Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked about budgeting for a playground and how to manage the costs. One of the most overlooked costs of running a commercial playground is the maintenance. Here are 5 maintenance costs to think about before buying a commercial playground:
In the last three posts I’ve written, I’ve said the word surfacing many times. The reason is, you can’t get away from how it affects your budget. There is such a range of prices out there for different types of surfacing. The types can be broken up into many different ways, but for the sake of today’s post, I’m breaking them into low and high maintenance types.
Low Maintenance Surfacing
These types of surfacings typically cost significantly more from the beginning, but require little to no maintenance. Two of the best for low maintenance are poured in place rubber safety surfacing and artificial turf. These require next to no maintenance. A second choice is rubber tiles. These are significantly cheaper than poured in place but offer the same benefits as poured in place. However, they also require more maintenance as the edges can pop up over time especially if they aren’t properly installed.
If it is a loose fill surfacing, it is high maintenance. This group includes pea gravel, sand, engineered wood fiber, and rubber mulch. Playground Outfitters does not recommend pea gravel and sand as they only work for a maximum of a 5-foot fall height.
With any of these surfaces, they will need to be raked back into place on a near daily basis to maintain optimum performance. This means that someone will need to go out and do it which is maintenance cost number one. Cost number two is that their levels will decrease over time. Engineered wood fiber will decrease due to deterioration whereas rubber mulch will decrease due to it getting kicked out of the borders or even just kids taking it home. Both of these instances represent extra costs and the need to top off your safety surfacing on a semi-regular basis.
Swing Set Hardware
Swings are initially one of the more cost effective pieces of equipment, however, they require the most maintenance. A swing sends a child flying back and forth in the air. This kind of motion wears down a swing in multiple points. One of the pieces that will need to be changed the most often will be the pendulum on the swing hanger. These are specially designed with a bronze piece that takes the bulk of the stress.
All of the other swing parts, like chains, seats, and even connectors will all wear over time and need to be changed. And again, just like with surfacing, these require regular maintenance and someone to basically just keep checking them to keep them in the best working condition.
While the playground needs maintenance, the surrounding area of the playground will require maintenance as well. Grass will need to be mowed, standing water dealt with to prevent bugs, benches and picnic tables will need to be kept in working order, and trash will need to be disposed of on a regular basis. This becomes even more important with a playground as young children will be in the area and it needs to be safe.
Worn or Broken Parts
Things break. Period. Over time, your playground will show signs of wear from all of the children that have spent time playing on it. Some types of equipment will wear more easily than others. Here is just some of the equipment that will wear out more quickly:
What all of these pieces of equipment have in common is that they move. A general rule is that if it moves, it requires more maintenance. All of these are pieces of equipment that children love and are great for developmental gains. However, it is important to realize that they will require more care than a stationary piece of equipment.
Finally, one last thing you can do is have an annual inspection by a Certified Playground Safety Inspector, CPSI. What they will do is check your playground equipment to make sure it is in working order, that your surfacing is working properly, and identify any dangers on the playground that you may not have otherwise noticed. Anyone can become a CPSI and its recommended to keep someone on your staff that is CPSI trained to make sure your equipment is in top shape at all times.
Bonus Tip – Choose Equipment from Companies with CPSIs on Staff
Here at Playground Outfitters, our staff is CPSI certified. From product selection to your purchase to maintenance, we do everything we can to offer the best information to our customers. Contact us to get a quote on playground equipment, surfacing, and swing parts!