Playground surfacing is one of the most important elements of any park design. Not only does the right ground covering make it possible for children and their families to access the equipment, but it also helps to keep everyone safe. According to the CDC, approximately 56% of injuries sustained on a playground that require an ER visit are contusions and fractures. The right playground surfacing can help prevent these types of injuries while creating an enjoyable environment where everyone can play.
Where Is Accessibility a Major Factor?
Your playground may need to comply with ADA standards for making sure that everyone has an accessible route to the kids playground equipment. This is especially likely if you are putting a playground in a public area such as a school. Accessible safety surfacing should be fairly flat while still providing some degree of cushioning. Poured in place rubber is one of the easiest types of surfacing for people with wheelchairs and other mobility aids to move across. Synthetic turf can also be accessible, but you will want to work with a playground designer to make sure that you choose the right type and height to avoid reducing accessibility.
Do you anticipate high amounts of wear and tear?
Some playground areas are more likely to be used more often than others. For instance, daycares and schools with many children playing throughout the day can anticipate needing to replace safety surfacing more often. In this case, you might want to choose a material such as recycled rubber tiles. If one gets damaged, then you can simply replace it rather than having to redo the entire playground’s surface. These are also great to use around outdoor gym equipment where visitors to the park may engage in high levels of activity.
Are you concerned about budgetary contraints?
It is always best to go with the highest quality safety surfacing that your budget can afford because you shouldn’t skimp on safety. However, there are some types of surfacing that are more affordable than others. Wood mulch is budget-friendly, and it can help you stay in compliance with safety standards for fall zones. While wood mulch is affordable, you may still want to factor in the cost of maintenance as you make your decision. Loose fill often needs raking and occasional refills to keep it deep enough to reduce the risk of injuries. If you are not able to maintain loose fill, then you might want to choose surfacing that stays in place but still provides the right amount of impact attenuation.
Do you desire a specific look or feel for the playground?
You can also have some fun selecting playground surfacing materials. Certain types are designed to allow you to give your park a specific look. Consider creating defined areas with different colors of rubber tiles. Poured in place rubber can be made to match the theme of the playground. For instance, red and green rubber can be placed to give kids a chance to pretend that they are avoiding hot lava as they run around a dinosaur-themed park.
Many playgrounds include several different types of safety surfacing. You might choose to use poured in place rubber to create pathways to the different pieces of equipment while placing loose rubber mulch in high fall zones. Beginning your playground design with safety in mind lets everyone play with minimal risk of injuries.