What is Certified Playground Sand and why is it important?
Sand has been used for years as a staple play surface in playgrounds all over the world and often connects us to those fond memories in childhood of tearing around with friends, getting our parents to push us high on the swing and sometimes memories of the various scratches and bruises we attained from pushing our limits. Not only does sand help by providing kids with a soft surface to play on, but it also inspires creativity and helps kids develop their fine motor skills.
The reason sand is a popular choice for playgrounds is its capacity to break falls, it’s soft texture and it’s safe make up. However, not all sand is built alike, and the sand used in playgrounds is not the same as the sand at the beach, used in the construction industry or the sand you find by the river sand. It goes through a special process that ensures it is safe for yourself, your kids and your pets and is built to specifically break falls and prevent injury. This is why, when purchasing a playground sand (for both for a DIY project and a commercial job) it is important to make sure the sand you are choosing is the correct type and certified to Australian standards.
What to look out for you when purchasing playground sand?
Whether you have requirements to provide a client with a safe playground for a proposal or you are a retail customer that has a backyard sandpit you want to fill with a sand that is safe for your kids; the requirements for both are the same. The first thing to check is to make sure your sand is certified. The certification to look out for in Australia is AS4422 Playground Surfacing. This certification ensures the sand you buy will perform the following:
- This sand will break falls to a maximum fall height of 3 metres used at a minimum depth of 340mm with normal playground use and 410mm with heavy playground use.
- This sand is screened and free from contaminants.
- This sand is washed to get rid of any fines, clay or organic materials.
- This sand is safe for kids to play in.
These are the main things you want you sand to do as far as function goes. You can however play around with colour and look to still add that bit of creativity in. Here at Rock ‘N’ Soil our playground sand goes through a number of processes to make it ready for play pit use. It is triple washed to free it from contaminants and washed from fines, clay particles and organic material. Our certified playground sand comes with an Australians Standard Compliance Certificate to ensure its quality and is suitable for council. The sand is also tested for wet weather and is dry when fully saturated – this is a very important feature of play sand and sets it apart from other kinds of sand that become cement-like in the rain.
Depending on where you are using your sand another thing to look out for when choosing a sand is colour. Most playground sand have a very light hue; many people even use white sand in their play pits. White sand is a great option as it not only looks great, but it also helps identify any contaminants like bugs, pet feces or any external debris so you can keep your sand safe.
Is playground sand the same as beach sand?
No, playground sand has certain properties that set it apart from the sand you find in nature. On top of the processes the sand goes through to receive certification, playground sand is made up of variable particle sizes that allow for ‘give’ upon impact. This perfect blend is what helps prevent injury. The sand in nature is so inconsistent in its balance of particle sizes that some parts of a sandy terrain might help cushion a fall and other might not. Beach and river sand are also full of organic matter and organisms like lice and bugs. River sand can be used as a base for playground sand but needs to be thoroughly washed and treated. Playground sand is used across several industries and is best used in childcare facilities, sporting facilities for pits and courts, and council playgrounds.
What makes playground sand better than other sands when it comes to safety?
Sandpits can provide hours and hours of fun to kids of all ages but not all sand is appropriate for using in a backyard sandpit or council play area. The sands used in the construction industry like pit sand or roof tilers loam may appear to look like a normal sand but is built for mixing into mortar. When combined with water, this sand with go rock hard and may become dangerous. Many people also use white sand as playground sand, especially if they prefer the colour. This can work but it is worth noting that this sand will likely not meet the same requirements as a certified playground sand.
This certification can be especially important if a sand needs to meet the requirements of a risk management plan for a commercial project. When you purchase a certified playground sand you are getting a product that is kiln-dried, washed multiple times and graded to a specific size to soften falls. Due to the roundness of the particles and abundance a soft fall sand is also less likely to cause any external injuries like scratches, broken skin or splinters. Many playgrounds still use bark which can be abrasive and harsh on kids running around barefoot. Modern playgrounds used rubber flooring now as well which works well to prevent injury but takes away from that more create element that is an essential part of sand play.
If sand had a resume then this would be it! But if you’re still wanting more than we totally understand. That’s what our product info page is for! Perhaps you are hanging out to know what soil to use for your next garden project? Keep tabs on our how to page to find helpful blog posts like this and more. And if there’s anything else, remember you can contact the expert team at Rock n Soil any time!