When looking to resurface an old playground, or when installing a brand new one, the quality of the playground’s surfacing material is one of the most important factors to consider in the process. From how safe the surfacing will make your playground for its users, to the overall quality of the materials being used: in this article we will outline some of the very best playground surfacing materials to consider for your playground. We’ll cover some of the key benefits and drawbacks for each, discuss which ones are most applicable to the different types of playground out there, and hopefully help you come to a conclusion as to which one you should opt for.
What is playground surfacing?
Playground surfacing is one of the most important aspects of any playground installation, arguably even more so than the play equipment itself! Playground surfacing is simply the material that sits underneath all of the playground equipment in your areas, such as all of the swings, slides, climbing frames and more. Playground surfacing is generally designed to be as safe as possible for the users, being made from a variety of different protective materials that are shock-absorbent and softer than usual flooring.
While there is no legal requirement for you to provide protective playground surfacing on your playgrounds for children, it is highly recommended that you do so. There are a number of British standards concerning safe playground surfacing, such as BS EN 1177, that when followed will help provide a safer environment for children in your playgrounds. Making your playground surfaces as safe as possible will also make them more attractive to parents, more trustworthy and, depending on the surfacing you go for, can even add to the overall design and colour of your playground.
Keep in mind that with Morti, all of our installations, surfaces and products provide you with the necessary protection and information to keep on top of all the relevant standards affecting your playgrounds. You can learn more about our installations and what we offer by visiting our playground installations page.
The different playground surface materials available
Playground surfacing materials come in a wide variety of options, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. When considering these, we can categorise your options into three broad areas; grass surfacing, loose-fill surfacing and synthetic surfacing.
Grass surfacing is one of the most simplistic solutions to your playground’s surfacing problems. Naturally softer than something like concrete, grass can be relatively easily and cheaply maintained, can look good, and may serve as an adequate protective surface in specific conditions, such as in wet weather. However, when conditions are drier, grass can harden and lose much of its ability to absorb impacts, and is also not particularly resistant to wear. At Morti, we would highly recommend that you opt for the installation of a more specialised playground surface.
Loose-fill surfacing covers a selection of materials that, as the name suggests, loosely fills the ground to form a protective layer. This includes materials such as:
- Pea Shingles
Loose-fill surfacing materials are a good option for underlying static play equipment and structures, such as climbing frames and slides, and are very easy to lay. They are however entirely unsuitable under moving play equipment, and can be dispersed and even break down somewhat easily. If you are looking for an all-purpose installation of playground surfacing that will cover all aspects of the playground, then a synthetic surfacing option might be a better choice.
Synthetic surfacing options take many forms, and can be seen as the most complete playground surfacing option available. While a little pricier than the previous two options and having the requirement of an expert installation, the all-purpose nature of synthetic surfacing is unmatched, being very resistant to wear and tear, effective in all weather conditions and long lasting. At Morti, we offer two main synthetic surfacing options for playgrounds:
Rubber mulch is highly durable and low maintenance with excellent safety attributes. It is made from shredded car tyres and bound in polyurethane, and looks good in both rural and urban settings. Our rubber mulch is also available in different colours and styles, allowing you to apply it seamlessly into any playground design.
Wet pour rubber:
Wet pour rubber is made up of soft rubber granules bound in polyurethane, and is suitable for a wide range of uses outside of playgrounds. Versatile, resistant and highly shock-absorbant, our wet pour rubber surfacing is also available in a range of colours, making it customisable to any playground’s design.
Not sure what surface will suit your play or sports area?
What should you consider when looking for a playground surface material?
The three types of playground surfacing options we have just outlined come with their own unique benefits and drawbacks, but there are other factors that you will need to consider when it comes to deciding on your installation.
New vs existing playgrounds
Whether you are looking to resurface an old playground or are in the process of building a brand new one may have an impact on the surfacing options you opt for. When resurfacing an old playground, you may need to consider factors such as how old the equipment is, if they still comply with standards and where they are situated in the playground.
The overall design of your playground may also influence the surfacing option you choose. When it comes to the applicability of different designs, synthetic surfacing solutions have a distinct advantage over other types, due to the fact that they can be installed in a variety of colours and styles.
You will also need to consider the types of users you will have in your playground, for example, the ages of the children who are most likely to visit your playground. Younger children are susceptible to choking hazards, which may rule out using loose-fill surfaces for you, or if your playground is aimed at older children, you may take a different approach when it comes to design.
If your playground has appropriate fencing and protection from vandals, then you may not need to worry as much about this factor. If, however, your playground is more open, you may want to look for a surfacing solution that is less susceptible to vandalism, dispersal and disruption.
Budget & maintenance
Finally, your overall budget may affect the types of surfacing you opt for, with future time and maintenance investments included in this discussion. At Morti, we would always recommend that you opt for a playground surfacing solution that is durable, resistant and applicable to all equipment and conditions, such as our rubber mulch and wet pour rubber surfaces. If you are looking to discuss what we could do for you in terms of surfacing installations on your budget, you can get in touch with our team.
The best playground surfacing
While there are a whole host of different factors to consider that will affect your decision concerning playground surfacing, we would recommend that you go for a synthetic surfacing solution. These surfaces, unlike grass and variants of loose-fill, are just as resistant in all weather conditions, last longer, are much more resilient and safer than other varieties out there. Synthetic rubber tiles, wet pour rubber surfaces and rubber mulch are some of the more popular surfaces of this type. If you would like to discuss a surface installation project for your playground, feel free to contact us, and if you want to learn more about our service, you can visit our surfacing product page.