09-21-21 | Department

A Conversation with DURAPLAY, INC.

Featuring Jennifer Cutrona, Sales Manager

Jennifer, you have been selling poured-in-place now for 6 years. From your experience, what would you like your customers to know about choosing poured-in-place surfacing for their project?
Good question. I think once they decide to use PIP surfacing, it is important for them to understand the elements and choices that drive costs up. This can relate to change orders, rubber color and thickness, binder type, design, and edge detail.

In construction, changes are often costly. What are some examples of common change orders and how can they be avoided?
Common problems seen early in the construction phase are the subgrade level being too high or low or the play equipment being set too high or low for clearance requirements. Sometimes a slab is poured in an irregular shape excluding some of the critical fall height area. These issues can cost time and money. Another common mistake is not communicating site access problems. If a tractor trailer can't get close to the site to drop off material, this can cause a lot more work and time. Another problem we often see on job sites is equipment post holes either left unfilled or filled with loose dirt that has not been compacted. This will cause sink holes around the poles later. This can be a huge problem if not addressed before the PIP is installed. I guess the best way to avoid these problems is communication and experience. We try to ask all the right questions and stay in contact with the customer.

You mentioned rubber color and thickness can make a difference in cost. Can you elaborate on that?

The black rubber is pre-consumer recycled, which is much cheaper than the colored bags that are made specifically for PIP surfacing. There are also standard and premium colors that vary in cost. We can blend the colors for a textured look or make the surface a solid color, except for solid black because it gets too hot. We blend the colors in a mortar mixer three to four 50 lb bags at a time, so the mixtures must corelate with the bags per mix. That being said, the most cost-effective surface we offer is a blend of 50% black granules with 50% standard color. Some people choose a 1/3 black mix because colored rubber tends to last longer. As for thickness, obviously a thicker system uses more material and costs more. However, only the base layer varies in thickness. The top coat or wearing course stays a half inch thick. We determine how thick a system needs to be based on the height from which a kiddo can potentially fall. The higher the fall height, the thicker the system. By installing PIP, you are ensuring that you have consistent fall protection under your play equipment. All thicknesses have been proven by IPEMA in the field and in a lab, in all weather conditions.

What choices do they have when it comes to binder?
There are 2 binder types, or the glue that is used in poured-in-place systems. One is aromatic, and the other is aliphatic. Aromatic is what we quote in every base bid number and we are very happy with the strength and longevity of that compound, however, it does amber when it cures. For most, this isn't a huge issue because the entire surface ambers so it isn't noticeable. Some clients want their surface not to amber, and in that case, they would need aliphatic UV stable binder. Aliphatic binder can add up to $3 per square foot to the cost of the PIP surface.

You said that design can add cost. How much does it add?
We can't install 2 colors that touch in the same day. If you have a color change in a surfacing design, the first color must cure overnight. The next morning it is cut back using a special tool that creates a nice seam line for the next color to adhere to. The process is important to prevent seam separation. Because the colors must fully cure before the next one is laid, this process adds time to the project. Time equals more days of labor, which can get expensive. The price for design varies upon how intricate the design is.

What would be your advice to customers who would like to keep PIP costs as low as they can?
Communication is key. Understand your site and the condition it is supposed to be in. Install playground equipment with lower fall heights and choose a standard color plus black 50/50 mix PIP with no design. Those choices will help you keep the cost of your surfacing down.


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