5 Comparing Surface Op Ɵ ons Can Assist Planning Team in Selec Ɵ on Process Like any big Ɵ cket purchase, comparison shopping is essen Ɵ al in the planning process. The planning team should embark on a purposeful mission to determine the playground surface system most appropriate for their site and opera Ɵ onal resources. Some agencies may have more capital dollars at the front of the project for a surface system that costs a li Ʃ le more but requires less maintenance. Others may have a smaller project budget for a less costly surface, but have more opera Ɵ onal funds for daily/ weekly maintenance. The planning team should engage with all representa Ɵ ves from all surface systems under considera Ɵ on. Decision-makers should dialogue with the surface supplier regarding realis Ɵ c, objec Ɵ ve measurements to evaluate surface performance and maintain the surface material over the life span of the playground. Decision makers must ask very speci fi c ques Ɵ ons to fully bene fi t from the advantages and costs-savings of a surface system. The dialogue with the manufacturer or sales rep should address: • Speci fi c wri Ʃ en instruc Ɵ ons for installa Ɵ on. • Wri Ʃ en descrip Ɵ on of the base, sub-base and required drainage system. • Results of ASTM F1951-99 laboratory tests, including the values for the baseline, straight propulsion and turning runs. The test results should also include a descrip Ɵ on of how the surface was prepared for the lab tests and should be consistent with the installa Ɵ on instruc Ɵ ons. • Results of ASTM F1292-99/04, with wri Ʃ en con fi rma Ɵ on of the cri Ɵ cal fall height for the surface material. These test results should include the depth of the surface material for drop heights. The cri Ɵ cal fall height shall be higher than the fall height of the highest equipment on the playground. • Wri Ʃ en descrip Ɵ on of the maintenance and frequency necessary to maintain the accessible route and clear ground spaces. • The fi eld test procedures to assess the surface for impact a Ʃ enua Ɵ on and accessibility upon ini Ɵ al installa Ɵ on and periodically through the life of the product. This should include selec Ɵ on of an independent tes Ɵ ng agent and op Ɵ mum values for ASTM F1292-99/04 and ASTM F1951-99 when fi eld tested. • A minimum 5-year warranty that s Ɵ pulates compliance with ASTM F1292-99/04 and ASTM F1951-99, fi eld tes Ɵ ng strategy, limita Ɵ ons, exclusions or precondi Ɵ ons, remedies available to the playground owner, and process for making a claim. The playground owner should also ask the manufacturer for a list of customers in the area that have installed the surface material in the last 5-10 years. The planning team should talk to those customers and visit older installa Ɵ ons to fi nd out what issues may have come up with installa Ɵ on and maintenance. 14 If the surface system is to be installed by a contractor, those customer sites should also be visited to view the contractor’s exper Ɵ se and cra Ō smanship. It is important to visit older installa Ɵ ons to see how the product has aged and what maintenance issues may have arisen over Ɵ me. The chart provided on pages 8-9 describes the playground surfaces included in the NCA surface study: poured in place rubber, rubber Ɵ les, engineered wood fi ber and hybrid systems. Other surface materials such as sand, pea gravel and shredded rubber have been used in playground construc Ɵ on. However, if used as part of the ground level accessible route, these surface materials must meet the accessibility standards, including the referenced ASTM standards. Many manufacturers con Ɵ nue to use technology and research to develop new and improved surface systems. The planning team should be on the lookout for new innova Ɵ ons, but at the same Ɵ me ask ques Ɵ ons and visit site installa Ɵ ons. This inquiry will give the decision makers a greater understanding of what to expect from di ff erent products over the lifespan of the playground.