Engineered Wood fibre vs. Safety Rubber Surfacing: Pros & Cons

Explore the pros & cons of EWF and safety rubber surfacing for playgrounds with Safescapes. Discover why safety rubber surfacing is a smart, long-term choice.

Engineered Wood Fibre and Safety Rubber Surfacing. What’s the difference?

When it comes to creating safe and engaging playground environments, the choice of surfacing material plays a pivotal role. While engineered wood fibre (EWF) and safety rubber surfacing are both popular choices, it's essential to understand why safety rubber surfacing is often considered a superior option. 

This article explores the benefits of each to help you make an informed decision.

What is Engineered Wood Fibre?

Engineered wood fibre (EWF) is a common playground surfacing material made from processed wood. Its main appeal lies in its affordability and compliance with the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) guidelines, offering a relatively safe play surface. EWF is often praised for its natural appearance and ability to blend into outdoor settings.

What is Safety Rubber Surfacing?

Safety rubber surfacing comes in two main forms: interlocking tiles and poured-in-place surfaces. These surfaces are known for their exceptional shock-absorbing capabilities, significantly reducing injury risk from falls. Safescapes' safety rubber surfacing meets stringent safety standards, offering a resilient and reliable option for playgrounds, sports courts, and other commercial areas.

Comparing Engineered Wood Fibre and Safety Rubber Surfacing

Safety Comparison

Safety rubber surfacing offers superior shock absorption compared to EWF. While engineered wood fibre can provide a cushion for falls, it cannot match the consistency and effectiveness of rubber surfacing. Additionally, EWF carries the risk of splinters, which is entirely eliminated with the smooth, non-abrasive surface of rubber.

Durability and Maintenance

Safety rubber surfacing is remarkably durable and does not decompose or compact over time, unlike EWF. This longevity means less frequent replacements and lower long-term maintenance, making it a more cost-effective solution in the long run.

Accessibility and Inclusivity

The even and smooth surface of safety rubber surfacing ensures better accessibility, particularly for individuals with disabilities. Engineered wood fibre, with its uneven surface, can pose challenges for mobility, whereas Safescapes's rubber surfaces provide a stable and accommodating environment for all users.

Aesthetic and Design Flexibility

Safescapes offers a wide range of colors and patterns in rubber surfacing, providing a versatile design palette for creative and visually appealing playgrounds. In contrast, EWF offers a more natural look but lacks the design flexibility of rubber surfaces.

Long-Term Value and Investment

Investing in safety rubber surfacing may come with a higher initial cost, but its long-term value is unparalleled. The reduced need for maintenance and its enduring nature make it a wise investment, offering both financial benefits and uninterrupted playtime over the years.

A vibrant children's playground under a clear blue sky, with multi-colored slides, blue and purple climbing frames, red swings, and yellow and green bars, set on a wood chip surface with trees and a red brick building in the background.

The Long-Term Benefits of Engineered Wood Fibre

While the focus of this article has been on the advantages of safety rubber surfacing, it's important to also acknowledge the long-term benefits that Engineered Wood fibre (EWF) offers. Understanding these benefits can help in making a well-rounded decision for your playground surfacing needs.

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable

One of the primary long-term benefits of engineered wood fibre is its environmental friendliness. EWF is made from natural wood, often utilizing recycled wood materials. This aspect not only reduces waste but also contributes to the sustainability of playground surfacing options.

EWF's natural wood appearance allows it to blend seamlessly with outdoor environments. Over time, as landscaping matures around playgrounds, EWF continues to complement these natural settings, enhancing the aesthetic appeal and creating a more inviting play area.

Adaptive to Landscape Changes

As playground landscapes evolve and change, EWF can be a flexible surfacing option. It can be easily added to or reduced, and it adapts well to changes in playground equipment or layout. This adaptability can be a long-term benefit for playgrounds that undergo frequent updates or renovations.

Although EWF requires regular maintenance to ensure safety standards, it is still a cost-effective solution in the long term. Its lower initial installation cost can be a deciding factor for communities or organizations with limited budgets. When maintained properly, engineered wood fibre can provide a safe and effective playground surface for many years.

Biodegradable and Low Impact

EWF, being a natural product, is biodegradable. As it breaks down over time, it doesn't leave harmful residues in the environment. This feature ensures a lower long-term environmental impact compared to some other surfacing materials that may release microplastics or other pollutants as they degrade.

Engineered wood fibre may not match the durability and maintenance ease of safety rubber surfacing, but it does offer distinct long-term benefits, particularly from an environmental and aesthetic standpoint. Its ability to blend with natural surroundings, adaptability, and eco-friendly nature make it a viable option for those prioritizing sustainability and natural aesthetics in their playground design.

The Long-Term Benefits of Safety Rubber Surfacing

When examining the long-term benefits of safety rubber surfacing for playgrounds and commercial applications, it becomes evident why this material is a top choice for such environments. Safety rubber surfacing, known for its resilience and versatility, offers several key advantages that extend well beyond its initial installation.

Enhanced Safety & Accessibility, Reduced Injury Risk

The enduring benefit of safety rubber surfacing is its exceptional ability to minimize injury risks. The shock-absorbing properties of the material maintain their effectiveness over many years, providing a consistently safe play environment. This long-term safety assurance is a key reason why many choose rubber surfacing for playgrounds and public spaces.

The long-term benefit of accessibility cannot be overstated. Safety rubber surfacing remains consistently smooth and even, providing easy access for individuals with disabilities and ensuring inclusivity in play and public areas. This feature remains constant over time, reflecting Safescapes' commitment to creating spaces that are welcoming and usable for everyone.

Durability and Minimal Maintenance

One of the most significant long-term advantages of safety rubber surfacing is its durability. Unlike EWF, which can decompose and require regular replenishment, rubber surfacing retains its structure and appearance over time, with minimal maintenance. This enduring quality reduces the need for frequent repairs or replacements, offering a cost-effective solution in the long run.

Safety rubber surfacing is designed to withstand various weather conditions, from intense sunlight to heavy rain. This resistance to weather-related wear and tear ensures that the surfacing remains safe, functional, and visually appealing for years, making it an ideal choice for diverse climates and outdoor settings.

Modern playground with safety rubber flooring featuring a blue and sandy color scheme, with a small orange slide, concrete climbing structures, and a swing set. Lush green trees, park benches, and residential buildings are visible in the background under a blue sky with scattered clouds.

Customizable and Aesthetically Pleasing

Safety rubber surfacing, with its customizable designs and color options, offers long-term aesthetic benefits. The ability to tailor the look of the surface to fit specific themes or environments means that playgrounds and commercial spaces can maintain a modern and attractive appearance. This customization, combined with the material's longevity, ensures that spaces continue to look vibrant and inviting for years.

It’s important to note that while safety rubber surfacing is a synthetic product, Safescapes's commitment to using recycled materials, such as tires, in its creation reflects a responsibility towards environmental sustainability. This practice reduces waste and contributes to a greener approach in surfacing solutions.

In summary, the long-term benefits of safety rubber surfacing are evident in its safety, durability, weather resistance, inclusivity, aesthetic appeal, and environmental consideration. These factors collectively make safety rubber surfacing a wise investment for those seeking a reliable, cost-effective, and attractive surfacing solution for playgrounds and commercial spaces.

Final Thought: Making the Right Choice

In the consideration of engineered wood fibre versus safety rubber surfacing, each material presents its own set of long-term benefits. While EWF offers an eco-friendly, cost-effective, and naturally aesthetic choice that adapts well to changing landscapes, safety rubber surfacing, particularly as provided by Safescapes, excels in safety, durability, minimal maintenance, and inclusive design. The choice between these two materials ultimately hinges on prioritizing these differing sets of long-term advantages.

For those valuing consistent safety, longevity, and inclusivity, along with the added benefits of aesthetic customization and environmental responsibility through the use of recycled materials, Safescapes' safety rubber surfacing emerges as a superior option. It stands as not only a commitment to the immediate needs of a playground or commercial space but also as a long-term investment in creating enduring, safe, and engaging environments.

As you deliberate on the suitable surfacing for your playground or commercial project, it's important to weigh these considerations in light of your specific needs and values. With Safescapes' dedication to quality, safety, and customer satisfaction, opting for safety rubber surfacing represents a decision that extends beyond the present, ensuring a durable, attractive, and safe space for years to come.

Ontario Rubber Installations (ORI) is an industry-leading provider of premium rubber surfacing solutions, catering to a wide range of applications like playgrounds, residential spaces, and commercial properties. Our skilled team of professionals combines surface design expertise with innovative materials to enhance and transform entranceways, driveways, and other outdoor spaces using eco-friendly products.

At ORI, we're committed to staying ahead of industry trends, ensuring that our clients receive the most advanced rubber surfacing options and personalized solutions tailored to their specific needs. To discover more about how Ontario Rubber Installations can revolutionize your property, get a free quote today.