The best materials for playground pavements

Types of safety surfacing for playground coverings

When designing a project for the construction of a playground it is of vital importance to decide on the type of safety flooring that will cover the play area. It is an aspect that may seem secondary, but that will make a difference, since we must always think of the best materials to ensure both the fun and safety of the children who will enjoy the playground we are going to build. We share several key aspects:

1. Gravel

Gravel is an affordable option often used for parking areas, pet parks and playgrounds.

It provides a natural look at an attractive price and can help limit weed growth, however it does not provide much protection for possible falls by children.

It is a low-maintenance landscaping material, which may appeal to some homeowners, but parents may find it dangerous, as it can hide broken glass.

In general, gravel ranks high for being inexpensive, attractive and easy to install; however, safety concerns and potential damage to the surface it sits on mean that this may not be the best choice for playgrounds.

2. Rubber

Rubber is a very new element on the playground flooring scene. Es popular por su capacidad de proporcionar un buen cojín cuando los niños se caen.

This resilient material also acts as a weed barrier and is a low-maintenance option for play areas, increasing their appeal to homeowners.

It should be noted that the rubber of new rubber flooring can smell a bit when the temperature rises on hot summer days.

Installing rubber playground surfacing is a good option for those looking for a low-maintenance option that provides a softer, safer place for children to play.

While you may have to spend a little extra time sweeping or raking to keep it in the play area, it may be worth it as the installation of this rubber flooring conveys a lot of security to parents and family members of children.

3. Poured rubber and rubber tiles

Solid rubber playground surfacing is becoming a common choice for neighborhood playgrounds and school playgrounds.

Rubber tiles and poured rubber surfaces are slip-resistant, easy to maintain and available in a variety of thicknesses to meet different functions. They also drain well, provide a level and even surface for play, and are wheelchair and stroller accessible.

This popular option is considered one of the safest when preparing a playground flooring installation, but it is also one of the most expensive. However, if price is not an issue, this should be a priority material due to the level of safety it offers, its low maintenance requirements and its visual appeal.

4. Artificial turf

Synthetic turf provides a uniform, level safety pavement that drains well, never needs weeding or watering, provides the lush look of natural grass and offers a softer cushion for rough play or uncomfortable landings.

The initial installation of artificial turf is more expensive than installing sod or planting grass seed; however, this low-maintenance landscaping option can save time and money in the future.

There is no worry about children bringing wet grass or dirt home when they have been playing on artificial turf, plus this type of playground surfacing will blend in perfectly with the overall design of the area.

Artificial turf is also accessible for wheelchairs and strollers, and does not become slippery when wet like natural grass. A possible disadvantage of synthetic turf is that it will heat up more than natural grass when exposed to prolonged exposure to direct sunlight on hot days. Fortunately, there is an easy solution for this: install it under shady trees or install shade-generating elements or awnings.

Overall, artificial turf is a low-maintenance playground safety flooring option that cushions falls, reduces slip and trip hazards and will last a long time. It has higher initial costs than some of the other options discussed, but can save significant amounts of water, time and money over its lifetime.

5. Sand

Sand has long been the preferred ground cover for installing safety surfacing in playgrounds, probably due to its affordable cost and ability to absorb falls.

It should be noted that shallow sand does not provide good protection when landing, so be sure to have several inches of sand evenly distributed in the area to be effective for this purpose. Because sand can change over time, the depth should be checked regularly and areas that have become too shallow should be replaced.

One of the biggest disadvantages of sand used as playground safety surfacing is its ability to get inside children’s socks or clothing.

Sand is certainly an affordable option that will work as safety surfacing in a playground, but it is also messy and can become annoying or messy over time. Another application is a sandbox as a smaller feature in the playground.

6. Wood chips and mulch

Wood chips and mulch are generally more expensive materials than sand or gravel, but they also provide superior visual appeal that will complement any type of landscaping.

Both wood chips and mulch can hide hazards (such as broken glass), be prone to mold and mildew, and be a good habitat for insects (such as fleas), making them unattractive for playground safety surfacing. Children can swallow these materials and therefore present a choking hazard.

And, of course, any wood product has the potential to splinter; however, there are wood chips made specifically for playground flooring that are made in a way that reduces the likelihood of splintering. Mulch and wood chips tend to lose their color and texture over time and will require regular renewal to maintain their best appearance.

Therefore, if you choose this affordable option, be sure to look for all-natural products that are free of unnecessary dyes and chemicals.

7. Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF)

Engineered wood fiber (EWF) is a common material used in playground safety surfacing and is growing in popularity for domestic use.

This attractive slip-resistant option provides a resilient cushion for falls and is generally considered a better choice than mulch or wood chips. It is made of wood, which means it will biodegrade over time and require replacement.

Since it is generally more expensive than wood chips, mulch, sand, gravel or natural sod, this may make it a less attractive option for some projects.

If this option is chosen, be sure to purchase EWF that is made from virgin wood, as fibers engineered from used wood may contain contaminants.

In summary, choosing a good pavement to install in a playground is not difficult, but it requires some planning, analysis and reflection to decide which one best suits both the budget and safety, as well as the needs we want to cover.

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