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Play environments are very important to a child’s development. They are a place for children to have fun, exercise and interact with their friends, it is also the most effective environment for them to learn and demonstrate social skills.

“Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning” – poet Diane Ackerman

It goes without saying that we need to provide as many play environments as we can to allow children of all abilities to benefit from these important spaces. However, we all know that children have an amazing ability to destroy even the most robust equipment, so it is crucial that the play products installed in these areas are durable. They need to be constructed using suitable materials that will not only keep children safe, but also stand the test of time from the vigorous use it will be subjected to.

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) has been one of the key materials used in the manufacture of outdoor playground equipment for many years. It has proved itself as a very capable material that has successfully stood up to a multitude of environments all over the world. It’s bright colours and superior strength make it perfect to engage children when using play equipment, as well as ensuring their safety at the same time.

HDPE sheets are extruded so will never delaminate, they are also made with a colour-fast additive to prevent fading so your equipment will look vibrant for years to come. We stock the most popular colours and thickness’s that are currently being used within the play industry today and are all available in a standard sheet size of 1220mm x 3000mm.

Beneficial Properties

  • Low maintenance
  • link to a colour option download page
  • Longevity
  • Safety (no injury from splintering)
  • Low surface energy (difficult to bond to, so soiling and graffiti is removable)
  • Highly weather resistant
  • No harmful ingredients
  • Self-coloured (scratches are less obvious)
  • Easily processed (only woodworking tools required)
  • Colour-fast

Areas of Application

  • Public Playgrounds
  • Schools & Nurseries
  • Marine
  • Signage
  • Swimming pools
  • Ice rinks
  • Toilets & cubicles

Additional Materials

However practical and visually appealing HDPE is, sometimes you need the addition of alternative materials to complete your product. All the following materials are suitable for the use of outdoor play equipment, and benefit from alternative properties that can be useful when designing your products.

Polycarbonate (3mm thick)

Polycarbonate is a well-known material that is used all over the world in thousands of applications. It benefits from high durability, as well as being transparent like glass. For this reason, the most common application for polycarbonate in play equipment is in window and visual chambers.

Polycarbonate is approximately 30 times stronger than acrylic (a visually comparable material), and over 200 times stronger than glass. So, this makes it a perfect material to utilize in a play environment to ensure the safety of the children that use it.

Standard HDPE

Standard HDPE sheet material has many benefits that makes it one of the most suitable materials to use in playground equipment however it is important to understand when and where to use it. In certain applications alternative materials may be more suitable. An example of this would be the low surface energy of HDPE acts as an excellent anti-graffiti property, but it aso means it is less suitable as a deck, balance board or anywhere a child needs to grip underfoot. For this reason, we stock also Ekogrip, a material that is ideal for that very application.