Increase Lifecycle of Engineered Wood Fiber
Loose-fill playground safety surfaces such as engineered wood fiber are economical, safe and readily available. However, this type of surface does require regular maintenance. There are ways to extend the lifecycle of engineered wood fiber, increasing its safety and performance.
Q: We're looking to install a playground safety surface with a lower cost over its lifecycle. What should we consider?
A: Engineered wood fiber is an effective and safe surface that features not only a low initial cost, but also a low cost over its lifecycle, even when you factor in maintenance requirements.
It is important to top off the surface occasionally, adding more wood fiber to maintain proper protection. Be sure to inspect the surface regularly. Rake the fiber to keep the surface level and remove any foreign objects.
You can make this type of surface more effective by placing surface-level wear mats in high-wear areas, such as under swings. This will help reduce the need to redistribute or add material in those areas.
Q: We're interested in using engineered wood fiber, but are concerned about the regular maintenance needed. Is there any way to boost safety in between our regular visits to add and redistribute wood fiber?
A: A good drainage system can vastly extend the effectiveness and life of your engineered wood fiber safety surface. A drainage system can also limit growth of mold and fungus, and minimize freezing during periods of cold weather.
While a gravel drainage system can be labor-intensive, it's not the only option. You can find foam drainage panels that can installed directly over the subsoil to increase the life of your surface, and provide extra fall protection—especially in between scheduled maintenance.
Studies comparing these foam panels, a gravel drainage system and EWF with no drainage installed found that the foam drainage system withstood the most wear without losing depth of the wood fiber. In fact, with no drainage system in place, material was lost at a 10 percent higher rate
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