Timber is a natural product, and prone to splitting with age. The sun heats and dries out the timber, and in the cold it contracts, whilst water and rain are absorbed and expand the fibres of the timber - this constant expansion and contraction - or weathering - leads to premature splitting and sun bleach of the timber.
There is no effective way of stopping this weathering process altogether, however this damage can be limited through regular maintenance and care of your timber, much like polishing your wooden furniture or painting your window frames and garage doors.
We recommend an oil based timber paint as a great protection for you wooden structures such as jungle gyms, lapas, awnings, and other timber structures, even doors and window frames. We use a Dulux Woodguard Timber Preservative Exterior paint.
Varnish is not recommended as it forms a skin and promotes degradation of the timber as it traps moisture, resulting in internal rotting of timber, and is not ideal for application to exterior timber.
Sanding the timber down is also not recommended as it will break the seal of the pest and insect treatment and expose the jungle gym to infestation.
By Woodguarding your structure, the penetrating oils will retard premature splitting, water penetration and sun bleach. It also contains a preservative which will extend the life span of the timber.
On your Jungle Gym, an application of one coat of Dulux Woodguard every 8 - 12 months is recommended, depending on your area.
Usually 3 - 4 coats on installation will give a beautiful finish. 2 coats are given during assembly, and 1 coat on installation. Annual application will help in delaying the weathering process, and lengthen the life span of your structure.
Additional maintenance includes checking all nails, nuts and washers, tightening bolts and checking ropes for strength. The average domestic jungle gym only needs a professional maintenance check after approximately 3 - 4 years, depending on usage. Complexes, schools and high-usage structures should be checked and maintained every 8 - 12 months.
There are generic items across all jungle gyms that need to be attended to:
- Safety and wobbling checks on structure, especially swings
- Checking nails nuts and washers
- Tightening and replacing where necessary
- Re-concreting poles if wobbling at ground level
- Checking roof and making repairs to ensure stable
- Painting with Dulux Woodguard (or similar) for weather protection
- Painting ends of poles to seal timber
- And of course, labour and delivery
Then every jungle gym has its unique problems that need to be attended to, and these factors impact of the pricing
- The time required to maintain each jungle gym differs
- Roof repairs if timber is required
- Floorboard slats, Support poles and handrails being checked and replaced
- Size of structure
- Age of structure
- Domestic or School structure – high wear and tear or domestic usage.
- Signs of dry rot – usually floorboards
- Signs of wet rot – usually poles at ground level
Our basic maintenance service varies from R1 808 to R2 899 depending on the size of the structure, and then the specific items are quoted on. As we try to keep maintenance costs down, we are not always able to come to site and view the structure, as this is staff time and vehicle costs which are passed to the customer.
We ask that customers take photographs of the whole structure, and then photos of any areas of concern, such as broken planks, safety rails need replacing, roof collapsing etc. This will enable us to quote more efficiently.
If we feel that the jungle cannot be assessed from a photograph, then we arrange for someone to come out and do a full assessment.
Further it is not always possible to “see” any damage inside the timber. A floorboard may look sound and healthy, only to be hammered and then fall apart with dry rot.
Wet rot usually presents at the base of a pole and cannot always be seen from the outside or above ground.
As such, even with a quotation, we ask customers to bear in mind that there may be additional repairs that are not visible, and be prepared for the additional cost – this however is usually on jungle gyms older than 7 years.
1 – 3 years – standard maintenance, swings need to be checked
5 – 7 years – some floorboards and poles may need replacing, and some concreting may be required, roofs are generally ok, swings must be checked
7 – 20 years – floorboards, roof, swings may need repairs or replacement, wet and dry rot may be present, depending on previous care of timber
20 years + - your jungle gym may be condemned due to bad rotting
The average lifespan is 7 – 13 years
Dating a pole:
Required by law, each pole should have a gang nail / anti split plate with markings on it, showing the treating plant, SABS stamp, and year mark. These can be removed during installation or manufacturing, however there will be some of these plates on a pole somewhere on the jungle gym – this allows us to date the timber.