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Rubber Mulch for Playground Surfaces


According to the Play & Playground Encyclopedia, the most frequent type of injury to children on playgrounds is due to falling from playground equipment. They say that the most frequent cause of death in playground equipment-related falls is due to head injuries. As bone fracture injuries account for about two-thirds of all injuries on playgrounds, it is important to utilize proper playground surfacing materials to prevent these types of head injuries and bone fractures from happening to your child.

What is the best material for playground surfaces?

According to the CPSP (Consumer Product Safety Commission), appropriate surfacing includes any material that has been tested to meet the ASTM F1292 spec. (Which is the ‘Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surfacing Materials within the Use Zone of Playground Equipment.)

The CPSC is a federal government agency that published a guideline called the Public Playground Safety Handbook which states that rubber mulch is an appropriate loose-fill surfacing material for use on playgrounds.

Other options they deem acceptable are pea gravel, sand, or wood chips. However, it has been proven that these playground surfacing alternatives do not provide as much impact attenuation protection as a non-compacting rubber mulch surface. Inappropriate surfacing materials are asphalt, concrete, dirt, grass, wood mulch that has been CCA treated and carpet which has not been tested to the ASTM F1292 standard.

Impact Attenuation of Rubber Playground Mulch


Impact Attenuation can be defined as the weaking in force (or intensity) of a collision. Therefore, as an impact attenuator, rubber mulch is designed to reduce the damage resulting from falls. It helps to absorb the kinetic energy of your child colliding with the ground. Rubber mulch is said to have about twice the shock absorbing properties as traditional playground surfaces.

Our rubber playground mulch is compatible with the latest ASTM F1292 specs for impact attenuation in helping to prevent head injuries in children for critical fall heights of up to 10 to 12 feet at just 6 inches deep! As demonstrated by the CPSC guidelines, you would need an inital depth of 12 inches of wood chips compacted down to a 9″ depth to achieve the same protection that only 6″ of rubber mulch can provide.

9 inches of compacted sand or pea gravel help protect for a fall height of only up to about 4 or 5 feet whereas shredded rubber tire mulch provides adequate protection for falls of up to 10′ to 12′, and it does not compress like other loose-fill materials do over time.

What is IPEMA Certified Rubber Mulch?


The IPEMA (International Playground Equipment Manufacturers Association) is a company that provides 3rd party product certification services for public playground surfacing materials and equipment. Best rubber mulch sells IPEMA certified playground surfacing products.

The IPEMA validates a manufacturer’s conformance to the ASTM F1292-09 Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment. They ensure that a manufacturer has received written validation from an independent laboratory that the product conforms with the requirements of ASTM F1292-09. A plant inspection is also performed to review various quality assurance factors.

What is ADA Approved Rubber Mulch?


ADA certified rubber mulch is approved to be compliant with the Americans with Disability Act’s (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Play Areas.

There are 2 main criteria to meet the Access Board’s ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) for accessible ground surfaces. The surface must comply with these ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Standard Specifications:

  1. ASTM F1951-99 (wheelchair maneuverability)
  2. ASTM F1292-04 (impact attenuation)

The Accessible Play Areas Guide on the ADA website says:

“This standard assesses the accessibility of a surface by measuring the work an individual must exert to propel a wheelchair across the surface. The standard includes tests of effort for both straight-ahead and turning movements… To meet the standard, the force required must be less than that which is required to propel the wheelchair up a ramp with a slope of 1:14.”

Independent tests were performed to ensure that our rubber mulch surface would meet or exceed the ASTM F1951-99 (The Standard Specification for Determination of Accessibility of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment.) The test results for Straight Line Propulsion and for Turning Propulsion showed that the rubber mulch surface had a propulsion efficiency of about 7.6% & 11.2%, respectively, better than the required baseline.

As far as the ASTM F1292-04 compliance, since our rubber mulch is already IPEMA Certified, this signifies that it has already been tested to meet the ASTM F1292-09 Standard Spec, which superseded the ’04 spec. Therefore our rubber mulch qualifies as an ADA compliant wheelchair accessible surface for your playground.

Get a quote now for our rubber playground mulch including delivery to your location!