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How to choose the right safety surfacing for your play area
The role of playground safety surfacing:
Ensuring optimal safety for the users: impact-attenuating surfaces help prevent serious head injuries caused by falling. Industry safety guidelines and Health and Safety good practice recommend that impact-absorbing surfacing is provided under equipment with a free fall height greater than 600mm or with forced movement, as stated by European Standards for Playgrounds EN1176 and EN1177.
- Offering extra play value: colours, textures, patterns and floor graphics add visual stimuli, encourage exercise and movement and support imaginative, creative play in a non-prescriptive way.
What you should consider prior to the installation:
- Free fall height of the equipment that you plan to purchase, which will determine the quantity of material you need for the surface.
- Site conditions (subbase, climate, drainage…)
- Age, behaviour and number of users
Types of safety surfaces suitable for playground
A rubber mat through which grass can grow. This surface blends in with the environment once the grass grows, giving the play area a natural feel. It is slip-resistant and convenient for areas where grass growth may be restricted, such as under swings or climbing frames. It is also used for erosion control in designated areas around play equipment.
Wet Pour surfacing is a mixture of polyurethane resin and rubber granulate. Slip-resistant and porous, it is a good all-weather surfacing option providing a continuous seamless surface which allows easy access for wheelchair users and is more convenient to clean and maintain.
Ideal for both play and sports areas, its soft landing is kind to the body and has less impact on the legs and knees when running and jumping. Almost any thickness of wet pour surfacing can be laid onto the ground to achieve optimal fall height safety.
Manufactured from mixed soft wood, bark has a natural look that blends into woodland environments and offers excellent impact absorbency. Bark is not recommended as an impact-attenuating surface under swings or other moving equipment, due to it being easily displaced, and it is not allowed under traditional roundabouts as the ground clearance distance cannot be ensured when the bark is displaced.
Suitable for all year round use, this surface is all-weather, extremely durable and can be laid on slopes. Ideal for high wear areas, artificial grass copes well with heavy traffic. A shock pad layer may be used underneath the grass to give added protection and provide a soft landing for a fall.
Tarmac is the most popular sports surface and ideal for Multi-Use Games Area. It is easy to install, easy to maintain and makes a good surface for the majority of sports. Thermographic markings can be added for various different sports. Due to a lack of impact attenuation, it is not suitable under equipment with a risk of falls.
Eco mulch is a combination of recycled solid rubber shreds mixed with a PU binder onsite and it is available in a range of muted colours. Suitable for year-round use, it can be laid on any type of existing ground without the need for foundations. It is not suitable for dynamic items as the open textured surface can begin to break under heavy, repeated footfall.
Play grade sand has been washed to remove dust and iron oxide residue and the grains have been rounded to prevent compaction. It is fine to the touch and maintains good impact attenuation.
The lush look of natural grass adds beauty to any public space and works well as a surface for small play areas with moderate traffic. Its impact attenuating properties vary according to the type of soil and climate.