Should you choose a poured rubber surface for your playground?
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.
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?
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.
The chief complaints from parents and kids about popular playground surfaces like wood chips 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.
The poured rubber surfacing is durable, soft, and can’t splinter.
Accessibility & Allergies
Parents and playground administrators don’t have to worry about chemical sensitivities, either — 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Poured rubber provides 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.
It turns out that this safe and cost-conscious method of playground surfacing is also one of the easiest to install. Poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing is mixed and hand-troweled on site. You can view videos of our installation process here.
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!