When it comes to our kids, safety is always a priority. Be it on the road, at home, in school, or practically anywhere they go, it’s important for us to know that nothing or nobody will harm them.
Parks and playgrounds are just some of the places where several factors need to be thoroughly inspected to ensure our children’s safety (and our peace of mind). Aside from meeting safety zones, doing away with all protrusion and head entrapment hazards, meeting age-appropriate equipment, and other requirements - there is the matter of having the proper protective surface installed.
These days, more and more parents and guardians are turning towards rubber products as their play surface of choice. Chief among them are rubber mulch and interlocking rubber playground tiles. But which one is really the safer choice? Below are the pros and cons of both rubber materials as playground surfacing to help you decide.
Rubber Playground Tiles
The ubiquitous rubber playground tiles have become a staple among many play areas, whether indoor or outdoor. Preschools, kids’ gyms, and even fast-food establishments often use them for various reasons. If you are thinking of investing in tiles for your next playground project, consider the following benefits and disadvantages first.
Interlocking pieces - when properly installed, the tiles will look smooth and seamless thanks to their interlocking edges.
Easy maintenance - accumulated dirt and dust can simply be swept away or hosed down and scrubbed off.
Handicap-accessible - when properly installed, those with mobility equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, or rollators can easily access these areas due to their evened-out flatness.
Weather-resistant - you can expect playground tiles to stay put even in extreme weather conditions, as long as they are thick and heavy enough and installed properly.
Will not attract bugs, mold, and fungi - because it is made of rubber, these tiles will discourage bugs, mold, and fungi from growing on its surface.
Pricier - since they are typically priced per tile, the initial cost of rubber playground tiles can come at a higher price tag compared to other surfacing materials.
Could cause trips or falls if not installed properly - if the tiles do not interlock properly or are placed on an uneven surface, the edges could get displaced and cause kids to trip on them and fall.
Not all tiles meet fall height protection requirements - depending on the manufacturer, thickness and springiness per rubber tile could vary. This means that the critical fall height it offers might also be inconsistent.
Playground rubber mulch has been around long enough to earn a spot at the White House playground, as well as in numerous play areas and parks all over the country. If you find yourself interested in rubber mulch as a potential playground surfacing, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.
Superior shock absorption - when properly installed, rubber mulch will meet the critical fall height and cushion impact during playground activities.
Discourages weeds, bugs, and fungal growth - much has been said about the weed, insect, and fungi-discouraging capacity of rubber mulch, so you can expect the same for your kids’ playground.
Will last for at least a decade - rubber mulch usually comes with at least a ten-year warranty so you won’t have to worry about replacing it anytime soon.
Low maintenance - since it won’t harbor fungi, mold, or weeds, a simple raking or hosing down is enough to keep rubber mulch pristine and in place.
Durable - you can expect rubber mulch to last for over a decade, given its weather-resistant capabilities.
Comes in a variety of colors - you can take your pick from a range of colors to suit your playground theme.
Will need a barrier to stop spillage - rubber mulch nuggets can unfortunately spill over from the play area if not properly bordered by either a rubber barrier or other stronger materials.
Could be pricey (initially) - rubber mulch can admittedly also be expensive at first, but the durability and hardiness of it can outweigh the initial price tag in the long run.