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The Importance of Playground Surfacing

January 24, 2024 jill Blog


We believe playgrounds are essential spaces for children’s physical and social development. However, their safety is of paramount concern to parents, educators, and community leaders.

Playground surfacing plays a crucial role in safeguarding children from injuries while they explore, play, and grow.

In this article, we will delve into the world of playground surfacing, exploring the various types available, their benefits, and the importance of ensuring a safe and fun environment for our little ones.

Playground surfacing is more than just aesthetics; it’s about safety. Falls are the most common cause of injuries on playgrounds, and the choice of surfacing can significantly impact the outcome of these accidents. The right playground surfacing helps absorb shock and reduce the risk of injuries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 200,000 children under the age of 14 are treated in emergency rooms for playground-related injuries each year. This alarming statistic underscores the significance of using appropriate playground surfacing materials.

Types of Playground Surfacing

Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF)

EWF is a popular playground surfacing option due to its cushioning and impact-absorbing properties. It consists of wood chips that are certified for playground use. EWF is affordable, accessible, and easy to maintain.

Rubber Mulch

Made from recycled rubber materials, rubber mulch is an eco-friendly and long-lasting playground surfacing choice. It offers excellent shock absorption, is slip-resistant, and requires minimal maintenance.

Poured-in-Place Rubber (PIP)

PIP is a seamless and durable option for playground surfacing. It consists of a mixture of rubber granules and a binder that is poured directly onto the playground surface. PIP comes in a variety of colors and designs, making it a versatile choice for creating aesthetically pleasing play areas.

Artificial Turf

Synthetic turf is an attractive and low-maintenance option for playground surfacing. It provides a soft and comfortable surface for children to play on. Additionally, it is durable and can withstand heavy use.

Tiles and Mats

Interlocking rubber tiles and mats are easy to install and provide a uniform and cushioned surface. They come in various thicknesses and colors, allowing for customization.

Benefits of Playground Surfacing


The primary benefit of using appropriate playground surfacing is enhanced safety. It significantly reduces the risk of injuries during falls, making playtime worry-free for both children and parents.


Playground surfacing materials like rubber tiles and mats can create accessible pathways for children with mobility challenges, ensuring that all kids can enjoy the playground equally.


Quality playground surfacing materials are designed to withstand the elements, heavy use, and the test of time. This means fewer maintenance costs and a longer lifespan for the playground.


Playgrounds should be appealing and engaging for children. Playground surfacing materials come in various colors and designs, allowing for creative and visually stimulating play spaces.

Low Maintenance

Many playground surfacing options require minimal maintenance, which is a relief for schools, communities, and parents who want to keep the play area safe and clean.

Environmental Considerations

Using recycled materials in some playground surfacing options contributes to sustainability and environmental conservation.


Pour-in-place rubber and rubber mulch offer a seamless and consistent surface, reducing tripping hazards and improving the overall user experience.

Regulations and Safety Standards

To ensure the safety of children on playgrounds, various organizations and government agencies have established guidelines and safety standards for playground surfacing.

In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) provides comprehensive safety guidelines for playground equipment and surfacing. These standards include recommendations for impact attenuation, accessibility, and maintenance.

It is essential for playground owners and operators to be aware of and adhere to these safety standards. Compliance not only protects children but also reduces liability in the event of accidents.

Considerations When Choosing Playground Surfacing

When selecting the appropriate surfacing for a playground, it is important to consider several factors.


Prioritize the safety of the children who will use the playground. Opt for surfacing materials with good shock absorption properties.


Ensure that the surfacing choice allows all children, regardless of physical ability, to access and enjoy the playground.


Consider the available budget for playground surfacing. While some options may be more expensive initially, they often prove cost-effective in the long run due to their durability.


Think about the local climate and how it might impact the chosen surfacing material. Some materials may not be suitable for extreme heat, cold, or heavy rainfall.


Assess the level of maintenance the chosen material will require. Low-maintenance options can save time and resources.


Take into account the visual appeal of the playground. Children are more likely to be engaged in a well-designed, visually stimulating environment.

In conclusion, playground surfacing is a critical element of playground safety and functionality. The right choice of surfacing material can protect children from injuries and create an enjoyable and inclusive play space.

It’s essential to consider factors such as safety, accessibility, budget, climate, maintenance, and aesthetics when selecting the appropriate surfacing for a playground.

By prioritizing safety and following established safety standards, you can ensure that playgrounds remain a place of joy, learning, and growth for children of all ages and abilities.

This information is courtesy of Playworx Playsets, the Little Tikes Commercial Play Systems rep for Florida and Georgia. They are a family owned and driven operation that has continued to provide quality commercial playgrounds and parks for children to learn and grow,