The installation of shock absorbent playground flooring has proven to greatly reduce the number of ER visits in children. Critical areas include high impact zones such as slide exits, monkey bars & zip line areas.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Handbook for Playground Safety recommends both loose fill and unitary surfacing materials that meet ASTM standards to improve safety for children at play. ASTM impact attenuation standards were put in place to reduce the risk of severe head injury from falls on the playground. Shock absorbent properties are often tested by dropping an instrumented head form onto a flooring sample and then recording the time pulse at the time of the impact.

Recommended unitary playground flooring comes in the form of rubber mats, tiles or poured in place rubber surfacing held together by a binder that is poured and cured onsite. Loose fill materials, like wood chips and mulch, must be layered to achieve a safe depth for impact.

Appropriate playground flooring includes:

  • Any material tested to ASTM F1292, including unitary surfaces, engineered wood fiber, etc.
  • Pea gravel
  • Sand
  • Shredded/recycled rubber mulch
  • Wood mulch (not CCA-treated)
  • Wood chips

Inappropriate playground flooring includes:

  • Asphalt
  • Carpet not tested to ASTM F1292
  • Concrete
  • Dirt
  • Grass
  • CCA treated wood mulch

When installing loose-fill over hard surface, the CPSC recommends adding additional layers of protection to meet safety standards, including a three to six inch base layer of loose fill, geotextile cloth, an additional loose fill layer and impact attenuating mats under high traffic areas.

While, shredded rubber loose-fill materials are not as likely to compress as landscape loose-fill materials, ongoing maintenance is needed to ensure a minimum depth for safety.

The CPSC Handbook for Playground Safety offers the following table, outlining minimum depths for loose fill playground flooring, as a guide for installers:

Inches Loose-Fill Material Fall Height
6 Shredded/recycled rubber 10
9 Sand 4
9 Pea Gravel 5
9 Wood mulch (non-CCA) 7
9 Wood chips 10


Ready to get started? Explore our selection of playground flooring today! Visit our portfolio of recent installations for more surfacing ideas.