When considering the right playground surfacing
option for any application, maintenance requirements and associated
costs warrant serious consideration.
While most purchasers recognize the significant maintenance costs associated with loose fill systems, few realize that some synthetic surfaces also require significant ongoing maintenance for optimal performance. In fact, given the higher initial purchase price, it is often assumed that the initial investment in a synthetic surface will be more than offset over time due to a lack of maintenance requirements.
A largely unknown truth is that some synthe- tic surfaces, particularly poured-in-place systems, require ongoing maintenance in order to maintain optimal fall protection and structural integrity of the surface over time.
Poured-in-place is a
very porous material, and the cushioning properties of the system are
derived from the air voids within the surface. The presence of foreign
material and deposits, however, can quickly diminish the performance of
As fine particles accumulate in the porous openings, the systems air pockets become plugged and the surface is no longer capable of flexing and absorbing shock as originally designed. In addition, some materials are very abrasive which will accelerate wear and shorten the surface life. Common contributors affecting the performance of some synthetic surfaces include, sand, dirt, small stones, leaf litter, tree sap, and bird droppings. The longer these items are left on the system, the deeper they can penetrate into the body of the surface making removal unlikely.
Due to the inherent design of some synthetic surfaces, most reputable manufacturers recommend a series of maintenance procedures required to maintain optimal performance. The most common requirements include periodic vacuuming of the system using a gas powered landscaping vacuum, or high-powered industrial ShopVac.
Additionally, many manufacturers will recommend that poured-in-place surfaces be recoated with a protective polyurethane layer every two years. This application, while effective in preserving the longevity of the surface, can cost over $2.00 per foot to complete and invariably diminishes the surfaces cushioning properties; negating it’s fall height performance and safety characteristics with each application.
Unfortunately, vandalism can be a real concern on many playgrounds. When most unitary synthetic surfaces are vandalized, they require the use of specialized installation crews to execute repairs. A small vandalized area can cost upwards of $1000 to restore.
SofTILE’s approach to safety performance is
completely different when compared to a poured-in-place system (PIP).
Unlike PIP, SofTILE is impervious and does not contain air pockets that
are susceptible to clogging. The SofTILE system has been designed to
rely on a carefully engineered impact pedestal which acts as a series of
independent shock absorbers. Because SofTILE is virtually impervious,
the body of the system can never become contaminated with fine
particulate, and other unsanitary and detrimental deposits. The end
result is a system that maintains its intended safety performance
without costly maintenance intervention.
SofTILE’s unique locking system has been designed to be vandal-resistant. In fact, our surface is the favored solution for the highest risk applications, such as high traffic areas in inner citiy playgrounds across the country. If SofTILE is vandalized, repairs can be executed by in house maintenance staff with a typical repair being completed in under 1 hour at a cost of approximately $50.00.
SofTILE’s engineered design, combined with exceptional safety performance, extreme durability, and certified install- ation, translates into a system that is truly maintenance free.
An investment into a SofTILE system will prove to be the lowest cost surfacing investment when projected over the life of the system - Guaranteed!