DuraPlay Q and A with the Experts09-11-23 | News

DuraPlay Q and A with the Experts

A Conversation with Darren Toomey, CEO
by Staff

How long have you been in the playground safety surfacing industry?

I was working for a company out of New York in the mid '80s installing tennis court surfaces. During this time, I was on the first crew to install poured-in-place rubber surfacing in North America. After that, I installed for over 15 years until a few years after DuraPlay was founded in 1999. So, I have a first-hand understanding of what goes on in the field.

From your experience, what would you like landscape architects to know about how to get the best return on a poured in place (PIP) investment?


The best way to boost the ROI for PIP surfacing is to use a reputable company that has been around for a long time. The longevity of the job is more important to a company that is going to be around to deal with potential customer service issues in the future. Companies with knowledge and experience know the importance of the quality and quantity of raw materials that go into a job. For example, it is important to use quality rubber with minimal dust and high-grade binder in both the top surface and base course. The binder content ratio should be no less than 22% by weight, otherwise the surfacing system can start delaminating or crumbling as early as the first year of use. Finally, it is very important that a poured-in-place surface be installed by an experienced installation team. The installers should be able to understand and adjust to the atmospheric conditions that affect the moisture-curing polyurethane binder that is used in the system. They should also have thorough knowledge of associated ASTM regulations and CPSC guidelines. Mistakes made during installation can greatly affect the longevity of the surface.

What are some structural choices that should be specified to increase the ROI of a playground surface?

Drainage is very important to the longevity of PIP surfacing. Without proper drainage, the system's base layer will deteriorate causing incompliance to safety standards or complete failure. Additionally, like anything, the stability of a structure starts with a strong foundation. Therefore, specifying a concrete substrate is a good way to increase the surfacing's ROI.

What are some design choices that can affect the longevity and ROI of a PIP surface?

If the budget allows for a slightly increased expenditure on PIP up-front, then the ROI can increase significantly. There are two ingredients to a PIP system: rubber and binder; and there are a couple of choices for each that affect the price and strength of the system. The rubber choices are black, standard colors, and premium colors. Black rubber is pre-consumer recycled and is less expensive than the colored rubber that is made specifically for PIP surfacing; however, the colored rubber is stronger. The second ingredient, the binder, comes in two types: aromatic and aliphatic. Aliphatic is the stronger of the two, but it tends to be quite a bit more expensive than aromatic. This cost/benefit analysis is sometimes hard to navigate. Additionally, when a system has seams, such as when design work is incorporated into the surface, there is a chance that a seam could open. Therefore, we can surmise that a solid standard color or a blend of standard colors with no black and no design work will last the longest and achieve a more favorable ROI.

Are there any other factors that one must consider achieve the most value for their PIP investment?

Once your PIP is installed, you must take action to protect and maintain it. Use a blower and a light power wash when necessary to keep it clean. Apply a maintenance coat every two years, especially if your warranty instructs you to. Some warranties become null and void if maintenance requirements are not met. Also, you should be clear on exactly what your warranty covers. Some companies issue warranties that are pro-rated or cover only material and freight and not labor.