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Corrosion in the playground environment

If you’re a council or school located in a harsh environment including beside the coast, you will need to give more attention to the materials used when selecting your playground equipment.

Corrosion can be a costly issue in playgrounds if not managed correctly, and in this blog, we hope to give you some ways to minimise the chance of corrosion.

It comes down to more than just material selection and ensuring the product quality to withstand difficult environments. You also need to think about ongoing ways to manage the risk.

Some of the biggest advantages of avoiding corrosion in playgrounds is safety for children, increased lifespan and reduced lead times. It’s a topic that shouldn’t be ignored.

What is corrosion?

You’ve probably heard the terms rust or corrosion often, but have you ever looked into the science behind it?

Corrosion is an electrochemical reaction that appears in both chemical and atmospheric forms, the latter of which is the most common. When acidic substances (including water) come in contact with iron and/or steel, rust begins to form. Rust is the result of corroding steel after the iron particles have been exposed to oxygen and moisture.

When steel is exposed to water, the iron particles are lost to the water’s acidic electrolytes. The iron particles then become oxidized, which results in electrons being released and flowing through the steel to another area of the steel known as the cathodic area.  Where the affected iron particles were, has now become a corrosion pit, and where they are now is called the corrosion product (rust).

How to avoid it?

Since 1983 we’ve manufactured our own play equipment and have been exposed to the good and bad of corrosion control in playgrounds. Both doing research with technical experts as well as listening to client feedback, we’re always striving to create the best outcomes for councils and schools in coastal locations.

So what are your options if you want to combat corrosion and maximise the life of your playground?

spectrum+ max corrosion resistant equipment

spectrum+ max is our specially designed playground system where corrosion is a concern.

Corrosion is most common and aggressive in coastal areas because they’re rich in ingredients that cause and accelerate rust, namely oxygen, water, and salt. In these higher-risk environments, we recommend spectrum+ max as it is perfect for coastal and marine locations.

Using corrosion-resistant aluminium and stainless steel as the main materials, the spectrum+ max system safeguards against corrosion. One of the excellent features of spectrum+ max is that despite utilising corrosion-resistant materials, the design and aesthetics are not compromised in any way.

A great example of this application is Warrnambool East Primary School.

Located only 10 minutes walking distance (1 km) from the ocean the school certainly knows what it is to combat rust in their school infrastructure. They knew the benefit of investing in a spectrum+ max system to maximise the life span and minimise maintenance.

Corrosion in Playgrounds - Warrnambool East Primary School
Warrnambool East Primary School

The school has had issues with the lifespan of its equipment due to their closeness to the coast and found that spectrum+ max was the perfect solution to get the play space they desired.


Alternatively, timber playgrounds can provide similar corrosion resistance while providing a more natural look. In circumstances where the environment is particularly harsh fasteners are replaced with stainless and all steel components are treated with marine coating before being powder coated as an additional layer of protection.

The Surf Coast Shire has successfully completed many playgrounds installed near the coast using this method.

Corrosion in Playgrounds - Deep Creek Reserve
Surf Coast Shire Council – Deep Creek Reserve
Corrosion in Playgrounds - Coogoorah Park
Surf Coast Shire Council – Coogoorah Park

This boat-themed playground project is located on the Anglesea river and has been designed with minimal metal components and a focus on its natural timber aesthetic.


Using high-pressure water and a cloth or soft sponge to wipe down the playground regularly will remove any build-up of salt or abrasive materials that can damage the paint.

The frequency of washing equipment may need to increase for coastal areas where salty sea spray can increase the chance of corrosion, as well as in regions where rainfall is infrequent, and deposits can build up.

Repair or replace?

If your playground is already suffering from a severe case of rusting or corrosion then we suggest it’s time to obtain some professional advice from playground equipment specialists, to determine the best course of action – repair or replace.

Often you will need to weigh up the option of repairing your old equipment or replacing it. It’s often a tough decision – should you spend thousands on repairing an old unit that would need replacing shortly, or should you save the funds for a brand new one?

If in doubt – give us a shout

Of course, if you’re unsure of the condition of your playground or need guidance on how to approach a new project in a harsh environment contact us today.

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