Guide to Selecting our Safety Surfacing Products

Several considerations need to be assessed before selecting a specific play grade safety surfacing, less
commonly known as a ‘Loose Impact Attenuating Surface’.

These considerations include:

  • Budget 
  • Best Value
  • Longevity
  • Age of Children
  • Aesthetics 

Budget
Fortunately, when you purchase a safety surface product from Playbark.com, we
have an extremely large range of products and we are confident we will have a product which suits
everybody’s budget.
By selecting a more competitively priced product, this does not necessarily determine this product
is more inferior compared to the more expensive products, sometimes they are simply cheaper for
us to produce and distribute.
We suggest you assess the pictures of the product, relate this to other factors such as the age of the
children and the type of play equipment you have. In addition, look at the ‘critical fall height’
figures and make a decision based on these factors, if you are unsure, please contact us.
 
Best Value
This is a principle followed by many Local Authorities. Everybody’s play area is
different, if one particular surface suits one play area it may not all together suit another.
By having a more expensive product, in certain circumstances this may prove more cost effective
than a less expensive product if the lesser priced product isn’t suited to a certain application and
has to be regularly replaced.
 
Longevity
The principles stated above readily apply here, however sometimes a safety surface
is only needed for a short space of time so a less expensive product may suffice.
The longevity of the products differ and although we provide guide lines with regards to the life of
the product, if the surfacing is to ultimately endure heavy footfall and play on a regular basis, logic
determines it won’t last as long as a play surfacing used occasionally.
Other factors need to be considered here such as drainage (see later article) and exposure to the
elements.

Age of Children
Although all of our safety surfacing products are very safe, it is essential care
and consideration is given to product selection.
There is a common misconception that all products which have been tested to the BS EN1177:2008
Standard will be suitable for any age of children, this is incorrect.
It should be understood, this Standard of testing determines 2 main factors: Critical Fall Height and
HIC (Head injury Criteria).
This testing procedure simply produces a set of results which determine safe fall height of a child
from a given height.
A product may have this very credible certification but it doesn’t suggest a particular product may
be suitable for very young children, it may be the case the product is ideal for a zip wire for older
children, but in essence the product may be still a little too sharp or spiky for young ones.
Similarly as parents we cannot account for children deciding to put the product in their mouths, so
very young children should be supervised.
 
Aesthetics
We can spend time assessing the functionality and performances of the play area
surfaces but as parents if we literally don’t like the appearance of it we will never be happy!
At Playbark.com we are certain we have a product which ticks all of the boxes, combining safety
with appearance whilst falling in line with our budget.
If unsure, please ask for samples.

Domestic applications and Public/Commercial Spaces

Loose fill materials may displace during use, we always suggest that when an impact absorbing surface is
desired, the depth is increased according to the degree or maintenance and level of activity. (As with all
loose impact absorbing products, raking is recommended to maintain the desired thickness).
 
We believe there is no formal requirement or standard for an impact absorbing surface to be used in a
residential situation and you should carry out your own risk assessment as appropriate to your individual
circumstances.
 
NB Commercial or public areas are covered by more detailed requirements BS EN1176 relating to loose fill
impact absorbing products, requiring greater depths of all loose fill products in a public environment. In
accordance with BS EN 1177 (2008) an additional 100mm of material should be included to allow for
displacement in use.

The Creation of a New Play Area

Drainage:
It is essential the area which is being considered for use a s a play area has good drainage, if it doesn’t,
irrelevant of the play surfacing purchased the area will become muddy, it could even flood which will be a
sure way to waste money.
If the drainage is poor, handymen and DIY enthusiasts may be able to install a simple ‘Herringbone’
drainage system without costing the earth. Good examples can be viewed on YOUTUBE.
If this is one step too far, we suggest you talk to a reputable landscaper or ground worker.

Types of Play Areas

This illustration shows an example of a play area constructed
above and below ground.
We advise utilising tanalised timbers or sleepers as these will
last longer.
Or consider our Rubber Edging for ultimate safety.

In this illustration we are using the rubber mini mulch along with a
rubber base for ultimate safety.
The rubber base can be replaced with clean aggregate if required, or
simply use the play surfacing of your choice at the required depth.

Above ground pit level

Below ground pit level