Kane Construction

8 Types of Playground Surfacing

Creating a safe and stimulating environment for children to play is a top priority when planning a playground, whether it’s at a school, nursery, or public area. One crucial aspect of playground design is selecting the right surfacing material. Each type of surfacing comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, making it essential to consider factors like safety, shock absorption, cost, and aesthetics before making a decision. Let’s explore eight different types of playground surfacing and the unique features they offer. 

Wet Pour

Wet pour is one of the safest surfacing options for playgrounds and nursery schools. It consists of a continuous rubber surface that is poured onto an existing base like MOT type 1 or tarmac and then troweled for a smooth finish. Wet pour typically comprises two layers: a wearing course made of EPDM rubber and a base course using recycled black rubber, providing excellent shock absorption. 


  • Soft underfoot feel, cushioning trips and falls
  • A porous surface prevents standing water accumulation 
  • Endless colour and design options, with additional features like games and graphics for an enhanced educational experience


  • Higher cost due to multiple layers and labour-intensive installation


Tarmac is a common and cost-effective surfacing solution for playgrounds, especially over large areas. It can also be porous, preventing slippery surfaces when wet. Additionally, the tarmac can accommodate vehicular traffic, making it suitable for space-constrained schools and nurseries.


  • Cost-effective option for large areas
  • Porous surface prevents standing water 
  • Suitable for both pedestrian and vehicular use


  • Less visually appealing compared to other surfaces
  • No shock absorption, resulting in more cuts and grazes from falls.


Rubber tiles, similar to wet pour, are a popular choice for playground surfacing. They are installed on a concrete sub-base using adhesive, making the process quicker than wet pours. 


  • Anti-slip and good shock absorption properties
  • Available in various colours, although design options are limited.

Loose Rubber Mulch 

Made from shredded recycled rubber, loose rubber mulch provides excellent shock absorption. It is commonly used in play areas with climbing equipment or small play pits and is a cleaner alternative to sand. 


  • Cost-effective and quick installation 
  • Excellent absorption qualities


  • Difficult to walk on, making it less suitable for large areas
  • Requires regular maintenance to ensure even coverage. 

Bonded Rubber Mulch 

Bonded rubber mulch combines loose rubber mulch with a PU binder and is laid onto solid ground. It offers similar absorption and non-slip properties as wet pour. 


  • Quick and easy installation compared to we pour
  • Wide range of colours and shapes available 


  • Quality of rubber and binder materials crucial for durability

Artificial Grass

Artificial grass has gained popularity in recent years due to its natural appearance and year-round usability. It provides excellent shock absorption and a non-abrasive surface, preventing cuts and grazes. 


  • Natural-looking and attractive 
  • All-weather usability, no mud or mess


  • Higher initial cost compared to some other surfaces

Bark Mulch 

Loose bark mulch offers a cost-effective natural surfacing option, suitable for woodlands and areas around to create a natural play environment. 


  • Cheap and natural-looking option


  • Less soft surface for play 
  • Requires regular maintenance and is not ideal for areas with fall risks. 

Resin-Bonded Gravel 

Resin-bonded gravel mixes gravel with resin and is hand-troweled onto a permeable asphalt surface. It offers a wide range of colours and patterns. 


  • Permeable and suitable for vehicular traffic 
  • Various design options 


  • Abrasive surface and no shock absorption 


In conclusion, when planning a playground, it’s essential to carefully consider the different surfacing options based on safety, cost, and aesthetics. A well-designed playground with various textures and surfaces can create an engaging and educational environment for children to play and learn. Ultimately, the chosen surfacing material should be durable, safe, and able to withstand the test of time, providing a valuable investment for years to come.