What Makes a Play Grade Play Surface?

If you are wondering what special qualities a normal bark or chip mulch needs to become a ‘play grade’ play chip, read on!

If you are installing a children’s playground from scratch, or if you have been tasked with refreshing the flooring of a playground, you will probably already know that there is a vast array of different products available.

If you are going down the natural route, you might have come across some lovely bark or wood chip solutions which are stated as ‘play grade’.

So, what is it that makes some wood chip products ‘play grade’, while others aren’t?

The Difference Between General Purpose Bark and ‘Play Grade’ Bark

Any flooring surface which is used in a children’s playground must be certified as safe and comply with industry standards.

Although it may have the same appearance as a general purpose wood chip, play grade play chip has been rigorously tested in accordance with the industry standards for safety surfacing.

A play grade play chip will be manufactured or processed in such a way that it is safe for children to play on. It is usually screened to make sure the chips are of a similar size. There will be no chips which are too big and no dangerous shards of wood. It is also tested for critical fall heights, which is crucial for playgrounds.

Quite simply, general purpose wood chips do not undergo this testing and would therefore not meet the criteria required for a playground surface.

Key Things to Bear in Mind When Choosing Your Playground Surface

If you have chosen to go down the natural route for your playground surface, you will probably be wondering about the different product options available to you. There are lots of seemingly similar products on the market – so how do you know which one to opt for?
  • Safety first – the safety of the children who will use the playground should always be the primary consideration.
  • Always make sure the product you choose is tested to comply with British and European Standards, and displays the standard number BS EN 1177:2018.
  • Know that a reputable supplier will be able to give you information and advice about their products, including where they are sourced, while test results should be available for you on request.
  • It might also be worth bearing in mind the drainage properties of the surface, especially if the playground is being installed in a naturally wet or damp area, or if the playground has water play features.

What are the Benefits of Using Playground Wood Chips Over Other Surfaces?

There are plenty of surfacing options available for children’s playgrounds. Here are some of the benefits of choosing Play grade wood chips as a play surface:
  • It’s clean
  • 100% natural
  • Minimal maintenance is required
  • It’s safe
  • Environmentally friendly
  • No toxins (child and animal friendly)
  • It’s easy to top up and dispose of when necessary