Playground Safety Surfacing

Young children's playground area with colourful surfacing and playing equipment for children

Today we’ll be looking at some popular types of Playground Safety Surfacing for outdoor play. So if you’re trying to determine which play surface is a good option for your play area project, look no further.

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Popular types of playground safety surface

All surfaces should give you at least ten years of product life span. However, how you care for your surface through the winter months can significantly affect how long it lasts. Ensure your installer gives you all the facts to maintain your playing surface properly – all year round.

Safety surfaces all have shock-absorbent qualities. We have created a simple comparison matrix below to help you better understand some of the most popular floor coverings and their differences.

Wet Pour

Wet Pour is a fantastic impact-absorbing playground rubber safety surfacing. If flexibility in achieving a specific design is what you’re looking for in your playground, then a wet pour rubber safety surface is what you need.

The material is highly workable, meaning installers can replicate almost any design or pattern. 

It is worth remembering that even if you don’t have a specific design you want to reproduce, it also allows your playground designers more creative freedom when bringing the area to life. With over thirty colour choices, your options are almost limitless once you combine different colours to create scenes or patterns.

Rubber Mulch

Rubber mulch has many of the same impact-absorbing qualities as a Wet Pour surface. However, it is only available in half the number of colour options.

It is also worth noting that these colour choices tend to be more neutral or muted tones, whereas the Wet Pour colours are pretty vibrant!

It is flexible in its use as a playground surface covering but in a different way from the first option in this list.

While achieving complicated designs with this flooring is not always possible, it is more user-friendly regarding the surfaces playground installers can apply it on top of.

We mean here that having any formal groundwork before installation is optional. Because of this, installers can use rubber mulch to cover existing surfaces such as:

  • artificial grass
  • worn-out wet Pour
  • gravel
  • or even old bark pits.

Rubber mulch might be a great choice if you’re looking for a safety surface that blends in with natural areas.

Artificial Grass

Although synthetic grass traditionally covers sports surfaces, it has become a popular safe surface for playgrounds.

Made from sports-grade yarn, it is highly durable with the proper care.

With more limited colour options than the previous two materials, the design versatility with artificial turf is limiting, comparatively.

The correct groundwork preparation can achieve a ‘critical fall height’ rating, almost matching the first two safety surfaces.

This safety surface can give a more natural look than rubber mulch, with the advantage of forming over mounds and slopes relatively easily.

Health and Safety

What type of protection do I need for my specific playground?

Ultimately, your choice of surface comes down to preference, budget and the goal you are trying to achieve with the project’s look.

Essentially, what makes the surface safe is not all down to the surface itself. Instead, it relies heavily upon the groundwork preparation (or build-up), which sits beneath the surface.

The factor determining the impact absorbency requirements for your playground is the maximum height a child can climb up to on the equipment. 

This maximum climbing point is known as Critical Fall Height.

What is critical fall height?

In simple terms, the Critical Fall Height (also referred to as CFH) is the distance from the highest a child can climb on a piece of play equipment to the ground. We start the measurement at the child’s foot and follow it to the playing surface below. There is a maximum Critical Fall Height of 3 metres.

Repair and Durability

While offering protection for children at play, these surfaces are sturdy and durable.

It is worth noting that repairs sometimes need to be undertaken – especially on older coverings.

The easiest of these to repair is the rubber mulch surfacing. Wet pour repairs are possible, although discrepancies in colour matching can occur.

As you might expect with repairs, creating a seamless blend between old and new is not always possible.

In any event, each of these surfaces should last for at least ten years. Your design and installation partner should be confident enough to back this with a guarantee for the same period.

Working to a budget on your playground safety surface

It’s only possible to give a truly accurate cost by seeing the unique requirements of your project. To avoid hidden fees, make sure that your playground installer has a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Any playground designer or installer worth their salt will conduct a site visit to ensure you get the most accurate cost before committing to any work.

If you’d like us to help you plan your space, book a free site visit today and get complimentary 3D renders of your project.