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What Is the Best Material for Playground Surfaces?

By Paige Cerulli Created: May, 2018 - Modified: August, 2023

When you're planning a playground, a kids' playroom, or even just a kids' room, then investing in quality can help to make that space safer for children. But which playground flooring is the safest, and which product is the best choice for your project? Here's what you need to know about choosing the best playground floor based on the four main playground surface materials.
  1. Rubber
  2. Foam
  3. Artificial Turf
  4. Plastic

Characteristics of Quality Safety Playground Surfaces

Though there are many products out there that are marketed as safe types of playground safety surfaces, they don't all offer the same protection or benefits. Look for the following characteristics in order to determine the quality of a flooring product.

Fall Height Protection

Sterling Playground Tile 3.25 Inch BlackA good flooring option absolutely must provide playground fall protection if the playground involves any sort of equipment. When a child climbs up on a piece of playground equipment, a fall from this increased height can be dangerous. Many of the best playground surfaces are tested and deemed to offer fall height protection.

Different products offer fall protection from different heights. You'll find products that are rated from a few inches all the way up to multiple feet in height. These products can help to reduce the chance of injury if a fall occurs from that particular height or less. If your playground features equipment, then you should choose a product with a fall height rating that is at least as high as the tallest piece of equipment present. Choosing flooring with an appropriate fall height protection rating for your equipment is the first step you can take in playground injury prevention.

Environmental Suitability

StayLock Tile Perforated Black
The qualities that you'll find in an indoor playground floor won't be the same ones that you need if you're planning an outdoor playground. For an outdoor playground ground cover, be sure to consider whether a flooring product is designed to allow for drainage so standing water doesn't pool on the flooring surface.

While these tiles are not considered UV-stable, consider whether the outdoor playground flooring options are UV stable or UV protected. If they aren't, they will fade quickly under the sun's rays, and the product's integrity may even degrade. You'll also want a product that is capable of withstanding the temperature extremes it will see in outdoor use, including the presence of snow and ice.


Max Playground Rubber Tile Colors 2.5 InchGood traction is a must-have for the best playground flooring, and it can contribute to a safe playground surface in your project. Look for a product that is designed to maximize traction, and if the product will be used outside, make sure that it offers good traction even when it's wet.


Blue Sky Interlocking Playground Tile 3.25 Inch ColorsPlayground flooring is a significant investment, and you'll want to buy flooring that is built to last. This is particularly important for commercial or public areas that will see plenty of traffic. Many of our flooring options are backed by multi-year warranties, so you can buy with confidence.

You'll find that both outdoor and indoor products are available in a variety of playground ground cover material options. Each material offers different benefits. Below are our recommendations for the top-quality safety playground flooring that you can buy.

Foam Residential Playground Surfaces

Indoor Playground Flooring Tiles 1-1/2 Inch x 1x1 MeterFoam flooring makes a great option for playgrounds because of foam's comfortable, shock absorbing properties. Most foams are waterproof and non-absorbent, which is ideal for kids' spaces where drinks or foods may be spilled. Because foam is such a forgiving surface, many of our foam playground tiles offer fall height protection ratings. They're safe, lightweight, and easy to install.

Consider our Indoor Playground Foam Tiles. These tiles offer an impressive 4-foot fall height ASTM rating, and are perfect for indoor playgrounds, play rooms, and kids' room flooring. The tiles are waterproof and non-absorbent, so cleaning them is easy. Measuring 1 1/2 inches thick, the tiles are lightweight and easy to transport.

This indoor playground safety flooring is, most importantly, safe for kids. They contain no lead or latex, and are equipped with a tatami top texture that helps to prevent rug burns against bare skin. The tiles are reversible, so you can get plenty of use out of them. Each tile comes with 4 border strips, so you can create a finished edge on your installations. Installation takes just minutes, and the tiles are backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty.

Rubber Playground Safety Surfaces

Blue Sky Outdoor Interlocking Tile 2.25 Inch 50/50 EPDMIf you're looking for a product that's a little more durable than foam, rubber material is our best surface for playground safety. While rubber is firmer than foam, it still offers excellent shock absorption for safe yet highly durable playground surface options. Rubber can withstand more weight and rigorous use than foam tiles, and it's a popular option for commercial playgrounds and outdoor play spaces.

Our Blue Sky Playground Interlocking Tiles are a great option for outdoor use. These tiles are a commercial quality and come with an impressive 10-year warranty. They have all of the features that you want in an outdoor flooring, and are resistant to fading, mold, and mildew. These tiles are outdoor rated for use in all climates, and are approved by the CPSC.

The Blue Sky Playground Interlocking Tiles offer up to a 10-foot fall height rating, so they can be paired with a variety of tall playground equipment. This rubber playground safety surface is even ADA compliant with ADA ramps. The tiles interlock to create a secure, cohesive surface, making for a simplified installation. Choose from a variety of 6 beautiful colors to get the exact style that you desire.

Safe Turf Playground Surfaces

Playground Turf Play Time with 2 Inch Pad per SF

For the look and feel of genuine grass without any of the maintenance, consider a safety playground turf option. Playground turf products offer plenty of comfort while also being durable enough to withstand significant traffic and use.

Our Play Time Playground Turf feels just like natural grass, and its 2-inch foam base layer gives it plenty of cushion. It even offers a certified 9-foot fall height rating, so it can be paired with playground equipment. This safety playground turf allows rainwater to flow right through it, so you don't have to worry about standing water pooling on the surface. Highly durable, this safety playground turf offers a consistent performance over time, and a flooring that is eye-catching and welcoming.

Plastic Playground Surfaces

Ergo Matta Perforated Outdoor TileYour most economical playground flooring material is flexible PVC plastic. This type of playground tile is designed for low level equipment. It's soft to play on and keeps kids out of the dirt and mud, but offers the least amount of fall protection - generally around 20 inches - meaning they are protected against a trip and fall, not so much against a fall off of equipment.

With a perforated design, however, they offer some of the best drainage available for an outdoor setting. They also work well for indoor playgrounds such as basements where moisture is likely to be present. With the raised base and perforated surface, this type of playground flooring offers the best airflow.

Choosing Your Play Area Flooring
Ultimately, the right flooring for your playground will depend on your playground's location, the height of the equipment it features, and your goals for the playground's appearance. These quality flooring options all make for safe playground surfaces, and are designed to help keep kids safe while they play.