Though both are essentially made of the same recycled material and offer a host of benefits for users, rubber mulch and rubber tiles have their own special qualities. But when it comes to specific needs and preferences, one has to weigh the differences between these two practical rubber by-products in order to get the desired (and best) result.
Let’s compare and contrast the characteristics of both products with five of the most important issues of a project: requirements or specifications, safety, durability, convenience, and cost.
Rubber mulch has become a favorite playground protection surface, with even the official playground at the White House actually using it. They are best for outdoor play areas and can withstand most weather conditions.
Playground rubber tiles are also well-suited for play areas and surfaces that see a lot of foot traffic among very young kids. They are ideal for these purposes, whether it’s indoors or outdoors. Bright primary colors also add a fun factor for both rubber products. As well, both materials provide sufficient traction and protection from trips and falls, thanks to the rubber material’s inherent springiness and shock absorbing qualities. However, rubber mulch covers even more ground (literally and figuratively) by being an ideal surface cover for landscaping, horse and athletic arenas, and garden areas.
As previously mentioned, both outdoor rubber tiles and rubber mulch provide the kind of play area safety which most traditional and organic materials cannot. With proper installation, a rubber mulch-covered playground or one that is covered in playground rubber tiles can sufficiently cushion a fall, thus preventing injuries among kids.
Both products won’t freeze in cold weather, or retain any moisture that can cause slipperiness on their surface. On that note, either one is a great choice to ensure safety and accident prevention in the play area or even surfaces for elderly people to walk on.
A rubber tile can be around two inches thick and is water permeable, so you can expect it to last a long time even when exposed to extreme weather conditions. The same goes for rubber mulch; it will not retain moisture on its surface so it stays dry even after a heavy downpour. Rubber won’t compress or decompose, so you can trust either product to stay in great shape year after year.
Rubber tile pieces are designed to interlock with each other, thus making them easy and convenient to install. On the other hand, rubber mulch only needs to be poured and tamped down in the area that needs it, so it also doesn’t need a lot of manual labor.
Interlocking playground tiles only need a bit of wiping down to keep it spick and span. Rubber mulch could require a bit of raking now and then to keep it looking fresh and orderly. But both rubber tiles and rubber mulch will not wash away in storms or get blown about by the wind, no matter how heavy it may be. Both are quite easy to maintain.
Rubber mulch is usually sold by the pallet, with an estimated price of around $650 for each pallet. Rubber playground tiles are sold in custom quantities (depending on the square footage required for a project), with a set of 60 tiles costing around a thousand dollars. It is important to get the proper measurements for the area to get an idea of how much mulch or tiles are needed to sufficiently cover it. The price tag for both products might initially cost more than other ground cover materials, but the durability, low maintenance, and the years of not having to replace or repair them more than make up for it.