Play areas are where kids’ imaginations ignite. Where knee grazes and tumbles are a part of discovery and learning about limits. Balancing realistic risk with safety, fun aesthetics, and affordability – as well as the ability to withstand even the toughest environments.
So when it comes to specifying a safety surface, landscape architects can’t go on cost alone. A cheaper product is unlikely to last as long as a premium product – or meet the necessary safety standards.
A look at longevity
The lifespan of a safety surface should be a landscape architect’s top priority. Of course, the specified product has to fit the client’s budget. But beyond that and safety specs, client satisfaction will come from how durable the surface is – and how long it lasts.
Specifying Rubber Safety Surfaces, take Rosehill TPV® for instance – the recognised brand name for the ultimate coloured rubber granule produced by Rosehill Polymers. Made from premium virgin polymers, and combined with the highest possible UV stabilised pigments to keep its colour under the harsh Australian sun, Rosehill TPV® looks better and lasts longer.
But does it live up to the hype?
Let’s travel to the Northern Territory, where NT Sports & Playground Surfacing has been installing the product for eight years. Director Bob Fleming understandably requires the most robust, hard wearing soft-fall rubber. It must also keep its colour and withstand extreme temperatures.
“We have seen many contractors come unstuck by using cheap, inferior surfaces,” Bob says. “With Rosehill TPV®, we have had zero warranty claims. And now the Department of Education and local councils are specifying TPV with no substitutions. Why? Because it stands the test of time.”
And that’s just one example.
The below image shows a comparison of a sample taken from Livvi’s Place at Timbrell Park, Five Dock, in Sydney – and a new sample of the same rubber. The Surface Designs team was able to grab a few samples from the installation that has been in place for just under seven years.
You can clearly the RosehillTPV® has retained it’s colour, what you can’t feel is that it has also retained is softness.
Ageing and safety
As surfaces age, their performance, aesthetics, and safety features suffer. Many aged rubber surfaces feel rough to the touch. And that means a less smooth surface for children to fall on, which could increase injury.
Premium products like Rosehill TPV® don’t harden or embrittle over time. So they stay as safe and comfortable as the day they were laid.
Survey the stats
Of course, landscape architects shouldn’t just accept the marketing spiel. When comparing safety surfaces, they should also request:
- Lab results of durability studies
- Specific product specs
- Installation instructions
- Maintenance and repair recommendations
Only then will they have the full picture of how the product will perform now and into the future.
Let’s look a little closer at maintenance. While a premium product may cost more initially, it will cost far less to maintain compared to other products such as loose-fill materials or tiles. Why? Because better technology, research and development have likely been poured into the premium product, to produce a surface that does in fact go the distance.
Of course, proper maintenance will help extend the surface lifespan. That includes regularly checking for wear and tear, keeping the surface clear of debris, and immediately fixing any damage. Specifiers should also follow the manufacturer’s maintenance inspection recommendations.
Invest in the best
No playground surface is perfect. And no material will last until eternity. That’s why landscape architects should only provide clients with the most durable material that meets industry standards – and fits within their budget.
So what’s the secret to selecting a safety surface? Invest in a time-tested product, and insist that only experienced installers put it in place. Then landscape architects can be confident that their specified surface (and their own business reputation) stands the test of time.
To learn more about RosehillTPV® and why when specifying rubber safety surfaces remember, it’s the choice of specialized installers and architects globally, contact Surface Designs. We are the exclusive distributor for Australia and New Zealand, for Rosehill Polymers.