Do Rubber Mats Get Hot In The Summer?

We’ve all been there be it when we were kids or when we have gone out to play at a playground. There is one constant question that everyone seems to ask about the washable, rubber mats in playgrounds: do they get hot in the summer?

Playground surfacing is one of the most critical elements to consider on a playground, especially during summer, when the heat is too much. While playgrounds are made of different surfacing materials such as rubber mats, sand, and wood mulch, each material reacts differently to heat.  Some remain relatively cool while others absorb the heat and become hot, posing a safety threat to kids. Our main focus in this post will be on rubber mats and how they react to intense heat from the sun.

So, do rubber mats get hot in the summer? The simple answer is “yes.” Rubber mats can absorb heat and become relatively hot during summer.  However, with a specific heat of 0.3, rubber mats are still more resistant to heat than asphalt, sand, and concrete.  So, does it mean that rubber is 100% safe for kids even during the hot summers?  The answer is “no.”  Even with a slightly higher specific heat value, rubber mats can still absorb a lot of heat on hot summer days, reaching unbearable temperatures. Furthermore, rubber tends to trap heat into the immediate area, creating something like a humid pocket of heat.

This post discusses everything you need to know about rubber mats as a playground surfacing material and their heat resistance.

We shall also highlight some of the reasons why some people always prefer rubber to any other playground surfacing material. So, let us get started.

Understanding the Concept of Specific Heat

When it comes to the temperature of a specific playground material in relation to sunlight and heat, it is critical to understand the concept of specific heat to make informed decisions.

In simple terms, specific heat refers to the actual amount of heat required to raise any substance’s temperature by 1oC. It is usually stated as X= joule/gram-change in Celsius. In this case, “X” is used to denote specific heat.

Understanding specific heat for different materials is critical when planning out your playground’s surfacing.  In layman’s language, the higher the value of “X,” the more heat you require to change the material’s temperature.

For example, water has a specific heat value of about 4.186 joule/gram-degree Celsius, while sand only has a specific heat value of 0.19 joule/gram-degree Celsius.

From these figures, it is pretty easy to see that it requires a lot of heat to change the temperature of water than sand. These figures are critical when establishing the safety of a playground surfacing material during hot summers.

Are Hot Playgrounds a Safety Threat?

Before we discuss whether a hot playground surface is a safety threat or not, let us figure out the primary purpose of the surfacing material.

The primary goal of any playground surface material is to keep kids safe and comfortable as they run around and play.

Over the years, playground experts have made immense progress in constructing safe playgrounds, especially in regard to surfing materials.

Today, most playground flooring materials have a much better cushion and shock-absorbing capabilities to lessen the impact of accidents. They also have better traction to prevent the likelihood of accidents occurring.

While falling is one of the most common playground accidents, there are other potential accidents that are less common but worth considering. A thermal burn is one of them.

Despite the common misunderstanding out there, it is not just metal slides that can get hot enough to cause severe skin burns. Almost every playground equipment, especially those with dark-colored surfaces, can cause severe skin burns.

Since dark-colored playground surfaces and equipment are more likely to reach dangerous temperatures, select lighter colors instead.

Most surfaces usually heat up when left to sit in direct sunlight for too long. Playground surfacing is the same. Dark-colored plastics, asphalt, concrete, and rubber mats are particularly susceptible to reaching dangerous temperatures.

Any child can suffer severe burns when they come in contact with hot playground surfaces. However, kids under the age of two years are more prone to burns. Typically, the younger the child, the more delicate the skin and the easier it is to burn.

It is also good to note that the reflexes of younger kids don’t kick in the same way they do with the older kids.  

For instance, a relatively younger kid may feel a burn but will not understand the fact that he/she needs to remove their body from the surface.

What Can You Do To Prevent Playground Burns?

Although playground burns can be a significant risk to your little one’s safety, there are precautions you can take when visiting a playground to avoid such cases.

The most important thing you need to do is to be aware of the weather conditions before you step out to take your kids to the playground. If it is too hot, make sure you check the equipment’s temperature before you let your kids loose on it.

The best way to avoid thermal burns is to check the playground equipment temperature before letting your kids to play.

Many thermal burns occur at the playground when kids are running around barefoot. To keep your kids safe; make sure they are wearing shoes before they step out. You should also ensure they are appropriately dressed to keep them safe from ground-related burns.

How Can You Keep Playground Rubber Mats Cool?

While there are many ways of preventing playground burns, the surest of them all is to find a way of keeping the playground rubber mats from getting hot in the first place.

Here are some of the proven ways to maintain cool rubber mats.

1. Use light-coloured rubber mats

When setting up a playground in an open area that receives plenty of sunlight, consider using light-coloured rubber mats to reflect away as much heat as possible.

Dark-coloured rubber mats tend to absorb a lot of heat energy, posing a significant risk to kids. Typically, the lighter the playground surface, the less heat it will absorb from sunlight. This is also the reason why it is recommended to wear white clothes on a hot day.

Rubber mats are a popular playground surfacing material and luckily, not all rubber is black. They come in a wide range of colors, including sky blue, tan, red white, grey, and green.

Consider choosing a color like white or tan to help prevent the mats from holding excessive heat that can cause severe burns.

2. Install in a shaded area

Where you install the rubber mats can make a significant difference in surface temperatures as well. If it is possible to install the mats in a relatively shaded area and your kids will be grateful for it.

Since direct sunlight does more to generate a lot of heat, the shade will play a critical role in keeping the surface temperatures quite low.

Installing rubber mats in a shaded area will keep them cooler and safer for the kids.

3. Choose perforated rubber mats

Perforated rubber tiles are another excellent way to keep playground surface temperatures low. With perforated rubber mats, air can easily flow throughout the flooring, which plays a critical role in keeping things cool.

4. Build an artificial shade for the playground

If you have already installed rubber mats and realize that there isn’t plenty of natural shade to keep the surface cool, consider building an artificial shade for the playground.

Some community and commercial playgrounds have tents, awnings, and other shade structures to protect the surface and playground equipment from direct sunlight.

Artificial shades come in handy when constructing a playground in areas that typically experience hot and dry climates.  It is relatively difficult to find large, tall trees in such areas to provide natural shade.

Why Do People Prefer Rubber Mats for Playground Surfacing?

The truth is that rubber mats are among the most popular materials for kids’ playground surfaces because they offer many benefits.

Domestic and commercial users usually prefer rubber mats for playground surfacing because they are not only safer and easier to install, but they are also environmentally friendly and easier to maintain.

Rubber mat is an easy-to-install slip-resistant playground surfacing material that is characterized by exceptional durability.

These surfaces are slip-resistant, and their safety properties don’t wear out with usage hence ideal for playgrounds that attract massive traffic. The rubber is designed to adapt quite well to movement and provide added cushion to reduce the risk of injuries in case of accidental falls.

They are also attractive, stylish and sound-absorbing.  They are available in a wide range of colors and can be installed in different ways to form various patterns. The rubber also comes in handy when you plan to construct a playground in residential areas where the noise of playing kids needs to be minimized.

Lastly, rubber mats are durable and cost-effective. They are easy to install, maintain and have a relatively long lifespan. They also have a relatively low replacement cost and are easy to clean.

Final Thoughts

Safety is the most critical element of a playground. While most playground injuries occur due to accidental falls, severe thermal burns are still a significant risk you need to keep in mind, especially during hot summers.

While rubber mats have a relatively higher specific heat value compared to other playground surfacing materials, you need to keep in mind that they can still get hot and pose a safety risk to your little ones. The best way to prevent the risk of thermal burns at playgrounds is by ensuring the surface doesn’t get hot in the first place.

Choose light-colored rubber mats, construct the playground in a shaded area and if there is no natural shade in the spot where you wish to construct the playground, find a way of having an artificial shade over the playground surface and equipment.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

read this next

Allowing the kids to play outdoors is important for the proper development of cognitive abilities and interpersonal communication skills. Outdoor play also makes the kids more independent and helps them with learning about the environment.
If you have decided to buy a swing set for your kids, you should consider a few factors to make the right choice. Some of the most important ones include the consideration of free area in your backyard, selection of swing set materials, safety features, durability, and the ease of installation.
Anyone who plays on a playground knows how important it is. It’s a place where children get to come and play games, play with their friends, and meet new people from all over the area. But sometimes, the playground can get tiresome, which is why you must always be looking into ways that you can always improve your playground.
5 Of The Best Playground Games Suitable For The Whole Family – Whether you’re planning on going to the local playground with your children, or looking for some games to play at home with your family and friends, these five playground games are sure to please and entertain everyone.
If you have kids, you know, sometimes the cheapest, most straightforward option is the most entertaining. Just because a piece is expensive does not mean it will be the best item to play with. Fill your indoor play space with big pieces like slides and climbing equipment but always have toys like wooden blocks to cater to different play styles
Parents often consider building a playground as a gift for their kids or like to build their own backyard playgrounds as hobbies. If you want to build your own playground for your children, it’s not necessary to spend tens of thousands of dollars on hiring professionals or using expensive kits. With some basic DIY skills and tools, the whole process can be done easy and fun!
From plastic to metal, wood to fabric, the playground slide is a staple of every playground setup. It also comes in every shape and size imaginable. How did these slides come about? Could you build a playground slide from your house? What materials are used in manufacturing of a slide? Let’s find out together.
A Swing set is a great outdoor play structure that will provide hours of fun and exercise for your kids with their friends. Swing sets are one of the major benefits of playgrounds, and they are the most popular equipment found in community playgrounds all over the world
Monkey bars serve an important purpose in your child’s development. They encourage kids to be creative and use their imagination to build epic structures and games. Playing on monkey bars also improves hand-eye coordination, which is important for improving sports skills. Here are seven benefits of playing on the monkey bars.
The Jungle gym is a structure used for kids and adults to climb, swing, run, jump, and play in a very safe way. The playground equipment for children is a great place for kids to exercise, be active outdoors and most importantly be entertained in a fun and entertaining way.
Toddler playgrounds are much different than the regular playgrounds for older children. When toddlers play, they are learning more about their environment than just running around and sliding down slides. This is why indoor toddler playgrounds are designed with activities that have games
It is usually a lot of fun for children to play in or around monkey bars. But, for parents and caregivers, it can be a bit of trial and error finding the best material to put under the monkey bars. There are many alternatives; some of them are better than others for several reasons.
Playground designs have evolved over the years from simple wooden fences to modern playground sets that include a variety of equipment and structures. Choosing a playground can be an overwhelming experience for many parents, but by following the eight tips listed below, you’ll end up with a safe and fun new playing environment for your kids.
To install a swing set in your playground, you will need to make the area safe first. By choosing the right spot for the playground, anchoring the equipment to the ground, and selecting safe surface materials, you will make the area kid-friendly

Receive the latest news

Get Our Playground Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest promos, tips, advices, and much more!

Your privacy is important to us.