1 Jun
Playground Painting: Tips from East African Playgrounds
Posted by Elizabeth Moreno

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

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.