We bought a house a few years ago that already had a nice playground installed in the backyard. When our child was old enough to use it, we realized that the rubber chips used for the surface were difficult to keep clean with the leaves and pine needles falling on the playground, plus the chips were becoming substandard as the landscape fabric was starting to show below. So we needed to figure out a way to clean the chips, buy more chips, or replace the surface.
We decided to replace the chips with rubber tiles and are very happy with that decision. We used the 1" tiles since it was a fairly small playground set and used all black tiles. The area covered was a little over 300 square feet and we used about 84 tiles. Perhaps the hardest part of the project was just removing all the rubber chips and cleaning the site. Installing the tiles with the playground set in place already was simple as the tiles are easy to cut with a utility knife and they are easy to place around existing equipment, measuring with a 2-foot square ruler.
It took about 15 hours of work to install all the tiles over the course of two weekends, just doing it by myself. The dowels indeed were a little tricky to get all the tiles to match up well, but the slight grades in the surface also caused this. I think I got a good handle on installing the dowels after doing a few of them.
I've only had the tiles installed for about a week, but I can already tell this surface is much easier to clean than the previous rubber chips. The leaves and pine needles blow off easily with my electric sweeper/blower and it's also easy to wash everything off with the hose. Now the "scary" part of the playground in the corner, where it was most dirty and you didn't know what was growing/living back there, isn't scary anymore. The surface is very sturdy and comfortable. I like that it's much more even than the rubber chips and less likely to trip/slip on. Our 2-year old really seems to like it! And I look forward to getting many years of use out of the playground with these new tiles!