By Neve Spicer Play involves imagination, creativity, and innovation. For young people, it is both fun and essential. They need play in order to flex, stretch, and grow their muscles; not only their physical ones, but also the emotional, cognitive, and imaginative muscles of their minds. But here’s the thing… We are seeing a global […]
East African Playgrounds, a member of Playground Ideas’ Global Play Alliance, is a playground building nonprofit in Uganda that works to improve the lives of children in East Africa by developing children’s learning opportunities, creativity and environments through building playgrounds and running arts and play sessions. In addition, East African Playgrounds provides high quality training and local employment through their playground building workshops.
One aspect of East African Playgrounds’ work that really shines through is their commitment to durable, long-lasting play spaces. Working with the materials available locally, East African Playgrounds has spent years testing and developing build procedures that ensure their playgrounds will last for years to come. They’re constantly revisiting their past build sites to make improvements and learn from how their playgrounds hold up over time.
A part of the build process they’ve perfected over time is paint quality. A poorly painted playground can quickly chip and fade and it’s a problem many local playground builder’s around the world face. As we often get questions about proper playground painting, we asked East African Playgrounds to share their expert tips:
Painting your playground – Tips from East African Playgrounds
There are two main benefits of painting your playground;
1. It protects the metal, and prolongs the life of the playground.
2. It looks awesome.
Paint can never ever be guaranteed, there are too many variables from children hitting the playground with rocks to the sand on their hands and feet acting as sandpaper and removing the paint, but there are things you can do to prolong the life of the paint.
Preparation is the most important part of painting your playground. Metal which is supplied normally comes with an oil based coating, this protects the metal from rusting but it also restricts the paint from fully binding with the surface of the metal.
Remove all grease from metal – To do this East African Playgrounds uses a rough sandpaper (P60), Soap Powder and Water.
Create a rough surface on the metal – Once we have removed the grease and dried the metal, we use Sandpaper (P120) to create a rough surface on the metal this helps the undercoat bond with the surface of the metal.
The paint that you use is also very important to prolonging the life of the paint on the playground. East African Playgrounds uses specialist metallic vehicle paint which is produced for using on metal. Cost wise it is more expensive but you will see better results.
– Undercoat – We apply two coats of undercoat to all our metal with a drying time of 48 hours between coats. This allows each coat to be fully set before applying the next coat.
– Sanding – Once both layers of undercoat have dried for 48 hours, we prepare the undercoat for a colour coat by using a wet sandpaper (P280 – Black in colour)
– Colour Paint – We apply one coat of colour paint to our playgrounds. Once again allow 36 – 48 hours drying time.
– Clear Paint – After the colour paint has been allowed the allocated drying time we apply a clear coat of paint. This gives the playground one extra layer of protection whiles also giving it a nice shiny finish.
We suggest that playgrounds are then unused for a further 7 days to give the paint 100% the time it needs to dry. This obviously isn’t easy when there are eager children wanting to play.
Time, patience and high quality are key for the paint to last on your playground.
Paint Products East African Playgrounds uses in Uganda:
Undercoat – We use a two-part undercoat, where the paint is mixed with both hardener and thinner. Two-part paint sets the paint quicker and gives a tougher finish.
Sadolin UPOX Zinc Phosphate
Sadolin UPOX Thinner
Sadolin UPOX Hardener
Colour/Clear Paint – Once again, we use a two-part colour and clear coat.
Sadolin Sadocryl Hardener
Sadolin Sadocryl Thinner
We have also recently started spray painting our playgrounds. Painting time is relatively similar but the finish is 100 times better.
Thanks for the painting tips, East African Playgrounds! Be sure to check out more photos of their beautifully painted playgrounds on the EAP facebook page.
Across the globe, kids love swinging, hanging, and climbing on monkey bars. And with the right tools and designs you can build monkey bars kids will love playing on for years to come. Playground Ideas has over 150 free DIY playground element designs that can be built anywhere in the world from locally sourced, low-cost, and recycled materials. These designs are free of common safety hazards and each design comes with downloadable step-by-step pictorial instructions. Here are three of our favorite DIY monkey bar sets from our design library:
Build these classic monkey bars from metal. Design instructions include two heights – one for 3-4 year olds and another for ages 5+.
You can also build a classic set of monkey bars from timber or bamboo (although only very specific varieties are appropriate ). One important note: before building this element, ensure that termites or other wood eating insects are not a problem in your area. If they are, you’ll be better off building the frame from steel. You can learn more about selecting appropriate materials in our “Playground Builder’s Handbook.”
3. Rebar Igloo
The Rebar Igloo isn’t your typical set of monkey bars, but it serves the same purpose in a different form. It’s also a great element for different ages as the dome shape makes the height of the bars progressive, so little kids can play on the lower bars while older or more confident kids can climb up to the higher bars.
Looking for a full playground design? Check out our Playground Starter Kit. This playground design scheme puts together some of our favorite, time tested designs into a beautiful space that encourages active, imaginative, creative, and social play. Best of all, every element can be built from local, low-cost and recycled materials, commonly found tools, and local labor. And each design comes with full DIY step-by-step instructions.
Across the globe, outdoor swingsets are one of the most popular pieces of playground equipment. Unfortunately, many countries throughout the developing world do not have established playground safety regulations, so local builders often end up constructing poorly designed swingsets. This can lead to swingsets quickly falling into disrepair and children getting hurt on dangerous or unmaintained equipment.
For this reason, Playground Ideas has created several outdoor swingset designs that can be built anywhere in the world from locally sourced, low-cost, and recycled materials. These designs are free of common safety hazards and each design comes with downloadable step-by-step pictorial instructions. Here are a few of our favorite outdoor swingset designs from our design library:
1. Swing Double
The “Swing Double” is our DIY version of the classic outdoor swingset. It has been designed to be super low cost and can be built from timber, rope, steel chain, tire tread, and a few bolts and screws. One important note: before building this element, ensure that termites or other wood eating insects are not a problem in your area. If they are, you’ll be better off building the frame from steel. You can learn more about selecting appropriate materials in our “Playground Builder’s Handbook.”
In areas of the world where rubber swing seats are not easily available for purchase, metal swing seats are often used instead. These are a big safety hazard because young children can easily accidentally run in front of the swing and get hit on the head. Metal swing seats are also heavy and harder for young children to swing on.
The “Swing Seat Best” is a classic rubber swing seat constructed from a recycled tire tread and a few welded steel pieces. It’s very simple to build, safe to play on, and nearly indestructible.
The “Swing Tractor Flat Maxi Hammock” is a fun twist on the classic tire swing. This outdoor swingset can accommodate several children at once, making it a fun group element. Built from a large tractor tire and recycled tire sidewalls, and a motorbike tire, this element can be hung from a constructed frame or sturdy tree branches.
4. Swing Monkey
The “Swing Moneky” is an outdoor swingset designed by Playground Ideas design intern Wayne Tyler Sall, who took inspiration from the palm fronds he remembered swinging on as a kid in Panama. They’d hang down low from coconut trees and Tyler and his brother would swing around and around on them.
The “Swing Truck Tire Hammock” is one of our all-time favorite elements. Why? The whole thing can be built from just one nylon truck tire and a few bolts and little kids love rocking, swaying, and chatting with their friends in these peaceful hammock swings. Another benefit to the “Swing Truck Tire Hammock” is that since it remains so close to the ground, this element does not require a “safe fall zone” around it like traditional outdoor swingsets do, so it’s a great choice if you’re tight on space. You can learn more about “safe fall zones” and other common playground safety precautions in our “Playground Safety Handbook.”
More Outdoor Swingset Resources:
– Explore all our swing designs as well as 150 other DIY playground elements in the Playground Ideas Design Library.
– Our “Playground Builder’s Handbook” will teach you everything you need to know to build a playground from start to finish using local tools and materials, and by accessing local skills.
– For all elements, be sure to check that they meet the local safety standards in your country. You can learn more about common playground safety hazards and how to avoid them in our pictorial “Playground Safety Handbook.”
With the right design, quality materials, and knowledge of playground safety, you’ll ensure your swingset will be well loved for years to come!
Since 2007, Playground Ideas has partnered with over 1400 communities in 85 countries to build spaces for children to play. Around the world, we’ve had the privilege of working with awesome community service groups who have enthusiastically volunteered their time, money, and passions to bring access to play to children in need. Check out a few of our favorite community service examples from across the globe:
Project Somos – Guatemala
Project Somos is an eco-sustainable community for at-risk mothers and children in Guatemala. In 2013, they hosted a group of high-school volunteers who came to build a playground on their site as a community service project.
photos by Project Somos
East African Playgrounds – Uganda
East African Playgrounds is a playground building nonprofit based in Uganda. Each year, they host university students who fundraise for playground builds and then come to volunteer on the builds hands-on.
photos by East African Playgrounds
Salvation Army – Brazil
In 2012, we partnered with a Salvation Army community service group to build a playground at a school in São Paulo, Brazil. The team worked tirelessly to bring this beautiful site to life!
Is your community service group looking for a meaningful project to engage in? Consider building a playground together. Whether you’re already partnered with a school or community organization or you’re looking to help out on a project already in the work, we’re here to help every step of the way. Browse projects around the world, start your own, or contact us to get started.