Is Poured-In-Place Rubber Safety Surfacing Safe?


Young boy stepping down from tall blue playground equipment platform onto a red step

Poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing is already a popular choice for playgrounds and recreation areas across the U.S. for a variety of reasons. Most notably, these systems offer bright colors, flexible design options, easy maintenance, and a long lifespan.

But are they truly safe? When selecting a safety surfacing for a play area, protecting those who are at risk is the top priority. Knowing what qualifies a poured-in-place rubber surface as a “safety surface” is key. We start by considering some key questions:


Falls are the leading cause of playground injuries. According to the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, nearly 200,000 children (ages 14 and under) go to the emergency room each year after suffering a fall at a playground. Hard surfaces, such as concrete, blacktop, or even grass and packed mulch, increase the potential for harm after a fall. This is one reason why poured-in-place safety surfacing from SpectraTurf is one of the most popular playground surface choices for playgrounds and recreation areas.

SpectraTurf’s poured-in-place safety surfacing meets requirements for Critical Fall Heights (CFH), which refers to the shock absorbency of a surface material and its ability to mitigate a life-threatening head injury from a fall. SpectraPour safety surfacing is IPEMA (International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association) Certified to ASTM F1292, Standard Specification for Impact Attenuation of Surface Systems Under and Around Playground Equipment. (View SpectraPour certificate.) SpectraPour Supreme safety surfacing is also IPEMA Certified to ASTM F1292. (View SpectraPour Supreme certificate.)

In other words, a non-biased third party tested our poured-in-place surfacing and determined that 5-inch thick SpectraPour or SpectraPour Supreme can protect kids from sustaining a serious head injury, even if they fall from equipment that is 12 feet high. (This thickness is less than other poured-in-place solutions, saving you money on material costs while maintaining the highest levels of safety.)


One of the many advantages SpectraTurf’s poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing has over other surfaces is that it pours seamlessly over existing concrete or asphalt. The new surface will cover existing cracks and tripping hazards, creating a uniform surface to walk, run, skip, and jump on.

Uneven surfaces can create a tripping hazard, but it can also make it difficult for people facing mobility challenges to use the playground equipment. SpectraPour and SpectraPour Supreme safety surfacing is ADA-compliant, which means visitors who need additional mobility support – such as canes, crutches, or wheelchairs – will still find the surface easy to navigate without hazards. Small children who are just learning how to run and walk without tripping will also appreciate the bonded rubber surface: children ages 4 and under tend to suffer injuries to their faces and heads from playground-related injuries. Those who trip and fall face-first into a pile of wood chips are at risk of getting splinters and dirt into their eyes. With our bonded rubber surface, toddlers are less likely to be tripped up or injured if they fall.


As any parent can tell you, young kids will want to touch everything and put anything in their mouths. This makes considering the material you expose them to even more important.

For this reason, the State of California Integrated Waste Management Board conducted extensive research into poured-in-place rubber surfacing using recycled rubber material, like SpectraTurf’s surfaces do. (Read more about the research here.) The study had some clear findings, including the following:

  • Though natural rubber contains latex, tests showed no skin irritation after contact with poured-in-place surfacing
  • Chemicals in recycled rubber that could be considered carcinogens occur at concentrations far below one part per million (which is regarded as an “acceptable” level)
  • Should a 3-year-old eat the recycled tire shred material, it is unlikely to cause any adverse health effects

In addition, SpectraTurf’s poured-in-place safety surfacing is extremely durable, and the rubber granules are bound together with a strong aphylactic binder that prevents the material from breaking apart or wearing down. This prevents curious three-year-olds from getting their hands on pieces of the rubber surfacing to double-check the study’s findings.

The unitarian surfacing is easy to clean, requiring minimal maintenance to ensure kids can play in a safe environment. Other safety surfacing, such as wood chips, can develop mold or dust as it breaks down. The loose fill can also make it easy for bugs to build nests where kids want to explore.


SpectraTurf systems undergo rigorous third-party testing to ensure that we are delivering the safest possible poured-in-place safety surfacing for our clients’ playgrounds and recreation areas. We are committed to helping to create beautiful gathering places for communities, and in providing safe places for people of all abilities to play. Poured-in-place rubber safety surfacing like SpectraPour and SpectraPour Supreme empowers people to safely enjoy rigorous outdoor activities. Find out more about our poured-in-place solutions by contacting us.