Playground Surfacing: A Simple Guide

After choosing your playground and additional play equipment such as swings, then the next thing you should consider is playground surfacing. Most playground injuries occur when a child falls from the equipment to the ground. In order to prevent major injuries, safety surfacing for playgrounds can absorb the shock impact and meet CPSI and ASTM safety requirements. Read below to learn about the several different options!

Wood Mulch

Wood Mulch
Picture of wood mulch playground surfacing

Also known as engineered wood fiber, wood mulch is a great, affordable option for playground surfacing. Wood mulch is typically manufactured from size-controlled softwoods and/or hardwoods that average 1”-2” in length and contain a maximum of 15% fines to aid in compaction.

Quick Facts:
    • If installation instructions are carefully followed, wood mulch can possibly be installed by volunteers.
    • Wood mulch gives your playground an attractive, natural look.
    • The cost of wood mulch is very economical and works for most playground budgets.
    • However, wood mulch requires regular maintenance. Wood mulch tends to compress if a playground is heavily used and lots of children run on the surfacing. Therefore, the wood mulch decreases in depth and might not be able to meet safety requirements. In order to safely support a critical fall height of the playground, wood mulch would need to be “topped off”. This means more wood mulch would be spread on the surface to increase the depth.
    • Often times, wood mulch playground surfacing requires landscape borders to enclose the area and maintain the wood mulch in one specific area.

Pour-In-Place Rubber Surfacing

Pour-In-Place Rubber
Picture of Pour-In-Place Rubber surfacing

A popular option for playground surfacing in Southern California, PIP rubber involves a double layer system. This system comprises of a base layer of shock-absorbing rubber material and a half-inch thick wearing surface of rubber granules. Additionally, this porous system must be installed over Class 2 Road Base which comprises of crushed stone.

Quick Facts:
    • Pour-In-Place rubber has a high wear resistance, meaning that it is one of the best option for a long-term solution.
    • Great for high-traffic use such as parks, schools, and daycare centers
    • Lower maintenance
    • Great accessibility and conforms to ADA requirements
    • PIP Rubber playground surfacing offers a cooler solution compared to other surfacing such as artificial turf. Since it is naturally rubber, Pour-in-Place does not retain heat and keeps the surface temperate low. This makes PIP rubber ideal for those sunny, summer months.
    • Add graphics and designs easily
    • Available in 20 colors and colors can be mixed
    • Requires professional installation

Artificial Turf Playground Surfacing

Turf Surfacing
Picture of artificial turf safety surfacing

Synthetic or artificial turf gives off the appearance of natural grass without the need to water or fertilize. This playground surfacing involves an impact layer such as safety foam and a wear layer.

Quick Facts:
    • Medium wear resistance
    • Low maintenance
    • Medium accessibility
    • Great option for nature-inspired play areas
    • One downside of artificial turf is that it retains heat, making it hotter during the sunny summers compared to other playground surfacing.

Sand as Playground Surfacing

While sand is most commonly found at the beach, sand can also serve as playground surfacing. The two types of sand that we offer are Wash Plaster Sand and -30 Play Sand. Wash Plaster Sand is fine particle construction sand that is mainly used for residential/private school sand boxes where the use will not be heavy. -30 Sand is mainly used as a Playground Sand for public schools and public parks where the sand is required to be a safety rated product.

Quick Facts:
    • Wash Plaster Sand is often cheaper by 1/4 of the cost of -30 Play Sand.
    • Sand in general is typically more expensive since a big part of the cost is the delivery charge.
    • Not recommended for ADA accessibility, low accessibility
    • Offers good impact absorption
    • Easy to install

Above all, your playground space is unique and despite the multiple types of playground surfacing we offer, one type does not fit all. The most suitable playground surfacing depends on several factors: initial material costs, installation costs, appropriate maintenance costs, wear resistance quality, visual appearance, and degree of ADA accessibility.

Complete Your Play Space with Playground Surfacing!

Here at Zoom Recreation, we care about your child’s safety. One of the most important parts of the whole playground process is safety. That’s why Zoom Recreation will work with you to ensure that you have the right playground surfacing that is safe for your kids and community. Call us today at 866-234-3392 or fill out a contact form. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for our daily posts!

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