Last week we talked about the Research and Development that went into the Cedarcrest splash pad this past summer. We know Life Floor makes splash pads safer, with non-abrasive slip resistance and impact cushioning, but we believe the something doesn’t have to spray water in order to be a feature.
For years, Ripple has been our most slip-resisting texture and our best-selling product. All over the world, people trust Life Floor’s Ripple to perform where everything else has failed, and Ripple delivers.
As we completed over a thousand projects, we discovered ways that we could improve our industry-leading texture. Deeper grooves to further reduce hydroplaning. A more tactile surface that looks and feels as slip-resistant as it is. Inspired by our partners in waterparks and splash pads around the world, our designers and engineers collaborated for months to arrive at a set of prototype tiles.
These tiles were then field-tested on the Cedarcrest Park Splash Pad throughout Summer 2017. After completing the season, and passing a battery of expert-designed performance trials, the verdict was unanimous. The result is a product that not only lives up to the reputation of Ripple, but surpasses it in every imaginable way.
Introducing Ripple 2.0, or as we sometimes call it, “Gripple.” While extensive laboratory testing has proven that this is our best-performing Life Floor tile, ever, that’s not the only reason we know that we can trust it. As parents, we know firsthand that Life Floor does what we say it does, because our kids play on it, too.
Field-Tested on Cedarcrest Park Splash Pad
In developing the new enhanced version of Ripple, our research and development team wanted a true test of the texture’s (and Life Floor’s) anti-hydroplaning capabilities and durability against the normal wear and tear of public, outdoor environments. To conduct our tests this summer, we had the pleasure of partnering with the City of Bloomington in Minnesota to revamp their 1,500 square foot splash pad at Cedarcrest Park.
For a bit of context before we dive into our enhanced Ripple field testing and the city’s concerns leading up to the retrofit, this splash pad is framed by a basketball court to the east and a dry playground to the north, where kids can run to and from the splash pad. Trees border the west perimeter of the splash pad, with a parking lot to the south. This type of fenceless, public splash pad is completely exposed to the elements, including shoe and barefoot traffic from community members. As far as the original construction of the pad, the south side slants away from the drain, resulting in water pooling near the playground. Essentially, it was the perfect location for hydroplaning and durability testing.
Life Floor vs Hydroplaning
Life Floor works best when you’re walking on Life Floor. What do we mean by that? When splash pads flood and water pools on a surface, feet no-longer grip the surface of Life Floor, they hydroplane on water. (See our recent blog: Splash Pad Safety and Hydroplaning) To prevent this phenomena, we took a look at how anti-hydroplaning tires function. Anti-hydroplaning tires utilize flow-through channels and deeper treads to give water on the roads a place to move out of the way. This way the rubber hits the road, instead of spinning-out over puddles. We used this same design strategy to enhance Ripple with deeper grooves. Our best performing tile, just got better and feet are standing (not skidding) on it.
Life Floor Vs. Flow-Through Systems
Cedarcrest Park Splash Pad operates on a flow-through system with potable water. As a retrofit, the city was concerned with the slight slope of the original construction of the splash pad. The sloping surface created an area of the splash pad with pooling, stagnant water. The concern being that this caused algae growth over the previous concrete surface, making it slippery.
Our frequent visits and tests reveal that although the original slope of the splash pad still creates small pools of water, our impervious tiles remain slip-resistant under bare feet.
Life Floor vs Durability
While there are many beautiful splash pads across the Twin Cities, the Cedarcrest Park Splash Pad is unique in that the splash pad is completely open. Bikes ride over it, shoes run across it, and trees line the outer perimeter with a dry playground nearby. This means that the splash pad is covered in leaves, sticks, dirt, sand, gravel, and wood chips on a regular basis.
Now, with the summer season at an end, our development team is pleased to find that Life Floor weathers the outdoors and public spaces extremely well. Life Floor tiles remain adhered, the surface can be easily cleaned from dirt, debris, and leaves, colors appear vibrant, and our slip-resisting texture is just as slip-resisting as the beginning of the season.
Keep an eye out for our next blog highlighting Life Floor’s Studio design process, where we also go into detail about the Cedarcrest Splash Pad’s unique geometric, gradient design.
There are likely somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 splash pads in the U.S., a number that is growing by an estimated 5-10 percent per year. A few seasons ago, we wrote a blog about how to design a splash pad and the best ways to make sure your splash pad, splash deck, spray ground, aquatic play pad, rain deck, spray deck, spray pad, spray pool, and spray zone stands out above the crowd.
Since writing this blog, we’ve gained even more perspective on the subject and wanted to share the most common splash pad concerns (brought to us by customers and professionals in the industry) and possible solutions to these issues:
Problem: Potable water from a flow-through system, plus a porous or infrequently cleaned surface allows for algae growth on top of the pad. With porous systems, like pour-in-place, mold can grow deeper, which is a nightmare to remove. Algae can also make splash pads slippery and if the surface is a gritty concrete coating, scrubbing off the algae can be extremely difficult.
Solution: Regular cleaning and agitating can absolutely help with any algae problem. A maintenance tip for new splash pads is making sure water properly drains and doesn’t pool on the surface or spread toward the edges. Choosing a recirculating system can also help with algae and mold growth, but also comes with its own quirks (see below).
For existing splash pads, turning the water pressure down can reduce pooling as well. Another option is to replace the porous surface with a non-porous and impermeable surface that can be easily cleaned (since a slip-resistant surface definitely doesn’t perform as well under layers of algae).
Problem: Splash pads are not pools, but maintaining their chemical levels in recirculating systems is just as labor intensive. Re-circulating water, even in zero depth environments, is still shared water [x]. Bacteria can appear in fresh, flow-through applications (usually involving fecal matter, or kids spitting out/drinking the water), but bacteria is much more likely to occur in situations where the water is being cycled through.
Solution: Having fully trained, certified staff is essential for water health, as are UV Sanitation Systems (when possible) and comprehensive routine checks. It’s also just as important to remind patrons to use the splash pad appropriately: parents and guardians need to treat splash pads in much the same way as they do pools by utilizing swim diapers, refraining from drinking water, not using the spray nozzles to clean kids after diaper changes, and enforcing restroom breaks.
Problem: While many problems can’t be foreseen or prevented (such as power surges, malfunctions, or a rogue gang of toddlers) one issue that arises more often than not is clogged filtering systems. Filters can get filled, jammed, locked up or clogged due to guests wearing the wrong clothing, kids playing with water balloons, mud and silt from heavy rain, rubber pellet surfacing breaking down, or sand and dirt tracked in by users (especially from a nearby playground or beach).
Solution: For existing splash pads, it’s always helpful to remind patrons about the correct kind of clothing to wear by posting signs near the splash pad. Add a notice on your splash pad’s website to remind patrons about appropriate clothing so they can plan ahead. A routine cleaning and maintenance checklist can prevent filter related shutdowns. If the splash pad is next to a playground, have a rinse station nearby to prevent sand and dirt from getting into filtration systems.
When designing a new splash pad, here are some issues to consider:
- What is the surrounding landscape (woods, beaches, hills)?
- How close is the nearest playground and what is the safety surfacing?
- What is the expected rainfall?
- What is the potential for erosion?
- What kind of external run-off can you expect?
- Is the filter system setup to handle the overflow?
Lastly, for both new and existing splash pads, having a dedicated and trained staff member to check filters on a consistent basis will mitigate major system failures.
Problem: Often referred to as “zero depth pools” splash pads are really more like aquatic playgrounds. And, much like dry playgrounds, we’re learning that concrete surfaces have their limitations. Concrete coatings are hard to clean, hard to patch, and tend to cause abrasion and/or fall injuries. Many splash pads have non-slip surfaces with a concrete outer ring, however this can be just as great of an issue because the concrete outer ring will get just as wet as the splash pad and needs to be considered as part of the overall surface.
Solution: In 2016 we wrote the white paper: Splash Pads Need Safety Surfacing, which highlights exactly why playground surfacing needs to be regulated, wet or dry.
Splash pads are a great value add for communities. Splash pads give kids an accessible way to cool off while keeping active, draw business to various hubs around town, and act as a great addition to a complete aquatics program. And like every other addition to a well-rounded parks and recreation program, splash pads require a bit of tailoring for the best fit.
We’re getting geared up to take this show to a convention center near you, and we’re hoping to see you there! We’ve got:
A Brand New Tradeshow Floor Featuring:
- Brand New Colors
- Brand New Diecuts
- Normal Eggs (to drop on the booth floor)
A Brand New Lookbook Featuring:
- Brand New Colors
- Brand New Installations
- Our Brand New Texture
- The Aforementioned Brand New Colors And Brand New Texture (More on that...soon)
And Here’s Where We’ll Be:
- The Big 5 (9/25/-9/27) in Dubai, UAE Booth #3A21
- NRPA (9/26-9/28) in New Orleans, Louisiana Booth 2949
- WWA (10/16-10/19) in West Palm Beach, Florida Booth #133-135
- ASLA (10/20-10/22) in Los Angeles, California Booth #1054
- IAAPA (11/13-11/17) in Orlando Florida Booth #1982
We’ll see you there!