US Rubber Mulch provides the #1 safest and longest lasting playground surfacing available, that costs far less than other surfacing options over their lifespan, and it's been tested up to 100% safer than other rubber mulches!
Generally, rubber mulch provides the greatest benefits for playground safety surfacing.
Cost: Around $8 per square foot over 25 years; Initially around $5 per square foot for a 6" depth; Ongoing about $3 per square foot over its entire 25+ year lifespan
Safety: By far the best fall safety of all available playground safety surfaces that is maintained over its entire 25 years plus life expectancy, with the best HIC scores (lower is better) at the highest rated fall height available of 17 feet
Maintenance: Minimal maintenance to even out dispersion from high and low areas, replenishing every 2-3 years with 5% to 10% new material
Hazards: Pathogens and microbes aren't an issue because it can't absorb moisture, and cats don't like the feel of it
Liabilities: Minimal to none, due to the lack of hazards associated with rubber mulch, the only issue is when proper drainage isn't in place, which is true for any playground safety surface
First of all, it's the safest fall impact protection, out of all forms of playground surfacing available, from the industry maximum fall testing height of 17 feet. The cost works out to around $5 per square foot, for the six inch depth that provides this superior fall safety, which lasts for 25 years or more. The maintenance is minimal, generally using a rake to level it out. You may want to churn it every year or two to bring the fresher color from below up into the higher wear areas, and keep it blended when you check to see if the depth is still six inches. It's normal for there to be a topping-off or adding between 5% and 10% every three to five years, depending on how much use the playground experiences (ands how many pieces leave in little shoes and pockets).
Part of the reason our rubber mulch offers such good fall impact protection is it provides the hybrid method of dispersion and compression to absorb or attenuate the kinetic energy, and prevent injury better. We have more information about playground safety zones, safety surface planning, and how to make sure your playgound is one offers long-lasting play activities for children in a safe and healthy manner. It doesn't hurt that the recycled rubber mulch also helps the planet, by turning used tires into something useful, providing ongoing safety for decades.
Other forms of playground surfacing often require more maintenance than they receive, which results in serious degradation of the level of impact protection available, until and unless whatever remedies are necessary occur, and are performed properly. A lot of communities don't have the time or budget to provide the ongoing playground inspection and maintenance required for some types of safety surfaces, which often offer lower levels of fall safety and have drawbacks.
It's worth looking around and reading more about how other forms of playground safety surfaces work, comparing them, and making your own educated decision. Our rubber mulch is ASTM tested and IPEMA certified and meets or exceeds all established safety requirements and standards. For those located within CA, our bags also carry the obligatory Prop. 65 notification, as do most items and locations these days.