Poured-in-Place or Rubber Tiles: Which One’s Ideal for Kids’ Play Area?
Selecting a suitable and safe surfacing for a playground that will be frequented by hundreds of tiny feet isn’t an easy decision. The playground is an important part of childhood where a kid learns and develops critical life skills. Hence, it’s important to create an environment that not just allows them to acquire these skills but also stay safe while doing so.
If you visit a few play areas or speak to daycare directors or early childhood center administrators, you’ll learn that rubber is a common flooring material being used for playgrounds. That’s because rubber is a durable material that tends to absorb the impact of falls, thus reducing the risk of serious playground injuries. Moreover, rubber surfaces are easy to clean and maintain and stand up to heavy wear and tear. They also make playgrounds accessible to all.
The ubiquitous rubber tiles and poured-in-place rubber surfacing have become staples in most playgrounds and kids’ gyms. If you are wondering which one to invest in for your playground project, it’s worth understanding how they compare.
This post will offer a direct comparison between the two types of playground surfaces. But before that, let’s look at the major criteria to be considered when choosing a kids’ playground surfacing.
Evaluation Criteria for Kids’ Play Area Surfacing
Consider these factors when looking for a suitable surfacing material for play areas. This will help you create an enjoyable and safe playground for the little ones.
- Surface Traction
- Care and Upkeep
- ADA Compliance
- Critical Fall Height as per the ASTM standards
- Ease of Installation and Cost
We have discussed more on this subject in our post – 8 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Safe Playground Surfacing. We recommend reading it for more information on this subject.
Rubber Tiles versus Poured-in-Place Rubber – A Direct Comparison
Playground rubber tiles are considered to be one of the best among the unitary surface options. However, these surfaces aren’t devoid of issues. We have enlisted a few pros and cons of rubber tiles that will help you assess whether or not these surfaces are best for a kids’ play area.
- Low-cost unitary surfacing option that’s easy to install. With tiles, the process of creating patterns is easy.
- It makes the play area accessible to kids with disabilities.
- It’s safe and doesn’t shift or displace. Hence, it greatly reduces the risk of accidents.
- It’s easy to clean and needs routine maintenance.
- The installation cost is cheaper than the other unitary flooring options; however, the material cost higher than the loose-fill options.
- One of the issues with rubber tiles is that they tend to have a shorter lifespan than poured-in-place rubber surfaces. The surface is prone to warping in locations of extreme temperature fluctuations.
In such cases, the play area will no longer be safe or accessible for kids. In fact, the surface turns into an eyesore and causes tripping hazards.
- When the tiles shift or warp, cleaning between the tiles is a tedious chore. This hugely compromises the safety and hygiene of the surface. Small potentially dangerous objects and dirt accumulate in the spaces between the tiles. These objects are tough to get rid of and may hurt the playground users.
- Though rubber tiles are ADA compliant, the gaps between them can make it tough for children using wheelchairs or other mobility equipment to move around the area. The state worsens when the surface warps.
- It can splinter due to wear and tear. The most common complaint with rubber tiles is that the surface splinters and pieces of rubber tend to enter the eyes, shoes, or clothes.
- Over a period of time, rubber tiles tend to lose their aesthetic appeal.
- Tiles are a great option if you are looking to create a checkerboard pattern. But if you are looking for stunning colors and patterns, opt for poured-in-place rubber surfacing.
Poured-in-Place Rubber Surfacing
Poured-in-place (PIP) rubber surfacing or wet-pour rubber surfacing is mixed and hand-troweled on site. At Rubcorp, we strive to meet or exceed ADA safety standards for the play areas.
Read on to know the pros and cons of PIP rubber surfacing for kids’ play areas.
- Poured-in-place rubber is durable, springy, and doesn’t splinter even when it experiences high foot traffic. Unlike rubber tiles, the wet-pour surface installed by Rubcorp’s team doesn’t splinter or crumble.
- Since the wet-poured rubber mix is poured onto the surface, it can be designed to comply with the critical fall height requirements of the American Standard Testing Methods (ASTM).
- It’s a shock-absorbing surface. Just 4.5 inches of wet-pour rubber offers a surface on which a child can land safely from a 10-foot fall.
- Rubcorp uses premium-quality rubber made from –
- Natural materials
- EPDM rubber granules – helps the surface resist cracks due to severe temperatures and wear and tear.
- SBR rubber – helps the surface stay flat, springy, and supple.
These materials are free of harsh chemicals or allergens that could cause health issues, irritate sensitive skin, or aggravate an allergy in kids and adults.
- The surface is ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and meets the necessary accessibility requirements. Experts agree that poured-in-place rubber surfaces are great for kids with special needs and invisible disabilities. Kids can greatly benefit from such inclusive play areas.
- Wet-pour surfaces are aesthetically pleasing and can be designed as per your requirements.
- Poured-in-place rubber is easy to install. The rubber safety surfacing is mixed and hand-troweled on site. See our video on YouTube to know more about the installation process.
- The upfront cost of wet-pour rubber surfacing is high. However, since rubber flooring will last for several years with little need for maintenance, the surface will pay for itself in the long-term.
Poured-in-place rubber generally lasts for over 10 years before demanding any serious upkeep. If you clean and care for it, its lifespan can extend to 15 years.
- Depending on the local climatic conditions, poured-in-place rubber tends to get hard over time. This is especially true in areas with a dry and cold climate.
Hence, it’s wise to get the surface checked by a local rubber surfacing professional. They will examine the surface and top it off with a fresh layer of rubber if needed. The process is simple and fairly quick.
When choosing an ideal playground surfacing you need to consider the foot traffic and the activities the flooring will be subject to. Further, you also need to take into account its performance, durability, and upfront and maintenance and repair costs. Hence, the more informed you are in this regard the better decision you’ll make.
At present, rubber tiles and poured-in-place rubber are the two main types of rubber surfacing being applied in playground settings. So, consider the pros and cons of each of these surfaces before installing a suitable surface in your play area.
An enjoyable and safe play area surface starts from the ground up. When planning a resurfacing project, consult a rubber surfacing expert who can offer valuable guidance in this matter. Get in touch with Rubcorp to know your playground surfacing options now. We are just a call or an email away!