Trampoline frames and springs are made of steel, and unless treated, are prone to rusting. Whilst surface rust isn’t much of a problem, if you leave the rust too long, it will start to eat into the structure. This damages the integrity of the steel, and means that the frame might collapse or the springs might snap, especially when someone is bouncing on the it.
To remove rust from a trampoline, rub away the surface rust with a wiry brush and rust remover, and spray zinc over the metal. To prevent rust, be sure to get a trampoline with high quality steel that is galvanized inside and out. Try to keep it off acidic soils and out of standing water.
Let me share with you all of the ins and outs of removing, and preventing, rust from a trampoline. I’ll start with some useful background that will help guide you in the long term.
Why Do Some Trampolines Rust?
Trampoline frames and springs are made from stainless-steel metal.
Metal rusts when the iron in the stainless steel is exposed to oxygen and moisture. This moisture can come from the rain or humidity, or even from the soil. This effect is exacerbated when the soil is acidic, and particularly when the soil is damp and acidic.
Very cheap trampolines do not have any galvanizing zinc at all. Or, if they are, they are only spray galvanized on the outside of the frame or springs, and not the inside.
Why Are Some Trampoline Frames Rust-Resistant?
Good quality trampolines are dipped in hot galvanizing zinc during the manufacturing process. The hot dipped galvanizing step actually binds the zinc to the metal, not just coats it like a spray paint, so it is more difficult to scratch it off through wear and tear.
When the metal tube is dipped, it means that the inside of the tube is covered with the zinc as well. When it cools and binds, this means that the oxygen cannot reach the iron particles underneath. If the oxygen can’t reach the iron, then the metal won’t be able to rust.
It’s important that the coating is applied to both the inside and the outside. Although the rain hits the outside of the trampoline frame, driving rain and humidity will also get to the inside of the frame. The water will enter through the spring holes in the frame, as well as the screws holding the frame together.
Why Are Some Springs Rust-Proof?
Good quality springs are also galvanized. The regular ones look silver, and are coated or hot dipped in zinc. These might have a warranty of 5 years.
There are also more premium springs, which are often colored yellow, bronze or gold, and the manufacturer will call these “gold springs”. These aren’t actually gold plated. The yellow color comes from the color of the chromate that is applied after the zinc has been deposited, and helps make the zinc more durable. These might have a warranty of 10 years.
If You Haven’t Bought The Trampoline Yet
The best way to prevent rust in a new trampoline is to buy one that has good quality galvanized steel.
Trampolines with well-protected frames are more likely to give a longer guarantee. If a reputable manufacturer is offering a 5-year or longer warranty on the frame, it generally means that the frame has been well protected.
An inground trampoline should have a lifetime warranty on the frame. Given the frame is going to be sitting in a hole in the ground, which can stay damp for months, you want the very best there is.
It’s OK To Get A Galvanized Trampoline Wet
It’s inevitable that rain will get onto the trampoline. That’s ok, that’s what it’s designed to do. I’ve written a whole article showing that it’s ok to jump on a wet trampoline, which suggests that you can get the entire thing wet. It’s a piece of outdoor play equipment after all.
Is Powder Coating Good Enough?
The powder coating is a nice finish, and looks neat. But it’s not enough by itself to protect the trampoline from rust.
You’ll find that powder-coated trampolines will crack and scratch fairly quickly, so it’s important that the steel underneath is also galvanized.
Where to Put the Trampoline to Minimize Potential Rust
For both old trampolines and new, where you put the trampoline can have a big impact on how likely it is to get rust.
After following the 7 Rules for Perfect Yard Placement, you should also consider ensuring that the trampoline won’t be directly on acidic soil, nor will it be likely to be sitting on very damp soil or where pools of water stand.
You ideally want the trampoline to be sitting on dry soil, that is either pH-neutral (pH 6.5 – 7.5).
Acidic Soil and Trampolines
An acidic soil is one where the pH is less than 7. The soil acidity lowers when there is a large amount of organic matter. Or where the salts are washed away from the soil.
Zinc is susceptible to corrosion if the soil is pH 5-6 or lower. If the trampoline frame is sitting in direct contact with the acid soil, the zinc will start to wear away from the steel in the trampoline frame.
There are two main ways that trampoline owners can test if they have acidic soil. One is super homegrown, and the other uses a test kit bought from the hardware store.
Home Acid Soil Test
This is an old technique for determining if the soil is acidic. It won’t give you an exact pH, but it should be good enough to know if you need to investigate further. Luckily, it uses ingredients that you’ll probably have at home in the pantry.
- Place 2 tablespoons of soil in a bowl. Make sure you are taking the soil from the place you’ve earmarked for the trampoline.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of distilled water to it. This is water that you would put in your clothes iron.
- Now add half a cup of baking soda, and give a gentle stir.
- Watch the reaction. If it fizzes vigorously with big bubbles forming, you have acidic soil. A mild fizz is usual, after all, most soils are very mildly acidic.
Store Bought Test Kit
You can use a pH test kit from the hardware store, or even get a consultant in to help you further assess your soil.
The soil pH test kit from Luster Leaf has great reviews from Amazon. It seems to be fairly accurate and easy to use. An added bonus is that you can use the rest of the strips to measure all around the yard.
If You Have Acidic Soil
If you have acidic soil, you may want to investigate further. You might be able to add some alkaline building material to correct the soil type, but you’ll need to know just how acidic it is. I’d have a good chat to the folk at your local garden center about just what to apply to your particular soil.
In the short term though, you can lay down a thick PVC matting or put down some artificial grass to help protect the frame.
With the matting in place, the frame will no longer in direct contact with the soil. The acidic soil won’t be able to corrode the zinc away from the steel. Your frame will stay strong for longer.
See below also for instructions on how to build up a small platform to keep your trampoline off the soil.
Damp Soggy Soil, Pools Of Water And Trampolines
Over time, if a trampoline is sitting on damp soggy soil, or in a pool of water, the metal will start to deteriorate. The pool of water might come from heavy rains, being in a water course, or even following a flood.
Not even good quality trampolines are made out of marine grade stainless steel. If it is sitting in water, it will rust faster.
If You Have Soggy Soil
There are a couple of options here. You can move the trampoline, or build up a rocky soil platform for it.
Move The Trampoline to Higher Drier Ground.
If the water is temporary, say for example, you’ve just had some heavy rains, I’d probably just move the trampoline out of the water course, and let it be. It will dry and we can all move on.
Build A Platform For Your Trampoline
If the soil is generally soggy, you’ll probably want an intervention. See if there’s somewhere higher and drier to move the trampoline to. If not, you can build a little platform for the trampoline.
You can build a small platform to keep your trampoline off the damp or acidic soil. This should drain well, with the edges ‘locked’ in place with retaining wall frame. This will stop the edges from crumbling away with the force of the bouncing.
- Dig out the soil under where you want your trampoline to sit. It should be about three foot bigger than the trampoline, and go down at least 2-4 inches.
- Build a small one foot retaining wall frame, using either concrete blocks or treated pine. This should extend at least 6 inches above the surrounding soil level.
- Put down at least 6-8 inches of roadbase gravel or pea gravel. This will help the water drain away from the surface quickly.
- Add 2-4 inches of sand. Pack it down with a roller or compactor to help the gravel pack more tightly. The surface be less likely to shift when the kids are jumping on the trampoline.
- You can then add an inch or so of packed topsoil and grass if you want, or just cover it with bark or woodchips. You might plant around the edge of the trampoline and make it a magic garden.
- And voila! You now have small platform (like a throne!) for your trampoline that is sitting high and dry.
How To Remove Rust From A Trampoline
If you already have a trampoline and you have noticed some surface rust appearing on the frame or springs, it’s not too late. With a few simple steps, you can clean off the rust and have the trampoline looking just like new.
This method will work well to remove surface rust. However, if the rust has gone deeper and actually damaged the metal, it can’t make it strong again. You will need to replace that part of the trampoline, or maybe the whole trampoline, depending on the amount of damage
Trampoline Rust Removal
- On a sunny day, take off the spring protecting pads from the trampoline. Wipe down or hose down all of the dirt that just accumulates over time.
- Inspect each spring, and mark each rusty spring with a circle of blue painter’s tape wrapped around the spring. This will let you find it again easily. I use this tape as it sticks well to itself, and comes off so easily.
- Look at the frame whilst in its usual position, and again wrap some blue painter’s tape around each patch of surface rust you find.
- Tip the trampoline in its side, and look at the underside of each piece of frame. Depending on how the safety net frame is set up, I suggest you remove it so you can tip it over well enough to get to everything.
- Get rid of any existing rust with coarse sandpaper or a stiff wire brush, and take off the blue tape as you go. I’d start using the sandpaper on the frame, and the wire brush on the springs, but use what you have. You should find that it buffs up pretty well.
- If you need to clean the rust away from inside the springs, take the springs off the trampoline. I recommend soaking them in a rust remover. Try to get as big a tub as you can as you’ve probably got a lot of springs, and each load will take a bit of time. Use Evapo-Rust 3-gallon pail from Amazon. This will remove rust, but you may still need to use a small wire brush (like a toothbrush or bottle brush) to rub away any rust stains from the inside of the cylinder.
- If you find any significant pieces of structural rust in the frame, you’ll need to replace that part of the frame, or even the whole trampoline. If the springs are very rusty, you can just buy replacement springs.
- There is a chance that as you move the trampoline, you might hear a bit of water sloshing inside the bottom of the frame. Water can sometimes get inside the bolts as the top, and just sit in the bottom. If water is accumulating inside your trampoline frame, get a drill and make small holes low to the ground, probably on the bent corner of the frame to allow water to drain out. Pay extra attention to the next spray-painting step around these drain holes
- Spray-paint the entire frame and springs with a rust protecting paint, such Crown Brite Galvanize Coating. For trampolines, I like that this one gives a glistening finish, making it look like new again. Be sure to let it dry before reattaching the springs, or putting the bottom of the frame back on the ground.
- I know a number of people have recommended a water repellent spray, but I just can’t see the value in it. The mat won’t rust, and being plastic, it doesn’t matter if it gets wet. The water repellent spray only lasts a few days on metal, and it’s better for it to be galvanized.
I found an excellent video showing the removal of rust from frame and springs. Using sandpaper is shown clearly, as is the technique for applying spray-paint in nice even strokes.
I hope this guide has been useful for removing rust, as well as preventing it in future. Whilst trampolines are designed for the outdoors, you’ll find that they need to be treated, either by the manufacturer or you, in order to stay in good condition and rust-free.