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Rubber Playground Tiles

While rubber playground tiles seem to be a low-cost unitary surfacing option, these surfaces tend to have a much shorter lifespan than other unitary surfaces.  One of the most common problems with rubber tiles is that they are prone to warping -  especially in climates with significant swings in temperature between summer and winter. When this happens, the playground flooring not only loses it appearance, but it becomes unsafe and a maintenance issue.

Evaluation Criteria

Learn more about the details of the evaluation criteria.

Care & Maintenance
ADA Compliance & Accessibility
Aesthetics & Design
Installation Cost
Lifetime Cost
Rubber Tiles


Safety Rating:

Since playground tiles are a prefabricated product, they can be designed to meet ASTM critical fall height requirements, but their ability to do so resides largely on the preparation of the subsurface.  When installed properly, rubber playground tiles share many of the same safety benefits as other rubber, unitary surfacing options. 

The big problem with tile is that they warp or separate due to changes in the subsurface.  When either of these happen, the clean, even tile surface turns in an eyesore, complete with tripping hazard for the children and nice gaps to hold all kinds of contaminants.

Note: For the highest safety standards, ensure your playground rubber tile surface passes the ASTM F1951 lab test after installation. In order to evaluate the safety of playground tiles when compared to other playground surfaces view fall heights.

Warped Rubber Playground Tiles
Rubber Tiles


Cleanliness Rating:

There is little debate that a new rubber tile surface stays relatively clean and does not require much upkeep. However, when shifting or warping occurs, cleaning between the tile can be a constant chore.  Small and potentially dangerous objects can get lodged in the spaces between the tiles and be very hard to remove. 

  • New tile surfaces score well but degrade quickly as time passes
  • Resists the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew
rubber tile playground surface
Rubber Tiles

Care & Maintenance

Maintenance Rating:

Rubber playground tiles are a relatively low maintenance surface when they are in working order.  A periodic inspection and cleaning of any foreign objects lodged between the spaces of the tiles is typically all that is required.  However, if the rubber tile warp or shift, these playgrounds can turn into a maintenance nightmare.

green rubber playground tiles

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Rubber Tiles

ADA Compliance & Accessibility

Accessibility Rating:

Rubber playground tiles are generally ADA compliant and meet accessibility requirements.   However, the spaces between tiles may make maneuvering difficult for children using wheelchairs or other mobility equipment.  Plus, if tiles begin to warp or crack, mobility can be significantly impacted.

rubber playground tiles
Rubber Tiles

Aesthetics & Design

Aesthetics Rating:

While playground tiles are great for creating checkerboard patterns, poured-in-place rubber is typically a much better alternative for developing cooler designs. Plus, rubber tile playgrounds tend to lose their aesthetic appeal over time as the tiles settle and gaps form.

rubber playground tiles and turf
Rubber Tiles

Installation Cost

Installation Cost Rating:

The initial installation of rubber playground tiles is typically faster and simpler than other unitary surfaces, but the material costs for the tile are still higher than most loose-fill options.  With an existing subsurface, installation can usually be completed in a single day unless a significant number of tiles need to be cut and fitted around playground equipment and other objects.

checkerboard playground surface with rubber tiles
Rubber Tiles

Lifetime Costs

Lifetime Costs Rating:

The biggest concern with specifying rubber playground tile has to do with the lifespan of the surface.  Even if the tile do not warp much, general expansion and contraction issues along with any shifting of the subsurface often limit the effective lifetime of this surfacing.

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