Kane Construction

What is the Best Surface for a Playground?

When it comes to creating a playground, safety should be the foremost concern. One of the critical aspects of a secure playground is the choice of surfacing material. A well-designed playground surface can cushion falls and reduce the severity of injuries, ensuring children can play freely and caregivers can have peace of mind. In this blog, we will explore the best playground surface options, with a particular focus on Engineered Wood Fibre (EWF), and also discuss other child-safe alternatives while highlighting materials to avoid. 


Engineered Wood Fibre (EWF)

Engineered wood fibre, or EWF, emerges as the best playground surfacing material for various reasons. It is a cost-effective loose-fill material that offers exceptional impact cushioning properties, making it ideal for absorbing falls and impacts. EWF is designed to meet accessibility guidelines and complies with safety standards, ensuring a safe play environment for all children in the UK. 


Benefits of EWF

  • Slip-resistant and shock-absorbing qualities
  • Meets accessibility standards when properly installed and maintained
  • Affordable and easy to install
  • Environmentally sustainable and all-natural 


Drawbacks of EWF

  • Requires regular replenishment in high-use areas
  • Potential to conceal foreign objects
  • Demands routine maintenance for Equality Act (EQA) compliance. 


Poured-in-Place Rubber

Poured-in-place rubber uses a durable and stable surface often found in public playgrounds in the UK. While it may be relatively more expensive than EWF, it offers excellent impact resistance and is a popular choice for ensuring EQA compliance. However, it’s essential to note that over time, it may harden due to exposure to extreme temperatures or UV light, necessitating professional installation and maintenance.


Synthetic Turf 

Originally designed to mimic natural grass, synthetic turf has evolved to become a safe playground surface option. It offers higher durability and easy maintenance, with the advantage of no hidden pests or torn patches like real grass. However, synthetic turf can retain heat, so it’s essential to consider shaded areas for installation, and professional expertise may be required for proper installation.


Synthetic Tiles

Composed of rubber-based materials, synthetic tiles provide a cushioned surface over concrete or asphalt. They are highly durable, impact-resistant, and an excellent choice for EQA compliance in play areas. However, professional installation is necessary, and it’s important to address debris accumulation between joined pieces.


Materials to Avoid

Certain materials are unsafe for playgrounds in the UK and can lead to severe injuries. Grass or dirt, concrete or asphalt, wooden boards, and loose-filled rubber are among the materials that should be avoided due to their inadequate impact absorption or non-compliance with EQA guidelines. 


Playground Safety Surface Standards

Adhering to playground safety standards is of utmost importance when building play areas in the UK, Standards set by organisations like the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the British European Safety Standards (EN) play a vital role in guiding playground owners and ensuring the well-being of children.




Constructing a safe and enjoyable playground starts with choosing the right surfacing material. Engineered wood fibre (EWF) stands out as the best option due to its cost-effectiveness, impact-absorbing properties, and compliance with safety standards. Poured-in rubber, synthetic turf, and synthetic tiles are also viable choices, depending on specific needs and budgets. By avoiding unsafe materials and adhering to playground safety standards, playground owners can create a fun-filled and secure environment where children can thrive and explore without unnecessary risks.