From castle-like, wooden play-structures to themed, plastic backyard playground equipment, the world of playgrounds has exploded with a seemingly endless variety of playground options. In this article, we’ll go over all the best playground equipment, breaking down the costs and benefits of each option. Along the way, you might wonder: What do you use for playground flooring? And what is the best playground surface material? We’ll answer these questions, too, showing you how rubber matting for playgrounds is always a worthwhile consideration, regardless of the type of playground you own. Let’s get started:
The Plastic Playset: A plastic playground is something we’ve all seen. Nowadays, many companies offer themed playsets—from natural landscapes to space-age rocket ships, plastic backyard playgrounds are exciting and fun. These backyard playgrounds come with many of the same features that more traditional playsets offer, such as slides and swing sets. Plastic playsets vary as dramatically in price as they do in themes and features; the cost can range anything from $200 to $3,000 for the best playground equipment. While we understand that this range is wide, don’t be intimidated. The lower end of the spectrum still affords you quality options, so long as you’ve researched the product and are making an educated purchase. Nonetheless, note that you’ll still need soft playground surfacing. We suggest a ¾-inch or 1-inch-thick interlocking playground mat. Since plastic playgrounds are usually lighter than backyard playgrounds made of other materials, we recommend having play-area surfaces to ensure that the playground equipment stays in place. There are many benefits to rubber matting for playgrounds, which we’ll discuss in more detail later.
The Playhouse: This playground archetype typically includes the less-active playsets that mimic buildings—from mayors’ offices, firefighter headquarters, to whimsical huts. While they are still playgrounds per se, these backyard playgrounds interact with children quite differently. So, it might be helpful to think of these more as backyard playhouses, rather than backyard playgrounds. Manufacturers of these sets pay more attention to specialized accessories, like brass fire-bells and mock telephones. Depending on the material out of which it’s made, a backyard playhouse can be more or less expensive than other backyard playgrounds. Typically, though, these playsets start at prices of $1000 and upward. In many cases, these sets feature scalable heights—like attached swing sets or multiple indoor floors. We therefore suggest outdoor playground surfacing that is thick and is fall-height tested. Oftentimes, rubber matting for playgrounds exceeds these requirements, bringing you the best qualities of other play-area surfaces—all while being cheaper and bringing more traits to the table.
The Wooden Playset: Wooden backyard playgrounds are tried and true, and they are likely what you’ll see when looking at top-of-the-line, backyard playgrounds. These playsets are very durable, a necessary trait for withstanding the weight of children. Many of these playsets are pre-cut and pre-drilled so that they are ready to assemble, right out of the box. At costs of $1000 and higher, the wooden playset is comparable to a high-end plastic playset or wood cottage. The key difference between the wooden playground and the wood cottage is that the wooden playset is oriented more toward physical activity, whereas the cottage emphasizes imaginative role-playing. Regardless, because both options tend to feature considerable heights, we highly suggest using rubber playground surfacing that is fall-height tested. Rubber matting for playgrounds is often fall-height tested to match the height of your wooden playground, making rubber playmats a good first-choice.
What Do You Use for Playground Flooring?
For playground flooring, use a soft surface such as rubber to protect children from serious injury should they accidentally fall. Many playgrounds feature heights, highlighting the need for a soft surface that will properly prevent serious injuries from occurring.
What Is the Best Playground Surface Material?
The best playground surface material is rubber because rubber has traits ideal for outdoor playground flooring. Rubber is durable, shock-absorbent, slip-resistant, and water-resistant, which is why rubber matting for playgrounds is best. These qualities make rubber a fearsome competitor in the playground-surfacing world. It’s no surprise that so many backyard playgrounds feature rubber mats. Playground safety is of utmost importance. And, as if minimizing danger wasn’t enough, rubber matting for playgrounds is also highly DIY-friendly. Users often need zero technical knowledge to install a rubber ground cover. Playground matting—when made of rubber—sets under its own weight, making the use of adhesives an accessory rather than a requirement. Furthermore, manufacturers like Rubber-Cal make their playground tiles out of reclaimed rubber. Recycled-rubber playground mats are less expensive than play-area surfaces made of non-recycled materials since reclaimed rubber typically costs less to source.
All in all, choosing between plastic or wooden playsets and playhouses is a difficult choice, especially because each one offers a nuanced advantage over the others. Picking the best playground equipment for your family depends a lot on their personalities—the way in which they prefer to play. If they are more active, perhaps a wooden backyard playground is the optimal choice. If they are more imaginative, the cottage-style playhouse might serve your family better. And plastic playsets are often the intermediary, blending fantastical themes with physical activity. But, for all backyard playgrounds, it is important to have playground surfaces so that a fall from any height is unlikely to cause your child serious injury. As we’ve said, rubber is one of the best materials for a play-ground mat. Durability, shock-absorption, anti-slipperiness, and DIY-friendliness are just some of the many testaments to rubber’s wide-reaching value.
Rubber Mats for Backyard Playgrounds: Good for Any Playset