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24 Jun 2022
Whether you’re a park maintenance officer at a local council or are responsible for maintaining the schoolyard, you need to understand the maintenance requirements for playground equipment.
Like anything that you own and use regularly, you need to care for it to ensure it keeps functioning as intended and lasts the expected lifespan. As playgrounds are used by children every day, it’s important that they are both maintained in accordance with the Playground Standard and provide a safe playing experience. Poor maintenance can lead to an unsafe playground that increases the risk of injury.
Not only does keeping your playgrounds maintained protect your investment and keep the playground safe, but it will also improve the play experience for everyone. Children will feel safer and parents will have peace of mind that their children are happy and safe.
adventure+ has devoted decades to constructing exciting play spaces and has collated some playground maintenance tips. While this is not a thorough, specific guide to your playground maintenance regime, it will help know the basics of playground maintenance.
The timber used by adventure+ in playground construction is durable and resistant to rot and insect attack. However, timber exposed to the weather will crack, twist, and weather to some degree. This is entirely normal and should not be regarded as a defect. Timber sizes and construction methods used are such that in most cases this cracking, will not unduly affect the strength, safety, or life of the equipment. In rare circumstances, structural defects could be detected over time and these items should be replaced.
Consider using a coating for timber playground
While uncoated looks nice, the longevity of uncoated playgrounds can be reduced. Rather than leaving equipment uncoated, we recommended that all timber play equipment is coated using a suitable exterior timber surface protection coating. At adventure+ we use a Quantum Coating – Timber Plus Decking. This will minimise the effects of exposure to the weather and preserve the aesthetic appeal of the timber. Recoat should be conducted as per the coating manufacturer’s recommendations. The industry standard is from 2-4 years, but it does depend on a number of variables such as location and climate.
Your playground cleaning routine will differ depending on the materials used, but many principles remain.
Cleaning of equipment can be largely avoided by smart playground design that keeps the playground free of mud and debris. For example, creating pathways to the playground will reduce the amount of dirt on platforms.
Similarly, displaced undersurfacing such as sand or mulch can be both a hazard and can wear the equipment if trodden underfoot for a long time. Sand is especially abrasive so where possibly minimise its contact with equipment.
As discussed, cleaning will depend on the location, surrounding environment, and the material of the playground, however, cleaning will only normally be required in high-use playgrounds or winter months.
Cleaning playgrounds is straightforward. Use high-pressure water and a cloth or soft sponge to wipe down the playground. Typically detergent isn’t necessary unless graffiti or sticky substances need to be removed, for example, bubblegum.
The frequency of washing equipment may need to increase for coastal areas where salty sea spray can increase the chance of corrosion, as well as in regions where rainfall is infrequent, and deposits can build up.
Slides are often scuffed from the rubber on shoes. This rubber can easily be removed with a bit of elbow grease, and some car polish will help revitalise fibreglass surfaces.
It is the ongoing duty of any playground owner and operator to maintain a safe and compliant play space, in line with Australian Standard AS4685.0:2017. This will involve regular inspections and assessments of your playgrounds to help identify safety hazards and Standard compliance issues.
The Australian Standard states various types of inspections, some that can be completed by internal maintenance staff, and some that require an experienced and competent auditor.
Make sure to keep a record of any faults in the equipment and contact adventure+ for a Compliance Audit & Safety Assessment.
It’s important to pay additional heed to moving play items like Flying Foxes or Swings. These units are much more susceptible to wear and tear due to the nature of the mechanisms’ repetitive movement. Always remember that no fault is a small fault; anything that can endanger young children should be taken seriously, as too should regular inspection routines.
Most worn parts will be identified and replaced during your annual inspection, but in the event that something looks askew during the year, adventure+ holds a range of spare parts to keep your equipment in service. All you need to do is take a photo of the part and contact us with the photo and reference to the playground identification code (PIC) to let us know where you are.
Hotter environments and very sunny areas will cause sun damage and fading to progress faster over time. Although our HDPE is UV stabilised equipment in these situations will generally need to be considered for replacement components sooner. Timber is not recommended in extreme heat environments.
Coastal & Marine Areas
In these environments where the risk of corrosion is increased substantially, we suggest the use of timber or marine corrosion-resistant materials such as out spectrum max+ range. Using aluminium and stainless steel as the main materials this system is a great option for playgrounds located in schools or parks near the coast or seaside.
Shade over a playground can extend the lifetime of a playground. A playground under a shade structure is less suspectable to the rays of the sun which break down materials faster and causes fading.
Undersurfacing is always an issue for maintenance teams. Consider putting rubber landing pads in high-wear areas (e.g. below slides and swings). Also where possible put borders around playgrounds to keep the undersurfacing contained.
Of course, the best way to be sure is to contact one of the adventure+ team. Contact us now to ensure the safety of children as they enjoy our eye-catching playground equipment.