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How to Choose the Right Safety Surfaces for a Playground

By Whirl Construction (615 words)
Posted in Safety Surfaces on December 28, 2012

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DSCF0920.jpgBlacktop, concrete and packed soils have been proven to be insufficient for protecting children from serious injuries on playgrounds. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Society of Testing Material and the American with Disabilities Act, current options for safer playground surfaces include loose-fill and unitary surfaces created with engineered wood fiber or rubber from recycled tires. Artificial turf is another surface option. All provide a shock absorbent type cushioning layer beneath playground equipment. Factors for deciding between each safety option include cost and maintenance requirements.

Loose-Fill Surfaces

Whirl Construction offers engineered wood fiber, which remain the most cost effective options for safe playground surfacing. Though more expensive, shredded rubber is another option for loose fill material and unlike other substances lasts indefinitely. Both substances offer outstanding shock absorbing protection. Materials must have sufficient depth application for optimal cushioning ability. Loose fill requires regular maintenance that includes raking and product replacement. During normal use, loose fill materials become compacted or displaced, which decreases the degree of protection in high risk areas.

Unitary Surfaces

Bonded rubber, pour-in-place and rubber tiles installed by Whirl Construction are examples of unitary surfaces. Bonded rubber surfaces consist of shredded recycled rubber combined with polyurethane adhesive applied to the ground in depths recommended for particular regions of a playground. Pour-in-place consists of an impact layer under a top wear layer, both made of granulated rubber combined with polyurethane binder. The depth of this material also varies with need. The cost of interlocking rubber tiles lies between loose fill and pour-in-place surfaces.

All rubber unitary surfaces offer the option of varied colors. Surfaces might also feature personalized patterns or designs. Unlike loose fill products, unitary surfaces remain in place. The construction materials used provide long lasting performance and maintenance only involves periodic patching of damaged areas. When used on playgrounds and walkways, rubberized materials also provide a smooth surface that enables disability access.

Artificial Turf

Resembling a well cared for lawn; artificial turf does not require the same extensive attention and maintenance as real grass. Soft to the touch, hypoallergenic and pest resistant, turf installation includes a subsurface layer of rubber padding that provides cushiony comfort on top of the life like grass. Though having the appeal of a lawn, the artificial material does not stain clothes. The surface also remains cool to the touch regardless of outdoor temperatures.

All of the loose fill and unitary surfaces allow adequate drainage into the soil below, which prevents moisture pooling. This feature enables use after storms. The materials used in surfaces also resist insect and mold infestations. In addition to creating safety surfaces, contractor’s landscape designated areas with a border of choice. The quality products and installation practices used in safety playgrounds provided by Whirl Construction ensure long wear and low maintenance.

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