger areas and put a really good coat of paint on those. Painting the nuts and bolts is almost more important than getting everything else. Rust will cause the nuts and bolts to crack, corrode, and turn to dust. That wouldn’t be a very safe place for your kids to play. If your swing set is not galvanized, paint the nuts and bolts before you assemble the swing set. This will ensure that they are completely covered. 

metal swing sets

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Can I Salvage My Swing Set If It’s Already Rusting? 

Yes, you can. Although, it requires a lot of work and determination on your part. Rust spreads very quickly once it begins so it’s hard to stop. It can be stopped if you take action as soon as you notice it start to develop. Rust that has already caused holes in your metal swing set is a lot harder to repair. Make sure you take action before this happens. You’ll need to scrape off all the rust to prevent it from spreading and sand it away. Make sure there is no evidence of rust anymore. A sander usually does the best job at this. Wipe off any debris so that the surface is completely clean. Then paint over the sanded spot with the metal primer and two coats of metal polymer paint as previously stated. It might take awhile to sand all the rusted spots, but it’ll be worth it because then the rust won’t spread to cause further damage. 

Summing Up

Preventing rust is crucial to make your metal swing set last. It’s almost impossible to stop rust once it begins, although it is doable. You’ll need to pay close attention to your swing set to stop rust as soon as you notice it. A galvanized swing set will do a good job at preventing rust but it will cost more money. You can paint non-galvanized metal swing sets to prevent rust as well. This will take a lot more work but it might be worth it to save some money. You’ll be glad that you took these preventative measures when your metal swing sets last for a long time. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see your grandkids play on the same swing set that you watched your kids play on. Metal swing sets should last a long time and preventing rust is the key to making this happen.

Image Source: Pixabay

Related Article: Best Swing Sets: Top 10 Reviewed and Our Favorite Option

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