Thermoplastic playground markings can be any marking in which thermoplastic is used to create a line or shape on the playground surface.
Some examples of this would be:
Sports court line markings, like netball courts.
Snakes and ladders boards
Daily mile footprints
...anything in which thermoplastic is used as the material for marking.
Thinking of painting your playground? Think again! Gone are the days of chalking a fresh hopscotch on the tarmac every time it rained. Playground markings have levelled up, and at Signet Play, we use state-of-the-art innovative materials that will stand the test of time, and the onlslaught of the elements.
What Is Thermoplastic?
Thermoplastic is a unique type of polymer that softens and becomes pliable when heated. There are a lot of different types of thermoplastic with a wide range of uses, and one of those is bringing a splash of colour, style and vitality to your school playground.
Benefits of Thermoplastic Playground Markings
The playground markings themselves can also be a covert educational tool. We’ve got ranges dedicated to literacy, numeracy, science and geography, sports and PE and life skills such as telling the time. Some are more advanced or subject-specific, such as the periodic table, and some are versatile enough that with a bit of imagination, you can use them to teach a whole range of subjects whilst encouraging movement, improving motor skills and getting some much needed outdoor time.
Practical Benefits of Thermoplastic Playground Markings
The main one is longevity. Thermoplastic lasts up to 10x longer than traditional paint, and is highly resistant to UV light — meaning the colours will stay brighter for longer and won’t fade in the sun. They’re great in the rain too, down to the non-slip finish and our additional non-slip beading. Maintenance is straightforward too — no special products or tools needed, just regular sweeping as part of your regular routine. For more stubborn grime, a soft bristled brush, mild detergent and good rinse is more than enough to bring back the brightness. If you need to jet-wash on or near areas with thermoplastic playground markings, go careful. Maintain a 90-degree angle to avoid putting too much pressure on them and avoid chips.
Thermoplastic Playground Markings vs. Traditional Paint
Why not just use paint? Well, for many years, paint was the most common way to create playground markings but, in recent years, technological developments have opened other avenues. One of the benefits of using thermoplastic instead of paint is that it’s considerably longer lasting. Where paint is essentially ‘resting’ on the surface, the thermoplastic is heated until it becomes soft and malleable. Much like the cheese on a pasta bake, it melts into the porous asphalt. This creates a tight bond between the two materials — meaning it’s not going to budge.
The simplicity of thermoplastic is another winning feature. Many of the basic shapes come pre-cut and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. Not only does this make the installation process a great deal quicker — meaning no need to close the playground for ages — but it means you can see the actual design laid out before it becomes permanent. It also means you can be sure each square, circle or number is uniform, which may be harder to achieve with freehand painting.
Speaking of installation, it’s easy and quick. Our team lays out the designs and then heats them until they meld seamlessly into the asphalt. There’s no ridges or raised patches to worry about, and even though it already contains non-slip elements, we add a bit of extra while it’s still hot.
...also, the main installation tool is a blowtorch. In our experience, it tends to go down very well with school children. The solid-to-liquid magic could also be an interesting topic for the day’s science activities!
Customisation and Creativity
Relying on pre-cut shapes and materials maybe makes it seem like there’s less room for personalisation and creativity when it comes to designing playground markings, but in reality they’re just as adaptable as drawing them freehand. You can switch up the colours however you like, change the size of the sports court or the shape of the exercise tracks — ideal if your playground is an unconventional shape. We can also create brand new designs from scratch — including school logos, school value displays, or anything else you can think of. If there’s a pre-existing design you like the look of, but it’s not quite right, we can tweak it as specifically as you like, whether it’s as small as a different colour dot on the UK map, or a complete Snakes and Ladders overhaul.
Perhaps you have an idea that we’ve not thought of yet?
For schools looking to revitalize their outdoor spaces, thermoplastic playground markings are a smart investment. They’re cost-effective, durable, versatile, easy to maintain — and covered by the upcoming sports premium funds. For more information, get in touch with our playground experts for a chat or book a free site survey.
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