In 2019, playground designers have a ton of options. If you are creating a play area for a public or private space, you know that a safe, kid-friendly environment means thinking about the pros and cons of every protective surface option on the market.
For example: There are inexpensive, but high-labor options such as loose-fill sand, wood chips and pea gravel. These options are easily displaced and less accessible for children with physical disabilities, but they won’t break the bank.
Here’s another example: There are options such as poured-in-place rubber surface and rubber tiles that have a higher cost initially, but the savings show over time thanks to less maintenance and longer performance. You can trust us at No Fault to give you a fair, honest assessment of the surfacing products we provide, and those we don’t provide.
If you’re planning a playground, today’s article is going to give you a little bit more information about an option you could consider: No Fault Safety Tiles.
Benefits of Rubber Safety Tiles
The playground designers and architects we work with love rubber safety tiles for their outdoor playgrounds or indoor facilities for many reasons. Here are the ones we hear about the most.
Safety: Safety is the top concern when choosing a playground surfacing, so we’ve put it at the top of our list. Rubber tiles provide excellent fall protection to prevent critical injuries. They also have a non-slip surface to prevent against slips and falls, even when the tiles are wet! Broken glass, bugs and other hazardous materials can hide in sand and other “natural” infill. Stray cats are attracted to sandy areas, which (as you can imagine) can mean an unpleasant surprise at playtime. No Fault Safety Tiles have never been mistaken for a litter box!
Appearance: Rubber safety tiles come in vivid colors that invite children to play. No Fault technicians can even install them in patterns and branded themes. Even if you go with a single color, they lie flat and smooth, bringing a clean-cut charm to your installation.
Accessibility: The stability of a rubber surface makes for easier mobility device navigation, whereas using a wheelchair, scooter, or other device in sand is much more difficult and potentially dangerous.
Affordability: Rubber safety tiles aren’t the least expensive option, but they provide a long-term economic advantage. High-quality rubber lasts longer than other flooring options. Also, since they offer a “green” option (more about the environmental benefits of our tiles in a minute), grants and government funding are sometimes available to help you offset the expense.
Cleanliness: Rubber safety tiles do require some work. Maintenance includes sweeping, rinsing, and blowing off leaves from time to time. However, tiles do not harbor bacteria and mold, nor do they attract insects. So keeping them clean is a walk in the park!
Easy to Install: Not using our professional installation services? Our tiles can also be shipped to your site, at your convenience and according to your schedule, so you can quickly and easily install them yourself.
Easy to Use: While sand may be plentiful and easy to spread, loose material must be raked again and again week after week. Sand and other loose-fill materials are easily scattered, and some of it may sink into the ground. As the result, it needs to be replaced regularly as well as raked into place often. Playground tiles, on the other hand, are installed with full glue down or a 4-corner lock system, so they don’t budge. Let the kids do the moving around, not your safety surfacing!
Environmentally Friendly: Rubber safety tiles are made from recycled tires. The more pre-consumer and post-consumer recycled rubber we use, the more we help keep existing materials in a continuous cycle of use and reuse – without compromising quality, durability, and performance.
Versatility: Safety tiles can be used in residential areas, schools, parks, museums, churches … Even on rooftops. Are you creating an indoor space? Our tiles are perfect for weight rooms, gymnastics training, dance studios and more! The list truly goes on and on.
Comfort: Rubber tiles are great shock absorbers! Their pliability ensures longer play and happier feet! Your knees and joints will love that.
Durability: Rubber safety tiles last quite a long time. No Fault’s warranty speaks for the resilience of the product. In fact, No Fault Safety Tiles are available in traditional colors with a 10-year warranty, or the increasingly popular “Ultra” color choices with the industry’s only 15-year warranty.
Sound Resistance: Are you planning an indoor space? You may be surprised to learn that rubber tiles reduce noise by up to 18 decibels. This makes tile a great option for courtyards and indoor play areas. Even an indoor recording studio!
Ready to “Talk Tile”?
The benefits of rubber tile include aesthetics, durability, safety, and more. Sand is easy to dump and spread around, and is less expensive than rubber playground tiles. But we encourage you to think of the “other” costs associated with using a loose-fill surfacing product. The cost of maintenance and replacement can be very high. Although rubber tiles have a higher initial cost, their longevity and easy maintenance usually make it worth considering. When you factor in improved safety and accessibility, and choosing recycled rubber over a loose-fill material like sand, wood chips, and gravel, the choice becomes a no-brainer.
Contact No Fault at 866-637-7678 if you want to discuss your project and surfacing options. If sand or anything else is a better choice for you, we’ll tell you! Call today for friendly advice, in addition to pricing and availability of the No Fault products we’ve been selling for over 45 years.
Children need playgrounds that challenge with a healthy level of risk to develop young muscles. They need to have fun and enjoy play in a way that will help them to succeed in the classroom.
There are several common playground features that do all this and more! Documented in Seven Elements of PLAY and How They Impact Learning in the Classroom (by Deborah Stevens, University of Clemson), here is a quick look at each of these elements and why they help kids in the classroom—and throughout their lives.
Oh … And it wouldn’t be a No Fault article without mentioning that all of these play features can be made safer with our safety surfacing (No Fault Safety Surface, No Fault Bonded or Loose-fill Rubber Mulch, No Fault Safety Tiles, No Fault Synthetic Turf), which lets kids enjoy the playground while lowering the risk of critical injury.
Hand-Eye Coordination: Climbing
Before playground equipment and even sometimes today, children climbed trees. We can’t put our safety surfacing around every tree in the forest. That’s why we encourage climbing features on playgrounds so that the trees can be left for the birds and squirrels.
While using climbing features, children use their eyes to control, guide, and direct their hands. This hand-eye coordination helps in the classroom, too. We use it when reading (visually tracking the words on a page) and when writing (tracking the position of a pencil and controlling its movement as we write).
Climbing enhances spatial awareness, develops the vestibular system (more on that later), and sharpens visual perception as well, which helps in many other ways. Those little climbers aren’t just monkeying around; they are developing skills needed for life!
Body Awareness: Swinging
Ah, the swing set. You no doubt remember one from your childhood, but you probably didn’t know (way back then) swinging was developing balance and equilibrium.
Being coordinated means knowing where your fingers are in relation to your arms and how your arms can work together to keep the fun going. Coordinated movements improve the brain’s ability to process sensory information.
So keep swinging, kids! You’re developing coordination, strengthening your arms and legs, and developing problem-solving skills at the same time!
The swing set also develops the vestibular system. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s the sensory system that gives our brain information about motion, head position, and spatial orientation. Without it, we would not develop the motor functions that allow us to keep our balance, stabilize our head and body during movement, and maintain posture.
Spatial Understanding: Brachiating
Personal space is a concept that, let’s face it, many children don’t “get.”
Brachiating leads to a better understanding of personal space, improved endurance, and better hand-eye coordination. Brachiating is another term that isn’t common. It’s swinging from one arm to another on overhead equipment. Think monkey bars.
Doing this strengthens a child’s upper body and is another way to develop depth perception. Understanding the world around us starts with an understanding of “personal space,” and sometimes just “hanging around” on the playground does exactly that!
Kinesthetic Awareness: Spinning
Some equipment we used to see in the good old days weren’t all that safe for kids on public playgrounds. That’s why you won’t see the big, metal old-school merry-go-rounds much—too many injuries were resulting from them.
But newer, safer versions of the “roundabout” (or “spinner”) are making a comeback, and it’s a good thing. These round carousel features hold several kids at once. They have bars to hold onto and to lean against while riding.
These help children establish strong balance systems and improve posture. They give kids a sense of “center,” which develops something called kinesthetic awareness.
Kinesthetic learners (children who require movement to learn) often find traditional classroom environments challenging, because they need to always be moving. If you encourage this need and provide an outlet, you will be helping a child learn the skills that show up in many things later on—physical activities like running, swimming and dancing.
Cooperation and Leg Flexibility: Sliding
Think about it. The slide may be the most popular feature on the typical playground, but it’s not safe for more than one child to go down at a time.
That means children must line up to keep things fair. They have to cooperate (interact socially) to agree on whose turn it is. They have to climb the ladder one at a time. All of which builds their social skills when interacting with others.
Sliding also promotes leg-hip flexibility and can help prevent a condition known as “W-sitting.” This is when a child is seated on the floor with one leg on each side of their body in the shape of a “W.”
W-sitting can be a precursor to development delays. W-sitting can aggravate poor flexibility in the legs and hips because it doesn’t allow a child to rotate their trunk. It can even discourage kids from hand preference.
Sliding forces a child’s legs in front of them, which encourages kids to use their limbs in ways that will help with walking, sitting and body awareness.
Sensory Awareness: Touching, Hearing (etc.)
Children rely on sensory input to learn about the world around them. This means all of these are important parts of the playground experience: stimulating sights, sounds, smells, touch, taste, balance, and movement.
All playground activities come into play here … Not just one feature or another. Sensory stimulation is anything that strengthens the eye muscles, calms an anxious or frustrated child, or aids in developing and enhancing memory.
Early Childhood educator, Jami Murdock, writing in the ABcreative blog, described how sensory play helps children of all abilities experience the world. She writes about how visual processing helps children understand the things they see while they play, as well as how noise and music help develop a child’s auditory system. Murdock also writes about the tactile system, the largest sensory system in the body, and how it helps the brain organize information.
If you’re designing a playground, make sure there are bright colors, interesting textures and musical features. Because sensory development is brain development, and it all takes place at playtime!
Balance: Balance Beams
When kids are standing high above the ground, balanced on a bar, they can’t help themselves. Their imaginations catch on fire! This is a scenario where pretend play kicks into high gear. They see themselves crossing a wide chasm on a rickety bridge. Or they see themselves “walking the plank” on a pirate ship.
These balance features also teach kids to take turns. They encourage body awareness and coordination, both of which result in better concentration back in the classroom.
Balancing also introduces mechanical principles and an understanding of physical forces such as gravity, equilibrium and counterbalances.
These elements of play help children develop physically. They also help in the areas of cognitive, adaptive, social, and emotional development. While we’ve always been proud of the work we do to keep children safe, we at No Fault are proud to also play a role in child development and helping awesome kids grow up to be awesome adults! Contact us today for more information on the right rubber safety surfacing to help keep your children safe on the playground.
The Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village is a large indoor and outdoor history museum complex. It’s also a National Historic Landmark in Dearborn, Michigan. No Fault supplied and installed the original rubber safety surfacing for the 10,000 square foot playground called Donald F. Kosch Village Playground in Greenville Village when it first opened. This is a unique and exciting playground that was designed to resemble a 1930’s construction site, and is accessible to children of all abilities. No Fault was delighted to complete the resurfacing of this exciting playground with No Fault Safety Surface in 100% brown/tan hues in 2019.
The playground includes an interactive steam shovel where children can play with the levers inside or dig in the sand located at the bottom of the steam shovel’s bucket.
The site also includes a rock climbing wall, a water tower, swings, an interactive boiler feature, a cement mixer and two actual artifacts – a 1931 Ford Model AA truck and a 20-foot boiler tunnel that originally sat near the Armington and Sims Machine Shop inside Greenfield Village.
Since our No Fault Safety Surface is a slip-resistant, unitary surface, children of all abilities can step back in time and enjoy this exciting and imaginative playground, mobility devices included.
Are you in the market for a new playground? Need some ideas for the design to make it safe and include a theme? Contact No Fault so we can assist you. Besides our No Fault Safety Surface (poured-in-place rubber), we can provide bonded and loose-fill rubber mulch, rubber tiles and synthetic play turf to meet your playground needs.