How to Clear Snow From a Rubber Playground Surface
Seasonal Rubber Playground Flooring Maintenance Tips
Related Product: Interlocking Playground Tile BB 2.5 Inch Colors
By Paige Cerulli
Playground flooring needs to be able to meet all sorts of requirements. The flooring must help to absorb shock in order to keep kids safe, but it also needs to be durable enough to last for years under heavy use. Even more importantly, any rubber playground surface needs to be able to withstand dramatic temperature changes, UV rays, and the different weather that your location experiences.
Rubber playground mats are up to the task. In fact, that's just one of the reasons why rubber playground flooring is so popular. Not only is rubber highly durable, but it can withstand temperature extremes, rain, snow, and ice without being damaged, cracked or weakened.
When it comes to removing snow from rubber playground flooring, there are a few things that you should know so that you can further preserve the flooring surface.
How to Clear Snow From Rubber Playground Flooring
First, don't worry - snow and ice won't harm your rubber playground tiles, and you can leave the snow and ice to safely melt away on their own. However, if kids need to use the playground, then you'll need to remove the snow and ice by hand.
Use the Right Tools
First, make sure that you're using the proper tools to remove snow and ice. Metal shovels or scrapers can damage the rubber playground mats, so always avoid these tools. Instead, use brushes or rubber scrapers, which can safely remove the ice and snow. Machinery, such as snowblowers, should also never be used on rubber playground tiles.
It's also important to realize that you should not use chemical de-icing agents on a rubber playground surface. These chemicals may damage or degrade the rubber, reducing the lifespan of your flooring.
Always be sure to consult the usage guidelines for the particular flooring product that you've used in the playground. If you use tools or chemical de-icers that aren't approved by the manufacturer, you may void the manufacturer's warranty.
Removing snow and ice can be a long, slow process, especially if you're working with rubber playground squares that cover a large area. Try to remove snow promptly after it's fallen; leaving it for more than a day or so may cause it to melt slightly then freeze, turning into ice that's more difficult to remove.
As you remove snow and ice from the rubber playground squares, be sure that you relocate it to an area where it won't melt back onto the squares, freezing again.
Additional Maintenance for Rubber Playground Flooring
Removing snow and ice is just part of the maintenance that a rubber playground safety surface will require. Keeping up with necessary maintenance will help to keep your flooring in the best possible condition:
- Clear leaves and debris from the rubber playground mats weekly. Inspect the mats for any damage.
- Arrange to have the mats cleaned about twice a year.
For bi-annual cleaning, you'll need to take a number of steps to deep-clean your playground mats.
- Use a stiff bristled outdoor broom to clear the surface of the mats
- Use a diluted detergent cleaner concentrate; add 1/4 cup concentrate to 5 gallons of hot water
- Work on 5x5 foot sections, applying the cleaner to the surface until the mats are wet
- Scrub the surface with a stiff bristled outdoor broom
- Thoroughly hose of the surface until you can't see any reside
These general guidelines apply to many rubber playground squares, but always consult the specific maintenance directions for the product that you have.
The more that you keep up with cleaning and maintaining your rubber playground tiles, the better they'll continue to look.
If you ever notice that a tile is cracked, loose, or otherwise damaged, then promptly making the repair can help to minimize subsequent damage. It's also an important factor in keeping the surface safe for kids at play.
One of the great benefits of using rubber playground tiles is that if a tile is damaged, you can replace that one tile. This can save you significant money over the cost of replacing or repairing a larger section of flooring, as you would need to do with poured surfaces. We advise that you keep a few extra tiles on hand just for this type of situation.
Replace the damaged tile by following the installation instructions for the product that you've purchased. The more quickly that you can make the repair, the sooner kids can go back to enjoying the playground - safely.
Maintenance for Playground Tiles Versus Other Playground Flooring Types
All in all, rubber playground tiles truly require just minimal maintenance, especially when compared to other playground flooring types. Rubber playground mats offer many benefits, in that they're highly durable and require just occasional maintenance.
If you're working with other surface options, like wood chips or loose fill, the maintenance will be much more involved. These loose fill products need to be continuously swept and raked back into place, since they're often kicked out of the playground area by running kids. There's no practical way to remove snow or ice from these surfaces, and these loose fill options can also conceal dangerous objects, like broken glass.
Remember, too, that loose fill options often require additional, ongoing investments as you much purchase additional fill to replace the fill that is kicked out or gradually carried away. Rubber tiles rarely require any sort of ongoing investment, and make for a safer, more practical playground surface.
Additional Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Rubber Playground Tiles
Proper cleaning and maintenance can lengthen the life of your playground surface, but there are some other ways that you can get the most use possible out of your playground flooring. It all comes to choosing the right product for your playground.
When you initially choose a surface for your playground, you'll be able to choose from many different products. But if your playground is outdoors, then it's important to choose a product that can not only withstand the traffic it will see, but that can also withstand the demands of an outdoor environment:
- UV rays can fade and degrade outdoor flooring
- Extreme temperature fluctuations mean a product needs to be able to withstand a wide range of temperatures
- Rain, snow, and ice could wear down, damage, and crack a product that isn't ready to withstand these elements
At Greatmats, we stock a selection of rubber playground mats that are ready to withstand the demands of outdoor use in high-traffic playgrounds. Consider the following factors to evaluate whether a product is suitable for your situation:
Thickness - In order for your flooring to last for years, you need to choose a product that is thick enough to withstand the type of traffic the area will see. Many of our playground tiles and playground mats are thick to increase their durability and the overall cushion that they offer.
UV Fade Resistance - When shopping for flooring for any outdoor playground, UV fade resistance is an important factor to look for. Our outdoor playground products are often treated to resist fading from the sun's rays, which will help to keep them looking great for many years to come.
Moisture Permeability - For outdoor use, you'll need a flooring option that is waterproof. However, also consider what will happen when it rains. Some tiles, like our Interlocking Playground Tiles, are designed to channel water away from the tile's surface. This helps to avoid standing water from forming on the playground surface, meaning kids can return to playing soon after a heavy rainfall. It can also help to prevent ice from forming on the surface if temperatures drop below freezing after a rain.
Durability - Many of our rubber playground products are designed to be highly durable. At the same time, though, most of the tiles offer some sort of fall height protection, which will help to make your playground a safer place. These flooring options are designed to withstand high traffic, and many are backed by excellent manufacturer warranties.
By taking the time to choose the playground surface that's right for your needs, you can minimize your maintenance required while maximizing the lifespan of the surface. Always make sure to read the maintenance instructions offered for your product to make sure that you're using the correct products and caring for your playground flooring in the best way possible.
If you have any questions about your current playground, its maintenance, needed repairs, or even about investing in a new surface, please give our customer service team a call. We would be happy to answer all of your questions, provide product samples, and make sure you have all the information necessary to take great care of your playground.
For more on this topic please review our Playground Rubber Safety Surfaces product page.