When maintaining a playground, it is equally important to ensure the ground or ‘safety-surface’ is as safe as the equipment. Children need a soft place to land when they jump or fall. If your playground already has a ground cover, or safety surface material, it's a good idea to get in the habit of checking the safety surface material levels often to ensure pieces have not been kicked away or even thrown out by little hands.
With school starting back up soon, children will on the playground in no time, so now could be the best time to check ensure the playground has adequate levels of safety material on the ground. If material levels are low, now would be a good time to add more safety surface to your playground or perhaps consider an entirely new material.
Here is a list of the Top-5 Best Playground Safety Surface materials to help make your decision a little easier.
1.) Solid Rubber Surface
This is first on the list because it’s not only the safest, but it requires the least amount of maintenance. Solid rubber surfaces come in two forms. The most well known is "Pour-in-Place" which is poured over a sub-base and the end product is a smooth, cushioned surface that comes in varying color options. The other solid surface option comes in the form of rubber tiles that fit together to make one solid surface.
These are popular options because they are slip resistant, allowing easy ADA access for wheelchairs and strollers.
What is the downside to the solid rubber surface? The solid rubber surface material is one of the most expensive options in playground safety surfacing.
2.) Artificial Grass or Turf
Artificial Grass is a slightly less expensive
alternative to a solid rubber surface. It's also a low-maintenance and an ADA wheelchair
accessible surface. It will
require an occasional rinse-off but water drains well from this surface, making
3.) Play Sand and Pea Gravel
The affordability of playground sand and pea gravel is why these have been popular playground cover for so long. Yet, these materials do not really provide ADA accessibility. In order to ensure these materials provide any type of fall protection, the recommendation is to have at least twelve inch depth at all times. Also, be warned, some sand can contain harmful materials. In order to avoid this, purchase only sand or pea gravel specifically made for playgrounds.
Some sand can contain harmful materials, in order to avoid this, make sure that you buy a sand specifically made for playgrounds.
4.) Rubber Mulch (Nuggets or Shredded)
If you want the flexibility of a rubber surface but not the high price tag, then rubber mulch is the perfect solution. Rubber mulch is made by grinding up recycled tires, providing a soft cushioned surface for children to land. Rubber mulch (nuggets or shredded) comes in at a fraction of the cost of the solid rubber surfaces. Noah’s sells playground-approved rubber mulch (nuggets or shredded), which is typically coated or painted with non-toxic material. We do not recommend or sell shredded black tire mulch.
5.) Engineered Wood Fiber aka: EWF
Engineered wood fiber is an affordable and durable option for playground covers. It's estimated approximately 50,000 playgrounds in the U.S. and Canada use EWF material. Engineered Wood Fiber is ground more finely than ordinary landscape mulch, is from virgin wood, and has had the saw-dust removed. It provides a safe and natural way to cover the ground while still providing an adequate amount of cushion and protection for children.
Having a good material to cover your playground ensures that children have a safe place to play, while also offering protection from the ground itself. If you have any questions about these or any other playground cover materials, please contact us today.