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Is Poured-in-Place Rubber Safe for Playgrounds?

By Whirl Construction (529 words)
Posted in Commercial Playgrounds on April 11, 2019

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Playgrounds have long been a vital and welcome part of our communities. Over the years, the materials have changed as developers work to make playgrounds more fun and safer for families. Some have natural grass and landscaping, some have concrete, and others use wood chips to pad certain surfaces. However, a third option, which has become increasingly popular over the past decade, is poured-in-place rubber. Let’s look at what it is, why playground designers choose it, and whether or not it is a safe choice for your playground.

What is Poured-in-Place Rubber?

Poured-in-Place rubber, or PIP, is typically made of recycled rubber from tires. The tire is broken down into granules that are poured into the playground area and mixed with polyurethane to help “seal” the surface. The result is a surface that is durable, quick draining, and easy to clean. Many PIP surfaces are designed to look like dirt or grass, while some playgrounds use PIP surfaces to showcase whimsical designs and fun, bright colors.

Why Not Wood Chips?

For years, playground designers used wood chips in strategic areas (such as slides and swings) to provide extra cushioning for potential falls. While wood chips are still a viable and often used option, there are some downsides to choosing this material. Wood chips must be replaced at least once a year and require more long-term maintenance. And, of course, there are places where wood simply doesn’t work - think indoor playgrounds or play areas with splash pads.

Poured-in-Place rubber, by contrast, can last up to 10 years with minimal maintenance. It can be used indoors and out, as it’s easy to clean. And, because the granules are designed to drain, it makes a perfect surface for splash pads.

Is It Safe?

One of the biggest benefits to PIP playgrounds is the response to head trauma. The soft, springy foundation is much softer than concrete and can help to soften a playtime tumble.

Some groups have voiced concerns regarding the use of recycled rubber in playgrounds. Over the years, researchers have tested toxicity levels and have investigated potential exposure to toxins in the materials used. One of the biggest concerns initially raised was regarding rubber mulch, which is not the same as PIP rubber. Rubber mulch is essentially shredded tires, which raises concerns because children may ingest or inhale fibers as they play on the shredded surfaces. PIP surfaces, by contrast, are one single surface, so there is very little risk of ingesting any part of the surface materials.

PIP surfaces have come a long way since parents voiced their initial concerns. Over the years, companies have improved both the materials used and the cleaning process for recycled rubber. This makes PIP a safe and sanitary option that will make your playground look great, keep children safe from falls, and will last for years to come.

If you’re ready to add a poured-in-place surface to your next playground design, let us know! At Whirl Construction, we’ve been building playgrounds for more than 35 years. Our experts can help you choose and install the right surface for your project. Contact us today to get started.

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