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How to restore faded plastic outdoor play equipment

Outdoor play equipment, including jungle gyms and swing sets, are specifically designed for use outside, but that doesn't mean the pieces hold up well to the environment. The rays from the sun, water from rain and even snow and ice during the winter months cause the pieces to fade and lose the original colour or lustre. It won't be long before that bright red slide has an almost pink tone. Restoring the faded plastic outdoor play equipment makes the pieces look almost new again.

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  1. Wash the play furniture with distilled white vinegar, poured into a spray bottle. Spray the vinegar directly on the play equipment and use a scrub brush to work the vinegar around. Wipe the equipment dry with an old towel.

  2. Mix the bleach and cold water together in a plastic bucket. While wearing rubber gloves, gently dip the scrub brush in the solution and transfer it to the play equipment. Scrub the bleach solution around, removing any mildew or mould from the plastic. Rinse the equipment with a garden hose and dry with the old towels.

  3. Look over the play equipment carefully, checking for any glossy areas that the paint won't adhere to. Lightly sand those areas with fine grit sandpaper, giving it a slightly rough surface. Wipe down the piece with a soft cloth, removing any plastic dust.

  4. Cover the ground with old newspapers and position the faded play equipment on top of the papers. Hold the spray paint can at least 25 cm (10 inches) away from the piece, and apply an even coating of paint to the faded plastic.

  5. Check the piece carefully for any uneven patches and wipe away while the paint is still wet. When the paint dries, apply a second coat or use a different colour on a different area of the play equipment. Let the paint dry completely before using.

  6. Tip

    If your equipment has designs or decorations, use masking tape to mark off different areas based on colour. Work with one colour at a time and let the paint dry fully before removing the masking tape and moving on to a new colour.

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Things You'll Need

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Scrub brush
  • Old towels
  • 118 ml (4 fl oz) household bleach
  • 3.8 litres (1 gallon) cold water
  • Plastic bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • Garden hose
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Soft cloth
  • Old newspapers
  • Plastic spray paint

About the Author

Jennifer Eblin

Jennifer Eblin has been a full-time freelance writer since 2006. Her work has appeared on several websites, including Tool Box Tales and Zonder. Eblin received a master's degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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