Playground Surfacing Repair

Jim Loggie, a partner with Rubber Smart Surfacing (RSS), gives us a step-by-step guide to repairing your playground’s Poured-in-Place safety surfacing with the RSS Kit, now available from Total Playgrounds. In this guest blog, Jim details how Rubber Smart’s easy-to-apply formula will allow you to complete surfacing repairs in a timely and affordable way. With Jim’s expertise and the Rubber Smart Surfacing Kit, you can eliminate the need to close down the playground for maintenance and let the kids get back to playing sooner!

If you are contemplating playground surfacing repair, there are certain points you should consider overall. The assumption here is that your playground surface is PIP which stands for Poured-in-Place: a homogeneous, seamless surface. Let’s make a checklist based on a series of questions as follows:

  • First what is the age of the existing surface?
  • What are the issues that you can visibly see in the playground surface?
  • Is there cracking, are there holes in the top cap down into the shock pad or buffing layer below?
  • Do the holes go right through into the sub base or concrete pad?
  • Is there granulation in that the rubber particles or crumb are no longer bound together with the resin or glue leaving them loose on top?
  • Is there serious discoloration and bulging in the overall playground surface which makes the surface uneven and a trip hazard?

Next, check the perimeter edging. If there is a perimeter curb, your playground surface should be tight to the edge (flush mount) with little or no space. If a space is developing it could lead to further delamination, as small prying fingers pull up on the edges. Temperature always plays a role and since diurnal variations occur, expansion and contraction is a normal course of events, and a small edge seam always exists. Fundamentally, a key way is engineered at the playground surfacing planning stage and this becomes a solid anchor point to attach the entire playground surface to.

After assessing your playground surface, what is the repair required?

If you have one small hole or tear, you can easily fix it with a simple all-in-one repair kit; most kits contains rubber and glue (binder or resin), as well as a hardener if you are looking for a quick curing accelerant that allows a fast turnaround time for the playground surface. By in large, playground surfacing repair should appear as if you are enhancing the overall aesthetic by adding a shaped object vs. a patch that detracts from the overall playground look. Use school yard chalk as the outline around the hole or tear and cut out around the perimeter lines you have newly created.

Your playground surfacing repair kit covers 12.5 sq. ft. at ½” depth, so use that as your guide. Assorted solid colors including blue, red, green, gray, black, and tan are available, as well as 50-50% of black and color. There is also a blended shade called Mardi Gras which is a mix of all colors. Try using contrasting colors in your playground surfacing repair as you will never be able to match the existing playground surface due to fading and discoloration. If there are multiple tears, again, free hand draw your shapes, measure accordingly, and calculate your overall area, then divide by 12.5 to determine the number of pails required for the playground surfacing repair. Also, some schools add a creative element to the repairs, incorporating themes to the shapes and allowing the children to trace their figures onto the surfaces, becoming part of the rehabilitation process in a cost-effective, meaningful way.

Smart Surface

Pallet load quantities (27) are available for large areas or multiple parks, and free shipping is included in a pallet order. If your surface is over 5 years old, it is probably showing its age, particularly if you are in a high use area. What we would recommend prior to your patching program for your playground repair is to blow off all the loose particles–dirt, grit, and rubber crumb–and power wash the entire surface. Be sure to allow it to dry thoroughly. After you clean the area, you can apply a low viscosity roller coat of polyurethane resin to the top surface by using a roller and tray. The polyurethane is ready to be installed; it requires no dilution, is California VOC compliant, and comes packaged in 1 and 5 gallon pails. Coverage can range from 100 sq. ft. per gallon on old pock marked surfaces to 300 sq. ft. on smoother, newer surfaces.

Recommended tools for the playground surfacing repair (kit program) include a cordless 18-volt drill with an extra battery for mixing, a mixer paddle from Home Depot along with a sharp knife to cut out the rubber shape, chalk to create your outline, assorted trowels, spray bottle to slick coat your trowel (we use tide detergent and water), acetone or Mek to clean the trowel afterwards of resin build up, and duct tape that we use to outline the finished shape and also prevent new first time trowelers from spilling product outside of the patch.

Jim Loggie is a partner with Rubber Smart Surfacing, jim [at] rubber-smartsurface [dot] com.

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