The importance of a vibrant and engaging playground has been stated in many studies over the years. Active, entertaining, educational, or maybe a balance between all types of playground markings? There’s a multitude of possible combinations that will make your pupils love break times and enjoy class more afterwards.
For a long time, paint has been the first choice for creating the perfect playground. However, ever since thermoplastics were introduced, the spotlight has swiftly shifted towards thermoplastic markings, to the point where they are now the preferred option.
Why is that? Let’s have a look at how traditional paint and thermoplastic compete against each other, starting with…
How do they perform in terms of durability?
Traffic, UV light, and weather conditions – those are the main sources of wear that markings have to endure, whether they are on the road or the school playground.
Thermoplastic is far superior, in terms of handling traffic, be it by vehicles or people. Children playing in the playground every day is no problem at all due to its robustness. That is hardly surprising, considering that these highly durable materials are used on about 95% of the roads in the UK. Thermoplastic is also impact resistant. Paint, on the other hand, cannot sustain high-intensity traffic, showing traces of wear sooner.
UV light is kind to neither thermoplastic, nor paint. Thermoplastic, however, handles it much better and in the long run it can endure far more due to its superior resistance, before it starts fading years down the line. The same cannot be said for paint, as fading can occur just several weeks after being applied.
Paint performs best in temperate climates. Temperatures becoming too high or too low for long will affect the rate at which paint fades too. Paint is also highly unideal for regions where snow and rain are falling in great quantities. Thermoplastic on the other hand can sometimes face issues only during freezing temperatures, in which case, if under traffic, it could sustain damage. Other than that, thermoplastic fares without a problem against the elements and can brush off most of what mother nature can throw its way, including heavy rains.
The superiority in terms of durability for thermoplastic also shows when it comes to the warranties offered by thermoplastic marking companies for their product. Most companies will offer 3-5 years, as thermoplastic markings can perform well even after a decade.
Paint on the other hand has a year-long life span at most, before it needs repainting, otherwise it loses its appeal. Also, depending on how harsh the conditions are, the need for repainting could arise as early as 4-5 months after it was applied.
When you have energetic, happy children running about, having tons of fun, you would definitely need something that can withstand the intensity of the foot traffic and thermoplastic is the best choice here. This directly ties into…
Which is more cost-efficient?
Paint is, without a doubt, the best solution for any short-term project. Its initial cost is very low compared to that of thermoplastic. That also makes it a great temporary option too before you go for a permanent solution to suit your needs. However, when the project is a school playground, yearly maintenance will be essential to keep its perfect and fresh appearance. Especially true when you have little energetic humans running about being active and socialising, who are easily amazed by vibrant colours.
This is why thermoplastic is a much more desirable solution. It requires next to no maintenance, and it lasts much longer than its paint alternative. Where paint requires yearly maintenance, building up costs over time, thermoplastic can last upwards of 5 years, easily making it to up to and over a decade.
So, with that said, a thermoplastic playground will save you much more in the long run, making it a more cost-efficient option.
Ease of installation
Before the installation, the area needs to be clear before both materials are applied. Weather should also be dry in both cases so the materials can properly bond to the surface.
Paint – When it comes to complexity, it is much tougher to achieve the desired look for playground markings. Proper application requires a very high skill and preparations can be done mostly on the spot. Even then, colour bleed could still occur, ruining the final look of the markings.
A major downside to playground markings made with paint, is that even when the weather is dry, it takes at least 2-3 hours for them to completely dry out. This would make that part of the road or playground unusable and likely closed off for that period. That would pose a challenge if playground markings are painted while children are at school, so the most ideal time for installation is limited to weekends and holidays.
Thermoplastic – Installing thermoplastics on the other hand is a straightforward process, where there is next to no chance of bleeding colours. All elements are already prepared in advance, so all it takes for them to be applied is to place them at the desired spot and use heat to bond them to the tarmac. Due to the very low possibility of errors, installations are very quick so the pupils at your school will be able to enjoy them in no time.
You could easily get your entire playground done and ready for use in a matter of hours – more if the projects are large. This is due to the fact that, once applied, it takes just 30 minutes for thermoplastic playground markings to cure.
Which is more aesthetically pleasing?
A playground needs to be aesthetically pleasing, for children to enjoy it to the fullest. Both paint and thermoplastics perform very well in that regard, but there are some differences that give thermoplastic playground markings an edge:
When it comes to paint, achieving more complex designs is harder, compared to using thermoplastic.
Expectations and end results may differ when it comes to playground markings made with paint.
Thermoplastic colours are more vivid and vibrant.
Paint fades quickly, which ruins aesthetics not long after being applied.
Thermoplastic boasts much more options for customisation.
Thermoplastic playground markings simply exceed the options that they give you for the look and feel of your playground project, compared to those offered by paint!
Thermoplastic playground markings are absolutely safe for pupils. They are completely non-toxic, which is not always the case with paint. They are anti-slip, with the children’s energy in mind, allowing them to run freely without any worries.
Paint is a good budget solution, whenever used indoors or other areas where the conditions are favourable, but even then, it is not a great option if you want to get the best for your project. Thermoplastics are easy to install, engaging to look at and there for the long run. All of that at a price that will pay off many times over the years!