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Pros & Cons: Synthetic Turf for Playground Surfacing

When you’re evaluating surface options like synthetic turf or artificial grass for a playground or play area, there’s a lot to consider. You want something robust to withstand heavy use yet safe and accessible to accommodate everyone at play. We’ve compiled a comprehensive overview of synthetic turf, weighing all the critical factors. While we may be biased about poured-in-place surfacing, we still think you should closely examine all your options before you make a purchase for your business.

Is Artificial Grass or Synthetic Turf the Best Option for Playground Flooring?

Synthetic turf or artificial grass is constructed of synthetic, grass-like fibers or yarn. It is devised to look and feel like a natural lawn. Used on sports fields for years, synthetic turf is becoming a more common occurrence on the playground. The fibers are often polypropylene or polyethylene and consist of multiple layers, a backing, cushioning, drainage layers, and infill, usually composed of recycled rubber tires or natural cork. Certain playground grass is made of recycled materials, but be sure to do your research as a lot of it is not.

Safety of Synthetic Turf Playground Flooring

Pros:

  • The top factor for a playground surface is the level of fall protection it achieves. When installed with the proper padding and infill, synthetic turf meets the American Standard Testing Methods (ASTM) standards and can provide excellent shock absorption.
  • Artificial turf with a thickness of 2.1-3.1″ achieves a fall height of five feet, whereas a thickness of 3.3-4.3″ achieves a height of seven-feet, recommended for most residential and commercial playgrounds.
padding for synthetic playground turf

Cons:

  • Certain types of artificial turf may not absorb falls from as high as poured-in-place surfacing.
  • Synthetic turf may need additional padding or underlayment to keep kids safe and achieve the proper fall-height rating.
  •  It’s essential to confirm the specific product’s details to ensure it is safe.

Cost of Synthetic Turf as a Playground Surface

Pros:

  • The lifetime cost of artificial turf is relatively low. After three to five years, the costs associated with maintaining natural grass exceed the installation’s high price.
  • Using synthetic grass in a building project can accumulate LEED points for various reasons: water efficiency, recycled or recovered materials used, low emission materials used, and the material composition of the turf itself.

Cons:

  • Overall, synthetic turf is very costly to install. Not only do you have to pay for the turf itself, but the ground prep, irrigation needs, and more.
  • Depending on the manufacturer, prices vary from $6 to $20 per square foot.
  • It’s relatively uncommon, but any damage to artificial grass can be cut out and replaced with a new piece, averaging about $12 per square foot.
  • A fresh new patch often sticks out as the majority of synthetic grass will look slightly worn.

Accessibility of Synthetic Turf Flooring

Pros:

  • As long as the artificial grass is firm and a wheelchair can move around it with ease, you can use synthetic grass for accessible playgrounds and ADA compliance.
  • Synthetic turf is also perfect for people suffering from hay fever or other allergies, thanks to its zero-pollen count.

Cons:

  • Synthetic turf surfaces are not immune from bacteria, which cause foul odors and sanitary problems. However, some manufacturers have developed antimicrobial additives built straight into the product or sprays to inhibit bacteria’s growth.
synthetic turf on playground field
Synthetic Turf does have color options, however, stenciled images can’t be added.

Appearance and location of Synthetic Turf Playground Flooring

Pros:

  • When considering artificial turf for your playground area, you can choose various colors, styles, densities, and heights or aim for the most natural appearance and texture.
  • You can also use it both indoors and outdoors.
  • The biggest bonus about synthetic turf is the natural look and feel it brings to your playground. This “grass” always stays green.

Cons:

Quality and maintenance of Synthetic Turf as a Playground Surface

Pros:

  • If you compare synthetic turf to real grass, you’ll find it’s much more low maintenance. No watering, mowing, harmful pesticides, or fertilizer is required.
  • It will need an occasional rinse-off, but water drains well off its surface.
  • Playground turf maintains a higher face weight, the amount of material used by the square yard, making it quite durable and able to withstand significant wear and tear.
  • If it does need a repair, luckily, you won’t need to replace the entire turf. Cut out the damage and replace it with new turf.
  • Plus, say goodbye to mud and grass stains.
  • Synthetic turf is UV stable and won’t fade in the sunlight. It is also heat and frost resistant.
  • Creepy-crawlies will be a thing of the past as insects often steer clear of artificial grass.

Cons:

  • When it comes to maintenance, synthetic turf is a bit needier than poured-in-place surfacing.
  • The faux turf requires frequent cleaning, especially if you live in an incredibly dusty locale.
  • Dust, sand, and leaves will accumulate in the fibers, but you can remove them with a blower, rake, broom with stiff bristles, or a garden hose.
  • When the heat rises, so does the temperature of your synthetic playground turf. While there are additional fills to keep temperatures down, artificial grass is generally much hotter to touch than real grass.
  • Also, static electricity may build on the synthetic turf, and the surfaces may need an anti-static solution.
  • No certified manufacturer guarantees artificial grass to last more than eight years. However, it usually endures about 10-15 years, meaning you’ll have to replace it sooner rather than later.

Installation of Synthetic Turf Playground Flooring

Pros:

  • The one plus about synthetic turf installation is that it’s relatively easy to find a professional to assist with your project.

Cons:

  • The initial install for synthetic turf has many small details and requires a good deal of planning.
  • Professionals will need to create an initial base surface of flat, crushed stone or gravel to allow for proper drainage.
  • A level surface is an essential step as any issues can create stagnant water or odors. Another important layer is a weed cloth to avoid growth.
  • Besides, most installations require an infill layer to maintain the structure and hold the blades upright.

Next Steps

There’s a lot to take in when it comes to selecting a surface for your playground area. If you’re still considering your options, we invite you to look at some of our other playground surface pros and cons. If you’re ready to take the next steps with a poured-in-place rubber flooring, contact us today for a free quote

Wood Chips are Not a Good Surface for Playgrounds (Here’s Why)

As a company that installs poured-in-place playground surfacing and rubber tile playground and safety surfacing, of course we think wood chips should be off of every playground. However, it’s not just about the business for us, we’re parents of small children too! One of the primary reasons we choose to be in this business is we believe it’s important to have safe playground surfaces for our children to play on. We also believe rubber playground surfaces make everyone’s lives just a little easier.

So, allow us to get on our soapbox for just a moment here to say…

No More Wood Chips on Playgrounds!

Replace Woodchips on Playgrounds with Poured Rubber Flooring (Safety Playground Surfaces)
Using wood chips, mulch, or bark dust as playground bedding is a messy and splinter-filled option.

Okay, now that we have that out of our system, here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t use playground wood chips or mulch:

  1. They are a mess! Every playground we visit that has not made the switch to rubber playground surfacing, has wood chips everywhere. No matter what kind of edging or fencing is used to “contain” the wood chips, they will make their way on to the surrounding grass, parking lots, basketball or tennis courts, ball fields, and everywhere else. Cleaning this up day after day becomes really annoying.
  2. You have to keep replacing them. Wood chips constantly need to be replenished. Every year, wood chips decompose and get removed from the site. Replacing woodchip surfacing on a playground is at minimum an annual expense (in some climates they have to be replenished or replaced more than once a year). This is the case with cedar wood chips, pine wood chips, barkdust, etc. A poured-in-place playground surface is a one-time install and your problem is solved. No annual replacement or replenishment. It’s virtually maintenance-free.
  3. They’re not safe. Wood chips on a playground are a safety hazard. Woodchips are constantly moved or kicked around the playground. As a result, some areas have plenty of chips, but in other areas, there is almost no fall protection. This happens especially under swings and other high traffic areas where children play and can trip or fall. And then there’s the painful splinters that ruin everyone’s day… ouch!
  4. Children with disabilities cannot access your playground. Wheelchairs cannot be maneuvered on a woodchip surface and the loose material creates a built-in tripping hazard for everyone. Wheelchair-accessible playgrounds enable everyone to have fun.
  5. They look ugly. Wood chips are not aesthetically pleasing. Who wants an ugly brown playground? A rubber playground surface can provide you with a virtually limitless variety of different designs, including bright and vibrant colors, logos, and even games right in the surface itself!

Seriously… enough said! The good news is, we can help by . Let’s work together to replace all those wood chips on playgrounds everywhere by trading it for a better alternative…

Alternative to Playground Wood Chips

Better Ground Cover for Playgrounds

Poured-in-place rubber playground surfacing is durable, safe (no splinters!), and doesn’t have to be replaced every year.

We install rubber playground flooring across the entire USA. Serving the USA Contact us for more information or get a free quote.

Playground Ground CoverHere’s an example of a project we did to replace wood chips with poured rubber playground flooring.

adventureTURF rubber playground flooring experts install playground and safety surfaces all across the country. Contact us for more information or get a free quote for your next project.

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Wood Mulch FAQs

The difference is negligible. The terms are typically used interchangeably and the only real difference is that wood chips are typically larger chunks than wood mulch. But everything we’ve mentioned here applies to both mulch and wood chips.

For the initial installation cost, you can generally expect to pay around $3 per square foot for wood chips (installed). That being said, that’s just the initial cost. The long-term cost is greater because of their regular upkeep and longevity. Here’s more info about the cost.

Pros & Cons: Bonded Rubber Mulch for Playground Surfacing

Bonded rubber mulch (sometimes called bonded rubber bark or resin bound rubber mulch) looks like traditional wood chips (such as landscaping mulch). But upon closer inspection, you’ll quickly realize that it’s different.

What is bonded rubber mulch? Bonded rubber mulch is an artificial playground surface made of shredded pieces of rubber that are stuck together to form a unitary surface. In other words, this playground surfacing option isn’t loose pieces of rubber mulch or wood mulch. They’re compressed and appear to be “glued” together (which is why it’s sometimes called “resin bound rubber mulch”).

Bonded Rubber Mulch for Playgrounds
Bonded Rubber Mulch playground flooring looks like traditional wood mulch, but is stuck together so that individual pieces can’t be moved

Is Bonded Rubber Mulch the Best Option for Playground Flooring?

Bonded rubber is a popular choice for playgrounds and other recreational surfaces. It provides a comfortable, soft cushion to walk, run, or play on, and complies with ADA standards (PDF) for handicap accessible playgrounds. People who choose this option report the benefits of using it are that it’s easy to customize and the safety of bonded rubber compared to other mulched materials is superior.

But we all know that “popular” doesn’t make something “better.” So, let’s take a closer look at the factors to take into account when you’re considering installing a bonded rubber playground surface.


Safety of Bonded Rubber for Playgrounds

One of the basic and most important considerations for a playground is critical fall height requirements for the surface, which have to do with shock absorbency.

Bonded Rubber Bark is ADA-Compliant
Bonded Rubber Bark is ADA-compliant

Pros:

  • Depending on the exact product used, bonded rubber mulch can require 6 inches of material to better protect a child from a 10-foot fall, according to American Standard Testing Methods (ASTM), the institution tasked by the federal government with setting industry safety standards.
  • In terms of both safety and accessibility by those with disabilities, because it’s a unitary surface, bonded rubber is a better playground flooring choice than common loose fill materials (such as shredded rubber mulch, wood chips, sand, engineered wood fiber, pea gravel, or dirt/grass).
  • Like poured-in-place rubber or tiled rubber playground flooring, debris (such as litter, sticks, etc) is unlikely to get buried in the material.

Cons:

  • Pieces can become loose (think “unglued”).
  • Typically only a single layer of surfacing.

TIP: Bonded rubber is surpassed in safety by poured-in-place rubber flooring, which is the most shock absorbent of available playground surfacing materials, in addition to allowing for the most mobility by kids who need physical aids (like wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, etc).

Cost of Bonded Rubber Mulch Playgrounds
To determine how much an installation of bonded rubber mulch will cost, you’ll need to know the fall height requirements for the equipment on your playground

Cost of Bonded Rubber Mulch Playground Surfacing

Pros:

  • Depending on fall height requirements (depth of surfacing needed), color choices, the condition of the existing surface, location, and a few other factors, the cost of covering a playground 1,000 sq. ft. or larger with bonded rubber mulch can range from $8 to $14 per sq. ft. installed.

Cons:

  • You can expect bonded rubber mulch to last about 10 years before needing to replace it. However, it usually requires intermittent patching up. To ensure the surface continues to meet critical fall height requirements, you may find you need to replace sections of the bound rubber mulch material sooner than what is recommended — especially if the playground is located in an area that does not allow for adequate drainage.

Quality of Bonded Rubber Mulch Playground Flooring

Quality of Bonded Rubber Mulch Playgrounds
How long does bonded rubber mulch last before it needs to be replaced?

Pros:

  • Many manufacturers of bonded rubber mulch guarantee that it is made with safe materials that are free of contaminants and chemicals that could irritate sensitive skin.
  • Bonded rubber mulch comes in a variety of colors that make for an aesthetically pleasing playground or recreational area.

Cons:

TIP: If you choose bonded rubber mulch for your playground, find an installer who uses only premium rubber materials, like EPDM, SBR, and natural materials. You’ll want to know it’s guaranteed to be free of wire, wood, and other contaminants.

Installation of Bonded Rubber Mulch for Playgrounds

Pros:

  • Bonded rubber mulch is on the easier-installation end of playground surfacing choices.
  • Quick for professionals to install. Depending on the size of the playground, professional installers are typically able to complete it in about one day.

Cons:

  • Surface preparation for bonded rubber mulch installers can increase the time (and cost) of the installation.
  • Installation isn’t a once-and-done type of thing. Bonded rubber mulch needs maintenance in order to maintain its safety qualities. If you do not maintain the specific installation depth on a playground, children who fall are at risk of serious injury.

Playground Fun
Kids love slides… especially those with a comfortable landing area

Next Steps

You’ll want to also consider factors such as climate in your area, budget, product availability, and location constraints.

Bonded rubber playground mulch (which we don’t install) isn’t the only rubber playground surfacing option! For larger playgrounds (at schools, parks, daycare centers, and other public playgrounds), we recommend considering a different uniform rubber surface (like poured-in-place rubber or rubber playground tiles). The reason we only install those is because we honestly believe they’re some of the best surfacing options for your playground.

Again, we don’t bonded rubber playground surfacing (because we don’t think it’s the best option for kids or parents). You probably still have questions — contact adventureTURF for answers! We’d love to help you design the safest, most accessible playground surface possible! If you’re ready to take the next steps to choosing the right type of playground surfacing for your situation, reach out to us to request a free quote (for poured rubber or rubber tile playground surfacing). We’d love to help you create a place for adventure!

Pros & Cons: Rubber Mulch for Playground Surfacing

When playground administrators have chosen to install loose-fill material, they often find themselves comparing either rubber mulch (also called shredded rubber mulch, tire mulch, rubber nuggets, rubber pellets, recycled rubber mulch, rubber chips, or loose fill rubber), wood chips (such as landscape mulch), or engineered wood fiber mulch (EWF). All of those are considered loose-fill materials. On the other hand, unitary playground surfaces are all connected (ex. poured-in-place (PIP) playground flooring, rubber playground tiles, bonded rubber mulch).

Rubber Mulch is Popular, But is it the Best Option for Playground Flooring?

Recycled Tire Mulch for Playgrounds
Playground rubber mulch (also known as tire mulch or shredded rubber mulch)

Today’s playgrounds look much different than they did even a decade ago. The drive to make playgrounds safer and accessible to children with special needs has led to significant developments in the technology used to manufacture the materials that go into making playgrounds. Playground flooring, in particular, has undergone significant improvements. If they’re not already, playgrounds with asphalt or concrete surfacing will become extinct because they simply don’t make sense anymore. There are plenty of newer, safer, and cost-effective materials to choose from.

So, is rubber mulch a good option for playground surfacing? It’s certainly popular. But we all know that “popular” doesn’t always mean “best”. Let’s examine the pros and cons of using rubber mulch for playground flooring. Whether you’re installing a brand new playground or resurfacing an existing one, you’re probably wondering about these four topics:


Safety of Rubber Mulch Playground Flooring

One of the basic and most important considerations in playground safety is how its surfacing impacts its critical fall height requirements, which have to do with shock absorbency. The regulations surrounding fall height take into account the vertical distance between the highest-designated play surface on a piece of equipment, and the playground surface beneath it (see this PDF: Public Playground Safety Handbook from the Consumer Product Safety Commission for more details). These requirements come from American Standard Testing Methods (ASTM), the institution tasked by the federal government with setting industry safety standards.

Pros:

  • If using the right type of rubber mulch and installed in a proper manner, rubber mulch can be able to provide an adequate degree of protection to children, meeting acceptable ASTM standards. From the Consumer Product Safety Commission: “There are also rubber mulch products that are designed specifically for use as playground surfacing. Make sure they have been tested to and comply with ASTM F1292.” (source)
  • Experts agree that rubber materials make for the safest playground surfaces.
  • In addition, most manufacturers of rubber mulch utilize safe materials that are mostly free of wire, fiber, plastic, wood, and other undesirable contaminants.

Shredded Rubber Mulch for Playgrounds
Sticks, leafs, stones, and sharp objects can become buried in playground rubber mulch

Cons:

  • It’s easy for litter, debris, and foreign objects to become buried in the mulch, posing a potential safety hazard. The CPSC warns that “Recycled tire rubber mulch products should be inspected before installation to ensure that all metal has been removed.”
  • When in direct sunlight, the surface can get hot.
  • Ask anyone using a wheelchair, walker, scooter, etc and they’ll tell you it’s tough (if not impossible) to get around on tire mulch. So if you’re looking for an accessible playground flooring option that doesn’t cause mobility issues for those with disabilities, you should probably consider something like rubber tiles or poured rubber.
  • You’ll also need to spend time keeping an eye out for insects building homes in the mulch.

 

Cost of Rubber Mulch as a Playground Surface

Pros:

  • Rubber mulch is in the lower-middle price range of playground surfacing. Installation of rubber mulch playground surfacing varies per square foot, based on factors such as how large the playground is, if you’re outsourcing the installation, product availability in your area, and where you’re buying it from. Your best bet is to shop around online and decide whether you’ll install it yourself or pay someone else to install it. You can expect rubber mulch to have a slightly higher up-front cost than wood mulch, because of the better quality of its materials.

Cons:

  • Amount of surfacing needed. Because of fall-height requirements, rubber mulch requires 6 inches of material to protect a child from a 10-foot fall. Compare that to a poured rubber surface, which only needs 4.5 inches of material to allow a child to safely land from a 10-foot fall.
  • After the initial installment, loose fill materials like shredded rubber, are on the more expensive end of maintenance requirements. Rubber tire playground mulch must be replenished regularly due to the nature of the material. Over time, this type of material is prone to being washed away during storms, and kicked out of the playground by busy feet and other types of activity.

 

Kid Swinging on Rubber Mulch Playground
Rubber surfacing is good for cushioning falls.

Quality of Rubber Mulch Playground Flooring

Pros:

  • You can expect rubber mulch to last about 10 years before needing to do a comprehensive replacement of the material. (That being said, you’ll have to top off the rubber playground mulch during that time, which can add up.)
  • It’s not biodegradable and does not decompose like natural wood.

Cons:

  • It’s dusty. There’s no way around this. If you or your kids have played on a playground with shredded/recycled tire surfacing, you know how gross you feel after using it.
  • With a loose fill material like shredded/recycled rubber mulch that can wash away, you may find you need to replace or replenish it sooner than what is recommended. That’s particularly the case if the playground is located in an area that does not allow for adequate rainwater drainage.

 

Installation of Rubber Mulch Playground Flooring

Pros:

  • Loose fill materials are generally easily transported and installed, and the same is the case for tire mulch. While we recommend installation by a professional in any scenario, those on a strict budget may be able to research installation instructions to be able to complete it themselves. You can buy rubber mulch at various places online, as well as at some hardware or lawn/garden stores.

Cons:

  • As mentioned above, the depth of the material needs to be carefully monitored and immediately replenished when it falls under the accepted safety level.
  • You can’t be as creative with designs as you can with other surfacing types, such as poured-in-place rubber, which allows for playground games to be built directly into the surface.

 

Playground Surfacing
There’s lots of playground surfacing options. We recommend poured-in-place rubber or rubber playground tiles.

Next Steps

There are pros and cons to every playground surface type. You’ll want to also consider factors such as climate in your area, budget, product availability, and location constraints.

Loose-fill rubber playground mulch (which we don’t install) isn’t the only rubber playground surfacing option. For larger playgrounds (at schools, parks, daycare centers, and other public playgrounds), we recommend considering a uniform rubber surface like poured-in-place rubber or rubber playground tiles. The reason we only install those options is because we honestly believe they’re some of the best surfacing options for your playground.

Again, we don’t install rubber tire chip playground surfacing (because we don’t think it’s the best option for kids or parents). You probably still have questions — contact adventureTURF for answers! We’d love to help you design the safest, most accessible playground surface possible! If you’re ready to take the next steps to choosing the right type of playground surfacing for your situation, reach out to us to request a free quote (for poured rubber or rubber tile playground surfacing). We’d love to help you create a place for adventure!

Pros & Cons: Wood Chips for Playground Surfacing

Playground with Wood Chips
Wood chips are not a good surface for playgrounds… Click here to see why »

Picture the playgrounds you went to the most as a kid. They were covered in wood chip mulch, right? And you hated the splinters and sharp edges that it caused. Mulch (also known as “landscape mulch”) and wood chips have ruled the playground world for decades — but those responsible for playground upkeep (such as elementary school administrators, daycare directors, park maintenance crews, church managers, etc) have to deal with constant maintenance just to give the kiddos a place to play.

Wood Chips Are Popular, But Are They The Best Option for Playground Flooring?

Let’s take a closer look at using wood chips for playgrounds to see how they measure up to their competition in terms of safety, cost, and quality.


Safety of Wood Chips on Playground Surfaces

Pros:

  • Wood chips have a degree of shock absorbency. A 9-inch layer of wood chips will allow a child to safely land from a 10-foot fall, according to American Standard Testing Methods (ASTM), the institution that sets industry safety standards such as this critical fall height requirement.

Cons:

  • They can obscure hazards, like broken glass from glass beverage containers.
  • They can develop insect or mold problems.
  • They can be choked on or swallowed by young children.
  • While wood chips meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for playgrounds that require surfacing that lessens the impact of falls, they do not meet ADA requirements for surfaces that allow for wheelchairs and other mobility devices. So if you’re looking to build an accessible playground, wood chips aren’t your best option.

A further note on shock absorbency: One reason rubber playground surfacing has risen in popularity is because of the drastic difference in critical fall height requirements. Just 4.5 inches of poured-in-place rubber surfacing provides a surface on which a child can safely land from a 10-foot fall, compared to 9 inches for wood chips.

 

Wood Chips Playground Flooring
A layout of wood chips can vary in level and density across a playground surface area.

Cost of Wood Chips as Playground Flooring

Pros:

  • Wood chips are one of the cheapest playground covering options, above only pea gravel and sand in terms of cost. You can generally expect to pay around $3 per square foot, installed.

Cons:

  • Wood chips lose their color and texture over time.
  • They require regular upkeep, such as raking for hazards and to maintain an even surface level. You will need to occasionally add new material to continue to meet safety standards and maintain the playground’s appearance, as the wood chips are gradually kicked out of the playground, lost in storm drainage, etc.

 

Quality of Wood Chips as Playground Surfacing

Pros:

  • Those who choose wood chips as a playground covering often cite their visual appeal. Wood chips are a step up from traditional mulch, complement most landscaping, and are available in a range of colors.

Cons:

  • One thing to watch out for in terms of color is whether or not the manufacturer uses dyes to enhance the color of the wood. Some of the dyes made for wood chips are known to cause reactions in people with certain medical conditions.
  • Dust gets in eyes, on clothes, and causes a mess.
  • Kids easily get splinters in it.
  • Weeds can grow in it.

Those who choose poured-in-place rubber surfacing over options like wood chips often cite that they appreciate that we use only premium rubber made from natural materials: EPDM rubber (which helps the surface resist cracks due to severe temperatures and weather), and SBR rubber (which helps the surface stay flat and supple).

 

Installation of Wood Chips for Playgrounds

Pros:

  • Wood chips are easy to install; professionals can usually complete the job in about one day.

Cons:

  • Installers need to clean the area and make sure the perimeter is outlined with some type of edging to keep the wood chips in place. Some playground surfacing options (such as poured rubber or rubber tiles) don’t require edging – the material naturally stays in place.
  • Installation isn’t a once-and-done type of thing. Wood chips needs regular maintenance (including adding more material) in order to maintain their critical fall hall requirement. If you do not maintain the specific installation depth on a playground, children who fall are at risk of serious injury.

 

Next Steps

Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) Chips Mulch Playground
This rubber playground flooring area (lighter section at the playground itself) is surrounded by wood mulch, but blends in nicely.

Now that you’ve learned more about the basics of wood chip surfacing, you probably want to consider other, safer playground flooring options.

We might be biased, but we strongly recommend considering poured rubber and rubber tile playground surfaces. The reason we only install those options is because we honestly believe they’re some of the best surfacing options for your playground.

You probably still have questions — please feel free to contact us for answers. Again, we don’t offer to install wood chip playground surfacing (because we don’t think it’s good for kids). If you’re ready to take the next steps to choosing the right type of playground surfacing for your situation, reach out to us to request a free quote (for poured rubber or rubber tile playground surfacing). We’d love to help you create a place for adventure!

Pros & Cons: Poured Rubber Surfacing for Playgrounds

Poured Rubber Playground Flooring
Poured rubber playground flooring is soft, spongy, and durable.

Being tasked with choosing the materials for a playground surface that will experience millions of footsteps (particularly those of children) is harrowing – especially if you don’t have a construction background! If you’re in charge of selecting a flooring surface for a playground – we often talk to daycare directors, early childhood center administrators, church administrators, and city managers, for example – you have a lot of options and information to sift through. So what’s the deal with poured rubber surfacing for playgrounds? Also called “wet pour rubber” or “poured-in-place (PIP) rubber”.

Is Poured-in-Place Rubber the Best Option for Playground Flooring?

Researching playground surfacing means you’re going to learn about poured rubber, also commonly called pour-in-place (PIP) rubber or poured playground surface. For this post, we aim to answer the most important questions you’ll be asking: how does poured rubber measure up against other playground surfacing options in terms of safety, cost, and quality?


Safety of Poured Rubber Playground Flooring

When you’re discussing the surface for a playground, of course, the most important consideration is safety. This is where pour-in-place rubber (also called PIP rubber surfacing) can’t be topped.

Poured rubber playground soft spongy surface
Poured rubber surfacing specifically designed to be extremely shock-absorbent.

Pros:

  • Poured rubber surfacing is durable, soft, and can’t splinter. The chief complaints from parents and kids about popular playground surfaces like Poured Rubber for Playgrounds and rubber mulch is that they splinter, and pieces find their way into skin, eyes, shoes, and clothes. Pavement is also likely to crumble as it ages, and doesn’t provide any cushioning from falls.
  • This type of surfacing was also specifically designed to be extremely shock-absorbent. Just 4.5 inches of poured rubber provides a surface on which a child can safely land from a 10-foot fall, according to American Standard Testing Methods (ASTM), the institution that sets industry safety standards.
  • Parents and playground administrators don’t have to worry about chemical sensitivities. adventureTURF uses only premium rubber made from natural materials, EPDM rubber (which helps the surface resist cracks due to severe temperatures and weather), and SBR rubber (which helps the surface stay flat and supple). These materials are free of metal, wood, harsh chemicals, and other compounds that may irritate sensitive skin, aggravate allergies, or cause other health issues.
  • On playgrounds near areas where animals may roam, poured rubber provides peace of mind that kids won’t encounter any “surprises” that are sometimes found buried in mulch playgrounds. The same goes for any potentially harmful items humans may have left behind (they won’t be buried in the material).
  • Poured Rubber ADA Accessible Playgrounds | Poured Rubber Inclusive Playgrounds
    Poured rubber playgrounds are wheelchair accessible and safe for those with physical disabilities.

    Poured rubber playground flooring is ADA-compliant, meaning it’s wheelchair accessible and safe for those with physical disabilities. Childcare experts agree that youngsters with special needs (and their non-disabled peers!) greatly benefit from inclusive playgrounds, and pour-in-place rubber is widely viewed as the best surfacing option to allow safe and easy play among those with physical limitations.

Cons:

  • Depending on the climate of your location (this applies particularly to dry, cold climates), PIP rubber can become hard over time. This is why experts recommend administrators check in every few years to see if the playground should be topped off with a fresh layer of rubber, which is a simple and fast process.

Cost of Poured Rubber Playground Surfacing

Pros:

  • One of the strongest cost-saving factors in poured rubber’s favor is the lack of yearly maintenance to be figured into your budget. A pour-in-place playground surface will generally last about 10 years (depending on foot traffic) before any type of upkeep is required — no need to truck in new surface filler every spring. With proper maintenance, it can last as long as 12-15 years.
  • After that, maintenance is simple. The surface can be treated with a coating to renew its wear and weather resistance, and on high-traffic playgrounds, new top layers can be poured onto the existing surface.
  • Spot-repairs can be made. Note that not every poured rubber playground requires an entirely new playground surface. Often a playground can be completely revitalized by simply adding a new color cap or wear layer to the surface. This restoration technique will actually improve the playground’s safety rating and is a budget-saver.
  • Using this type of surface also makes your playground eligible for LEED® credits and state grants, to help defray your up-front cost.
  • Learn more about the cost of poured rubber playground flooring here.

Cons:

  • The initial investment to cover a playground with PIP rubber is not the cheapest available option. However, the longevity of the material and its minimal maintenance costs render it comparatively low-cost in the long run.

Texture of Rubber Playground Flooring
Very zoomed-in/close-up view of the texture of rubber playground flooring. It comes with a wide variety of color options.

Quality of Poured Rubber Playground Surfaces

Pros:

  • The granules that make up poured rubber playground flooring provide the opportunity to cost-effectively customize the appearance of your playground. You can select the depth, color, shape, and design of the surface – meaning school colors, logos, and even games can be permanently incorporated.
  • We often hear that poured rubber surfacing makes it easier to maintain a playground that appears clean and welcoming. The surface is smooth and easy to clean, and unlike mulch or stone, it won’t get kicked out of place by busy feet. The customizable appearance means you’re able to make design selections that allow it to blend into the surrounding area, creating a more natural look than pavement.

Cons:

  • As noted above, PIP rubber doesn’t last forever (as does any playground flooring material). You can expect the surface to need more comprehensive resurfacing after about a decade.

Installation of Poured Rubber Playground Flooring

Installing Poured Rubber Playground Surfacing
Poured-in-place rubber flooring for playgrounds is mixed and hand-troweled on site.

Poured rubber playground surfacing is mixed and hand-troweled on site.

Pros:

  • It turns out that this safe and cost-conscious method of playground surfacing is also one of the easiest for professionals to install. Poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing is mixed and hand-troweled on site. You can view videos of adventureTURF’s installation process here.

Cons:

  • Installation must be done by a professional who has the right tools and experience.
  • Surface prep with a base is needed.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve learned more about the basics of poured rubber surfacing, you’re going to want to compare it to other options and dive into the details. You can read more about rubber playground flooring from adventureTURF and find some FAQs we answered. We’ve also created a gallery where you can browse some of the awesome playground designs we’ve completed across the country.

You probably still have questions – you can contact us for answers. And if you’re ready to take next steps, reach out to us to request a free quote. We’d love to help you create a place for adventure!

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Serving the entire USA We service the entire USAContact us for more information or get a free quote.

Playground Surface Design & Stenciling Ideas

Poured in Place Rubber Playground Surface | New York City | adventureTURF
Pretend water features on playground flooring.

Designs as Unique as Your Playground

Okay, so we may be biased, but one of the coolest things about poured in place surfacing for playgrounds, is that design and color options are almost limitless.

Stenciling is a really attractive way to add unique designs to make your playground surface stand out. We’ve worked on playground surface stencils in a variety of shapes, such as stars, suns, moons, clouds, butterflies, and even school logos or mascots.

When done with the different colors of poured rubber, it provides an awesome look!

Handicap Accessible Playground Surface Installers | adventureTURF
Stenciled sun on playground surface, next to wheelchair-accessible swing.

Add fun and games without more equipment!

Have you read our article on budget saving ideas for your new playground surface? How about adding games to the surface of your playground without adding new playground equipment? It is possible to install interactive play features within your poured in place surface.

Games on Playground Flooring
Fun games embedded in playground flooring.

Some examples include hopscotch, checkers, four square and animal jumps. Please take a look at the Kayla’s Krew project in our Project Gallery for some great examples!

We’d be happy to help you design your new playground flooring to include games, shapes, logos, etc. Contact us today!

Playground Floor Color Options

Our rubber playground flooring comes in many different colors, including the following. Learn more about the surfacing material.

Playground Rubber Surface Material Color Options | adventureTURF Playground Surfacing Installers Rubber Playground Flooring Surface Color Options | Poured Rubber Materials Rubber Surface Materials for Playgrounds and Pool Decks

Want some help designing the perfect playground floor for your unique situation? We’re happy to help! Contact us today »

How to save money on poured rubber playground surfacing

Save Money on Playground Rubber SurfacingNew playground surfacing isn’t inexpensive (here’s how much poured rubber playground surfaces cost). But there are several ways to save time and especially cost when having a new playground surface installed.

3 Ways to Get The Most from Your Playground Surfacing Budget

One of the most frequent questions we hear when people call us to ask about a new playground surface is “What can we do to get the poured rubber playground surface to fit within our budget?” We love to help our customers save money on their project and get the most out of their budget. Believe it or not, there are a few simple things that can be done to help with cost savings.

1. Use the right mix.

The first thing we recommend is utilizing a 50/50 black/color mix for the surface installation. (It’s the colored rubber that is the most expensive product used in poured in place surfacing.) By reducing the percentage of the colored rubber by half, thousands of dollars can be saved on a playground surfacing project. This causes some concern initially as customers sometimes worry that their poured in place surface will not have the vibrant color they are looking for. In fact, even with a 50/50 mix, the color is very pronounced. Visit our project gallery for examples (most of them were a 50/50 mix).

2. A little elbow grease in prep work.

Another way to realize some cost savings is to do the prep work yourself. Typically, before we can install a new playground surface, an existing play surface of some sort needs to be removed. While we’re happy to include these labor charges in our project costs, we encourage property owners and community volunteers to put their own sweat equity in to the project and save the budget for a fabulous looking play surface. Especially for local parks and recreation areas, we suggest getting the community involved and organizing a day for everyone to help out. Having volunteers remove existing mulch can help you save substantially on the labor cost of a playground surfacing project.

3. Take out the trash.

Are there any waste removal or trash collection companies in the area? Contracting for your own trash receptacle can provide additional cost savings.

We’re here to help. Contact us.

We take pride in being able to accommodate everyone’s budget. We’ll work with you to design a playground surface to fit your budget, even if that means using rubber playground tiles.

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Do you have suggestions for additional ways to help save costs during a playground installation project? We’d love to hear from you! Contact Us with your ideas.

Grant Options for Rubber Playground Surfacing

How to pay for that new playground? The playground grants resource list.

Playground Grants Resources List | adventureTURF Playground Surfacing
ACS New York

Most often, the first thing we talk about with prospective new playground surfacing customers and local community organizations is budget. For obvious reasons we (and they) must stay within their budget constraints. But there are a significant number of playground grants resources available to help offset the cost of the new playground surface. We advise them to look into playground grants to help fund the new playground.

There is no question that poured in place and rubber tile playground or pool deck surfaces can be fairly expensive. Of course, our thought on that is ‘you get what you pay for.’ However, we completely understand that not every potential customer has the funds necessary to pay for these upgrades on their playgrounds.

One of the best suggestions we can give to potential customers is to apply for grants to assist in raising money. Each year there are hundreds of dollars in available grants to schools, day cares, churches etc. for recycled rubber applications within their new playground surface. Considering our materials consist of mainly recycled rubber, these grants can be a perfect opportunity for many people interested in a new playground surface. We’ve compiled a list of potential grants you may want to consider. This is by no means and exhaustive list, be sure to check your local community for additional grants and available funding sources.

  1. Kaboom Fundraising: http://kaboom.org/build_playspace/get_funding
  2. http://www.schoolgrantsblog.com/
  3. http://www.grants.gov/
  4. https://corporate.homedepot.com/community/home-depot-foundation-grants
  5. https://purpose.nike.com/ncif
  6. https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/programs/shade-structure-program
  7. https://www.christopherreeve.org/blog/daily-dose/how-to-apply-for-a-quality-of-life-grant
  8. http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=pg&p=AboutLowes/outdoor/index.html
  9. https://corporate.mattel.com/en-us/citizenship/philanthropy
  10. http://peacefulplaygrounds.com/playground-and-garden-grants/
  11. http://www.legochildrensfund.org/Guidelines.html
  12. Up to $25000 PVC free Playground Grant from Playworld Systems
  13. CVS & Caremark
  14. General Mills-Champions for Healthy Kids
  15. NFL Keep Gym in School Grant
  16. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Grants.gov source for federal grants
  17. Responsible Sports Grants – Youth Sports Grants from Liberty Mutual
  18. Youth Garden Grants
  19. Office of Head Start Expansion Grants Program
  20. National Recess Week
  21. Frosted Flakes – for baseball or football fields
  22. NFL Play 60
  23. PNC Grow Up Great
  24. Access to Recreation
  25. Home Depot Grant Opportunity
  26. Nike Grant Program
  27. U.S. Department of Education (ED)
  28. Hasbro Children’s Fund
  29. CVS Caremark
  30. L. Bean Conservation and Recreation Grants
  31. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Education Grants
  32. Rosie’s For All Kids Foundation – Early Childhood Care and Education Grants
  33. General Mills Youth Nutrition and Fitness Grants
  34. NRPA Step Up to Health Healthy Communities Start in Parks Grants
  35. Reader’s Digest Make it Matter Grant
  36. National Education Association Student Achievement Grants
  37. Captain Planet Foundation Grants
  38. GreenWorks! Grant Program
  39. Staples Foundation For Learning
  40. Pay it Forward Foundation Mini Grants
  41. Kids in Need Teacher Grants
  42. Education Mini Grants Funded by the Entomological Society of America
  43. The Melinda Gray Ardia Environmental Foundation
  44. Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Awards
  45. The Finish Line Youth Foundation
  46. Women’s Sports Foundation Grants
  47. The Wal-Mart Foundation Grants
  48. CDC (Center for Disease Control) grants for nutrition and physical activity
  49. Kellogg Foundation Grants
  50. Kids on the Go Grants
  51. Miracle’s Grants for America’s Schools
  52. Rite Aid Foundation Kid Cents
  53. Saucony Run for Good
  54. American Heart Association & Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  55. Lowe’s Community Grants

If you are planning to apply for any of the above grants, and need additional supporting information for your new playground surfacing project, contact us. We’re happy to help.