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The wear layer in a playground rubberized flooring, otherwise known as poured in place rubber is very resilient. Comprised of EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) a very strong synthetic rubber, the half inch layer is designed to encapsulate the impact attenuation layer underneath it.
When you see a crack in the wear layer it's usually not good news. Even if it's a hairline crack, typically it is indicative of a larger problem. In our experience, cracks in a poured in place rubber system are caused by any of the following:
1) The wear layer has gotten so thin that the tensile strength holding it together is simply not there, leading to cracks at the weakest point in the system. This is the step right before holes start to appear. Depending on how many cracks you have, you might be able to use a playground rubber repair kit to patch the crack and then seal the entire playground surface to save it from further deterioration. If the area has way too many cracks and the cracks are deeper, it might be too late to seal lit. A plausible solution is to try using the poured in place rubber extender to save the surface.
2) The poured rubber system was installed in too cold a temperature for the binders to work properly. In this case you will see a systemic failure of the entire wear layer. In other words, you will see cracks everywhere. Most likely than not, you will have to do an entire recap of the system.
3) The installer did not use quality binders. We see this all the time with the permeation of cheap binders from overseas. The binder is the most important piece of a poured in place rubber system. Unfortunately, it is also the most expensive piece, so it is very attractive for some unscrupulous installers to use less than par binders. Unfortunately, you will have to recap your entire wear layer in this case as well.
If you are not sure what to do when you find cracks in your poured in place rubber surface, snap a picture of it, send it to us and give us a call at: 203-659-0456. We are happy to take a look at it and tell you what we think.