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What is play fiber?

Play fiber, also known as Engineered Wood Fiber (EWF), is a playground surfacing material that is a mix of random-sized wood chips (mostly fir) that pass through a 3/4-inch screening process to remove twigs, bark, leaf debris, and any other organic materials. The fiber is manufactured from 100% clean, virgin wood, meaning no scrap wood (i.e. pallets or demolition wood). The material is non-toxic and free of any foreign objects, such as nails and trash, and passes the Federal Hazardous Substances Act for determining flammable solids (16 CFR 1500 44).

Why do we use it?

EWF is quickly becoming the leading choice for playground developers who are looking for a safe and maintainable surfacing option. EWF is utilized in over 75% of playgrounds throughout the U.S. because of its high impact absorbing qualities yet firm and slip-resistant surface that meets accessibility guidelines. The product is recognized as an acceptable playground surfacing by the National Recreation and Park Association's National Playground Safety Institute, which was founded in 1989 as a program to establish playground safety standards of the ASTM International and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

EWF is now installed at 33 playgrounds, which is 77% of all playgrounds within the District.  Most notably, CRPD has implemented this surfacing standard throughout all new or renovated playgrounds with the following considerations and factors in mind:

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Playground at Dos Vientos Community Park, 2023

Increased Safety

  • Less EWF depth is required as compared to sand to achieve the same fall safety at same critical height.
  • Hardening of rubber surfacing over time due to age, sunlight, and fine sand particles in air pockets.
  • Meets the playground impact safety requirements.
  • Increased slipping hazard of sand on rubber surfacing as well as sand on adjacent hardscapes, such as sidewalks.
  • Glass and sharp objects are more easily buried and undetected in sand.
  • Sand compacts more easily than EWF.
  • Sand outside of playground footprint killing grass and creating "lip" and, thus, a tripping hazard.

Decreased Maintenance

  • Sand clogging drains and drinking fountains.
  • Sand outside of playground footprint killing grass.
  • EWF is easier to push and pull to smooth out.

Increased Accessibility

  • EWF meets ADA requirements, thus making the entire playground area accessible.

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2-5 year-old playground at Conejo Creek North Park, 2024




More Information

For more information about play fiber, contact us at 805-495-6471 or [email protected].