Playground Surface Options - Rubber Tiles vs. Rubber Mulch

Safety is of the utmost priority when it comes to our children. Knowing that our children are safe as they walk to school, take the bus, play on the playground, or anywhere else they go, is key to caring for our little ones. When you’re looking at playground surface options, make sure you’re choosing the safest material for your children.




Parks, playgrounds, and other recreational areas are just a few examples of places where many different factors must be inspected on every level to ensure the safety of our children. Besides adhering to safety zones, eliminating all types of hazards, utilizing equipment that is appropriate for all ages, and following other requirements, it is also so important to have the best protective surface installed in the playground as well.

The Different Playground Surface Options

Whether you are discussing playground surface options for your home, the park, or for a school, play surface is an important decision and is critical to keep children safe while playing. The proper playground surface protects and cushions children from inevitable accidents and falls. On the other hand, the incorrect surface will cause serious injuries and do way more harm than good.

playground surface options

These days, an increasing number of guardians and parents prefer rubber materials as their preferred play surface. Rubber mulch and interlocking rubber playground tiles are two of the most popular. Aside from safety, you'll want to ensure the playground looks nice year after year. The more secure and appealing it appears, the more children and their families are bound to visit.


All of this would be perfect if it could be accomplished without spending a pretty penny. But, between rubber tiles and rubber mulch, which is the safer option? To assist you in making your decision, the pros and cons of both rubber materials as playground surfacing are listed below.


The majority of playground users are aware, people attempt to reap all of the benefits listed above by utilizing a variety of playground surfaces. Mulch and rubber mats or tiles are, by far, the two go-to playground surface options. It is critical to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each.


Playground Rubber Tiles


Even though the initial cost of rubber tiles and mats for playgrounds is higher, they may be a better investment than loose fill. Rubber tiles are known for being long-lasting, simple to design and install, and easy to clean. With no containment requirements and long-term maintenance requirements, rubber tiles are risk-free and will not shift, move, or fall victim to mold, fungus, and insect damage.


playground rubber tile flooring

As we mentioned before, rubber tiles are easy to clean. Simply, wash and rinse with a broom and garden hose. Rubber tiles are made from recycled tires, similar to rubber mulch.


If a playground mat or tile is seriously damaged, it is simple to replace just the damaged unit rather than the entire playground surface.



If you are going with rubber mats, proper installation is critical. Improper installation can cause tripping hazards and shorten the life of your playground surface. Rubber mats and tiles are installed using an interlocking system. Once installed, they will not float, freeze, and are resistant to extreme weather conditions.


Rubber playground tiles have become a common sight in many play areas, both indoor and outdoor. Preschools, kids' gyms, and even fast-food restaurants frequently use them for a variety of reasons. Consider the following advantages and disadvantages before investing in tiles for your next playground project.


Pros of Rubber Tiles


choosing best playground flooring option
  • If properly installed, the rubber tiles will look smooth, seamless, and professional because of the interlocking pieces.

  • Easy to hose off and clean.

  • Because of the flatness of this playground surface option, rubber tiles are handicap-accessible and appropriate for walkers, crutches, and wheelchairs.

  • Bug, mold, and fungi resistant.

Cons of Rubber Tiles

  • Out of the playground surface options, rubber tiles are one of the most expensive. They are usually priced per tile and the initial cost is much higher than other playground surface options.

  • If the rubber tiles are not properly installed, the edges can cause children to trip and fall.

  • Not all rubber tiles meet the fall height requirements.

  • Thickness of rubber tiles and springiness of the tiles differ depending on manufacturer.

Mulch Made of Rubber


Rubber mulch, typically made from recycled tires, are an eco-friendly choice and great when it comes to shock absorption as well. This playground surface option outperforms wood and bark mulch in a big way, outlasting the other mulch types tenfold. Not to mention, the maintenance and replacement costs are much lower.



rubber mulch playground flooring

When choosing playground surface options, rubber mulch is often overlooked due to the possibility of toxicity and chemicals produced from the vehicle tire manufacturing process. However, the Environmental Protection Agency approved the recycled rubber for playgrounds once the research showed that the materials were not harmful and chemical-free. Research has been backed up and supported by a variety of other studies.


Rubber mulch for playgrounds has been around long enough to be used in the White House playground, as well as numerous other play areas and parks across the country. If you're considering rubber mulch as a playground surfacing option, it's a good idea to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.


Pros of Rubber Mulch:


  • Meets the fall height requirements.

  • Excellent cushion impact.

  • Exceptional shock absorption.

  • Weed, bug, and fungal growth resistant.

  • Long-lasting, with a ten-year warranty.

  • Requires very little maintenance.

  • Easy, simple clean-up.

  • Weather-resistant.

  • Comes in a variety of colors.

Cons of Rubber Mulch:


  • Rubber mulch nuggets can spill over from the play area if it is not properly bordered by either a rubber barrier or other stronger materials.

  • Rubber mulch can be pricey upfront, but the durability and hardiness of the mulch can outweigh the initial cost in the long run.


As one can see, not every playground surface is the same. When selecting playground surface options, keep in mind how frequently the space will be occupied and used, the place and environment where the playground surface will be set up and installed, the initial cost, care and maintenance, repair, and replacement costs.


The more knowledgeable one is, the better prepared one will be to provide a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable environment for all future playground users. You've taken the first step toward protecting both your children and your wallet by reading this. To learn even more, give Rooster Rubber a call! We are the mulch experts in the area, and our premium rubber mulch is an excellent alternative to other types of mulch for not just playgrounds, but for landscaping, arenas, and more.











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