Surfacing the Accessible Playground

6 Proper Installa Ɵ on of Playground Surface is Key for Long Term Use and Maintenance An accessible surface system can be rendered useless if it is not properly installed. Installa Ɵ on of surface systems should be performed by individuals knowledgeable of the accessibility standards and with exper Ɵ se working with the surface materials. Surface materials/systems can be installed by both contractors and the playground owner’s maintenance sta ff . Some manufacturers require contractors/installers to have special training and/or cer Ɵ fi ca Ɵ on. Poured in place rubber (PIP) is almost exclusively installed by contractors specializing in the surface material. Some playground owners believe the intensive installa Ɵ on requirements for PIP, from mixing the binder to troweling the material level, are best completed by contractors experienced with the surface material. On the other end of the spectrum, engineered wood fi ber (EWF) is most frequently installed by park maintenance crews and perceived as rela Ɵ vely easy compared to other surface materials. Somewhere in the middle, Ɵ le (TIL) and hybrid systems (HYB) are known to be installed by both contractors and park maintenance personnel. There is a percep Ɵ on among playground owners that installa Ɵ on of surface systems by their own park crew will produce cost savings for the agency. However, there is a learning curve with the installa Ɵ on process that can prove to be challenging. During the NCA surface study, a playground owner selected a surface based on the percep Ɵ on it would be easy for park crews to install. The fi rst installa Ɵ on was perceived as so di ffi cult for the park maintenance crew that any cost savings was mi Ɵ gated by the lengthy learning process. By the Ɵ me the playground owner had installed its fourth playground with TIL, the agency had decided to transi Ɵ on to a di ff erent surface. On the contrary, another playground owner that contracted the installa Ɵ on to a preferred manufacturer’s installer was very pleased. Intensive installa Ɵ on may mean the contractor is the only one able to make repairs such as those due to vandalism or patches at loca Ɵ ons where equipment may have been removed. The costs for return repairs or patches can be dependent upon whether the project is covered under the warranty. Cri Ɵ cal details must be communicated between the design and construc Ɵ on phases, regardless of whether the installa Ɵ on is by contractor or park/facility personnel. Site plans and construc Ɵ on drawings should provide details like maximum running slopes and cross slopes, beveled edges, transi Ɵ ons, adjoining seams and a ffi xing the surface material to the border. Prepara Ɵ on of the base and sub-surfaces should be explained. Lack of a Ʃ en Ɵ on to drainage or omission of weed barriers between layers can lead to sub-surfaces being washed away, base layers in fi ltra Ɵ ng top layers, and excessive moisture contribu Ɵ ng to the growth of mold and vegeta Ɵ on. All of these issues can a ff ect the usability, the safety and the accessibility of the playground surface. Accessibility de fi ciencies arising out of installa Ɵ on were associated with all of the surfaces in the NCA study. 15 The playground site has been graded with earth-moving equipment. The concrete base has been prepared and is awai Ɵ ng the applica Ɵ on of the poured-in-place rubber (PIP) system. At this site, the playground equipment and surface system will be installed by a contractor specializing in playground construc Ɵ on. The base layer of crumb rubber has been installed. The top layer, a rubber mat system, is fi t around equipment and the seams are joined. Both the equipment and surface system at this site will be installed by the park maintenance crew.