Playgrounds have evolved over many years to make it safe but still fun for children. One of the many safety standards that have been put in place is installing adequate amounts of safety surfacing under play equipment. For those who are new to playgrounds you may not know what your options are and what would be best for your playground. There are many types of appropriate surfacing for playgrounds; sand, pea gravel, shredded/recycled mulch, Wood Mulch/Chips or any material tested to ASTM F1292, including unitary surfaces, engineered wood fiber, etc. Depending on the surfacing you decide to go with you will need to research and make sure you are putting the right amount of surfacing down.
This type of surfacing includes sand, wood mulch, wood chips, rubber mulch, engineered wood fiber and pea gravel. Many of these surfaces are cost effective and are easier installs. One thing you will have to know before installing any of the surfaces it what the fall height of your playground is. This will determine how thick you will need your surfacing to be. Nine inches of compressed wood mulch will protects a fall height of 7 feet where nine inches of compressed wood chips will protect a fall height of 10 feet. Make sure you research what your fall heights are an what type of loose fill surfacing you are wanting so that you know exactly how much you will need for your area. Keep in mind that this type of surfacing will need to be replenished due to foot traffic kicking the loose material out.
Unitary surfaces include rubber mats, rubber tiles or poured in place rubber. These types of surfacing are generally more costly than the loose fill material surfacing. Any of these surfaces require more labor and take a skilled and qualified installer to put them in. You will also need to know your fall heights in order to install the proper thickness for the type of surfacing that will be put in place. Most of these surfaces will not need as thick of a surface as the loose fill material. Another plus side is that they do not need as much maintenance as the loose fill material since it is a solid surface and have a longer life span.