Playground Surface Options: Best Picks For 2023

Have you ever pondered on the best surface for your playground? The material beneath the playground equipment plays a vital role not only in ensuring the safety of the children but also in enhancing their playing experience. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best playground surface options, including bonded rubber mulch, poured in place rubber, Flexi-pave, and artificial turf.

Child on a swing

Safety First: The Importance of Playground Surfacing

Before delving into the specifics of each surface type, let’s understand why playground surfacing is a crucial aspect of any playground design. The surface under the playground equipment should be soft and thick enough to cushion falls, which are inevitable in a playground. It should be durable to withstand various weather conditions and constant use. Furthermore, it should be low-maintenance and attractive, enhancing the playground’s aesthetic appeal while providing practical benefits.

Now, let’s dive into our top picks for playground surfaces and help you find the right fit for your playground.

rubber mulch

Bonded Rubber Mulch: A Natural-Looking Choice

One popular choice among playground owners is bonded rubber mulch.

Bonded rubber mulch brings together the natural aesthetics of traditional wood mulch and the durability and safety of rubber surfacing. Made from shredded recycled rubber, this surface option is then bonded with a robust, commercial-grade binder. This process creates a seamless surface that maintains the look of wood chips but with added benefits.

Rubber mulch provides excellent shock absorption, reducing the risk of injury from falls. It’s also low maintenance, doesn’t decompose, and stays in place, ensuring your playground remains tidy and safe.

One downside, however, might be its price. Bonded rubber mulch could be a slightly more expensive option compared to loose-fill materials. But considering its durability and low maintenance needs, it can be a cost-effective solution in the long run.

poured in place rubber construction

Poured in Place Rubber: Seamless and Customizable

Next on our list is poured in place rubber, a popular choice for its combination of safety, aesthetics, and flexibility.

Poured in place rubber, also known as PIP, consists of two layers: a lower layer made of shredded recycled rubber for shock absorption, and a top layer of colored EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) rubber granules. This layering provides a cushioned surface and allows for a multitude of design options.

Poured in place rubber is a highly versatile and popular playground surface option that offers several key advantages.


First and foremost, poured in place rubber provides a safe surface for children to play on. The material is soft and flexible, providing excellent shock absorption. This is critical in playground environments where falls can occur, helping to reduce the risk of injuries. Additionally, this type of surface meets the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards for accessible design, ensuring children of all abilities can enjoy the playground.


In terms of durability, poured in place rubber stands up well to heavy use and all types of weather conditions. It doesn’t displace over time like loose fill materials, so there’s no need to continually rake it back into place or top it up. Its durability means that it can withstand the rigors of an active playground and last for many years, making it a cost-effective choice in the long run.


One of the major benefits of poured in place rubber is its high level of customizability. Because the material is mixed and poured on site, it can be formed to fit any size or shape of playground. It can also be poured to different thicknesses, which is important for meeting different critical fall heights for various types of playground equipment.

Color is another area where poured in place rubber shines. It’s available in a wide array of colors, and you can even create custom designs or logos in the surface. This allows you to make the playground more engaging and visually appealing for children.


Maintenance for poured in place rubber is fairly straightforward. It’s easy to clean, usually requiring just a sweep or rinse with water. And while it’s a durable material, should any damage occur, it can be easily repaired by patching the specific area rather than replacing the entire surface.

flexi pave

Flexi-Pave: Sustainable and Drainage-Friendly

Flexi-Pave is a unique playground surface option known for its excellent drainage capabilities.

Made from recycled tires and a binding agent, Flexi-Pave is porous, allowing water to drain through it rather than pooling on top. This makes it an excellent choice for areas prone to heavy rainfall or snow.

Flexi-Pave is not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing. It’s available in a variety of colors and can be formed into different shapes and designs, allowing for a customized, fun playground surface.

Like the other options we’ve discussed, Flexi-Pave also provides excellent shock absorbance, creating a safer playground environment. It’s a durable and sustainable choice, contributing to your eco-friendly initiatives.

artificial turf

Artificial Turf: Natural Look with Modern Benefits

Finally, we come to artificial turf, a playground surface option that combines the natural look of grass with the benefits of modern manufacturing.

Artificial turf for playgrounds is designed to be soft and non-abrasive, providing a safe and comfortable surface for play. It also maintains its vibrant green color year-round, making it an attractive option regardless of the season.

In addition, artificial turf is durable and low maintenance. There’s no need for watering, mowing, or fertilizing, making it a cost-effective and environmentally friendly choice.

However, one consideration is that it may require an additional shock-absorbent layer underneath to ensure it meets safety standards for fall height protection.

Choosing Your Playground Surface

In conclusion, when it comes to surfacing your playground, there are several options each with their own benefits. Bonded rubber mulch, poured in place rubber, Flexi-Pave, and artificial turf are all excellent choices.

Consider factors such as the age of the children using the playground, the types of equipment installed, your budget, and the local climate when making your decision.

With careful consideration and planning, you can create a playground that is not only fun and aesthetically pleasing, but also safe and durable. For more information on playground ground cover options, feel free to visit our website.

Remember, a well-chosen playground surface can significantly enhance the overall quality and safety of your playground, making it a place where children can play, explore, and grow for years to come.

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