Looking to build your own playground? Remember that a fun and safe playground always begins with a quality surface. For a playground surface, a rubber playground-mat is best. Rubber is durable, shock-absorbent, slip-resistant, and water-resistant—essential qualities for any safe playground surfacing. And the fact that you’re considering playground surfacing likely means that you’re looking to build a backyard playground. It’s a sensible idea. You bring the joy and adventure of your neighborhood playground home when you build your own playground. While this task may seem daunting, the way to build your own playground is simpler than you think. Most playground equipment sets, or playsets, come prefabricated, requiring only that you secure the pieces together according to their instructions. Furthermore, depending on the type of playground floor you choose, your outdoor play-mat may be DIY-friendly, too. There are many playground mats on the market, but if you’re looking for one that’s safe, stylish, and DIY-friendly, a rubber playground-mat is best. Follow these guidelines to build your own playground:
1. What is the Best Flooring for Playgrounds?
The best flooring for playgrounds is rubber. A rubber playground-mat is durable, shock-absorbent, slip-resistant, and water-resistant. But if you’re not convinced yet, let’s compare loose fillings (a common playground surfacing) with rubber playground-flooring. When deciding between residential playground surfacing options, it is important to check their safety ratings. Loose fillings, such as sand or wood chips, must be at least 12-inches deep to adequately cushion an accidental fall. But oftentimes, loose fillings displace, and they become hard to manage in the long term. Gradual losses in volume often means premature replenishment. Over time, these costs can accumulate, siphoning your funds. Loose fillings are also hard to clean. Many playground owners who’ve opted for loose fillings simply choose not to clean their playground floor—the hassle just isn’t worth it. Furthermore, because loose fillings like wood chips absorb moisture, they eventually become cesspools of fungi and bacteria. With this in mind, look toward rubber mats for playground safety. By all means, a rubber playground-mat isn’t invincible; it will eventually need to be replaced. But, with basic care, your rubber playground-mat will prove to be one of the longest-lasting of all the safety-play-mat options. A rubber play-mat is a smooth surface, which means that any objects that drop onto the play-ground matting will be easily identifiable. Whereas, if you were to use loose fillings, foreign objects like rocks and broken glass can remain inconspicuous to even the most discerning parent’s eyes—loose fillings are simply too unpredictable. Outdoor rubber playground mats are shock-absorbent, anti-slip surfaces that are easy to clean and install. Using rubber outdoor play-mats drastically lowers the chance that a child will sustain a serious injury, should she slip or fall. A playground rubber mat is fall-height rated, which means that it’s proven to cushion the impact of a fall from a certain height. Most outdoor mats for kids having fall-height ratings of six feet, which is the maximum height of your average playground. And because rubber naturally resists water, it’s harder for bacteria and fungi to grow on a rubber playground-mat than other play-ground mats. When you build your own playground, always start with quality surfacing.
2. Choose Your Playground
Most playsets are made of wood or plastic. Typically, avoid metal playgrounds since metal becomes very hot during sunny weather. Between plastic and wood, there are a few factors to consider. First of all, plastic playsets tend to be less expensive than wooden playsets. This alone can sway a decision—budgets are serious constraints. But if your budget permits, a wooden playset tends to be more durable, and it can give your backyard a more natural aesthetic—wood goes well with most backyards. Second, your child’s preferred mode of activity matters, too. Plastic playsets often feature more fantastical themes—like pirate ships and space stations. Thus, if your child prefers imaginative over physical activity, a plastic playset will likely serve you well. Nonetheless, if you choose a playground that has heights, you should place rubber outdoor playmats underneath and around the playset to help keep your children safe. 60% of all playground injuries are caused by falls from heights, and most are head injuries. We’ve stressed this before, and we’ll stress it again: Ensure that your rubber playground-mat is fall-height rated according to the maximum height of your playset.
3. Look for Playground Safety Issues
Even after you’ve built your backyard playground, remember to enforce playground safety standards. That is, be wary of whether any potential safety hazards that arise. Common examples include “S” hooks or bolt heads jutting out of playground equipment. Also, make sure that your playground equipment is still firmly fastened. Over time, bolts and screws can loosen, potentially causing a child’s next playground venture to end in tragedy. And of course, make sure your soft play-mat continues to meet playground safety standards. This includes fall-height ratings and an adequate surface area. All recycled playground rubber mats for kids (and other types of thick play-mats) should extend at least six feet from every edge of a piece of playground equipment. This further ensures that your rubber playground floor will actually catch your child if he accidentally falls. Finally, if you have a wooden playset, regularly check for splinters and for other signs of decay.
What Can I Use for a Playground Surface?
Rubber is the best material for a playground surface. A rubber playground-mat is durable, shock-absorbent, slip-resistant, and water-resistant. As well, it’s DIY-friendly and easy to clean. These factors make for a compelling case in favor of rubberized playground surfacing over other types of outdoor playground flooring options when you decide to build your own playground.
How Do You Install Playground Rubber Flooring?
To install playground rubber flooring, make sure the area is free of debris, as well as level. Then, place your rubber playground tiles one-by-one, starting with a corner of the area first. You may use connector pins or adhesives, depending on your situation. For more detailed instructions, check out one of our other articles which is solely dedicated to this topic. In any case, a rubber playground-mat is DIY-friendly. It stays in place under its own weight, requiring adhesives only if you want a more permanent surface. Sometimes, you may need to use connector pins to bind certain outdoor play tiles together. Regardless, of all the outdoor playground material surfaces, a rubber playground floor is easiest for you to install yourself when you build your own playground. What’s more, a rubber outdoor playground mat is easy for you to repair, too. If you’ve installed interlocking tiles, simply replace the tile that’s damaged. It’s that easy.
In sum, when looking for outdoor playground surfaces, your best bet will be a rubber playground-mat. It offers many key advantages that other outdoor safety mats for play areas don’t. If you want to build your own playground, it shouldn’t be difficult. By answering your questions—such as “What can I use for a playground surface?” and “How do you install playground rubber flooring?”—we at Rubber-Cal hope that we’ve made it easier for you.