Traditional playground surfacing like bark and pea gravel often involves costly annual upkeep, with a minimum of bi-annual maintenance requirements. Modern playground surfacing on the other hand tends to be the more cost-effective option for the long-term, involving wet pour rubber, rubber play tiles, and shock pad-based turf products. In this article, we share with you the top 5 signs that you should invest in modern playground surfacing.
1. Cost & Maintenance – You’re Spending Thousands Per Year For Upkeep
Have you noticed how often you need to replenish your playground bark? You’ve probably noted that you’ve replenished your traditional playground (at minimum), on a bi-yearly basis. If you’ve managed to keep it to once a year it’s probably costing you somewhere between $4000 – $7000 per year.
Play bark/wood chip must be settled at a depth of 300mm to meet the minimum Critical Fall Height of 1.5m at $80-$110 per cube. Do the math for your playground and you’ll notice that replenishing this material is a costly exercise!
Then there’s the ongoing maintenance and practical safety costs. When bark blows onto paths and play areas it becomes a hazard – especially for kids on scooters and skateboards. Not only that, kids often hurt themselves by either throwing bark at one another, or by standing on dangerous foreign objects, such as needles and glass, that are easily hidden in the traditional play surface. Hours spent sweeping stubborn bark back into its designated areas comes at a high cost, not only financial but also in time lost that could be spent on other maintenance tasks.
So, how is modern surfacing a solution to this messy situation? Well, firstly, it’s more consistent. Under high wear areas (like under swings), where it’s hard to keep 300mm minimum height to maintain proper CFH with bark, rubber tiles and wet pour surfacing stays in place and is subsequently, safer, and easier to keep clean.
Modern surfacing reaps benefits related to low maintenance, high safety rating and more cutting edge features, such as design, colour palettes and learning stimulation.
Finally, in terms of costs, you should look at modern surfacing as an investment over a 10-year span, becoming the more cost-effective alternative over the long term, and potentially saving you thousands of dollars over its 10+ year life span.
2. Muddy Mess – Your Current Surface Turns To Mud Every Time It Rains
If you’re dealing with a traditional playground, you’ve probably noticed that your current surface becomes a muddy mess after it has been raining. As bark is a biodegradable product that decomposes down over a short time period, it becomes incredibly dirty, especially when wet.
This is extremely commonplace with grassy areas where modern artificial turf is a great solution; keeping your playground surface tidy, void of mud, and overall, safer for play.
3. Safety Hazard – Your Aged Surface Has Become a Danger Zone
There are clear and obvious signs of an aged surface becoming a danger zone and safety hazard, and when detected it’s a clear indication that your surface is in desperate need of replacing and an upgrade. As already established, bark is biodegradable and will need frequent replacing and maintenance. But what about other forms of playground surfacing? How can you tell when they need replacing?
Rubber Playground Tiles
Rubber playground tiles last longer than bark, reaching a 5-8 year life expectancy. But when they age, they become hard and lose shock absorbency. They may even become brittle, chip and break, or look like they have shrunk a little and separate from one another. When this happens, you know it’s time to redo the surface.
Wet Pour Rubber
In many cases, wet pour systems that use a high-quality rubber, like Rosehill TPV, will last for 10 years and beyond. Problems can be encountered when lower quality products like EPDM are used, in which case the llifespanis far less.
Some clear signs can emerge when it’s time to replace wet pour surfacing, including; when surfacing wears through its top layer, generally due to high use (e.g. under swings), or when the base works give way. Often it’s the ground that gives way first, sinking or moving, then the top layer becomes slack or warped. This is why it is important to make sure the product is installed properly by an experienced installer who can prepare the ground properly before installation.
Rubber Matting is another modern surfacing solution and is the same as rubber tiles, but often not as durable. Mats may pull apart, or even rip. If your mats rip, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to replace and get an upgrade.
4. Lack Of Vitality – Your Surface Lacks Vigour & Your Students Have Become Disinterested
Have you noticed that your students have become disengaged with your playground over the years? It’s quite possible that your playground is due for a design upgrade.
Kids prefer environments with vitality that stimulate their imaginations. Modern playground surfacing can provide a necessary injection of colour into your playground to reignite that playground spark you’ve lost.
5. New Development Opportunities – Undergoing A Playground Revamp & Need A New Surface To Match?
Perhaps you’ve already begun the process of revamping your playground and are at the stage of deciding upon new surfacing options.
Modern playground surfacing has more utility than traditional surfaces and it’s easy to pair it with design. By simply combining wet pour rubber colours such as blue and yellow, you’re able to transform your play area into themes such as sea and sand or take it even further, and create a pirate or a galactic themed playground with rockets and space ships.
Perhaps only one of these five signs resonate with your particular playground, but even just one of these signs should convince you to consider upgrading your traditional playground surface to a modern surface like Pour’n’Play or PermaPlay. As with anything, if you don’t move with the times you will find yourself at a competitive disadvantage