Playground planning

Playground Surfacing Options

Commercial surfacing for playgrounds

Choosing the perfect surfacing for your playground is not an easy task. When deciding on your surfacing you have to consider compliance and durability. Surfacing is a big part of your playground planning project and also forms part of your budget planning. Surfacing in public playgrounds absorbs impact energy, reducing the severity of injuries from falls. It provides a softer landing surface than hard materials. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Safety and durability

  2. Fall height protection

  3. Playground safety regulations

  4. Installation

  5. Design and Aesthetics

  6. Accessibility

1. Safety & Durability

Playground safety surfacing is part of strict commercial safety regulations and standards, guaranteeing a secure and enjoyable play experience for all. FLEXOTOP™ wetpour, rubber mulch, safagrass matting and engineered wood fibre are all functional surfacing options. There are variations in price and maintenance levels for each surface so it is important to be aware of this before making a final decision.

Some examples of playground surfacing materials include:

Safagrass Matting

Safagrass matting is a mat that is laid onto existing grass to provide a safe play area. The mat will disappears from view once the grass has re-grown. Maintenance is required for this surface.

Engineered wood fibre

Engineered wood fibre is made from shredded wood fibres and is designed to provide impact absorption. It's natural-looking so can be used in a variety of playgrounds - maintenance is required and the surface area will need to be topped up.

Rubber playground surfacing (Flexotop™)

Made from recycled rubber, rubber provides excellent impact absorption and is highly durable. It's available in various colours making it a versatile playground option. Flexotop™ is made from recycled sneakergrind. Wetpour is a porous material making it very suitable for the Irish climate and images can be included in the surfacing which increases play value and can help theme the area. Learn more about Flexotop™ here.

2. Fall height protection

The choice of surfacing is connected to the type of equipment in the playground. The thickness of the surface depends on the Critical Fall Height of the equipment. Our Galway based design team can advise you on what depth surfacing you require, all our surfacing complies with EN 1177 standards and certificates are available for all surfacing.

Contact your local playground expert

3. Playground safety regulations

Learning about your local government regulations can often be time consuming but it is necessary to ensure your play space meets all regulations. You have to ensure your playground is a safe space with safe equipment and surfacing for all users. Our sales team have years of experience in the play industry and can advise you on Irish standards.

4. Installation

Installing playground surfacing requires careful planning, precision, and adherence to safety standards to ensure a durable and accessible play environment. Here are five critical considerations for the installation process:

Site Preparation: Clearing the site, grading the terrain and ensuring proper drainage are essential preliminary steps to create a suitable foundation for the surfacing material.

Base Preparation: Installing a stable base layer, such as crushed stone or gravel, provides support and aids in drainage, contributing to the durability and longevity of the surfacing.

Material Delivery: Coordinating the delivery of surfacing materials and equipment ensures timely installation and minimises disruptions to the project schedule.

Surface Application: Applying the surfacing material evenly and according to manufacturer guidelines is crucial for optimal performance and safety, whether pouring rubber, laying tiles, or spreading mulch.

Safety Compliance: Adhering to safety standards and regulations, including fall height requirements and impact attenuation guidelines, is essential to mitigate the risk of injuries and ensure compliance with industry standards.

Make sure to engage experienced playground installers for best practices; installing playground surfacing can transform an ordinary play area into a safe, inclusive, and inviting space for children to explore, learn, and thrive. Our install teams based in the East and West of Ireland are highly skilled and have years of experience in the installation of playground surfaces - contact our Galway office for more information or for surfacing brochures.

Learn more about playground installation here.

5. Design and Aesthetics

Choosing the right surface option also depends on factors such as aesthetic preferences. When considering what surface to chose you have to consider the users of the playground. Choosing the correct surface can enhance your playground design and increase the play value of your play area.

With a wide range of colour options, Flexotop™ allows playground designers to be very playful in their designs, as different colours, shapes and graphics can support and highlight the design. Zoning, route guidance, and 2D and 3D visuals in the design can help tie playground equipment with the surfacing extending the overall play experience, especially if your playground project has a theme.

6. Accessibility

Surfacing is pivotal in ensuring accessibility to playgrounds for individuals with disabilities. The choice of surfacing can significantly impact the ability of all children, including those with mobility aids like wheelchairs or walkers, to access and enjoy the playground. Here's how surfacing can affect accessibility and, ultimately, inclusion in playgrounds:

Smoothness and Firmness: Accessible surfacing should be smooth and firm to accommodate mobility aids like wheelchairs and walkers. Surfaces like poured-in-place rubber surfacing provide a smooth and firm pathway.

Level Changes: The surfacing should be level and free of abrupt elevation changes to ensure smooth transitions between playground areas. Uneven surfaces can pose challenges for individuals with mobility impairments and increase the risk of trips and falls.

Traction: Playground surfacing options should provide adequate traction to prevent slips and falls, especially during wet or rainy conditions. Rubberised surfaces and textured tiles can help improve traction and enhance safety for all playground users.

Accessibility Standards: Many countries have accessibility standards, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the United States, that specify requirements for playground surfacing. These standards ensure that playgrounds are designed to be inclusive and accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Wheelchair Accessibility: Accessible surfacing allows individuals using wheelchairs to navigate independently throughout the playground, including reaching play equipment and play panels which encourages them to socialise with friends.

Transition Zones: Transition zones between different surfacing types should be smooth and level to facilitate seamless movement for individuals with disabilities. Ramp access and clear pathways help ensure everyone can access and enjoy the playground area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What material is used for synthetic grass?

Synthetic grass, is typically made from polyethene or polypropylene fibres. These fibres are tufted into a backing material, usually made of polypropylene or latex, to create a durable and realistic-looking surface. Infill materials, such as silica sand or rubber granules, are often added to provide stability, cushioning, and support for the turf fibres.

How does public playground surfacing prevent injuries?

Public playground surfacing plays a critical role in preventing injuries by providing a cushioned, impact-absorbing surface for children to play. The primary purpose of playground surfacing is to minimise the severity of injuries that may occur from falls or impacts during play.

What are the guidelines for playground surfacing?

The Royal Society of Prevention of Accidents provides guidelines for playground equipment and surfacing to help people on their playground planning projects. More information can be found on

What is the cost of playground surfacing?

The cost of playground surfacing varies depending on the type of material, size of the area and the depth of the surface required.

Once you decide on your equipment you will know the Critical Fall Height of each unit which will determine the depth of your surface - our design team will provide detailed quotes and plans showing the type of surface and cost of it.

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