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10 Tips to Choose Your Rubber Playground: Tiles or mulch? Find out which is the right choice for you.

10 Tips to Choose Your Rubber Playground

10 Tips to Choose Your Rubber Playground

Customer’s often call our company asking for our advice on what is the best playground flooring surface for them.  Truth is: it depends. Choosing your rubber playground is a big decision.  Here are 10 tips to choose your rubber playground when deciding between recycled rubber mulch and playground tiles:

Okay, you have your equipment all figured out, you have your location and you’re all ready to go with your new (or improved) playground, but WAIT! What the heck are you going to put it on?! Your two options for rubber playground flooring are rubber mulch and rubber tiles. Choosing your playground flooring can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never done any research into the world of rubber flooring or playground flooring. That’s okay, we’re here to guide you and help you choose the rubber flooring for your playground that is best for you, but first, let’s start with a few questions.

1. How tall is your playground equipment?

The thickness of tiles or depth of the mulch will determine the fall height rating as described in ASTM F1292 (<— ASTM F1292 sets the standards and specification for playground equipment).

2. How large is your playground?

More area = more surface to cover. The cost per square foot can drastically affect the initial price of your job when very large.

3. What is your budget for playground flooring? 

Initial cost vs. life time cost. Cost of rubber mulch is lower to begin with but will require periodic maintenance and filling in of areas washed, blown or carried away. Play ground tiles are more expensive initially. However, they are more permanent, require little maintenance and have a much longer life, meaning lower cost in the long run.

4. Where do you live?

Weather, temperature, rainfall? While mulch doesn’t float, it is still loose and can be displaced by high winds or flowing water. Tiles will stay in place and better handle the elements.

5. Will you be installing your rubber playground flooring yourself?

While both rubber tiles and rubber mulch can be installed by the end user, the tiles will require a little more prep and labor to install correctly.

6. What surface will be underneath your playground flooring?

Uneven surfaces can be masked by the rubber mulch (the down side is this may hide hazards like roots, sticks or glass). Rubber tiles are best laid over cement, asphalt, or 3-4 inches of level, crushed and tamped aggregate covered with landscape fabric.

7. Private or public playground?

Many public playgrounds must be insured or have zoning requirements. While both rubber mulch and rubber tiles will provide certified fall height ratings, the rubber tiles are a more consistent playground flooring since they cannot be displaced.

8. How much traffic will your playground see?

While durability is not the issue for either rubber mulch or rubber tiles, rubber mulch can be displaced in the highest playground traffic areas, reducing the fall height protection. Most playground tile manufacturers have the option for a dense EPDM virgin rubber top layer, adding durability and easy clean up.

9. Do you have a color preference for your playground floor?

Both rubber mulch and rubber tiles have the option for basic colors (usually black, gray, blue, green, red) but premium playground tiles with an EPDM virgin rubber surface are available and can be customized for exciting designs and nearly limitless color combinations.

10. How fast do you need your playground surface?

The rubber mulch is being produced continuously and can usually be shipped in 3 to 8 business days, while rubber tiles are made to order and usually have a lead time of 5 to 15 business days.

The short version:

Rubber mulch = quick and inexpensive. Rubber tiles = more consistency and more options.

We know many of you have even more questions. This post is a starting  point to get you in the right direction. Everyone’s area and usage will be different and unique. Whichever rubber playground surface you choose, you will have years of protection for those visiting your area and the peace of mind knowing you did your part to keep waste tires from landfills.

10 Tips to Choose Your Rubber Playground: Tiles or mulch? Find out which is the right choice for you.

About Ari Ziskin


Ari Ziskin is our resident expert in all things fitness, dance and flooring trends. After five years of blogging at Ari’s Menu, where she was featured on sites like The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed, Ari decided to pursue writing full-time. Nothing makes her happier than sharing her knowledge to help people create their gyms and begin their fitness journey.