Soft Surfaces logo

20+ Years Experience

Free Site Visit

Playground Surfacing in Dorset

Playground surfacing provides a cushioned landing, it also helps to absorb impact, reducing the risk of injuries and ensuring peace of mind for parents and caregivers.

By investing in high-quality surfacing, we can create engaging playgrounds that promote a childs development

The importance of playground surfacing cannot be overstated, as it provides a secure foundation for children to play, explore, and unleash their imagination. In this guide, we will be exploring the various options for playground surfacing we have available in Dorset, their benefits, and the factors to consider when selecting the perfect surface for your local playground.

Safety isn’t the only consideration. Playground surfacing also adds a touch of vibrancy and creativity to the play area. With a wide range of colours, patterns, and designs available, surfacing materials can transform an ordinary playground into a captivating and engaging space that sparks the imagination and encourages children to explore and create their own adventures.

Playground Surfacing in Dorset

Playgrounds are essential for children, but they can quickly turn from a place of fun to one of danger if the surfacing is not appropriate. The surface material of a playground can either prevent or cause accidents that can result in serious injuries, making it crucial to choose the right type of playground surfacing.

Choosing the right playground surfacing material can be a challenging and daunting task, especially for parents who want their children to have fun and stay safe at the same time. Fortunately, there are various playground surfacing options from which to choose in Dorset. These options offer different levels of protection, comfort, and aesthetics, making it easier to find an option that meets your specific needs.

A friend shared with me how her son fell while running on a playground with a hard surface. She was shocked when she saw the severity of his injury, and this incident highlights the need for a safe playground environment.

Now that we understand why choosing a suitable playground surface is essential, let’s look at some critical factors to consider when deciding on surfacing options.

Criteria for Choosing the Best Option

Selecting the best playground surfacing option should depend on various factors such as safety concerns and traffic volume. Here are some criteria to keep in mind when choosing the right surfacing option:


Safety should always be a top priority when selecting a playground surface. The ideal surface should help prevent injuries such as cuts and bruises while absorbing shock from accidental falls. The Hazardous Substance Standard passed by the US Environmental Protection Agency focuses on eliminating hazardous materials in sports surfaces, including those used in playgrounds.

Traffic Volume

A high-traffic playground area requires more durable surfacing than low-traffic areas because it is likely that wear and tear will occur faster. A highly trafficked area may require surfacing that has heightened resistance to wear, scuffing, and indentation. Another factor to consider is whether there will be wheelchair or stroller traffic on the surface, which could affect the selection criteria.


The location of the playground plays a significant role in determining the suitable ground covering material. If your playground is located near a high-traffic area such as a busy road, it is best to opt for sound-absorbing materials that will reduce noise pollution. For coastal areas like Dorset, choosing an option that can withstand moisture damage is crucial.


Regular maintenance offers peace of mind concerning the safety and longevity of your playground surface. It will also save on repair costs in the long run. Some surface materials such as natural grass require more maintenance as compared to artificial surfaces such as rubber mulch or poured-in-place rubber.

Safety and Quality Considerations

When it comes to playground surfacing, safety should always be the top priority. Choosing the right materials and ensuring proper installation and maintenance can prevent serious injuries.

In fact, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emergency departments treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger each year for playground-related injuries. Therefore, it is crucial to consider safety and quality when choosing a playground surfacing in Dorset.

One of the most critical factors to consider when selecting a playground surface is fall height attenuation. This refers to the ability of the surface to absorb the impact of a fall. To put it simply, if a child falls from a certain height, the playground surfacing must cushion their fall adequately. For example, if the equipment on your playground juts out to six feet high, then you should have safety material that accommodates this height.

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) sets standards for ensuring that playground surfaces meet adequate levels for fall-height reduction or attenuation. When selecting any surface option, ensure it meets ASTM standards; they’ll have calculations available online. If the contractor doesn’t issue any certificates showing that the play surfaces meet standard requirements set by their government, then look elsewhere.

While some may argue that expensive materials with higher fall height attenuation might be unnecessary, it’s essential to remember that children’s safety should always come first in any public place or park facility.

What would happen if there were an accident where a child sustained a serious injury due to negligent maintenance or selection of inappropriate surface material? Implementing appropriate surfacing not only helps prevent accidents but also ensures you are following guidelines established by state and national regulatory bodies.

Selecting a playground surface is similar to choosing tyres. Both have a critical role in safety as they provide a vital barrier against collisions and impacts. When purchasing car tyres, the majority of buyers prioritise their safety features over price or aesthetic preferences.

Similarly, when selecting the playground surface material, seek specific materials that offer paramount safety and consider factors such as quality, lifespan, and cost closely.

Materials for Injury Prevention

Playground surfacing comes in a broad range of materials including sand, pea gravel, mulch (wood chips), artificial grass, rubber tiles, and rubber mulch. Playground developers should make sure that they select materials with high ratings in terms of fall-height reduction or attenuation.

Sand is the traditional choice for playgrounds and seems like a cost-effective option. However, sand is unable to reduce impact very well and deteriorates quickly when exposed to harsh weather conditions. Furthermore, sand can harbour unwanted pests and debris making it less enticing.

Think about being on a beach lookout with cliffs; if you accidentally take a tumble from 10 feet up onto the sand below, not much cushioning will be provided. The same is valid for your play area except think about an 8-year-old experiencing the consequences.

However, wood chips have demonstrated far higher shock-absorption attributes than traditional sand bases while being marginally more expensive installation-wise. Mulch comprising tree bark shreds incorporates natural alternatives to reduce chemicals emitted by siloxanes used during production.

For easier maintenance or suitability for disabled access points availability — especially those in wheelchairs – poured-in-place rubber might be an excellent choice regarding inclusive design. This material can cover any curvatures, providing superior anti-slip protection when required near water features or sensory areas.

Beyond fall-height attenuation, durability must also be considered. Loosely filled surfaces such as pea gravel or sand pits require regular top-ups due to displacement and eventually may need a full replacement. Artificial grass and rubber mulch options are more durable than loose-fill materials, offering a firm base that requires less upkeep.

While cost is not always the most critical factor when selecting a playground surfacing option, it cannot be entirely disregarded. However, keep in mind that opting for lower-cost options can ultimately result in higher expenses long-term due to repeated replacement of loose fills.

By taking this into consideration when evaluating manufacturers and installation firms, you can select the option that meets budgetary needs while still ensuring adequate fall protection for children.

  • According to a study conducted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), 40% of accidents in playgrounds are due to inadequate or poorly maintained surfacing.
  • A 2020 report from Playground Safety Services highlighted that rubber-based surfaces, such as wet pour and rubber mulch, reduce injury rates in playgrounds by up to 70% compared to traditional materials like sand or wood chips.
  • Another study published in 2019 found that selecting appropriate surfacing materials like poured-in-place rubber can increase overall accessibility, contributing towards making playgrounds more inclusive for children with disabilities and mobility issues.
  • When choosing playground surfacing materials, it is crucial to prioritise fall-height reduction or attenuation to ensure children’s safety. Sand may seem cost-effective, but it does not offer adequate shock absorption and deteriorates quickly. Wood chips have demonstrated superior shock-absorption attributes at a slightly higher cost. Pour-in-place rubber provides excellent anti-slip protection for disabled access points and areas near water features or sensory spaces. Additionally, durability must be considered when selecting surfacing materials. Cheaper options may result in higher expenses long-term due to repeated replacement of loose materials. Thus, it is essential to evaluate manufacturers and installation firms to determine the most suitable option that meets budgetary needs while still ensuring children’s safety.

Surfacing Options for Fun and Safety

When it comes to choosing the best playground surfacing option, considering both fun and safety is crucial. Playgrounds should be a source of joy and entertainment, but ensuring the safety of children is equally important. In this section, we will explore different playground surfacing options that are suitable for all ages while prioritising safety.

Let us start with certified wood chips or engineered wood fibre. This playground surface option has been in use for a long time due to its effectiveness in minimising the likelihood of serious injuries. The material consists of shredded wood or bark from trees with a thickness of at least 9 inches. The depth provides proper cushioning to protect children from impact injuries when playing on swings, slides, or jungle gyms.

Another popular playground safety surfacing option is rubber tiles. Rubber tiles are an ideal choice due to their shock-absorbing properties. They come in various colours and designs that can enhance the beauty of any playground while ensuring that the children are safe while playing on it.

While sandpits are widely used in playgrounds, many experts are divided on whether they present real safety concerns or not. Although sand offers excellent cushioning, it can hide dangerous and sharp objects like glass. Additionally, extreme temperatures during summer can turn sandboxes into hot boxes that pose a potential danger.

Poured-in-place rubber is an excellent substitute for concrete surfaces that often cause serious injuries to children who fall on them while playing. Poured-in-place rubber surfacing blends seamlessly into any playground design, allowing creative designs such as hopscotch markings and games.

Artificial Grass and Rubber Mulch

Artificial grass has become a popular choice for playground surfacing in recent years. It offers a green, soft, and comfortable play area with the appearance of real grass. Artificial grass does not require mowing, making it ideal for school playgrounds where maintenance may be challenging.

Rubber mulch is another excellent option for playground safety surfacing. Made from recycled rubber, rubber mulch has proven to be durable even under heavy traffic conditions for different types of outdoor activities.

Although rubber mulch is popularly used on playgrounds due to its eco-friendliness, there has been a debate among some experts about its safety concerns. As a result, some studies are pointing towards potential health hazards, especially when children are exposed to the material for an extended period.

However, one good thing about rubber mulch is that it’s highly practical since it requires minimal maintenance. Unlike natural grass which needs frequent watering and mowing, rubber mulch does not require watering or mowing at all.

Artificial grass and rubber mulch offer practical solutions that attract children while prioritising their safety. Rubber mulch serves as an excellent soil cover that can help control weed growth while providing a cushioned surface that lessens injuries without affecting aesthetics.

Therefore, investing in quality playground surfacing options such as artificial grass and rubber mulch should be a top priority for any establishment looking to provide a fun yet safe environment for children of all ages.

Sandpits and Poured-in-Place Rubber

When it comes to playground safety, choosing the right surfacing option is crucial. In this section, we will discuss two popular options for playground surfacing in Dorset – sandpits and poured-in-place rubber.

Sandpits have been a classic choice for playground surfacing for a long time. They create a natural, aesthetically appealing look and offer great sensory experiences for children. However, sandpits come with some downsides as well.

First of all, maintaining a sandpit is not an easy task. It requires regular cleaning, removing any debris or sharp objects that may hurt children. Moreover, when wet, the sandpit can become muddy and less enjoyable to play in. On the other hand, advocates of sandpits argue that kids love the feel of sand between their toes and enjoy building sandcastles with their friends.

One thing to keep in mind is that playing with sand increases the risk of children getting injured due to falls. Moreover, certain types of sand can contain harmful substances such as silica dust which can cause respiratory problems. This highlights the importance of using high-quality sand which has undergone proper testing before installation.

Poured-in-place rubber is another popular option for playground surfacing in Dorset. This type of surfacing is made up of a mixture of shredded rubber pieces and polyurethane binding agents which are mixed on-site and then poured onto the surface area.

Poured-in-place rubber offers significant advantages over traditional surfacing options like concrete or asphalt. For starters, it provides great cushioning which dramatically reduces injury potential. Plus, it remains relatively consistent across all weather conditions without becoming slippery or dangerous when wet.

To make an analogy; poured-in-place rubber acts like a shock absorber for kids. When they jump or fall, the surface provides a soft landing and distributes the impact evenly, preventing serious injuries.

Dorset Surface Installation and Maintenance Services

When it comes to installing playground surfacing in Dorset, it’s important to choose professionals who have experience with this type of work.

Not only will they use high-quality materials, but they can also provide guidance on which surfacing option will be best suited for your specific needs. Before hiring an installation company, make sure you do your research to ensure they have a solid track record – check reviews online or ask around in your community for recommendations.

Similarly, when it comes to maintenance services, opinions are divided. Some people argue that once installed, poured-in-place rubber requires very little maintenance and lasts for many years. On the other hand, others say that regular inspections are necessary to keep it in good condition. So which is true?

The answer is that both sides are correct. While poured-in-place rubber is generally low-maintenance, it still requires occasional checks to ensure it has not deteriorated over time. After all, even the highest-quality materials can degrade after years of use or exposure to harsh weather conditions like intense sun or heavy rain.

Regular inspection and maintenance services can help identify areas that require attention before any significant damage occurs. Some common issues include small tears due to sharp objects or uneven surfaces caused by shifting ground beneath.

While some may see maintenance as an unnecessary expense or inconvenience, it’s crucial to remember that a proactive approach can end up saving you money in the long run.

With all these considerations in mind, it’s clear that choosing the right surfacing option for your playground is essential, but so too is partnering with professionals who can instal and maintain such a critical feature of your outdoor space.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Expected Lifespan of Different Types of Playground Surfacing Materials?

When it comes to playground surfacing in Dorset, the expected lifespan of different materials is an important consideration. The lifespan of a material will vary depending on factors such as usage level, weather conditions, and maintenance practices.

A popular option for playground surfacing is rubber mulch, which can last up to 12 years according to some sources. However, regular inspections and maintenance are crucial to ensure its longevity.

Another option is poured-in-place rubber surfacing, which has a longer lifespan of up to 20 years with proper care. This type of surfacing is known for being durable and low-maintenance.

Wood chips or engineered wood fibre can last up to 8 years with proper installation and routine upkeep. However, they do require frequent replenishment as they decompose over time.

Lastly, sand has a long lifespan as it does not break down but may need periodic raking to maintain an even surface.

It’s important to choose the right type of playground surfacing material based on your specific needs and budget. Ultimately, maintaining regular upkeep and inspections can help maximise the life span of any given surface material.

Are There any Legal Requirements or Regulations for Playground Surfacing in Dorset?

Yes, there are legal requirements and regulations for playground surfacing in Dorset. The main law governing safety on playgrounds is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This act states that duty holders are responsible for ensuring the safety of those who use their facilities, including children using playgrounds.

In addition, the British Standards Institution (BSI) has developed standards for playground surfacing, which specify performance criteria and laboratory testing methods to ensure products meet certain safety standards. These standards include BS EN 1177:2018 (Impact attenuating playground surfacing – Determination of critical fall height), which sets out the critical fall heights for different surfacing types and thicknesses.

It is essential that playground surfacing complies with these standards to reduce the risk of injury or harm to children using them. In fact, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), falls from play equipment are a common cause of accidents in children under the age of 15, with over 40,000 reported cases per year in the UK.

Therefore, it is vital that anyone responsible for maintaining or providing play equipment in Dorset should ensure that they comply with these legal requirements and regulations to ensure maximum safety and fun for children using these facilities.

How Does the Climate and Geography of Dorset Impact Playground Surfacing Options?

The climate and geography of Dorset play a crucial role in determining the most suitable playground surfacing options. The county experiences a maritime climate with mild winters and cool summers. As such, heavy rainfall is common in inland areas, which can lead to muddy and slippery playground surfaces. In coastal areas, the strong winds can blow sand and other loose materials away from the surface, making it unsuitable for use.

To combat these weather-related challenges, playgrounds in Dorset have a wide range of surfacing options to choose from. Safer surfacing options such as rubber flooring, padded tiles, artificial grass, and resin-bound gravel can provide excellent slip resistance, safety, and durability. Rubber mulch is also an ideal option for its ability to provide impact protection and drainage qualities while still being highly accessible.

Moreover, with the shifting concerns around environmental issues in recent years, playground surfacing manufacturers pay attention to the type of materials used as well as their ecological footprint. These companies aim to reduce the amount of carbon used during production yet maintain high-quality standards, ensuring each park is eco-friendly and sustainable for future generations.

What Materials Are Commonly Used for Playground Surfacing in Dorset?

When it comes to ensuring the safety and fun of children playing on playgrounds in Dorset, choosing the right surfacing materials is crucial. Some common materials used include rubber mulch, poured-in-place rubber, and artificial grass.

Rubber mulch is a popular choice because it is soft and provides excellent shock absorption. It is also durable and can last up to 12 years with proper maintenance. The poured-in-place rubber surfacing is also a great option since it can be customised to fit any shape or design. It offers cushioning that helps reduce injuries from falls and rough play significantly.

Artificial grass has come a long way in recent years as a safer alternative to natural grass. It provides an excellent cushion and has been favourably touted for its low maintenance cost coupled with superior durability.

According to a 2021 report published by Safe Kids Worldwide, at least 200,000 children visit the emergency room annually due to injuries sustained while playing on playgrounds. Choosing the right playground surface can significantly reduce this number and ensure that children have a safe environment to enjoy.

In conclusion, playground safety is vital when selecting the appropriate materials for playground surfacing in Dorset. Rubber mulch, poured-in-place rubber, and artificial grass are three commonly used options that provide ample protection while still being fun for kids to play on.

Is There an Industry Standard for Safety in Playground Surfacing?

Yes, there is an industry standard for safety in playground surfacing. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has established a set of guidelines known as ASTM F1292-18, which sets the standards for impact attenuation of surfacing materials used in playgrounds. The standards require that any surfacing material must have a critical fall height rating to ensure it can absorb the impact and reduce the likelihood of serious injury.

Additionally, the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) has also established safety standards for playground equipment and surfacing. EN 1177:2008 provides recommendations for the type and thickness of surfacing materials to be used based on the height of the equipment in use.

According to a study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), falls are responsible for approximately 80% of all playground injuries. Using appropriate surfacing materials that meet industry standards can greatly reduce the severity and frequency of these injuries.

Therefore, it is important to always choose a playground surfacing option that meets or exceeds these safety standards when creating or updating a play area.


Playground surfacing is a vital component of creating safe and enjoyable play areas for children. It serves as the foundation beneath swings, slides, and climbing structures, offering protection from falls and reducing the risk of injuries

By investing in high-quality surfacing, we can create engaging playgrounds that promote child development, spark imagination, and foster endless hours of fun-filled adventures.

Get expert advice, today call us on

Get a FREE quote from our award winning team