15 Questions on Playground Surfacing

Playground surfacing is something many need and yet complex enough that it takes some digging to figure out the best product suitable for each unique application. We dive deep to find you the best answers for the top playground surfacing questions.

  1. What is the safest surface to use under playground equipment?

The safest surface to use under playground equipment would be a non-toxic virgin rubber surface that has a maximum fall safety rating according to ASTM F1292 standards like Jelly Bean Rubber Mulch. 

  1. What is the best surface for a playground?

Depending on your playground design, size, project budget, and equipment used it may vary, though a surface that is non-toxic with a maximum fall safety rating like Jelly Bean Rubber Mulch is often at the top of the list as a sweet spot product that is long lasting, affordable for the lifespan, yet not as costly as pour-in-place or safety tiles.

  1. What is the rubber stuff in playgrounds called?

Rubber mulch or pour-in-place. If not one of those two it would most likely be a playground safety tile or mat.

  1. How do you repair a rubber playground surface?

Repairing a pour-in-place surface varies depending on the size of the damaged area. For smaller damaged areas there will be SBR tire rubber mixed with EPDM and a binder put on top through a hole and patch like method. 

Unattended holes and tears can lead to larger issues with the surface in the future and chemical exposure of the tire rubber to kids.

  1. What are the soft surfaces that should be under and around all playground equipment?

Pea gravel, sand, wood much, safety tiles, rubber tire mulch, and non-toxic Jelly Bean Rubber mulch are all popular options, with wood mulch probably being the most popular despite faster degradation and potential allergen exposure for kids.

  1. What is a type of protective surfacing that can be used to cushion falls?

Non-toxic Jelly Bean Rubber Mulch has a top fall safety rating and maximum impact attenuation score with the governing body overseeing playground safety ASTM.

  1. What is the playground floor made of?

Depending on the playground, often it is either wood mulch, sand, drit, pea gravel or rubber. The rubber can come in the form of chopped up dirty tires – referred to us rubber tire mulch – or virgin rubber safety tiles. Jelly Bean Rubber Mulch offers a loose-fill rubber mulch that is non-toxic and long lasting. 

  1. How long does poured in place rubber last?

The manufacturers say 10 years, but go to most playgrounds and you’ll see holes. The surface is very nice under foot, but tends to be prone to costly repairs, and uses old dirty tires as a source of “bounce” that can expose kids to toxins and steel wire if exposed. 

  1. How do you install a rubber playground surface?

Installation depends on the type, weather it is pour-in-place or loose fill like Jelly Bean, or virgin rubber safety tiles. With PIP it takes a team of professionals to set the floor in place with machines and chemical binders.

With loose fill surfaces, like non-toxic Jelly Bean Rubber Mulch, a few staff members or volunteers can rake the surface into place in a few hours time. 


An underlayment is recommended prior to installation. 


The product is delivered in a supersack on a pallet, so plan on using a Bobcat, forklift, or wheelbarrow to move the product from the point of delivery to the playground. 

  1. Do it yourself pour in place rubber?

Kits are available for smaller areas, though for larger 1,000 sq ft and up it is recommended you use a professional installer.

  1. How much does pour in place rubber cost?

 The latest numbers are anywhere from $8-$14 or more per square foot. A lot depends on your needs for depth with safety regulations such as put forth by ASTM, and type of product you want, like virgin rubber versus old tires.


  1. What is the difference between playground mulch and regular mulch?

 Wood mulch can vary by type depending on use, like for gardening or landscaping. Playground mulch must meet stringent fall safety ratings to ensure the safety of kids when they fall on the playground and protect against liability for the playground owner. 

Rubber mulch is another popular playground safety surface. There is tire mulch or crumb rubber, which are made up of old chopped up tires. Then there is non-toxic rubber mulch, like Jelly Bean, that is produced from virgin rubber shavings of safety tiles.

  1. What kind of mulch is best used in a playground?

The one you can afford with the top fall safety rating. Jelly Bean Rubber Mulch has been called the sweet spot product for having the trifecta of top fall safety rating, long lasting, and free of toxins or foreign materials like tire mulch might put out.

  1. How much does playground mulch cost?

 It all depends on the size of the playground, the type of mulch, and the depth of the mulch. The bigger the playground the more product you will need, and that will lead to greater discounts on the product from buying direct bulk playground rubber mulch


In terms of the type, wood mulch is least expensive. Then rubber tire mulch might be less expensive since it’s made from old dirty chopped up tires. Jelly Bean Rubber Mulch is non-toxic while costing more than traditional wood mulch and rubber tire mulch, it costs less than pour-in-place or safety tiles. 

  1. What is playground wood mulch?

 It is a popular surface that is natural, achieves a good fall safety rating and is soft underfoot. Though it degrades quickly which leads to high replacement cost, and can put off allergens that can cause harm to kids with sensitivities to such.


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