Pebble-Flex Synthetic Rubber Surfacing System. When it comes to putting a soft, springy surface on top of a craggy concrete floor, Pebble-Flex is where the rubber hits the road.
The porous thermoplastic polymer and binder system is made up of countless tiny rubber balls sealed in place. It's color-stable, user-friendly and environmentally safe.
The thermoplastic rubber shapes measure 2 mm to 4 mm in diameter. “They're different sizes, so they compact easier,” says Pebble-Flex LLC vice president of sales Rose Saluti. “We don't want them all the same size.”
Perhaps the most significant quality of these flexible pebbles is how they stand up to the sun. Unlike earlier generations of synthetic rubber surfacing, Pebble-Flex does not degrade from exposure to ultraviolet rays, so it does not suffer premature fading, chalking and decomposition.
The system is also prized for its ease of installation. Laying Pebble-Flex is a three-step process. A penetrating, adhesive two-part urethane “primer” goes onto the substrate first. The rubber bits are combined in a cement mixer with an aliphatic urethane binder, and the resulting mixture pours like cement. The coating can be troweled by hand or machine, with soapy water used to slick the blades. Pebble-Flex does not employ harsh chemicals such as acetone, xylene or kerosene. It bonds to most surfaces and can be applied over wood, metal or fiberglass as reliably as over concrete.
With Pebble-Flex, damaged surfaces can look new again without any demolition needed. Once the surface is installed, it can be repaired in minutes. And it won't recrack. Being thermoplastic urethane, it expands and contracts instead of giving way. “It's like a whole surface made from an expansion joint,” Saluti says.
Pebble-Flex comes in 13 standard colors, and the company offers custom color-matching services to help the surface fit an existing space. The vibrant colors complement playgrounds and pools nicely. Logos and designs can be incorporated into the surface. Because of the pebbles' resistance to UV rays, colors and designs won't fade. “Bright colors that stay that way is huge,” Saluti says.
Besides playgrounds and swimming pool decks, the surface works well on patios, walkways, driveways and balconies. It is soft, safe and skid-resistant, it's comfortable to walk on barefoot, and it conforms to ASTM standards for critical fall heights.
Introduced in 2002, Pebble-Flex is billed as “the first truly light stable soft rubber surfacing material.” Pebble-Flex LLC is currently on the grow, having recently set up international distribution for the first time, in Australia and New Zealand. “We are still a growing company with an innovative product that has been getting a lot of positive feedback, from many large-scale surfacing companies in the concrete resurfacing industry as well as the playground surface industry,” says Pebble-Flex sales manager Bill McGrath III.