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Different Types of Safety Surfaces: Description & Comparison

By Whirl Construction (640 words)
Posted in Safety Surfaces on January 23, 2013

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With many different safety surfaces on the market, determining the best material for the job may pose a challenging task. Surfaces basically belong to one of two categories, loose-fill or unitary. An example of loose-fill systems commonly used for safety includes engineered wood fiber. Bonded rubber, poured-in- place, rubber tiles and synthetic turf represent options for unitary systems. Each require professional installation but vary in advantages and disadvantages.

Whirl Construction | Wood Fiber

Wood Fiber

The product looks similar to landscape mulch. However, the material consists of wood particles shredded into specific sizes. The shape and size of the chips enable the fibers to knit together but allow for moisture drainage. This particular safety surface is the most cost effective option that we offer here at Whirl Construction. It requires regular raking to ensure adequate depth and cushioning.

Whirl Construction | Bonded Rubber

Bonded Rubber

Rubberized safety surfaces consist of small rubber particles combined with a polyurethane resin to create a solid surface. Though solid, the surface has porous features that allow for drainage. Made from recycled tires, the slip resistant rubber unitary surfaces remain eco-friendly. All rubber surfaces inhibit mold growth and provide pest resistance along with having hypoallergenic benefits. This type of safety surface also only needs periodic maintenance in the event of damaged areas. The solidity of the surface additionally enables disability access. Bonded rubber safety surfaces may incur damage in high traffic areas. These surfaces are available in different color options and colors can be applied to create a desired pattern. It provides excellent cushioning with proper depth application.

Whirl Construction | Pour-in-Place


Poured rubber has two layers of cushioning. The bottom coating serves as the wear layer and contains granulated rubber mixed with a resin binder, which then applies at the recommended depth. The top or cushioning layer consists of crumbled rubber combined with a higher concentration of resin. This layer is typically thicker and applied anywhere from one to five inches deep. Poured rubber is another safety surface that is available in multiple color options, but more expensive than bonded rubber. Also applicable in irregular patterns or shapes, but inconsistencies could occur if not expertly applied.

Whirl Construction | Rubber Tiles

Rubber Tiles

Safety surfaces constructed of interlocking playground tiles contain fine granulated rubber combined with adhesive resins formed into square or rectangular blocks. Each tile’s thickness varies from 1.75 to 4 inches. Greater thicknesses offers more cushion protection. This safety surface requires ground preparation before application, but is overall easy to install. Rubber tiles must be applied on a flat surface and pattern designs are limited.

Whirl Construction | Synthetic Turf

Artificial Turf

Turf contains woven synthetic fibers that resemble grass but does not require the maintenance of a lawn. Like rubberized surfaces, artificial turf dries quickly, resists microbes and insect pests. Even when exposed to sweltering temperatures, the synthetic grass remains cool to the touch. Synthetic tuf is probably the most aesthetically pleasing safety surface, and provides adequate cushioning. The surface is also extremely durable and resistant.

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International Playground Contractors Association New Jersey Recreation and Park Association Certified Playground Safety Inspectors Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute