Ensure Accessibility for Your Playground Surface
No playground safety surface is perfect—all have their strengths and weaknesses—but with good maintenance practices and the right combination of products, you can find an economical, safe and accessible option.
Q: We are installing a new playground and need a surface that features a low lifecycle cost. What should we look for?
A: For a low initial cost as well as a low lifecycle cost, you should consider engineered wood fiber. Even when maintenance is factored into the cost, this type of surface is very inexpensive.
You'll occasionally need to top off the surface, adding more wood fiber, to maintain proper protection. Keep a schedule for staff members, and be sure to conduct regular inspections of the surface. Remove foreign objects and rake the fiber to keep the surface level.
To reduce the need to redistribute or add material, you can install surface-level wear mats in high-wear areas, such as the run-outs of slides and under swings.
Q: We'd like to use engineered wood fiber for our playground safety surface, but we're concerned about accessibility. What should we know?
A: To ensure your engineered wood fiber surface meets ADA requirements, it is important to first install a proper drain system. This layer helps keep the EWF separated from the soil, slowing down decomposition and helping the surface perform better for a longer period of time.
In addition, you need to compact the EWF as it is installed. This ensures it is immediately accessible and can be as simple as spraying with water and running over the surface with a track loader.
Finally, the wear mats that can help reduce maintenance also help to keep your surface level without creating a trip hazard. Wear mats can be custom-fitted for a variety of wear areas, including transition areas.
All of these steps will not only make your surface more accessible, but also will reduce maintenance requirements. The combination of loose fill and unitary wear mats can be the best of both worlds, providing safety and affordability, while ensuring accessibility.
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Zeager Bros. Inc.
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