Surfacing Quick Reference Chart:
Comparing Surface Types Chart
“Excerpted from Strong Foundations: Planning, Purchasing and Protecting Playground Surfacing Investments. To order a copy, click here >>

This chart is provided as a basic overview of the various types of surfacing. Statistics can vary based on product, manufacturer, installation, usage, and maintenance. The accessibility of loose-fill materials is entirely dependent on maintenance.

*Manufacturers must submit their surfaces for testing. Some variation may occur. Please check with your manufacturer for product certification.

How To Select Playground Surfacing

When considering playground surfacing options, you need to take the depth of surface needed, your budget, and optimal lifetime of the playground into consideration. Below are a few different playground surface materials we offer and their general benefits and cost comparison. If you’re interested in a quote, contact us to learn more!


Loose-fill playground surfacing

Rubber Mulch and Engineered Wood Fiber are both cost-effective loose-fill playground surfacing options. They both offer excellent shock-absorbing properties but require more maintenance than poured in place rubber. Engineered wood fiber will disintegrate over the lifetime of the playground and will need to be “topped off” every few years. 

Rubber mulch is created from recycled rubber tires and is another great loose fill product if you’re interested in having a more green-centered playground. It’s normally more expensive than engineered wood fiber and a little tougher to maintain. 


Unitary playground surfacing

Unitary playground surfaces are smooth and seamless, coming either in a single color or color combination. They are very accessible, easy to roll or walk over, and easily designed into beautiful pieces of art. Unitary playground surfacing needs to be installed by professional playground installers but lasts longer than loose-fill playground surfacing. They come in three forms, poured in place rubber, bonded rubber, and rubber tiles. 

Poured in place rubber is normally the most expensive, but requires the least amount of maintenance and can be easily designed into playground murals. Rubber tiles are more easily installed and replaced if one becomes damaged. Bonded rubber is poured like PIP, but inlaid designs aren’t an option because of the larger pieces. It’s normally more expensive than rubber tiles, but less than poured in place rubber.