How Long Do Playground Surfaces Last?

Whether you need playground flooring for a new project or you are looking to replace an existing playground surface, it is important to do the research and make sure of its worth. Fortunately, a big part of making playground surfaces last for longer periods of time is making sure there is proper maintenance. 

poured in place surfacing

What Contributes to Wear and Tear on Playground Surfaces?

In a perfect world, playground flooring would last forever. Sadly, that is not reality. It is very possible, however, to make it last for longer by taking the necessary steps during installation and afterwards. 

Weather Effects on Playground Surfaces

Anything that lives outside year round will eventually feel the effect of long term weather exposure. Playground surfaces of varying materials all feel the effects of weather after some time. That said, some playground materials may last longer than others and require less maintenance. 

Wind, rain, sun and temperature all play apart in the wear and tear on playground surfaces. When choosing a type of playground surface, it is important to consider how weather could contribute to more or less maintenance for your playground. Loose fill materials may need to be blown back onto the playground or topped off and poured rubber materials may need protection from intense sun exposure. 

Improper Maintenance Can Shorten Lifespan of Playground Surfaces

If you want your playground surface to last longer, regular maintenance is the answer. Every playground surface is different in how preventative maintenance needs to be conducted. Follow along below to see the breakdown of how long playground surfaces last depending on the material. 

Longevity of Playground Surfaces

Throughout this article, we will dig into the average time playground surfaces last when flooring is properly maintained. 

Bonded Rubber 

Bonded Rubber surfacing uses shredded as opposed to granular rubber pieces found in poured-in-place rubber. Custom Bonded Rubber is offered in many different colors but is not available in patterns due to the larger pieces of rubber used. Bonded Rubber is great for a more natural appearance for trails, landscaping and playgrounds, as it can sometimes resemble wood fibers. 

bonded rubber

How long does Bonded Rubber last?

Bonded Rubber is poured onsite and in a single layer. It is known for having good drainage and drying quickly. When properly maintained, Bonded Rubber is expected to last about 5 to 8 years before it needs to be replaced. 

Proper Bonded Rubber Maintenance

While Bonded Rubber may look similar to wood fibers or other natural materials, it does not require the same regular upkeep and maintenance. Cleaning and inspecting the surface is important after installation.

Poured-In-Place Rubber

One of the most popular playground surfacing choices is Poured-In-Place Rubber. It provides an ideal play surface for children, consisting of two main layers with an attenuating, soft feel. It often comes in many different color options and lower routine maintenance, which makes it a choice option for playground surfacing.

poured in place rubber

How long does Poured-In-Place Rubber last?

Because Poured-In-Place Rubber tends to require lower maintenance, it is known for having a longer lifespan than other playground surfaces. Poured-In-Place Rubber can last for more than 8 to 12 years with the proper maintenance. 

Proper Poured-In-Place Rubber Maintenance

When it comes to caring for your Poured-In-Place surface, you want to make sure you follow the recommendations from your maintenance manuals after installation. Poured Rubber materials have strict guidelines that are very important to take into consideration so that your playground surface lasts for longer. 

Using a blower or washing Poured-In-Place Rubber is a great way to keep surrounding objects like rocks, dirt, mud and grime off of the playground surface. Removal of gum and bodily fluids are also an important part of long-term care for your playground surface. 

Adding a roll coat to all Poured-In-Place surfaces can strengthen the surface and add UV protection, prevent cracks, holes and granulation of the surface. 

Another very effective preventative solution is a 1.5 inch re-top, which adds a 1” padded layer underneath a new .5” wear course layer of rubber surfacing. This would repair any hazards and could potentially add up to two years of life to your existing surface. 

Rubber Mulch

Using Rubber Mulch for playgrounds is a cost-effective option when compared to rubber tiles or poured-in-place surfacing. Made from recycled rubber tires, Rubber Mulch will not decompose and offers shock absorption to protect children from falls.

rubber mulch

How long does Rubber Mulch last?

Rubber Mulch keeps its integrity year round. Differing from wood mulch, rubber mulch is a colorful, long-lasting option for loose-fill surfacing and can last for approximately 8 to 10 years if properly maintained by topping it off to remain compliant with safety standards.

Proper Rubber Mulch Maintenance

Because Rubber Mulch is a loose-fill surface, it requires additional maintenance when used in play areas. Raking it back in high foot traffic areas around swings and slides is crucial for meeting fall height standards, but does not need top offs like wood mulch because it won’t decompose over time. 

Rubber Tiles

Rubber Tiles that are interlocking are ideal playground flooring for outdoor or indoor use. This type of playground surfacing is easy to install and requires very limited adhesive application. Rubber tiles often exceed requirements for impact attenuation and are offered in a variety of different thicknesses for your playground’s fall height requirements.

interlocking tile

How long do Rubber Tiles last?

Since Rubber Tiles are known for being very durable and easily maintainable, they can last up to 8 to 10 years.

Proper Rubber Tiles Maintenance

While Rubber Tiles are known for being reliable, sturdy pieces of playground surfacing, they still need proper maintenance and care. Overall use and weather will take a toll on Rubber Tiles as time goes on, and it’s important to inspect the tiles and hardware to make sure nothing needs to be replaced. Cleaning the surface as well as the hardware can help Rubber Tiles last for longer.

Engineered Wood Fiber

For playground projects with budget constraints, Engineered Wood Fiber is a popular choice for playground flooring. Engineered Wood Fiber will form a knitted layer after it has been installed and settled, which is soft for cushioning falls that meet ASTM International safety requirements.

engineered wood fiber

How long does Engineered Wood Fiber last?

Regular maintenance is key to keeping Engineered Wood Fiber around for longer. When using Engineered Wood Fiber as playground surfacing, you can expect it to last approximately eight years. This timeline is not definitive due to the fact that the lifespan of Engineered Wood Fiber is largely dependent on a number of different factors, including proper maintenance and installation. 

Proper Engineered Wood Fiber Maintenance

It is often recommended to top off Engineered Wood Fiber every few years to ensure appropriate depth to meet fall height standards as well as maintain the longevity of the playground surfacing. Adding playground mats to the highly trafficked areas around playground equipment like swings and slides, is another great way to help with preventative maintenance for the integrity of your playground surfacing.

Playground Turf (Synthetic Grass)

Playground Turf is a softer and more natural look for playground flooring. It can be installed in 4’, 6’ and 8’ critical fall height attenuation requirements set forth by ASTM. A pro to using synthetic grass is that it stays green year-round and will never need the regular landscaping maintenance, unlike actual grass.

synthetic turf

How long does Playground Turf last?

Using synthetic grass for playground surfacing can last anywhere from 6 to 8 years. However, this greatly depends on the amount of wear and tear on the surfacing as well as the maintenance.

Proper Playground Turf Maintenance 

Synthetic grass is considered to be fairly low maintenance, but that doesn’t mean no maintenance. Rainfall is a natural and effective cleanser for turf fibers by removing pollen, dust and other pollutants. When rainfall is scarce, an occasional water flush is great for cleaning the turf. 

Raking and removal of debris is key to properly maintaining playground turf. Use a leaf blower or lawn sweeper for removing paper, leaves, pine needles, etc. from the playground surface. Check for gum or other sticky substances in the artificial grass. 

Once playground turf is installed, consult your maintenance manual to ensure you are taking all of the necessary steps needed to protect your new playground surfacing. The lifetime of playground surfaces greatly depends on proper installation and maintenance.

If you’re looking to replace or add new playground surfacing to your playground, talk with one of our representatives at TotTurf. Make sure you are choosing the right playground surfacing for your needs.