When most people think of a playground, they might picture swings, slides, and monkey bars. However, one of the most important parts of any playground is the surfacing. Why is surfacing so vital to playground safety? To explain, the purpose of surfacing is to protect children from hard falls. In today’s market, there are many types of fall surfaces that can be used in a playground. Although there are many variations and styles, they are all designed for the same purpose. So, how do you know which type of surfacing fits your needs? Keeping reading to find out what you need to know about playground surfacing! 

Four of the most common fall surfaces are:

  • Engineered Wood Fiber
  • Rubber Tile
  • Poured In Place Rubber
  • Artificial Turf

Engineered Wood Fiber - Playground Surfacing

Engineered Wood Fiber

Engineered wood fiber (EWF) is made from the heart wood of hardwood trees and should be free of twigs, bark and leaves. How cool! EWF, however, requires ongoing maintenance to level the wood fiber where it gets kicked out in high use areas and will need periodic topping off. The recommend depth varies based on the fall height of the equipment. This information can be found in The Consumer Product Safety Commissions Public Playground Safety Handbook. EWF should not be installed over hard surfaces like asphalt, concrete or compacted earth.

Rubber Tile

Rubber Tile

Rubber tile is typically made from recycled rubber products. Tiles will vary in thickness based on the fall height of the equipment. Rubber tiles get installed in various ways. To explain, the tiles are either glued to the subbase, glued to each other or connected with a locking system. Acceptable subbases vary with the different manufacturers. Although,  the most common are asphalt, concrete or compacted stone. Rubber tile can be very vibrant and rich because it comes in a variety of colors.

Poured in Place Rubber - Playground Surfacing


Poured in Place Rubber

Poured in Place Rubber is a 2 layer system. The base material is Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR). The top layer is Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM). Poured in Place Rubber varies in thickness based on the height of the equipment. Acceptable subbases are asphalt, concrete or compacted stone. When poured in Place Rubber is installed, the rubber is mixed with a urethane and poured in place. It is then troweled out to create a smooth, seamless surface. Poured in place rubber comes in a variety of colors.

Artificial Turf - Playground Surfacing

Artificial Turf

Artificial turf has become popular as a playground fall surface.  The turf is installed over a shock pad which varies in height based on the fall height of the equipment. Acceptable subbases are asphalt, concrete or compacted stone.

Need inspiration? Check out our gallery!  

Another benefit of using playground surfacing is to ensure play for all. All the above surfaces improve accessibility for individuals with mobility challenges. In addition, surfaces are ADA accessible and should be tested to comply with ASTM Standards F1292 to ensure they meet the proper impact attenuation.

Overall, there is a wide variety of turf styles that can accommodate the look and features you would like. Playground servicing is vital to playground safety, however the right choice depends on your unique needs. If you feel have additional questions, or feel like you need to know more about playground surfacing, please click here to contact us. 

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