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I have a Step2 plastic sandbox as shown here (Step2 stock image, not my kid!): Step2 Sandbox

I live at a place where my options for outdoor play structures is extremely limited, plus I'm renting, so this is the best solution I can do for an outdoor sandbox. I also live in an area where we get a lot of rain. So right now, this sandbox is actually a sandy wading pool. I've been contemplating how to allow the sandbox to drain water that enters it, possibly by drilling some holes somewhere along the bottom, but I'm uncertain exactly what to do. Obviously, I'd like to avoid draining out the sand as well or otherwise ruining the sandbox.

What is a good way to modify a plastic sandbox to allow the sandbox to drain water?

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  • Does the lid not keep out water? Oct 14, 2016 at 17:37
  • @BrownRedHawk: It does, but it's not always on, and not all of the water that enters the box is the result of rain (kids love to make sand wet). Once there's water in the box, the cover is pretty much useless and only servers to trap the water and air in place, which could make things moldy.
    – Ellesedil
    Oct 14, 2016 at 17:39
  • I think in this case where the water is intermittent, and you want to alter the sandbox and avoid altering it's "Usability" for the kids. I would think something like a PVC Stopcock kit, with some kind of a screen would be perfect. Too much Water? Open the valve and drain. Oct 14, 2016 at 17:42
  • @BrownRedHawk: I'm not really familiar with that. Could you post an answer with some details?
    – Ellesedil
    Oct 14, 2016 at 17:44
  • That's a shame; it's a cute kid... ;) Oct 15, 2016 at 0:05

4 Answers 4

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Just drill some 1/8" holes in it, or stab it with a kitchen knife, in every corner. Your kids will lose more sand out of it then small holes ever will (you're way over thinking this).

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  • It's been almost a year, but this is pretty much what we ended up doing some time ago.
    – Ellesedil
    Aug 15, 2017 at 20:39
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I'd keep it simple. Cut some 2" by 2" holes that wrap from the floor around to the sidewall at the bottom corner, either with a hole saw or jig saw or similar. Use latex-based construction glue or another plastic-friendly adhesive to bond one or more layers of aluminum insect screen over the drain hole from the inside, using a bead around the opening. You could also use pop rivets and washers to secure the screen.

A small amount of sand will work though the screen over time, but it'll mostly stay put. The sand will retain enough water for the kids to play for the short term, but it will drain slowly and keep the box fairly dry.

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I would suggest to build a grid of small diameter plastic tubing, possibly PVC pipe with holes over as much of the surface as you can tolerate to drill. The pipe lengths should fit snugly in one direction of the bottom of the sandbox. Spacing could be 12 to 18 inches apart and likely achieve the desired result. Drill matching holes at the sides of the sandbox, perhaps a couple in the bottom. Cover the pipe grid with landscape fabric. Landscape fabric is used for erosion control as well as weed control, as it passes water but is tight enough to prevent weeds from growing through. If your sand is fine grained enough that it will filter through the weave (not too likely) you could put a couple inches of pea gravel over the landscape fabric before covering the entire assembly with sandbox sand.

You may lose some sand from the side holes, depending on the drainage rate and also rate of precipitation. If it is severe enough, sealing the pipe ends to the sandbox sides with silicone seal may solve that.

Landscape fabric is under thirty dollars for a roll large enough to cover four sandboxes or more.

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I think a suitable solution since the water entry is intermittent, would be to add some kind of valve or stopcock through one side of the sand box. Many kits are available as replacement for coolers or similar. My suggestion would be to drill the suitable sized hole in the exterior edge of the sandbox and install the spigot. They usually include a rubber gasket/seal, and a nut of appropriate size.

Try searching for "Replacement Spigot Kit" and you should find a cheap solution.

Spigot

When there is too much water in the sandbox, open the spigot. To keep sand from exiting, I would fit some kind of screen, fabric, etc. to act as a kind of filter.

Sometimes the $5 solution is the most sensible.

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  • I think a port that small would crud up pretty quick with sediment/organics. You'd want a protected collection chamber upstream, probably.
    – isherwood
    Oct 14, 2016 at 20:01
  • That sounds great in theory, until your kid digs up said upstream collection chamber. Once you consider that this is a small, relatively inexpensive sandbox, my person opinion is that the low-cost option is optimal. I was trying to scale the solution to the value of the application. Why make a $25 upgrade to a $75 sand box? Oct 14, 2016 at 20:04

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