As we discussed in our previous article New ADA Standards for Play Area beginning Mar 15th all new or altered playground areas must be compliant with the latest accessibility standards. These standards include specifications for Accessible Impact Attenuating Playground Surfacing which not only provides protection from falls, but can also be traversed with a wheelchair.
We recently caught wind of a misleading rumor going around which says that the new regulations also require wear mats at the exits of slides and under swings. Traditionally, we have always strongly recommended wear mats to any playgrounds that use loose-fill materials such as wood fiber as a surfacing for high-traffic areas. But is it really a requirement?
NO NO NO Absolutely Not!
If you’ve read the 12-Step Checklist for Playground Accessiblity you would know that nowhere in the new regulation does it talk about wear mats. What it DOES say (and has always said) is that accessible surfacing must be properly MAINTAINED by compacting and leveling the surfacing as ruts and holes appear in order to prevent access issues for people in wheelchairs.
Recently, we have been seeing a lot of this at playgrounds where wear mats have not been installed. Unfortunately, the damage is not always easily repairable because as ruts get deeper geo-textile barriers are torn, and debris mixes with clean surfacing material. This ruins your surfacing as an effective tool to prevent injuries while looking really horrible.
In our opinion, the best loose-fill surfacing installs include wear mats under all swings, slides, and moving independent components where feet meet the ground. For swings, we offer wear mats by Dynacushion, Playworld, and RB Rubber in multiple sizes that can be laid together and buried under a swing bay providing a level wear area that can easily be filled by hand. We also offer wear mats for specific applications including beveled wear mats for slide exits and mats for tire swings and spinners.
Click here to view a list of Wear Mat Products by Dynacushion.
If you would like help selecting a wear mat system to protect your surfacing: