How to Cover Swingset Chains

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You can cover swing set chains.
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A swing set in the backyard is a common sight in summer. While swinging higher and higher to reach that flying sensation is a joyful childhood memory, pinching fingers in the metal chains isn't fun at all. To avoid finger and hand injuries, cover swing set chains with a plastic sleeve or replace the original chains with plastic- or vinyl-coated chains.

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Swing Set Chain Sleeves

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Chain sleeves or covers range from plastic sleeves intended specifically for swing set chains to vinyl chain covers that shrink to fit snugly over chains, posts, furniture legs and other items that are exposed to chemicals, cleaners, salt and ultraviolet (UV) rays, depending on the specific product.

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To install chain sleeves or covers, disconnect the chain from the seat. Feed the chain through the sleeve. Attach the sleeve to the chain at the top and bottom according to the manufacturer's directions. Use a heat gun with shrink-to-fit products to shrink the vinyl around the links until it's snug.

Coated Chains for Swings

A simpler solution is to remove the old swing set chains and replace them with heavy-duty plastic- or vinyl-coated chains. First, take down the original chains. Measure the length of the original chains to match them when ordering the replacements. Also, check the spacing between the swings and adjust or eliminate one set if necessary for safety.

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Consider purchasing a coated chain and seat set with snap hooks or locking buckles rather than S-hooks to ensure a safe play environment. In addition, because adults sometimes play on swing sets, choose the highest weight limit possible.

Another Chain Cover Option

Some children and adults need a softer, wider chain cover option due to an inability to fully close their hands and/or grip tightly. In addition, in hot climates, even plastic-covered chains can get too hot, making the swing set unusable for most of the day. To protect your hands, consider perusing the aisles of the hardware store for foam pipe insulation in 6-foot lengths.

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Measure the width of the links to ensure a snug fit. There are a variety of foam pipe insulation products designed to fit around pipes ranging from 1/2 to 2 inches or more in diameter. The pipe insulation is slit along one side to make it easy to slip over the chains. Simply slide it onto the chain and secure it with duct tape at the top and bottom and every 12 inches along the length of the foam tube.

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While the foam may not survive more than a few seasons in the hot sun, rain and freezing cold, foam pipe insulation is inexpensive and provides protection from finger-pinching chains. It's also easier to grip if you or your child have trouble with hand strength or other issues.

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Decorative Chain Covers

Porch swings also use metal chains to suspend the seat, but swing set chains may not fit the aesthetic of the peaceful environment envisioned by the homeowner or decorator. Consider using fabric cord covers to hide ugly metal chains. Use a burlap or jute cover for a rustic look, velvet for a formal setting or other fabrics that suit the porch décor. To protect the fabric from moisture, spray it with an outdoor water repellent designed for cloth products.

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Swing Set Safety

Improper use of swing sets and inadequate safety measures are a cause of many playground injuries. In addition to pinched fingers, a flying wood or metal seat can strike a child or adult. Use lightweight rubber or plastic swing seats to reduce the chance of injuries.

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Secure the swing set in concrete to keep it from tipping while being used. Also, level the ground and install a loose fill under and around the swing set to cushion falls.

Always monitor swing set use. Discourage jumping from the highest arc of the swing as well as standing or kneeling on the seat. Swing seats are designed for one person, so don't let kids (or adults) double up on a swing.

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