Playground Safety Surfacing

Every public playground requires some type of resilient safety surfacing to be installed under the equipment to reduce injuries and provide a level of safety and accessibility for your playground users. Since there are many types of playground safety surfacing which vary in cost, maintenance and installation requirements, you can rely on us to fully explain the differences between all the surfacing available to you for your safety surfacing needs. Please contact us and let us help you choose the playground safety surfacing that is right for your project!

Poured-In-Place Rubber Safety Surfacing

Poured-In-Place rubber safety surfacing is a two layer resilient rubber system that is mixed and poured on site by the company’s own trained professional installers. The first layer, or cushion course, consists of a special blend of recycled tire buffings and a premium urethane binder. The cushion course can be installed at various thicknesses to meet the critical fall height of the play equipment. The second layer, or wearing course, consists of the highest quality EPDM granules blended with the same premium urethane binder.

PlayGuard Tiles by Ecore

PlayGuard playground tiles are designed exclusively to reduce the risk of serious injury associated with falls from playground equipment. From the traditional pigmented line to the 18 designs of PlayGuard Ultra, PlayGuard is the playground safety surface of choice for new and renovated playgrounds. It features easy installation and maintenance, bold color choices, and the industry’s only 15-year warranty!

Loose Fill Rubber Mulch

Rubber Mulch is a unique product that consists of granular rubber particles, also referred to as rubber chunks, nuggets and shredded rubber. Playground rubber mulch conform to all CPSC safety guidelines and has earned ADA approval, making playgrounds safe for our children while preserving the environment. Loose fill rubber playground mulch is the most economical playground safety surface which is lifetime guaranteed.

Woodcarpet® (Engineered Wood Fiber) By Zeager Brothers, Inc.

Engineered wood fiber is an economical playground surfacing used on nearly 3/4 of all playgrounds in the U.S. because of its high impact absorbing qualities. The firm, yet slip resistant surface allows for wheelchairs and strollers to traverse across it. Less expensive products such as sand and pea gravel just aren’t accessible. Woodcarpet® by Zeager is certified by IPEMA per F1292 and F2075 standard test methods. In fact, Zeager has their own test equipment to perform testing on their surface in-the-field.

Synthetic Turf Playground Safety Surfacing

Synthetic turf products area becoming more commonly used as safety surfacing. The low maintenance combined with the natural look of turf make it increasingly more popular. Foam pads beneath the turf layer provide the critical fall height protection. The surface is ADA accessible and meets all other CPSC and ASTM safety requirements. A variety of turf materials are available depending on the requirements of the project.

Combination of Surface Materials

Using a combination of safety surfacing materials can sometimes provide a more cost effective way to make sure the area requires less surfacing maintenance while also insuring that the critical areas for ADA accessibility are maintained. Often areas of wood fiber combined with poured-in-place rubber, rubber tiles or synthetic turf in heavy wear areas and accessible routes will be a solution to reduce the overall budget while still meeting the playground design requirements.

Play It Safe With Playground Surfaces

How To Choose A Playground Safety Surfacing

Proper resilient surfacing could be the easiest way to prevent serious injuries on public playgrounds. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has estimated that nearly 70% of all playground injuries are caused by falls to the underlying surface.

While current safety guidelines and standards require playground playground safety surfacing photosafety surfacing under and around all playground equipment, the decisions on the type, thickness, installation method, drainage requirements, maintenance required, and accessibility can severely complicate the issue.  Since falls is the surface is number one cause of playground injuries, the decisions around the safety surfacing choice could possibly the most important decision made about the overall playground design.

Long term costs; which could include maintenance, repairs, and replacement should be considered when choosing a material for your playground surface. Be sure to research thoroughly your options and make an informed decision.  Depending on the safety surfacing material chosen, the cost for the surface could be more than the cost for the equipment is to be going under.

Loose fill and organic materials, such as engineered wood fiber (EWF) materials will require far more maintenance than other unitary surfaces such as rubber tiles or poured-in-place rubber. However, the cost for unitary surfacing is significantly higher than it is for loose fill resilient playground safety surfaces.

Considerations for evaluation of any playground safety surface:

  • The critical fall height of the equipment within the play area
  • Resiliency, shock absorbency (must match or exceed the critical fall height)
  • The cost of material, freight and installation
  • Site preparation requirements, excavation, boarders, drainage considerations
  • Maintenance required and the cost for maintenance
  • Accessibility, ADA requirements
  • Expected life of the product
  • Replacement cost

While unitary surfaces are low maintenance, they do require some maintenance and they will degrade and need replacement over time depending on usage, exposure to the sun, colors chosen, drainage issues, and other factors.

Another important decision when choosing a unitary playground surface is the material color.  Dark colors will absorb more heat than lighter colors keeping the surface warmer.  While lighter colors will remain cooler, they will show dirt and blemishes more easily.  A blend of colors, some lighter and some darker, could be a way for some clients to maximize the advantages and disadvantages of light vs dark colors.  Also, earth tone colors tend to resist UV color degradation more than brighter colors.

CPSC Minimum Loose Fill Playground Safety Surfacing Depths

CPSC loose fill safety surfacing depths

The table above is from the CPSC Public Playground Safety Handbook. As the above playground safety surfacing depths are minimums, we recommend a depth of approximately 25% more than the above chart minimum depths to account for kick-out under heavy wear areas, such as under swing seats and at slide exits.

Have questions about playground safety surfacing? Were here to help!