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Wet pour rubber crumb in the design of outdoor playgrounds and recreational areas
Wet pour rubber crumb in the design of outdoor playgrounds and recreational areas

When designing an outdoor play area for children, there is one consideration that trumps the variety of activities, the use of fun, inspiring colours or even an exciting layout… 


The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reports that an estimated 40,000 injuries are experienced by children in playgrounds across the UK every year, nearly half of which involve the much-loved swing set! 

While a portion of these injuries can of course be attributed to weather conditions or even misuse of play equipment, the management causes are of key importance — insufficient consideration of safety as well as inadequate inspection & maintenance of the equipment and its surroundings.  

The RoSPA report suggests that 80% of equipment-related injuries result in a fall to the surface. 

It is critical that the design of the play area’s floor surface considers the safety of its users — the majority of which are children. 

BS EN 1176-1:2017, the British Standard that outlines the rules for playground equipment and surfacing, states that playground design should ‘address the risk of head injuries resulting from falls by placing an Impact Attenuating (Absorbing) Surface (such as artificial surfaces, rubber tiles, tree bark) underneath high or moving equipment.’ 

This is where wet pour rubber crumb systems come in. 

What is wet pour rubber crumb? 

Defined as an impact absorbing rubber crumb safety surface that is typically a two layered system including a base shock pad made of SBR and a coloured top layer made of TPV rubber granules.  

Both are mixed with a polyurethane resin and poured onto the prepared substrate, at a thickness appropriate to the intended use of the area in question. We’ll come back to that later! 

SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber) granules, made from recycled truck tyres, form the base layer of the surface and produce the absorbent properties of the system. 

TPV (Thermoplastic Vulcanisates) granules, pre-primed and fully recyclable, form the coloured topping of the safety surface offering excellent strength, flexibility and UV resistance. 

While EPDM is an alternative option, TPV granules require less binder, thus being more cost effective. 

There are many benefits of wet pour rubber crumb systems, including… 

  • Reduces impact from falls (meeting the critical fall height requirements BS EN 1177) 
  • SUDs compliant; surface water simply drains away 
  • Sustainable (made from recycled materials, micro-plastic free & recyclable) 
  • Low maintenance & easy to clean 
  • Suitable for all weather conditions 
  • Laid in a variety of colours & designs 
  • Durable & flexible rubber play surface 

Critical Fall Height  

Critical fall height is the distance below which life-threatening injuries are not expected to occur based on the depth of the protective surface. 

According to BS EN 1177 safety flooring is required for all equipment with a critical fall height higher than 0.6 m. 

However, even for these areas under 0.6 m, we will always advise that some protective surfacing should be laid. 

In a nutshell, the higher the equipment that a child can stand on (maximum 3.0 m), the deeper the depth and the greater the area needs to be for the protective surfacing underneath. 

Free Fall Height 

Free fall height is a measurement of distance between the highest designated surface on play equipment and the playground’s protective surface. 

Free fall height is calculated in several ways depending on the type and scale of the equipment involved.

FFH <1.5 m = 1.5 m from edge of surface
FFH >1.5 m = Aof = ((FFH-1.5)*0.667)+1.5
Seek specialist advice dependent on the specification of the swing-set.

Maintenance of wet-pour rubber crumb systems 

Another factor covered in BS EN 1176 is that regular inspections should be made to ensure the play area remains safe and fit for use. 

With appropriate maintenance, similar to the schedule outlined below, wet pour rubber crumb can last for as long as 10 – 15 years. 

It is recommended that a daily inspection of the surface is carried out, and any foreign objects like litter should be removed. 

Weekly, the surface should be swept, or a blower should be used to remove leaves and debris. 

Every six months or so, the surface can be power washed on a low pressure setting to remove surface dirt. 

During the winter, non-toxic chemical de-icer can be used to improve safety underfoot, however broadcasting with grit or rock salt is not recommended. 

Strong chemicals such as bleach, or detergents should be avoided all year round. 

Looking for a wet-pour rubber crumb system? 

Vebro Polymers’ wet pour rubber crumb system, vebrobound Rubber Crumb, delivers a safe, impact absorbent surface at ground level, helping to minimise the risk of injuries in outdoor playgrounds and recreational areas. 

Contact your local team to discuss your project requirements. 

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