Playground Floor Guide: 4 Best Playground Floor Options of 2022
By Ciana Gitre
| Fact Checked By: Lamont Robbins
Published: April 21, 2022 | Updated: September 12, 2022
With safety and shock-absorbency in mind, playground flooring can keep kids active and parents worry-free. Discover the possibilities of playground flooring, from rubber tiles and mulch to rubber mats and synthetic turf.
Learn about playground safety measures, the pros/cons of each option, top recommendations, installation advice, and more.
How to Choose Playground Flooring
- Factor in equipment: If you have specific equipment in mind, ensure you purchase flooring with a fall height rating that coincides.
- Measure your space: Plan out your intended play area and danger zones, like swing/slide zones.
- Review your budget: Playground floor materials greatly vary in price, so it’s essential to determine your most desired features when comparing them.
- Professional or DIY install: While individual materials are relatively lightweight, a larger install may require additional assistance. Many customers, especially in commercial settings, use a professional installer to ensure their floors are set properly.
- Looks and textures: Choose from our selection of smooth rubber tiles with vibrant color flecks or lush, green playground turf. There’s a style for every playground.
Inclusive Playground Ramps
To make sure everyone can enjoy playtime, we offer ramps, also known as “floor reducers,” to help eliminate tripping hazards, many of which are ADA compliant. Browse from a variety of PVC plastic and rubber ramps.
- ADA compliant ramps: Provide a safe transition from one surface to another – necessary to create a space we can all enjoy. For thicker playground tile transitions, we offer ADA-compliant ramp kits for an easy solution.
To learn more about ADA and playground accessibility, visit The National Program for Playground Safety’s website.
Rubber Playground Tiles
Rubber tiles are the most popular safety surfacing for playgrounds. They come in various thicknesses and colored flecks to brighten any school or daycare, skateboard park, etc. Most playground tiles are porous, allowing water to easily penetrate through the floor, ensuring a dry playing surface even after heavy rain.
Pros of Playground Tiles
- Safety: Playground tiles provide a safe place for children to run, jump, and even fall while at play.
- Looks: Playground tiles come in various full-color and color fleck options to complement your playground aesthetic.
- Comfort: Rubber playground tiles provide a smooth and shock-absorbent surface to play across.
Cons of Playground Tiles
- Expense: While rubber tiles are more expensive than rubber mulch, sand, or wood chips, they’re a much safer and more resilient option for the long term.
- Jamboree Playground Tiles™: Jamboree Playground Tiles™ resist weathering, offering superior shock absorption, long-term durability, and easy maintenance.
- PlaySafe Interlocking Playground Tiles: They are Certified Clean Rubber, offer a 10-year warranty, and come with a DIY interlocking installation.
- Safe-Play Tiles: Safe-Play Tiles are the perfect surface for jungle gyms, swing sets, and other playground equipment.
|Related Content >> Playground Turf Buying Guide|
Playground Rubber Mulch
Recycled rubber mulch is made from 100% recycled tires. This keeps them out of landfills and gives the tires a second chance as budget-friendly and ultra-durable playground flooring. Rubber mulch is usually used as playground flooring to keep kids safe while at play. It comes in many colors, shapes, and sizes, and won’t absorb water or blow away like wood chips.
Pros of Rubber Mulch
- Durability: Rubber playground mulch is highly shock-absorbent and doesn’t contain sharp-edged pieces like traditional wood chips. Unlike wooden mulch chips, this synthetic material won’t require you to top your floor off with a new layer of mulch as much.
- Looks: Rubber mulch comes in many attractive colors.
- Easy maintenance: Pick up occasional trash, blow off the leaves, and spray with a water hose to clean. Note: Regularly check your rubber mulch for hazardous materials to reduce the risk of being buried and brought up to the surface later on.
Cons of Rubber Mulch
- Up-front costs: Rubber mulch tends to be more expensive than wooden mulch, but the material lasts much longer. In the long run, it pays for itself. Additionally, we have free-shipping options that help make it a comparable choice.
- Mess: Inevitably, children might play roughly, and the rubber mulch will transfer out of the playground area. Sweep it back in to ensure your floor remains full.
- Playground Rubber Mulch – Bulk: Save big on bulk rubber mulch for your commercial playgrounds. This option comes with a 10-year warranty, free shipping, and doesn’t attract bugs.
- Premium Rubber Mulch: Wood-look mulch made of 100% recycled rubber. Great for playgrounds as it doesn’t compress, fade, or rot.
Rubber Playground Mats
If you’re looking for something durable, our playground mats are the way to go. While children are playing, playground mats have their back as they jump, climb, swing, and slide on their playground.
These mats are primarily used under swings and slides but can be used anywhere kids need an extra surface.
Pros of Playground Mats
- Support: While playground mats are primarily used to protect your main playground floor from accelerated wear and tear, they do provide a slight cushion for risk-taking children. Note: Not all playground mats are fall height rated, but some are, which is an added plus.
- Heavy-duty: Rubber playground mats tend to be very heavy, most being over 100 Lbs. Once you place it, it will not slide out from under your kid during a hard stop. Additionally, commercial playground owners enjoy them, as they’re theft-resistant.
Cons of Playground Mats
- Surface area: Rubber mats are a fantastic addition to high traffic areas, but are not intended to be used for the entirety of your playground floor. This would require an extensive quantity of mats and severely increase your project’s budget.
- Playground Swing Mats: These American-made mats are made of 100% recycled rubber, come in various colors, and are designed with beveled edges for ADA compliance.
- Swing Safety Mats: These commercially-rated swing mats weigh about 122 lbs providing needed stability underneath aggressive, high traffic play areas.
Our playground turf is UV stable, heat/frost resistant, and has a higher face weight than other turf. These factors make playground turf extremely durable for commercial playgrounds.
Manufacturers create playground turf with polyethylene fibers, which resist substantial wear and tear compared to other types of outdoor playground flooring.
Pros of Playground Turf
- Safety: With play padding underneath, your playground turf doubles as a safety zone for your kids to play freely.
- Eco-friendly: Artificial grass is made of eco-friendly materials and has a measurable, positive impact on the environment. It requires no watering to keep it lush year-round.
- Looks real: Playground turf also looks like real grass.
Cons of Playground Turf
- Expense: It’s an investment, but you save money on water bills and the time needed to regularly maintain real grass.
- Heat: Turf retains heat more than natural grass does. However, our cooling Hydrochill infill can keep your playground turf 30 to 50 degrees cooler during warmer seasons.
- Playsafe Premium Turf Rolls: Our premium version of our popular Playsafe Turf Rolls can handle extreme traffic and incremental weather. Paired with our Playpad 8, you can reach a fall height of 6’ to 8’.
|Related Content >> Playground Flooring FAQ|
Playground Flooring Safety
A playground flooring’s “fall height” is the highest point a child can potentially fall from a playset onto the floor without serious injury.
Note: Rubber flooring and turf have their own standards and fall height safety criteria. Regardless of which playground flooring you choose, ensure the product is fall height certified.
Manufacturers certify product fall heights by testing the flooring’s shock absorbency, replicating a child falling from various heights to determine the most accurate rating. This helps the playground owner pair the best equipment with the right flooring to create the safest environment. For more information on fall height testing, visit https://ipema.org/.
Typically, municipalities desire a fall height rating of 6’ or more for commercial settings.
A 1’-2’ fall height is appropriate in residential settings as playsets tend to be on a small scale and lower to the surface. However, if you’re looking for increased cushion, you may want to consider flooring with a 3’ to 4’ fall height.
Expert’s Advice for Residential Playgrounds
“4’ fall height is the ideal safety rating for a playground setting, creating an environment that’s substantially safer. It’s a very aggressive fall height for a residential setting.” – Bo Barber, VP of ECORE International.
The great news is, we offer a variety of flooring thicknesses, so you can choose the best one for your needs.
|Related Content >> Playground Flooring Safety: The Ultimate Guide|
Playground Flooring FAQ
What’s the Best Flooring for Under Swing Sets?
In addition to having a softer surface underneath your swing set, like rubber tiles, mulch, or turf, we recommend pairing it with rubber mats. They’re a quick and easy way to add extra cushion to the most used areas of your playground. However, they should not be used as your sole flooring.
Need a flooring recommendation? Our best-selling Playground Swing Mats have a certified 4’ fall height rating, beveled edges for wheel-chair accessibility, and are composed of 100% recycled rubber.
How Do You Clean Playground Flooring?
Rubber Tile Maintenance
Rubber tiles are one of the easiest materials to clear off. Simply sweep off any dirt and debris and hose off rubber tiles. Allow to naturally dry, and you’ll have a slip-resistant and new surface for more playtime.
Note: If you have stain buildup you’d like to remove, use a water and household detergent solution to scrub off, rinse, and dry. Important: Do not use any solvent or oil style cleaners such as Pine-Sol, Lysol, Murphy’s Oil Soap, or WD40, as these cleaners will break down the outdoor playground rubber surface over time.
Rubber Mulch Maintenance
Rubber mulch requires more attention than other playground materials, as potentially hazardous materials can be buried if not handled properly. This generally impacts commercial playgrounds but applies to residential areas as well.
For regular maintenance, first, remove any trash, blow off top-layer leaves, and hose down your flooring to bring back its fresh appearance. To finish, sweep back any loose mulch into your play area.
Cleaning your playground turf is fairly simple. First, pick up any waste, then hose it down thoroughly to remove any built-up liquids, dirt, or debris. Next, to remove dog urine and the smell, we offer our Turf Fresh disinfecting spray, which can bring your turf back to a clean slate. Lastly, to revitalize your turf and ensure it remains full-looking, we recommend raking it regularly with a synthetic turf rake.
How Long Can Playground Flooring Last?
While proper maintenance, playground flooring can last decades, and many products have an accompanying warranty (average of 10 to 15 years) to back their durability. Make sure to check individual product specifications before purchasing.
How Do You Install Playground Flooring?
Explore our Playground Flooring Installation Guide for detailed DIY instructions on installing rubber mulch and tiles. For advice on turf installation and the necessary tools, visit our Playground Turf Buying Guide.
Safety is our #1 priority! Enjoy the outdoors and play safely with cushioned playground flooring!
Oh hey! You were such a lifesaver for implying that rubber mulch is relatively durable easy to maintain too as the base for our playground. As my brother’s family is getting bigger with the arrival of his third child recently, he considers adding a small play area at his backyard. I’ll share this seemingly helpful information to help him install the right equipment.