Choosing Colours for Outdoor Play Areas

Psychological studies have shown time and again that colour has a strong effect on children’s development and imagination, as well their behaviour in the short term.

Light Blue

This colour is widely regarded as having a very calming influence and is often used in the decoration of hospitals and care homes as a result. Blue might therefore be a good choice to include in the design of a playground in a school with children with behavioural problems. Painting the outside walls of the nearby school buildings blue or choosing blue flooring for the playground are two easy ways to add a large amount of this calming colour.

Warm Colours

Bold, warm colours like red, yellow and orange are, in small doses, reported to be very stimulating to children’s imaginations, and easily draw their interest and attention. They encourage creativity and happiness, yellow especially.

Large amounts of vibrant shades of orange and red are, however, reported to increase feelings of annoyance and aggression in people of all ages – therefore, an entirely orange floor may not be a great idea if you’re aiming to promote a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Including elements of these colours is the best way forward. Our rubber matting for play areas can be easily made to fit any design, so including small elements of these colours to have the maximum effect. Shapes and even games like hopscotch can also be included in the floor’s design.

Existing Associations

Whatever your age, some colour combinations already mean something to us. Consider a mixture of black and yellow. This is typically associated with wasps, or sometimes poisonous snakes, and we include this colour combination on most of our toxic warning signs. Associations like this must be carefully considered – even the youngest children will likely be aware of the danger of wasps, and so a black and yellow playground is unlikely to promote calm and relaxed play.


Green, however, has almost no negative associations – we use it for ‘go’ lights, and it reminds us of trees and nature. Including green is likely to have a positive influence on the mood of a child using your playground.

Subtle Shades

For children, a range of bright colours including primary colours whenever possible is much more likely to draw their interest and stimulate their imaginations while they play. Subtle shades of flooring like greys and creams or complex shades like teal or maroon are more suitable for professional adult environments, where primary colours might be both distracting and unprofessional looking.

There’s a lot to consider when deciding which colours to use for your playground, however once you know what kind of mood and play you want to promote, it’s a little easier to choose. One easy way to include your chosen colours is with our range of rubber playground surfaces. We have an existing gallery of shapes and designs that we can include, or we can work with you on a custom design to meet your needs – have a look at our gallery to get an idea of what we can do, then give us a call on 02392 387 198 and we can discuss all your design needs. 

Posted on 05 Aug 2014 by Smith Brothers
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