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Materials for your playgrounds

All of the materials Theories use in our playgrounds are carefully considered.

Using and choosing the right materials means that those using our playgrounds and play areas are safer (no splinters or trapped fingers), it also means that repair and maintenance is kept to a minimum with less strain on your budget.

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Not compromising on the quality of the materials we use in our playgrounds & play areas extends their working lives and reduces your maintenance costs.

At Theories we believe that play should be natural. With this in mind we use natural materials wherever possible.

Timber is a natural material that features in almost all of our designs, let’s take a look why.

Why do we use timber?

We love working with timber because:

  • It’s tactile and warm to the touch
  • It’s a natural material that’s perfect for our natural playgrounds
  • It never gets too hot in the sun, or too cold in the winter.

What do those who use our playgrounds think? Well, have you ever seen a child nestle down and build a den on a metal platform, or cuddle up to a steel post? There you have it!

Surely children can get splinters from timber?

We are rarely told that this is a problem with the timber we supply and use.
We endeavour to ensure that all splinters are smoothed away before children start playing on our school playground equipment, but timber is a natural material that is prone to expansion and contraction as it absorbs and loses water content. As a consequence of this process, splinters are inevitable and are to be expected after a few months usage. These splinters are likely to be small, relatively harmless and easily rubbed off with sand paper.

Will the wood need treating?

Firstly, you’ll be pleased to know that all Theories’ softwood timber supplies are from sustainable resources.

Our timber is pretreated (class 4 grade where possible) to protect it against rot and fungal decay, as well as insect attack. We also encase individual poles at ground level with expansion collars to protect them against damage and treat all below ground level posts with bitumastic paint to increase their life and resistance to rot.

Timber will change colour over time and take on a silvery grey. We rigorously re-treat any timber that is cut and recommend a biannual (d.i.y.) maintenance regime to further improve the life and fitness of your school playground equipment/natural playgrounds – don’t worry, we provide notes for the care of your timber.

Small splits and cracks appear on playground equipment, is that a problem?

Timber is a natural material that expands and contracts as air humidity changes. This movement in the wood is often expressed as minor splits and cracks. This is quite normal and will not compromise the integrity of any school playground equipment/natural playgrounds in any way.

This phenomena of splitting is particularly true of logs or poles that use core timber. As long as these splits are no deeper than half the timber pole or wider than 8.9mm, they are not considered either a structural weakness or a significant risk to the children. Splits, if they become larger than 8.9mm, can easily be filled with an elastomeric mastic compound.

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What goes around your play equipment is as important as the equipment itself and shouldn’t be overlooked.

What flooring is required?

As a part of our design assessment, we will advise you on what form of surfacing is required to conform to prevailing standards.

As a playground design/build company with no ties to any particular manufacturer, we can offer a wide variety of solutions ranging from low-tech and playful solutions like sand, to high-tech and more expensive solutions like bonded rubber granules.

The various safer surface options all have their pros and cons, varying in their play value, material cost, installation cost, maintenance cost, longevity, environmental impact, etc.

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Natural low-maintenance planting can be used to enhance the look of your play space, softening hard areas. Importantly it can enhance the educational aspects of your play space introducing touch, smell and sound.



Hardwearing and long lasting, astroturf has the natural look and feel of grass, but is easier on maintenance.



Using top quality materials means that your play space will last longer and require less maintenance, repair or replacement.



How your playground is constructed affects its level of safety. We ensure that there are no fixings left proud to snag or hurt fingers.

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What our customers are saying about us

“’We are thrilled with the new playground, the children love it and it does make the teachers’ work easier as the set up is so accessible and easy to maintain.

The climbing frame works really well, the children use both the upper and lower level, which is a home corner at the moment. As we are outdoors in all weathers the climbing frame not only offers shelter but it’s an exciting and relaxing place to be in. The design enables the children to lead and initiate different games in different areas rather than just run around dangerously.’”


Ey Leader, Copenhagen Primary

“Theories have been essential in helping us realise our plan for a new and innovative adventure playground. It has proved highly successful and popular with the local children and staff alike. The play environment designed by Theories is supporting creative play activities in many different and varied ways.”

Tim Wallder

Play Director, IGC

“Theories have consistently been able to listen to our staff’s wishes as well as the needs of individual children and go on to create unique, challenging and interesting play environments where every nook and cranny counts and where every child can explore their own varied play needs safely and happily.

Theories are a one-stop professional playground solution, seamlessly integrating every aspect from helping formulate a design brief, producing design proposals and budgets, to carrying out the build contract with their own skilled staff, and finally offering on-going maintenance support.”

Stewart Harris

Head, Phoenix Primary School, E3

Get started today!

Tell us about your vision

We’re very happy to chat with you about your school playground ideas and answer any initial questions that you may have about Theories Landscapes, so why not give us a call or send us an email, it costs you nothing and could be the start of something wonderful that enhances your school and your pupils’ lives for years to come..

Give us a call or send us an email

Call us on 0207 547282

Our office hours are 8am – 5pm, Monday to Friday


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Birchwood Nursery School

A fantastic example of a natural playground.

The playspace built by Theories incorporated buckets, pulleys and decked areas to create a multi-level setting that’s great for creative playing. It also featured a sheltered and educational area.

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