Designing preschool commercial playgrounds can be a tricky endeavor. There are a few different factors to consider as you build out your vision of the space. Let’s dive into some of those key decisions!
When it comes to building out your budget for your preschool playground, we always recommend starting with surfacing first. Playground safety surfacing can have a wide range of costs and considering the lifetime value you’ll get out of each type of surfacing is key. We always tell our clients that surfacing must be viewed as an investment to truly determine the best option for your school. Below are a list of the different types ranked by durability:
Artificial playground turf is a fantastic option for playground surfacing. Out of all of the different kinds, turf has the longest warranty and holds true to that warranty through its long lasting quality. When you evaluate pricing, consider the warranties on each type, and use that to determine how much you are paying per year for that surfacing to hold up. With the high traffic that preschool playgrounds receive day-in and day-out, it’s important to put down a surfacing that will keep intact. Similar to Pour-in-Place rubber, turf allows for a fun, forgiving surface for the children to run around on. It’s great for wheelchair accessibility as well. Turf is becoming more and more common today for a reason, it looks good, holds up well, and is just plain fun to walk on.
Pour-in-Place rubber is another great option for any daycare, preschool, temple, or early learning academy. It offers great durability as well, and is a very popular option in the playground world for a reason. It’s fun for the children and it provides for a great modern aesthetic to any play space. There is an additional option to do a shredded bonded rubber, which is a very similar type of surfacing but instead of small tiny pieces of rubber, the pieces are larger and come from shredded recycled rubber tires, creating a slightly different look. These two options are similar in price, with shredded bonded rubber coming in a bit more expensive and from our experience not holding up as well. We typically recommend Pour-in-Place rubber to our clients.
From a budget standpoint, turf and pour-in-place rubber come in at similar costs. Your decision comes down to which one fits your vision from an appearance standpoint as well as your evaluation of the value of the surfacing compared to its expected lifetime. Either way, you can rest assured that you made a safe decision, both types of surfacing are exceptional. Check out some of our recent projects that incorporate these two surfacing options here.
Now that we have explained the top surfacing products, its time to jump into some of our more budget-friendly options. Loose-fill rubber mulch is a compilation of shredded rubber from recycled tires, that is placed into an area without any kind of adhesive to make it unitary. It is made with the same type of rubber from shredded bonded rubber, however, it contains none of the adhesive that the bonded rubber has.
From a value standpoint, loose-fill rubber mulch can be a home run for any preschool commercial playground. It typically comes in around half the cost of turf or pour-in-place rubber, however, you still get the fun aspect of the rubber for the little ones. One thing to note with loose-fill rubber mulch, make sure that you account for the loss of surfacing over time. Kids are known to throw around mulch and this can cause your surfacing depth to become depleted over time. Consider this as you calculate the lifetime value of your different options. You will most likely need to re-order more loose fill rubber mulch at some point down the line.
We recommend using a border system or having the ground dug out 6 inches where the mulch will be placed to help keep in the surfacing. Your standard compacted depth for this type of surfacing is 4 inches, so with a space dug out 6 inches deep, you’ll have a little extra containment to help keep the surfacing in.
Engineered wood fiber is a specific type of wood mulch that is manufactured specifically for play surfacing. The mulch is soft and forms together better than your traditional mulch. Wood mulch will be your least expensive option and is a great choice for those looking to dedicate most of their budget towards their play structure instead. Keep in mind with any type of wood mulch surfacing that over time it will deteriorate and you should plan to replenish the mulch every couple years.
Similar to loose-fill rubber mulch, please note that containment systems are needed for loose surfacing. Consider the additional cost for this type of containment system as well as the installation labor costs to construct it when you evaluate your options.
Now that we have covered the different types of surfacing, its important to go over the different components in a preschool commercial playground and why they matter.
Playgrounds are designed for three different age groups, 2-5, 5-12 and 2-12. With preschools, daycares and other early learning centers we recommend looking at structures in the 2-5 age group. Furnishing your space with a 2-5 aged structure will help prevent injuries and will keep your playground in compliance with CPSC and ASTM safety standards. Since your playground is made entirely for this age group, its best to keep the equipment appropriate. This means the deck heights are suited for little ones, along with the climbing and sliding elements.
Having a CPSI (Certified Playground Safety Inspector) as your adviser is crucial when determining what components you should incorporate into your structure design. If you’d like to research some of these items on your own, click here. Make sure the representative you are working with is qualified to give you the kind of professional advice you need to ensure your play space meets all safety guidelines.
Along with finding the right play structure components that fit your kids, you should also consider what type of learning you’d like to see take place on your preschool’s commercial playground. Whenever we work on a 2-5 age group area, we like to encourage customers to think about this. Kids aged 2-5 are in such a crucial point of cognitive development, learning so much each day. We advise clients to add pieces to the area that will stimulate the children and aid them in this growth. Panels can be a fantastic way to give the kids hands-on learning. We also recommend musical panels which will give them a chance to be creative as they play. We also recommend paint stations, paint easels, sand tables and water tables to promote children’s creativity and learning.
Don’t worry, that’s why we’re here! Give us a call at 866-234-3392 or fill out a contact form and one of our representatives will get in touch with you about how to maximize the value of your space! We work throughout Southern California and are dedicated to helping make the purchasing process as simple as possible!