As we approach the holiday season, when children will want to be out playing, it is important to consider the condition of your playground surfaces. With the changes in weather, new problems can arise if not looked after, and wear and tear can turn into larger problems if not dealt with fast.
Here are PlaySmart’s top 6 common problems for playground surfaces that our playground maintenance team can help you solve …
Playground Safety Regulations (UK)
Firstly, it is important to introduce the regulations and standards that surfacing should follow all year round to provide context for why playground maintenance is so vital.
To pass playground safety regulations, UK playgrounds have to provide a consistently high level of safety. Compliance with surfacing standards BS 7188 and EN 1177 is considered good practice for all play provision sites, providing guidance for critical fall height and slip test requirements that PlaySmart uses for all of our safety surfaces.
Government guidance to local authorities has been updated as play surface engineering and design have changed. Advice for managing risk and implementing flooring risk assessments and safety checks is set out by Play England’s full guide available here.
PlaySmart’s expert team of installers and playground consultants have years of experience working within these regulations and in many cases exceeding their requirements with unbeatable safety standards. If you have any concerns about the safety of your playground or playground development site, don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your maintenance, repair, and installation options.
For more guidance on the legal requirements for children’s play safety, visit the ROSPA blog on the histories and updates of UK laws around the topic.
1. Wet Pour Rubber with Receding Edges
During the cold winter weather, one of the most prevalent concerns for wet pour play areas is that the rubber flooring can shrink away at the edges to create gaps and widening cracks.
As temperatures change, the wet pour rubber material begins to shrink, leaving behind areas between other surfacing materials and between colour-blocked areas. Due to the relatively low tensile strength of wet pour as a material, your surfacing may not recover as temperatures increase again, leaving tripping hazards and areas for water to collect on your playground, which over time causes further deterioration of the edges.
If you are looking for wet pour rubber repair solutions, adding a barrier of high tensile strength EPDM rubber in these gaps is an easy fix to your receding edges. Suring up the edges of your pathways and play flooring to fix them to the surrounding surface materials with a band of high-quality virgin rubber mulch that does not shrink in winter.
Your new EPDM edge strips can even give your play areas a modern style, with colourful bands standing out against your regular wet pour flooring. In fact, this vibrant design choice is even beneficial to the longevity of your surfacing, as coloured rubber mulch actually has higher tensile strength than typical black rubber, providing further elasticity and shock absorption.
2. Faded Playground Markings
All aspects of a playground can contribute to the fun play experience kids look for, including the playground floor markings. Game markings; fun, themed designs; or sports markings are important to the function of your play areas, so keeping them maintained and protected is important.
Traditional painted markings can wear very easily, losing their vibrancy and patterns over time. If low quality paint is used, UV light from the sun or water damage can more quickly cause the markings to fade.
Tougher rubber play markings that form part of the original surface of your play area are a great feature that improves the aesthetics and function of a playground. EPDM or JungleMulch is easy to apply in fun patterns, even over existing rubber surfaces.
For sports areas, however, markings can experience a lot more wear and tear. The best solution to maintain a useful and fun sports area is to use our FlexCourt easy-to-install interlocking sports mats that you can customise with colour, patterns, and even logos. These markings are built into the rubber material of the mats, meaning they remain visible and bright for much longer.
3. Carbon Black Residue
Carbon black residue is a by-product of some rubber playground surfaces. These particulates can stain clothing and skin when released during play or harsh weather conditions. As this residue is released, vibrant colours of rubber turn black, and there are risks of other harms to young children.
If carbon black is a concern for your playground find out more in our in-depth blog exploring the subject or read on to discover the best solutions.
In outdoor areas without young children, carbon residue can be dealt with thorough regular low-pressure washing and sweeping to remove the top layer of residue. However, this is not a long-term solution.
To repair the damage done to your rubber play surfacing by the release of carbon black residue, replacing the surface with a non-recycled rubber alternative is your best solution. Virgin EPDM rubber or cork flooring do not release carbon black while still providing top-quality safety surfacing and stable flooring options for any outdoor space.
Making the switch to an alternative material is doubly important for nursery schools and early years education centres as accidental ingestion of carbon black may have impacts on health.
4. Worn Flooring in High Traffic Areas
Requirements for safety matting for outdoor play areas differ between different sites. However, crucially, even within a single playground different areas need different levels of protection and see more wear and tear.
Areas prone to high foot traffic or active jumping, running or landing from play equipment require extra protection. After a few months of consistent play by the kids who love your play area, key areas can become worn-out, uneven, and possibly unsafe as shock-absorbent material is rubbed away.
Regular inspections of high-traffic spaces can help you identify where your surfacing problem areas are. Common areas that experience these issues include entrances to the park, pathways, and around play equipment, such as the end of slides or around roundabouts.
Once you identify these areas, our EPDM safety pad installations provide extra protection to keep these areas safe. With higher tensile strength than most rubber playground surface solutions, these rubber wear pads act to reinforce key areas without the extra cost and disruption of replacing entire large areas of existing paving and surfacing.
You can even get creative with splash designs and bright colours to bring a new lease of life to parts of your play area that look to be in disrepair and worn down.
5. Muddy and icy floors
We all know how unpredictable British winters can be. As a result, your play surfacing may face unexpected challenges that cause a range of different forms of damage or hazards. As snow melts and grass becomes muddy, slippery surfaces are created, increasing the risks of slips and falls and reducing accessibility.
While typical wisdom of salting the most used pathways can be beneficial, this may not be enough. Ice and frost-resistant non-slip outdoor flooring materials such as rubber or cork greatly reduce the impact of ice and rainwater. This is due to the natural water absorbent qualities of the materials’ structure, and the textured gripping surface to limit slips and falls.
Dealing with the issue of mud can be difficult, especially in urban areas with little drainage. Hybrid grass installed as a supplement to your natural grass can help reduce muddy grass by providing an extra layer of stability with its netted backing that, as grass grows, soon becomes invisible and natural while still benefiting the usefulness of your grass areas.
Which Playground Repairs and Maintenance Can PlaySmart Help You With?
If your playground suffers from any of these maintenance issues, it doesn’t have to ruin the holidays at your play area! PlaySmart is here to help.
Discuss your options today with our experts by booking a call or get your Free Quick Quote with our handy contact form at the top of the page