Playground owners often install rubber kickmats, also known as wearmats, above or below loose fill surfacing material, such as sand, pea gravel, and wood products. They are typically found by swings and slides to help with maintain loose-fill material in these high-traffic areas.
While kickmats prevent erosion and dispersion of loose-fill material under high traffic areas, they also add a firmer surface to the top of the playground surfacing. This means that the kickmat can potentially hinder the impact attenuation performance of the surface.
Currently, limited impact attenuation research exists regarding kickmats. These kickmats are not governed by ASTM playground surfacing impact attenuation standards and there is no mandatory policy or guideline for kickmat testing.
If kickmats are being used on a playground, they should be subject to the same testing as the rest of the playground surfacing to verify compliance with any relevant impact attenuation requirements, like ASTM F1292 standard, otherwise, they should not be used.
Rather than use an untested kickmat, we recommend that organizations develop a plan for regular maintenance in order to maintain an appropriate depth of loose-fill material.