Playground Protective Surfacing is a complex system that can become a major 􀃽nancial disaster for Owner/Operators, and their Consultants. Generally, surfacing is an afterthought or necessary evil to the main event the Play Structure. Failure to consider the Functional Longevity and Sustainability of the surfacing selection is a problem. EVERPLAY has been installed for more than 35 years and provides any project with injury prevention, functional longevity, and sustainability. If the longer view (10 years or more) is taken and maintenance costs are considered, EVERPLAY arguably is lower cost than Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF) and provides similar injury prevention to 200mm (8”) of EWF.

EVERPLAY has a history of long term compliance, functional longevity. and no repairs, other than vandalism, which is in sharp contrast to tiles and other PIP systems that have a marginal product and reasonable service system during the warranty period. Better to have no need for repairs with EVERPLAY than hope for the continued indulgence of poor quality suppliers.

The problem that most Owner/Operators and their Consultants face is the determination of the Equal and visual comparisons are misleading and are likely to cost the Owner/Operator significantly in the future.

This paper presents first the technical aspects of Poured-In-Place surface systems that an Owner/Operator must know. The second part is a more detailed explanation with links to relevant articles and knowledge sources that will expand on Standards, and emerging trends that affect asset management, minimizing liability and risk assessment. This is followed by white papers on injury prevention. The white papers are complimented with LA/CES approved courses that will enhance the understanding of diverse issues related to playgrounds. Next there is test data, including test data for the EVERPLAY third party laboratory testing long with testing of the same surface at the time of installation and as they stand in 2021. Lastly, we provide you with a Generic Protective Surfacing Specification including a list of standards and test submissions. At any time during this journey, you are invited to contact EVERPLAY to discuss your specific needs.

We also provide a CHECK LIST for measuring the equivalence of any surface systems to EVERPLAY

There are critical elements to the design and installation of the Poured-In-Place surfacing, including:

Chemistry, The adhesive forms the bond between the rubber granules

  • The adhesive must remain strong – not allowing bonds to break for 15-25 year.
  • The adhesive must resist degradation through exposure to UV light causing loss of flexibility.
  • EVERPLAY utilizes a unique polyurethane binder that is UV stable and has been the same formulation since 1985.
  • The adhesive is moisture cured and must be insensitive to moisture changes during installation, causing “foaming” and a loss is integrity of the bond.
  • The adhesive must cure through a range of humidity without draining down, resulting in loose granules and a failed surface.
  • The adhesive must cure through a range of temperatures 0o to 40oC (32o to 105oFwithout draining down, resulting in loose granules and failed surface.

Rubber, Every PIP consists of new and recycled rubber

  • New Rubber such as EPDM is defined in ASTM F2157 to include a minimum of 20% and a maximum of 26% of ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM).
  • Although EPDM itself is stable to ozone & UV, not all EPDM rubber is UV stable for colour. Owners and their designers must assure themselves that the colours they select are stable.
  • Recycled rubber can be anything from industrial scrap, belts, hoses, and failed production, to rubber from the fully cured tire rubber that is recycled at end of life.
  • Tires from cars and trucks have a history of durability and difficulty to dispose of, therefore the Owner should use this to ensure they have quality rubber.
  • Owners should request an attestation from their supplier that all recycled rubber be exclusively from North American car or truck tires.

Installation: Weather is a significant factor leading to failures of installed systems

  • Heat is a catalyst causing the surface to cure faster and might affect the finished texture.
  • Cold slows the cure and low temperatures 0o to10o C (32o to 50o F) during the 24 to 48 hour cure time can cause the binder to “sink or drain down” and cause the surface to have loose granules and poor bond in the future resulting in failure.
  • Temperature fluctuations of greater than 8C (15F} during the cure time, such as overnight, can result in cracking. These cracks can close during the heat of the day, but the surface looks like shattered glass in the cool morning and evening.
  • Accelerating the cure through the application of water in systems such as EVERPLAY will counter the potential for cracking during the cure period.
  • Water is a chemical and very necessary to cure the moisture cured binders. Generally, water, available as humidity (at 40-60% RH) is sufficient, but that is not the case with every day of installation. Some climates are extremely dry, while others have rainy seasons with rain every day.
  • Lack of humidity will retard the cure time causing the binder to “sink or drain down” which will cause the surface to have loose granules and poor bond in the future resulting in failure manifesting as holes in the wear layer.
  • Rain during the installation could accelerate the cure or worse, wash the binder from the rubber granules before they can be bonded to each other. Again, a failure is in the future of the wear layer.
  • There are systems, such as EVERPLAY that welcomes water and water is used during the installation process to accelerate the cure and fix the surface quickly.
  • Playgrounds are installed out of doors and will be subject to weather events that will cause the accumulation of water. Some PIP binders begin to swell when submerged for longer periods of time causing swelling. Repair of the swelling of the surface is a warrantable item in all instances.

Installation Technique is critical to the success of any Poured-In-Place system

  • As pointed out above, the weather conditions at the time of installation and during the cure will affect the outcome of the system. The crew chief must have critical knowledge of how daily and changing weather conditions must be dealt with for their specific system.
  • A crew chief must understand relevant standards. Prior to installation of the EVERPLAY, the crew chief ensures that the base material is appropriate and properly compacted, the playground equipment is spaced to meet the layout in CSA Z614, slide exits heights are correct and the fall heights are as anticipated, and the crew has enough materials to ensure compliance with contract documents.
  • Poured-In-Place systems are batch systems and must be consistently measured, mixed, placed and finished. This can be boring, but to ensure excellent performance and functional longevity, the first batch to the last batch must be identical. This is where the quality of the crew and pride of workmanship and the art to Poured-In-Place become evident with EVERPLAY.
  • Although not top of list for many people, the Health and Safety of the crew is essential toEVERPLAY and the crew chief. It is for this reason that all members of the crew need appropriate training in all aspects of Health and Safety. The Safety Data Sheets for all components will dictate the precautions and PPE that are to be used during all aspects of the installation.

Compliance Standards and contract specifications dictate performance

  • Poured-In-Place systems are generally a high capital investment that needs to always comply with impact attenuation. Premature failure to the impact attenuation can render the entire playground to be a failure.
  • Poured-In-Place systems are generally selected to ensure accessibility to the play structures. The CSA Z614, Annex H provides physical measurements for compliance. Additional accessibility information, including a suggested 22o transition from the PIP into EWF can be found is ASTM F2479.
  • It is important that warranties include compliance to standards for the entire warranty period. EVERPLAY provides a minimum 5-year warranty, with an option for 10 years and include compliance to all performance requirements. The only exclusions are acts of god, vandalism, and settlements of base.

Maintenance: Every system supplier must provide maintenance instructions

  • The EVERPLAY system is designed for easy maintenance or no maintenance. Generally, the only maintenance is to remove debris from the surface by sweeping or blowing. History has demonstrated that the ease of maintenance  EVERPLAY, vs any other system including EWF, making EVERPLAY an exceptional choice.

Repairs: PIP systems are unique and the need for repairs can be a nightmare for the O/O

  • Generally when a PIP surface needs repairs in multiple areas. This could mean the surface has reached its end of life. Site testing will determine the options the O/O has.

For the EVERPLAY systems repairs are virtually non-existent. Repairs are so rare that when maintenance managers are asked is they are capable of performing repairs and they answer no. This does not mean EVERPLAY cannot be repaired, EVERPLAY just does not need repairs.

  • Repairs are a major consideration for many Poured-In-Place systems, with filling of holes and re-topping of worn surfaces. Repairs must comply with original standards and contract documents. Testing after repair is essential.

Test Data: Every system supplier must be able to provide System Test Data

  • A playground system is only worth the investment, if it continues to comply with contract documents and standards for 15 to 20 years.
  • The supplier must be able to provide third party test results for ASTM F3351, 3- temperature testing for 4.25m, 4.9 and 5.5m (14’, 16’ and 18’) for g values at approximately <100 and the HIC values at approximately <700. For EVERPLAY the data is presented here.
  • The EVERPLAY ASTM F3351 test data indicates the capability of meeting the needs of emerging playground designs.
  • More important than the Laboratory Testing of samples is testing of the installed surface in the field with ASTM F3313. This takes place at the time of installation and for more than 10 years following.
  • The EVERPLAY is providing testing for 3 sites, Crosby Park, Mt. Pleasant Park and Big Park. For Crosby and Mt. Pleasant test data at the time of installation and June 2021 are provided to show that in more than a decade, the EVERPLAY changes very little in its impact attenuation performance.
  • The Big Park reports for 2021 show results for multiple structures ranging from under 5 to 5-12, swings to spinners to climbers bringing challenge and risk to play after 10 years.
  • EVERPLAY test results show significantly better performance than required in the CSA Z614.

EVERPLAY - No Equal Check List

The following is a check list of features related to performance of a Protective Surface as defined in CSA Z614, Clause 10.1.

10 Surfacing

10.1 Energy absorbency of a surface material

The surfacing absorbency in th eprotective surface zone shall have a gmax not exceeding 200 and a HIC not exceeding 1000 when tested for the defined fall height. the test methos specified in ASTM F1292 or CEN EN 1177:1997 shall be used for testing protective surfacing.

The level of injury prevention at the limits of the CSA Z614 is stated in the introduction of the EN1177 Standard.

“Limiting the HIC value to a maximum of 1000 is equivalent to a 3% chance of a critical head injury (MAIS 5), an 18% probability of a severe (MAIS 4) head injury, a 55% probability of a serious (MAIS 3) head injury, a 89% probability of a moderate head injury (MAIS 2), and a 99.5% change of a minor head injury (MAIS 2), the average male adult.”

The value of 200g is a 10% risk of skull fracture

EVERPLAY brings the Owner/Operator the confidence their protective surfacing system will not only reduce the frequency and severity of injury over other PIP systems, but in all likelihood will have a lower overall Life-Cycle cost of almost all maintained protective surfaces, including EWF.

For further readings and explanations read;

Huber, Rolf and Kutska, Kenneth, Protecting Children from Surface Impact Injuries, What does Critical Height mean? - Is Specified Height (ASTM F3351) the answer?

Huber, Rolf, Impact Attenuation Values and Prevention of Head Injuries in Children’s Playgrounds Do Children Deserve the Same or Better Protection than in an Automobile Crash

Kutska, Kenneth, Playground Safety Is No Accident – 6th Edition, Developing a Public Playground Management and Operation Program

Courses at standardscompliance.thinkific.com