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09-03-19 | Department

A Conversation with Duraplay, Inc. - Q&A

Featuring Darren Toomey, CEO of DuraPlay, Inc.

What should the consumer watch out for when purchasing a poured in place surfacing system?
Look for reputable companies that have been around a while, preferably ones who are IPEMA certified. IPEMA is a third-party certification group for playground equipment and surfacing industry standards. Companies pay to be members and have their products tested on a regular basis. This agency weeds out the "temporary" surfacing businesses. Also, read the fine print of the warranty. Some companies justify higher prices with a "10 year" warranty. However, many times the warranty is prorated starting as early as Year 4 and voided if a yearly maintenance coat is not applied onto the system at the owner's expense during warranty period. Make sure the different surfacing companies bidding on your project are offering the same things. There are a couple of ways that bids can be different. Sometimes projects are put out to bid without the playground equipment specified. When this happens, there can be different fall heights for the play equipment offered by each bidder. This can greatly affect the price of the surfacing because taller play equipment needs thicker surfacing, which is more expensive. In other cases, one bid can be for keeping the same thickness across the entire playground, and another could be for varying the thickness of the surface in coordination with the fall heights of the play equipment. In some cases, this process can shave quite a bit off the bottom line. However, if basing their decision on price, a customer would choose the latter not knowing that the two bids are not comparable. One should also be clear if all bids include freight, or a dumpster for garbage removal. Those two items can add thousands to a bid depending on the size and location of the job site.

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What are some other things that affect the price of a poured in place surface bid?
Besides thickness, as discussed in the previous answer, color and material types affect the longevity and price of a system. For instance, 100% color surfaces cost more than 50% black surfaces. There are also colors of rubber that are considered premium colors, which are more expensive than standard colors. Additionally, there are different types and grades of binder that can be used in PIP. For instance, aliphatic binder is more expensive than aromatic binder.

How long does a poured in place safety surface last?
Depending on climate and use, anywhere from 5 to 10 years, sometimes longer. Installation and material quality are also factors. An experienced installation crew is necessary, along with the correct amounts of high-quality material. Both are required to maximize the life of a poured in place surface. However, the most important characteristic of a poured in place safety surface is impact attenuation. A playground surface must comply with the ASTM Standards for head injury criteria (HIC). As a system ages, it breaks down and will eventually become non-compliant. In fact, a surface doesn't have to be falling apart to be non-compliant. It can look like it's in decent shape, but still fail the HIC test.

What can a consumer do to make sure their surface is compliant?
There's an impact attenuation test that can be performed on the surface in a few different spots to ensure it is compliant. Costs can range between $1,500 to $3,500 for this service. Another proactive approach is to add A 1/4 inch to the cushioning layer to lower the initial HIC score. This will cost around $0.50 per square foot, but it will lower the surface's HIC score approximately 200 points (the lower the safer) ensuring your system is compliant for longer, up to 5 years longer!

Are there any other ways a consumer can make their system last longer?
Colored rubber is stronger than black rubber, so a full color system with no black added will last longer. Aliphatic binder yields a stronger bond and provides better UV resistance than aromatic binder, so using aliphatic will make a longer lasting system. Furthermore, when a system has seams, such as when design work is incorporated into the surface, there is a chance that a seam could open up; therefore, systems with no seams that are one color or a combination of colors are the strongest. In other words, use aliphatic binder, colored rubber top-coat with no graphics or seams and make it A 1/4 " thicker than standard to build the strongest, longest-lasting PIP system. Unfortunately, incorporating these elements into a PIP surface will raise the price, and most consumers look at initial cost, rather than how long a surface will last when choosing PIP for their playground. So the least expensive system usually wins the bid.

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