Safety, comfort, and fun are front of the mind for parents when they take their children to an outdoor playground. The right surface materials incorporated in playground designs make a substantial contribution to most of these requirements. Research by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that around 80% of the injuries sustained by children occur in playground settings.
Installing the best outdoor playground surfaces, such as rubber playground flooring or specially designed soft-fall materials reduces the risk of debilitating injuries that can occur through falling from play equipment, or just while running about.
Such surfaces can be a little more expensive than other alternatives, but they are formulated to be durable, and the latest products in this category also provide color and designs that stimulate young imaginations toward outdoor adventure.
Why the trend towards soft-fall flooring is here to stay
Building the ideal children’s playground is a complex task. Play equipment must be as safe as possible, but still challenging to encourage physical development, collaborative play, and games of make-believe; surfaces must be shielded from the hot summer sun, to avoid burning young skin; flooring must be seamless, but perhaps also be able to take a few mounds or platforms in its stride? Ideally, the surface should also be slip-resistant and durable.
Soft-fall and rubber surface each answer these requirements to varying degrees; understanding the differentiators can help designers make the right choices.
Important qualities of soft-fall and rubber playground flooring
Fall attenuation and slip-resistance are the foremost benefits of both soft-fall and rubber playground surfaces. These attributes help to minimize the risk of injury to children at play whether they’re at ground level or fall from play equipment.
2. Comfort for kids
Running, jumping, rolling around are facilitated by smooth surfaces with a little flex! But perhaps more important than that resilient surface feeling is the temperature of children’s play areas: ambient temperature is elevated when playground surfaces heat up, and scientific investigation has shown that temperatures are hottest closest to the heated surface — where the kids are, at their height — than at the height of adults. So parents can be unaware that their children are in fact experiencing more distressing temperatures than they are, and also that they can be in danger of burning their young, sensitive skin on play equipment and surfaces.
Playground shade must be positioned to be effective during the hottest hours of the day, but hot spots can still develop wherever the sun is concentrated for a period of time.
Dark-colored surfaces absorb more heat than lighter colors which reflect the heat. The structure of PolySoft flooring, with its myriad polyolefin beads, has been shown to most effectively reflect light and remain degrees cooler than other surfaces tested under the same conditions.
3. Colour for movement!
Playground rubber flooring and soft-fall surfaces are both available in a variety of colors that add a playful vibe to areas designed for children. The beads that are the main component of PolySoft come in a variety of rich colors which can be mixed to provide greater depth, or poured into a variety of geometric patterns or fantasy shapes. PolySoft beads are colored to the core, as is rubber flooring, so there’s no risk of surface color wearing off. PolySoft is also UV and chlorine resistant, ensuring it stays vibrant for longer without fading.
4. Sound-absorbing properties
Playgrounds can generate a fair amount of noise — the sounds of children enjoying themselves, shrieking and roaring, shouting and singing. Rubber and soft-fall flooring, together with dense plantings of shrubs can help absorb some of that noise so that nearby residents or workers are not disturbed and younger children aren’t intimidated by the surrounding decibels.
5. Durability and repairability
Outdoor playground flooring takes a beating. The surface under swings and at the end of the slippery dip is generally most impacted by little feet scraping or hitting the brakes! Almost all playground surfaces can be repaired. Rubber playground flooring is frequently installed as tiles, any number of which can be replaced if they sustain wear or tears. PolySoft — which can take several years to wear down — can be reapplied to seamlessly integrate with the original PolySoft surface.
6. Versatility (for adventure anywhere)
That same seamless quality allows PolySoft to be poured around the base of play equipment, over shapes and platforms, on rooftop or terrace playgrounds of daycare centers located within city buildings, around the water jets or fountains of splash parks, and so, flexibly on. Rubber playground flooring can be cut to fit.
7. Easy maintenance
Dust, sand, food scraps, spilled drinks — playground surfaces must respond to periodic cleaning, coming up fresh and hygienic for the next tangle of young feet and limbs. Rubber surfaces and soft-fall surfaces such as PolySoft are easily maintained with simple products.
Any surface must also be professionally laid to allow water to drain away. PolySoft Play and Splash can be laid to allow water to drain through the surface, ensuring a dry and slip-resistant underfoot experience in all conditions.
Install the best outdoor playground flooring with Polysoft surfaces
Choosing and installing the right flooring for different play areas requires experience and understanding of the safety and aesthetic requirements. Our friendly PolySoft team works with architects, designers, and developers around the world to achieve their vision of fun and adventure, with safety, durability that delivers on investment, and children’s comfort in mind. Be sure to discuss your playground surfacing options with PolySoft experts.
Our goal is to elegantly, seamlessly solve the challenges of each client with our scientifically developed and recyclable products.