We sat down with owner Chris Johnsen to find out more about Safety Surfacing.
Q: Chris, we get asked all the time at St Croix Recreation ‘what is the best option for our safety surfacing?’. It seems like this is a common topic and one that many are curious about as there isn’t much information readily available on the types, pros & cons and price points. Tell me, what is the most requested surfacing these days?
A: We see artificial turf, pour n’ place rubber surfacing and engineered wood fiber as the most requested and purchased.
Q: Why is pour n’ place so desirable?
A: Pour n’ place is a unitary surfacing option that has the cleanest look and requires the least amount of maintenance with the longest life span. Win-win for the customer and end users of the playground.
Q: Does it cost more?
A: We find that pour n’ place typically costs about $22/sq.ft. including installation. So, for all the benefits it provides, it definitely costs the most of all our options.
Q: What about the rubber mats? Do you recommend those for something a bit cheaper but still the clean, rubber look?
A: Rubber mats can be a great option. But, as they are not put down as one piece like the pour n’ place, we find that they can separate requiring more maintenance to remain safe as the cracks can become tripping hazards.
Q: What about artificial turf?
C: Turf is a great option! Made to look like grass, artificial turf is a permeable surface that is less expensive than pour n’ place (about $16/sq.ft. including installation).
Q: Any downsides?
A: The biggest disadvantage is that there is a potential electric charge which should be avoided by those with cochlear implants or other medical devices.
Q: Is there a lot of maintenance required?
A: Not as much as others. But we find that a power broom helps to keep the overall look clean.
Q: What if you want something less expensive?
A: Engineered wood fiber is still our most popular type of surfacing at $24-36/cubic yard. It’s a great price and definitely has become the go-to for semi-permanent surfacing. We can have this dropped on-site, dropped and spread or blown-in; the easiest and cleanest option great for hard to access sites.
Q: This is special wood fiber, right?
A: Correct. Many say ‘mulch,’ but it is safety certified and engineered to ensure that it doesn’t pose additional safety hazards to kids playing on it.
Q: Why do people choose not to go with this option?
A: We find that the wood fiber usually needs top-offs every 2-3 years to maintain it’s fall height classification. As it’s not a permanent surfacing, it also can become displaced from the container and can be cumbersome for those with disabilities or who are wheelchair bound.
Q: Are any of these offered on the Minnesota State Contract?
A: Yes, Pour n’ place rubber surfacing is as is wood fiber.
Q: Great! Anything else you’d like to add?
A: There are other options out there; rubber mulch, rubber play mats & grass mats. All good options that we can discuss with potential customers or answer any questions about. You can also visit our website to learn more.