In general, there are two types of Playground Surfaces: unitary and loose-fill. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The best choice depends on the type of park and budget. When choosing a surface, it’s important to know that all surfaces should be tested and compliant with the appropriate ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standard to ensure safety and durability. When in doubt, ask for test results and certification papers to verify that the surface meets the requirements of your specific playground.
Unitary surfaces are one-piece, smooth surfaces that come in different colors and options. They’re easy to maintain and allow for ADA access for wheelchairs and strollers. They also provide a soft landing for light falls. One of the most popular unitary surfaces is poured rubber surfacing, which has a layer of shock-absorbing crumb rubber underneath a finish layer. Poured rubber is one of the more expensive playground surfacing options.
Choosing the Right Playground Surface for Safety and Fun
Loose-fill surfacing is made of natural materials such as pea gravel, sand, or engineered wood fiber (EWF). It’s less expensive than unitary surfacing and can match the look of nature-themed playground equipment. However, it’s crucial to regularly rake and replenish loose-fill surfaces to keep them safe, ADA-compliant, and clean. Erosion in high-use areas can be costly and dangerous for kids.
Playground Surfaces is one of the safest loose-fill surfacing options. It’s all-natural, knits together to compact, and makes a safe, accessible surface that offers good impact absorption. It’s also cheaper than poured rubber and lasts longer than other loose-fill surfacing options.