Use this table for a quick comparison:
|PerfectPlay®||PiP Rubber||Wood Chips||Loose Rubber|
|Heat Effects||Hot, but unaffected||Hot and Hardens||Cool||Moderate|
|Lifespan||8+ Years||2-8 Years||2 Years||8+ Years|
Poured in place rubber (PiP Rubber) is actually known to be rather unsafe. While it can get ratings of fairly high fall heights, poured in place rubber can have make injuries 444% to 700% more likely than safer alternatives.1 Moreover as you’ll see that PiP rubber needs to be patched quite often, which can cause it to lose up to 50% of impact attenuation everytime it’s patched.
Wood Chips are fairly unsafe. Injuries on Wood Chips are between 287% and 496% more likely than sand according to a 2009 study.2 Sand isn’t even the safest playground surface, meaning that wood chips are a very poor choice.
Loose Rubber are probably the safest materials. If you’re only interested in falling safety they’re going to be the best choice by a small margin. However as we’ll get into later they can have serious issues with sanitation. Moreover you need to be careful because many brands of loose rubber do not have 100% of steel wire removed. Even brands that claim 99.9% wire-free can still have between 20-30 exposed rigid steel wires per pound of material. If you choose loose rubber we highly recommend you get 100% wire free rubber.
PerfectPlay synthetic turf playground system actually has a double later of protection. It’s got a recycled foam pad underneath the turf which is safer than Poured in Place rubber, as well as the added cushioning of the synthetic turf above it. Since the turf is filled with silica sand, the turf itself has a lot of force dispersion. Long-term studies obviously don’t exist for such a new product, but extensive testing has determined great performance passing critical fall height requirements of fall heights as high as 12 feet.
Poured in place rubber (PiP Rubber) has significant problems under heat. The surface will get quite hot, and moreover it will harden significantly. The surface you tested and installed in fair weather can become much less safe on hot summer days. Moreover Poured in Place Rubber is extremely vulnerable to cracking during winter. This means that in areas that it freezes during winter you’ll likely need to repair it every year, and replace it after 2-8 years. (Depending more on luck than quality of installation.)
Wood Chips are fairly resilient to high temperature. They’re the coolest under high temperatures, but have sever issues at cold temperatures. Wood chips and Engineered Wood Fiber can retain water and freeze, becoming extremely dangerous during winter months. According to standardized testing frozen wood chips can surpass the limit for a safe fall height from as low as 2 feet.3 It’s often much safer to get in a car accident at 40 MPH than to fall 2 feet headfirst onto frozen wood chips!
Loose rubber doesn’t become more dangerous in the heat, but like everything except wood chips will get quite hot. Most loose rubber doesn’t retain water, so it has minimal problems at cold temperatures. That’s not to say that it maintains equal efficiency at low temperatures, but rather that there’s no known product that doesn’t have some issues in the same circumstances.
PerfectPlay can get quite hot under direct sun, but the padding underneath is both immune to hardening under high temperatures and kept fairly cool. The system has great drainage and doesn’t retain moisture, so there are also minimal problems at colds temperatures. That’s not to say that it maintains equal efficiency at low temperatures, but rather that there’s no known product that doesn’t have some issues in the same circumstances.
Poured in place rubber (PiP Rubber) has severe problems weathering winter. It will require repairs every spring after it thaws as pieces chip or fall off. It can have huge cracks or gaps in bad cases. This will obviously limit the lifespan of the surface. If you’ll be installing it in an indoor facility or in a climate that doesn’t have freezing winters you’ll experience a much longer lifespan.
Wood Chips have a very short lifespan. They need to be replaced every two years on average for sanitary reasons.
Loose Rubber has a long lifespan, largely due to the constant need for replacement during it’s life.
PerfectPlay is warrantied for 8 years, and depending on use can last for as long as 12 or more years. The turf actually lasts a bit longer than the padding, but we know a system s only as good as it’s weakest link!
Poured in place rubber (PiP Rubber) is often considered the best looking surface for many installations. Indoors turf might look awkward or out of place, but you can have good-looking, colorful designs with PiP rubber.
Wood Chips are not rated highly among consumers in regards to appearance. Furthermore children tend to dislike them compared to other surfaces because of the uncomfortable nature of the surface.
Loose Rubber isn’t considered very good looking among consumers either.
PerfectPlay is often considered the most visually pleasing surface for playgrounds.
Poured in place rubber (PiP Rubber) is fairly sanitary. It often has problems with drainage however and can maintain urine, vomit, spit, blood and other fluids, becoming a breeding ground for bacteria in bad cases.
Wood Chips are horrible in this department. They not only collect germs and mold, but retain moisture from urine, vomit, spit, blood and other fluids. In addition animals are attracted to them, leading to mice and rats that will nest in it as well as animals that will defecate in it. This can lead to a huge number of health risks.
Loose Rubber has large a number of toxicity concerns. Study after study has found hazardous chemicals in rubber mulch and crumb rubber.4 There is also a high risk of children ingesting pieces of crumb rubber and rubber mulch, which can lead to serious problems. Lastly many parents have expressed concern over the rubber stains caused by this mulch and it’s potential links to the suspected toxicity.5
PerfectPlay is very clean. There is no crumb rubber used for infill, only natural rounded silica sand. The sand only reaches about 1/16th of an inch, so while it makes the turf stand up well and helps with impact attenuation it would be extremely hard for children to access. There are no worries about grass allergies, rubber toxicity, bacteria buildup or staining. It also deters most bugs.
Poured in place rubber (PiP Rubber) is expensive. It often costs upwards of $10-14 a square foot.
Wood Chips are extremely cheap. They can cost as low as $1 per square foot upfront.
Loose Rubber is a middle ground on pricing. It typically costs between $4-8 per square foot.
PerfectPlay is typically the most expensive option upfront. It can run from $8-18 per square foot installed. (The cost gap is larger because there are a lot of factors that go into installation complexity.)
Poured in place rubber (PiP Rubber) is moderately expensive to upkeep. Heavy patching is typically needed after frozen rubber thaws, and the rubber damages fairly easily.
Wood Chips are expensive to maintain. Constant sanitation concerns means you’ll need to replace your wood chips extremely often, as well as natural degridation and loss of chips to a number of factors.
Loose Rubber is fairly expensive to maintain. You’re going to loose rubber all the time, so replacing it will be the main cost.
PerfectPlay is extremely cheap to maintain. Originally we thought you would need to add new sand once in awhile, but in all the years we’ve installed out PerfectPlay system we’ve never needed to.
*All playground surfaces will obviously require general maintenance like picking up trash and animal droppings if outdoors.
**All information presented is accurate to the best of our knowledge and presented in good faith that we’re giving as complete and accurate an overview of the situation as possible. We’ve sourced everything controversial as best we could. If anyone has any comments or concerns with this comparison please contact us.
High-density turf with minimal rounded silica sand infill over 100% recycled foam padding; the PerfectPlay® Low-Infill Playground System can be designed to achieve fall heights of up to 8 feet!
Perfect Turf® uses special foam padding that is made out of 100% recycled materials. This durable, closed cell padding comes in thicknesses between 1 inch to 4½ inches achieving fall heights of up to 12 feet without any potentially dangerous crumb rubber infill.
Call us at 888-SYN-TURF (796-8873) or contact us with the form below: