A checklist for a safe playground surface

DIY installation of playground rubber mats - a guideline for a safe playground surface

Did you know that, with only basic DIY skills, you can build a professional playground surface with safety tiles, by yourself? Just follow this checklist! (And maybe ask a friend to help you :) )


Plan your playground / play area / sports ground carefully – measure the area and the height of planned equipment.

Prepare the subfloor: if the existing surface is concrete, asphalt or other bound (“hard”) subfloor, make sure it is fairly flat and rain water drains away (2 – 3% incline). In case it is uneven, try to level it with a fast-setting filler. If your existing subfloor is unbound, for example lawn/grass, or topsoil, your future playground surface will be much more durable if you prepare a compacted grit bedding before installing the tiles. Alternatively, we may use an innovative plastic stabilising grid if we would like to add extra enhancement to our subfloor. This product should be installed under the WARCO tiles and filled with gravel mix.

Choose the appropriate safety tiles: their critical height shouldn’t be lower than the maximal fall height of your project; the thickness of a tile also depends on the given subfloor and area – for larger o uneven surfaces and installations on unbound subfloors (grit, gravel, soil, grass), a 40 mm safety tile and thicker is recommended. Ask your provider for advice.

✓ Before buying tiles, think how you are going to edge the surface. Although good rubber floor tiles are equipped with interlocking zip or tongue-and-groove system which holds them together, bordering the surface is always a good idea. If you install safety tiles on unbound subfloor, take advantage of the surrounding grass or soil. Prepare the bedding as deep in the ground as the tile thickness. You can surround it, additionally, with elastic kerb anchored in concrete. If your playground rubber surface will be laid on bound subfloor, and there is no edging like a wall, kerb, etc., border the surface with elastic anti-stumble, wedge-shaped edging. Ask if there is available edging for the safety tiles you have chosen. If not, check out a local DIY market for edging elements, e.g. plastic, wooden, metal. If you decide not to use edging elements – you may prepare them DIY by halving the tiles using a sharp knife or a wood saw. In this way, you will have straight-edged aesthetic border for your newly installed surface.

Buy safety tiles and, if necessary, elastic edging and glue (useful on the edges or in the corners). Make sure you ordered a little more than you need. You’ll have to cut some tiles and something just might go wrong. If you won’t use it up, place the spare tile under a washing machine (it will absorb the noise) or any place in your cellar where you need some insulation or a non-slip doormat.

✓ If you have to meet a deadline, order the tiles 4 – 5 weeks before. At least at WARCO, the demand during the season (from March to October) is higher than our manufacturing capacity, so if the ordered tile is not in stock, the lead time usually takes about 3 weeks. Add to that the delivery time of about 5 days.

✓ When you receive the tiles, and your subfloor is ready, 24 hours before the installation take them off the pallet and place on the surface. This way you can see if you have enough tiles, and you can group them according to their colours or shades (visibly darker or lighter tiles can be installed on corners or under equipment). Let them “breathe” for a day.

✓ The temperature during the assembly should be 5 – 22°C (40 – 70 °F) and remain possibly steady. If you have elastic edging, first install the edging (kerb or wedge) on two sides and assemble the tiles tightly by the edging or other natural bordering. When you finish the surface, add the remaining sides of elastic edging. Apart from the glue which is sometimes useful, you don’t need anything else! The tiles will enforce the proper assembly, being joined by their profiled sides. Cut rubber floor tiles to a desired shape with a wood saw or a solid knife. Openings for equipment poles can be made quite exactly with a jigsaw.

✓ That’s all! Your durable, safe and child-friendly playground surface is ready, with practically no installation costs!

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