Playground surfacing is critical to children’s safety and provides the foundation for an engaging environment. Historically, many play surfacing were made from materials like sand and gravel, but today we have a number of options that are designed specifically for surfacing playground equipment.
Whether you are looking for a natural look with bark mulch or something more colorful and long-lasting with rubber tiles, there are options to fit any design and budget. Regardless of the type of surfacing you choose, there are some important things to consider that will influence your up-front and long-term investment.
The Science of Playground Surfacing: What You Need to Know
Age-appropriateness: For infants and toddlers, loose surfacing material like pea gravel or wood mulch could contain small fragments that pose a choking hazard. Instead, these types of surfacing should be replaced with more durable unitary surface materials like rubber tiles or poured-in-place (PIP) rubber.
Maintenance requirements: The amount of maintenance required to keep your surfacing looking great will impact the initial cost and ongoing costs. Loose surfacing can require a lot of raking and may need to be replaced frequently while unitary surfaces like poured-in-place rubber or interlocking resilient tiles provide minimal up-front maintenance and are easy to clean.
Budget: While most playgrounds will have specific budget specifications in place, it is essential to find a surface that will not compromise the integrity of the playground. Avoid materials like sand, gravel, dirt and asphalt as they do not offer adequate impact attenuation for child falls.