Playground Safety Surfacing: The PIP Rubber Process

Curious about the protective, rubberized surfacing that surrounds playgrounds and swings? A great option for playground surfaces, Pour-In-Place rubber or PIP rubber is long-lasting, durable, and keeps surfaces cooler since it is heat-resistant. As a two-layer system, PIP rubber requires professional installation, unlike the easy installation of engineered wood fiber. To get a better understanding of this increasingly popular surfacing solution, read below for a breakdown of the process!

What Materials Are Used?

playground safety surfacing
Artistic Designs on PIP Rubber Surfacing

If you look closely at the rubberized safety surfacing at a playground, you’ll notice different colored specks. That’s because the top layer of PIP rubber surfacing includes small, rubber granules (1-4 mm size) called EDPM or Ethylene Propylene Diem Monomers. These rubber granules can be mixed for a custom color combination and poured into any visual design. The most economical mix includes a mix of 50% black rubber granules and 50% of any color of the customer’s choosing. For our PIP rubber surfacing, this top layer is 1/2″ thick whereas the bottom cushion layer made of Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR) varies in thickness depending on the play equipment’s critical fall height.

Step 1: The Site Preparation

Installation and excavation
Excavating dirt and preparing the site!

If the playground area has existing grass or uneven dirt, then installers would excavate and prepare the site. Typically, for playground-related excavations, six inches of dirt would be excavated using heavy machinery such as a skidsteer. In addition, if there is no existing concrete curbing, installers would build a concrete curb, giving the rubber something to adhere to as it is poured in place.



Step 2: The Base for PIP Rubber Safety Surfacing

Since pour-in-place rubber cannot adhere to simple dirt, a compacted base of 4″ minimum thickness is required. Some examples of appropriate base are Class 2 Road Base, concrete, or cured asphalt. Some cases may require a drainage system for water to drain through the porous PIP rubber. The base would then need to completely dry before pouring on the rubber mixture.

Step 3: The PIP Rubber Safety Surfacing

surfacing for commercial playground
Check out the pour-in-place rubber for our project at Choong Hyun Mission Church!

For this step, installers would first apply the bottom SBR layer made up of recycled tire rubber. Then, installers would mix the rubber granules with a polyurethane adhesive that can either be an aromatic binder or an aliphatic binder. Most common, the aromatic binder is versatile and resilient for any outdoor conditions. Also, it is more affordable and economical for most budgets. However, one limitation is that it can cause the safety surfacing color to fade when exposed to harsher sunlight. On the other hand, the aliphatic binder is recommended for extreme conditions as it will not cause the color to fade, making it ideal for brighter colors such as yellow or purple. Keep in mind, the aliphatic binder is more expensive.

After pouring the rubber in place, installers would evenly trowel the surfacing to ensure that it is smooth and the rubber granules lay flat.

After PIP rubber surfacing is installed, it must harden and cure for approximately 72 hours and therefore, it is strongly recommend that no one steps on the surfacing.

Ready for Your New Playground and Surfacing?

Playing on a playground is fun and so should planning for one! With our expertise, we’ll help you choose your perfect playground and provide professional installation and surfacing. Call us at 866-234-3392 or fill out our contact form. Check us out on Facebook and Instagram for daily posts!