playground slides faster or slower

Playing on a slide that’s too slow or fast can not only put a damper on playtime but can also be a safety hazard. In this article I’ll show you some clear-cut ways to speed up or slow down your playground slide.

Most parents looking to equip their yard or commercial property opt for plastic playground sets. Plastic playground sets, mainly slides, are visually appealing and versatile in shape coming in many different colors and sizes.

More so, plastic slides are usually safer, more affordable and just as durable as their metal counterparts.

Making Your Plastic Slide Faster

Why Your Plastic Slide is Slow

If you’re wondering why the plastic slide has become slower, it’s usually because of these two reasons.

  1. Dirt/Grime build-up
  2. Long-term exposure to the elements

Even though this playground equipment is mostly fabricated from UV ray-protected and anti-static plastics- the surface of the material can still breakdown over time.

A telltale sign of this is a white “chalky” appearance on the surface and just a general fading of color.

How to Make Your Plastic Slide Faster

Having a slow plastic slide means less fun for kids, and sometimes “friction burn”. But the good news is, there’s something you can do about it.

To make your plastic slides go faster, it only needs a bit of cleaning followed by a safe coating of “wax” to polish it. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1 Clean it

  • Cleaning solution – You don’t have to purchase an expensive cleaning solution. You can create your own by mixing warm water with mild liquid dish soap. This mixture will lift any dirt encrusted on the plastic slide.
  • Scrubbing down the plastic slide – Use a coarse rag or soft-bristled brush to scrub the slide from top to the bottom. Upon checking that there’s no more caked dirt on your slide, rinse it with a garden hose.
  • Drying the slide – Let the slide dry completely, It will make the next step easier and more effective.

Step 2 – Wax and Polish

  • Rub wax paper over the entire plastic slide surface. It sounds too simple, but it actually works. When you rub the wax paper on the surface of your plastic slide, it transfers the food-safe wax making your slide slippery again.


Additional Tips to Make Your Plastic Slide Faster

If the surface has “pockmarks” or grooves it may benefit to use sandpaper to smooth the surface. Use fine-grit sandpaper (800 grit is perfect).

After the initial waxing of your slide may have to reapply every couple of months. The easiest (and most fun) way to do this is to tear out a large piece of the wax paper and let you kid sit on it while “sledding” down the slide. Just be sure to supervise, as they will go down fast!

Making Your Plastic Slide Slower

Now, another concern is how to make your plastic slide slower. Playground slides are normally built according to prescribed safety standards which include the angle of the slide as well as the material used to make it, but sometimes adjustment need to be made.

Why Your Plastic Slide is too Fast/Slippery

If your plastic playground slide is too slippery and fast then it’s probably because of one or both of these reasons.

  1. The angle is too steep
  2. The slide is wet with water and or some kind of lubricant (baby oil, dish soap)

Maybe the slide is new and was overly lubricated in the factory, maybe someone decided to put baby oil on it, or it’s just too steep. Whatever the reason here are the solutions.

How to Make Your Plastic Slide Slower

First, make sure the slide is clean and free of oil. If it’s oily, give it a good washing with liquid dish soap. Use a soft rag or sponge to scrub the surface and rinse well with a garden hose. If that doesn’t work try using a friction modifier.


  • Use a friction modifier – Place a strip of duct tape in the center and down the length of the entire slide surface. This will solve the problem without causing permanent damage to your slide. Duct tape comes in dozens and dozens of colors and you can get one that matches the color of your slide.
  • Don’t sand or paint your plastic slide as this will cause permanent damage. Using duct tape is your best option.

How To Make Metal Slides Faster Or Slower

Metal playground slides are arguably the sturdiest because they are usually made with high-grade steel and a special coat is applied to the surface which prevents corrosion.

Other benefits of metal slides include:

  • Easier to maintain – Plastic slides collect and hold more dirt. Metal slides do not and usually stay clean.
  • Visually appealing – Plastic can sometimes look less visually appealing, especially after years of use. Metal has that classic, clean, slick look.
  • Highly durable – Metal can tolerate continuous use as well as stand up against any and all types of rough weather.
  • Beneficial to speed – kids always go for the metal slide first. Metal slides are smoother, slicker, and faster.

Making Your Metal Slide Faster

Why Your Metal Slide is Slow

If your metal slide is slow then chances are the metal-

  1. Has become rusty and/or oxidized over time. This makes the slide significantly slower.
  2. Has caked-on dirt/grime or has been painted.

Whatever the reason, here are the solutions.

How to Make Your Metal Slide Faster

To remove rust and/or oxidation from your slide you have a few options available.

Removing rust/oxidation option 1 – Elbow Grease (for light rust)

  1. Wast the surface with water and liquid dish detergent.
  2. Scrub the rusted area using a wire brush and/or abrasive pad.
  3. For larger rust spots, use an electric sander or grinder with a flap or stripping disc.
  4. Wipe area clean and let dry completely.
  5. Apply a rust sealant – this is important to keep your slide rust-free, and easy to do (the product comes in a spray canister).

You can also make a paste using water and baking soda and apply directly to the rusted areas  (let sit for 30 minutes after applying) to aid in the rust removal.

Removing rust/oxidation option 2 – Citric Acid (for heavier rust)

  1. Wast the surface with water and liquid dish detergent.
  2. While the slide is still wet sprinkle the Citric Acid Powder directly on the rusted area (using gloves).
  3. Scrub the rust away with a wire brush and/or abrasive pad.
  4. Wipe area clean and let dry completely.
  5. Apply a rust sealant – this is important to keep your slide rust-free, and easy to do (the product comes in a spray canister).

Making Your Metal Slide Slower

Why Your Metal Slide is too Fast/Slippery

If your metal slide is too slippery/fast then it’s because of one or both of these reasons-

  1. The slide has moisture and/or oil on it
  2.  The angle is too steep

How to Make Your Metal Slide Slower

If the surface is too slick and oily then wash it with water and liquid dish soap using a rag or sponge. This should remove any excess oils or lubricants that are making the slide so slick.

If the angle is too steep consider putting a tire or pile dirt under the slide to lessen the angle. 

Final Thoughts and Considerations

New and old slides alike can sometimes need to be adjusted for speed. I hope this article has shown you the proper steps to make those adjustments. Remember to always exercise caution on the playground- stay safe and have fun!


Playground safety, equipment, and ground cover expert. I strive to give you the most informative, unbiased, and helpful information available on anything and everything playgrounds.
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