Over time, trampolines start to look worn and faded. It’s just part of being out in the weather, and exposed to the sun, rain, wind and snow. You might decide that you want to paint your trampoline, and get it looking sparkling new again.
The best way to paint a trampoline is to use a type of rust-protective spray paint that sticks to metal for the frame and springs. Use rubberized paint for the mat only if you have a two-string trampoline mat. If you have a black polymesh mat, you would only paint this for fun.
Let’s go through these in more detail, so you have enough information to paint your trampoline yourself at home.
When Do You Need To Paint A Trampoline?
You need to paint your trampoline in two circumstances.
The first is when your frame and springs can benefit from a spit and polish. There might be a bit of surface rust appearing that you want to cover up and protect. Or you might have a new secondhand trampoline that could use a new lease on life.
The other time you might need to paint your trampoline is if you have a two-string mat. These are the professional style mats, and are significantly more expensive than the regular black polymesh mats. The UV rays start to break down the manufacturer’s paint, and you want to replace this paint before the strings themselves get damaged by the UV-rays from the sun.
How To Paint A Trampoline Frame?
Now you’ve decided that it’s time to paint the frame of your trampoline, you want to make sure you’ve prepared the surface properly, and have the right paint.
You should be able to paint the frame whilst it is still assembled, as long as you can tip it on its side. You want to be able to get to the underneath of the legs if possible.
If the trampoline is not assembled, for example, if it has just been moved, this is ideal as you can then twist and turn the frame pieces however you like. Just follow the directions below, and only do the relevant steps.
You’ve probably heard that preparation takes 80% of the time, and painting takes 20%. But the preparation is the most important step.
1. Remove the safety net
Safety nets can either be attached to the trampoline with poles at the outside of the springs, or loosely stitched to the mat in the inside of the springs.
If your trampoline has the safety net on the outside of the springs, you’ll definitely want to take it down so that you spray the frame without interference.
If the trampoline safety net is on the inside of the springs, you might be able to get away with leaving the safety net up. Just be sure that the poles won’t get damaged if you need to turn the entire trampoline on its side.
2. Remove the safety pads
You should be able to remove the pads fairly easily. They are generally held in place with loose ties. You may even want to take this opportunity to replace them. Cheap pads might only last 6 months, but more expensive high quality PVC (or vinyl) pads can last 10 years.
3. Decide if you are going to paint the springs
If you want a perfect job, you should take off the springs now. You run the risk of getting spray paint on the mat, and you want be able to get the paint underneath where the spring end hooks into the frame.
You would also remove the springs if they are very rusty, so you can treat them separately. If you do take them off, only replace them after you have painted the entire frame and let it dry completely.
If you are more pragmatic, you can leave the springs in place. You might get some spray paint on the springs, but these will likely be covered by the pads.
4. Wipe down the entire frame with a damp cloth
The frame should be free of dust, twigs, cobwebs (and spiders). You don’t want to paint the frame, and then a piece of debris falls away, leaving a perfect outline behind in your paint.
5. Smooth off any surface rust
You can use a stiff wire brush or even steel wool to rub off any surface rust. Obviously, if the rust has eaten all the way through the metal, it will be new trampoline time. No amount of paint will restore the trampoline’s structural integrity.
Once any rust flakes are off with the brush, rub over it again with some coarse sandpaper. This will even up the surface some more. When it feels smooth to touch, wipe it down again with the damp cloth to clear away any remaining dusty bits.
Read here if you would like more information on how to remove rust.
6. Use spray paint rather than a brush
The best paint to paint a trampoline frame is a zinc-rich spray paint can. This can be applied more evenly than a paintbrush and pail, and allows you to get into nooks and crannies near the joints and bolts.
A good quality paint, with the right preparation, will be less likely to flake off or scratch.
Having a zinc-rich paint for metal is important. The zinc will bind to the metal, protecting the steel underneath. This protection will prevent the steel from oxidizing in the rain, and inhibit the formation of future rust.
You can use matte, gloss or satin (like semi-gloss). The satin will give a shine like a new trampoline.
I prefer spray paint to a paint brush. It just doesn’t look as good with a brush, and it takes a lot longer. You might need a few cans, depending on the size of your trampoline.
7. Start at bottom and sides
If you have a large paint drop sheet, lay it on the ground. You’re just trying to keep the trampoline dry, and also stop any spray paint getting on the ground below. Tilt the trampoline so that it’s on its side on top of the drop sheet.
It’s important to do the bottom of the frame, as this is where the frame touches the ground. It is more likely to be wet and, depending on your soil, slightly acidic. This combination will break down the existing corrosion protection on your trampoline’s frame.
Starting at the bottom, spray in smooth wide arcs. Try not to go over it too many times, especially whilst the paint is wet, as it will start to accumulate and drip down. This is really noticeable in metallic paint. The bottom is also a good place for developing your technique, as people as less likely to see it!
Once this it done, move onto the sides of the frame legs. Wait until it is dry, then roll it over onto the other side to do the remaining frame legs.
8. Paint the underside of the frame
With the trampoline still tilted on its side, spray the underside of the frame. Keep using slow gentle arcs with the spray paint to get good coverage of the frame.
9. Paint the top of the frame
With the trampoline now up the right way, and hopefully still over the dropsheet, go around the frame with long arcing sprays. Always release the nozzle as you come away from the surface you are painting.
10. Give a second coat
Starting at the bottom again, give the trampoline a second coat all over. Start at the bottom again, and work your way up to the top. Be sure to let the paint dry before turning the trampoline over.
11. Replace the springs, pads and safety net
When the paint is completely dry, replace the mat and springs if you took them off. Then replace the pads and safety net.
Make sure all of the bolts are tight, and you don’t need to break it in, you are just good to go!
How To Paint The Trampoline Springs
If you have decided that it’s time to paint the springs, let me walk you through the best way that I’ve found to do this. The first couple of steps are the same as above, but I’ll repeat them here just in case you don’t need to paint the frame.
1. Remove the safety net and safety pads
You will need to remove the safety pads so that you can get to the springs.
I’d recommend removing the safety net to protect it from the paint. However, it it is on the inside of the springs, you may decide that you can be especially careful with the spray paint.
2. Decide if you need to remove the springs
It is easier to spray paint the springs when they are off the trampoline, as you can get to the underside more easily. However, it is a right pain to get the springs on and off in the first place.
If your springs are in relatively good condition, I’d probably be pragmatic, and try to paint them in place.
However, if the springs are very rusty, you will need to remove the rust from the inside and outside of the springs first, and it is easier to do this when they are off the trampoline. Read more about how to remove rust from springs here.
3. Rub down any surface rust
Hopefully, any surface rust you have isn’t too bad. Ideally, the safety pads will protect them from the rain, so there won’t be too much rust anyway. If there is any, it’s likely to be at the top where the rain comes in contact, or right at the bottom where the excess rain will drop off.
Use sandpaper to smooth off any light surface rust. Then give a wipe down with a damp cloth.
Heavier rust will need a stiff wire brush, or perhaps even a rust converter.
4. Spray paint the underside of the springs first
Use zinc-rich spray paint for metal. It should be around 65% zinc to give the maximum protection to the springs.
If you have left the springs on the trampoline, spray the underside of the springs first. If you still have the safety net on, you’ll need to sit beside or under the trampoline to reach here. You should be able to find a spraycan that can be sprayed effectively at an angle, or that has a nozzle attachment that will let you direct the paint upwards.
If you have taken the springs off, this is where your job gets easier. Lay out a dropsheet or newspaper over the floor or table. Place all of the springs out on the protective sheeting so that they are parallel and not touching each other. You might have somewhere between 48 and 112 springs, so this will take a bit of time.
Give a gentle sweep up and down with the spray paint, going slightly up on one side, and moving around 90 degrees to come down on the other. You’re trying to get a wide part of the spring painted.
Make sure you also do the hooks.
5. Spray the sides and top of the springs
Once the paint is dry, turn the springs over. Again, with lots of patience, start to spray each spring individually, going up and down probably 3 or 4 times until the entire spring is covered with paint.
Again, cover the underside of the hooks with paint.
Try not to get too much paint on the mat. If you do get paint on the mat, wipe it off immediately with a damp cloth. Don’t use a paint thinner, as this may dissolve the plastic polyethylene in the mat.
Once the paint is dry from the first coat, go back and give the underside and topside a second coat of paint.
7. Replace the safety net and the safety pads
Wait at least 4 hours until the paint is dry, and then replace the pads and netting.
How do you paint a trampoline mat?
Two-String Mats and Painting
These are the high-end gymnastic trampolines. These need to be painted frequently to provide UV-protection to the strings.
You might need to do the topside of the mat every year if the mat is exposed to UV light, but the underside may only need painting every couple of years.
To paint a two-string mat, you need to get chlorinated rubberized paint. These paints are applied with a roller on a stick over the bulk of the mat, whilst the mat is still attached to the trampoline frame.
1. Cover the pads with plastic, and use masking tape around the mat where the strings attached to the springs to hold the plastic in place.
2. Also put a strip of masking tape on any graphics or strips that you want to protect.
3. Stir the paint well to ensure the color is mixed through.
4. Start from one corner using a roller, work your way in one direction, and complete the border of the mat.
5. Once the border is complete, go back and fill in the center of the mat using a roller on an extension pole.
6. Wait 24 hours before jumping on the trampoline.
Here is a great video demonstrating how the paint a two-string trampoline mat.
Black Mats and Painting
The standard black polymesh trampoline mats generally don’t need to be painted.
If you find black coming off the trampoline onto your feet or clothes, it means that the carbon is degrading in the sun. It’s probably time for a new trampoline mat before it splits and rips. Painting the mat won’t fix the degradation problem.
Having said that, there are some crazy videos on YouTube showing teens throwing paint all over the trampoline, but this is more fun than functional. And generally, in the videos, their parents are out.
Here’s an example! Best not try this at home kids 🙂
Acrylic paints will make the trampoline ridiculously slippery in even the slightest amount of wet environment. Rubberized paints won’t extend the life of your trampoline, and may make the black polymesh mats work less well.
To paint a trampoline frame and springs, a good zinc-rich spray paint will be ideal to protect the metal, and also make it shine like new. Most trampoline mats don’t need to be painted, with the exception of the high-end gymnastic two-string mats. These use a rubberized paint.