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Climbing Frame Safety Surfacing

It is very important to have a safety surface in place for your playset, as even with the safest playset and the most careful child, they will still undoubtedly still have some bumps and falls now and again. It is recommended to have a safety surface below to an area of 1.8m outwards around the frame at every side - do not ever put your climbing frame on a surface of concrete or tarmac. This helps accommodate for falls and possible impacts, including those using the slide and/or a swing. We also strongly advise not to locate the frame next to walls as this could result in an impact with the wall in some form. A small section of safe fencing or low wooden sleepers around your chosen surface area can help create a visible area for play and also a nice feature in the garden.

About Safety Surfacing

The role of safety surfacing is to absorb the impact, reducing the seriousness of any potential injury whilst playing. We therefore recommend that impact absorbing surfaces are installed beneath and around all equipment. As advised by the ROSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) for a fall height of up to 1.2m, they state that grass is an adequate surface (assuming a minimum 150mm of subsoil is underneath the grass). If the surface is currently tarmac or concrete the addition of a safety surface is essential.

How Much Safety Do I Need?

Diagram of the Safety Area Needed

The design of your safety area is determined by the dimensions of your chosen playset and the maximum free fall height of your playset model (this is noted in your product manual). These measurements will allow you to work out the depth and extent of surfacing required for your chosen type of surface - see below for different types on the market.

As a guide, the extent or distance from the frame that a safety surface should extend is shown below - this is based on public playground safety guidelines, so some best judgement is required for home use.

Fall HeightSurface Distance
1.5 m 1.5 m
1.6 m 1.56 m
1.7 m 1.63 m
1.8 m 1.70 m
1.9 m 1.76 m
2.0 m 1.83 m
2.1 m 1.90 m
2.2 m 1.96 m
Fall HeightSurface Distance
2.3 m 2.03 m
2.4 m 2.10 m
2.5 m 2.16 m
2.6 m 2.23 m
2.7 m 2.30 m
2.8 m 2.37 m
2.9 m 2.43 m
3 m 2.50 m

Types Of Surfacing

Playground Safety Surfaces Types

Grass - An all purpose surface, but can have little resistance or impact absorbency in dry conditions.

Bark Mulch - One of the most popular choices for safety surfacing, mainly due to its lower cost compared to other types of surfacing. Suitable for wheelchair users but still good at absorbing shocks and impacts.

Loose Fill Rubber Mulch - Heavy duty and long lasting and is often made from shredded recycled tyres in a variety of bright colours, so if your going for a striking look this could be for you. It does not absorb or retain water so freezing isn't a problem.

Rubber Tiles/Matting - Easy to fit and comes in a range of colours, but care should be taken to ensure your choice is made to a suitable thickness for the maximum free fall height.

Sand - Popular impact absorbing surfacing material for under play equipment. Whilst it's undoubtedly an attractive surfacing for play areas, please note that sand does require a high level of maintenance.

Wet Pour - A continuous rubber surface that gives a high quality, hard wearing slip resistant surface requiring little/no maintenance.

Synthetic Grass - All weather surfacing available with or without a pile and is an ideal solution for surfacing play areas.

Maintenance Considerations

Without doubt bark chipping and sand are the easiest to install, but are the hardest to maintain with regular maintenance needed to keep it effective. Sand will require regular raking and forking to keep it loose enough to be an effective safety surface and to ensure adequate drainage. Also disinfectant will need to be applied and children kept away from the area - see disinfectant bottle for exact recommendations.

Bark Chipping - lasts approximately 6-12 months, it compacts and turns to mulch needing constant replacement. Costing money to remove children get dirty playing in it and this comes in the house. It also is very much like a large cat tray.

Rubber chippings are an excellent choice not absorbing water so freezing and becoming solid with a little rain isn't a problem, racking for getting an even spread is required as needed. It's very effective and because it doesn't require replacing it life span gives it a great advantage.

There are many options to consider and many options you need to look at before choosing which surface you go for. We would love to hear your feedback and if you are currently using any of these surfaces we would love to hear what you think.