You’ve Installed a Synthetic Turf Field, Now What?
Synthetic turf is a special beast, what’s your turf type?
Build the field and they will come! Not so fast, it’s never that easy, and that’s ok because large investments should take time and consideration.
Once players hit the turf and fans fill the sidelines, the score may be the only thing that matters to them but we’re here to acknowledge the months, days and hours that went into making that field playable. Along the journey of installing or maintaining a synthetic turf sports field, there are many forks in the road and decisions to be made. To begin our three-part synthetic turf guide, we’re starting with a common question. Do I need a special coating for synthetic turf?
Synthetic is a special beast; therefore, it requires special coatings. When choosing a paint for your synthetic turf field any old paint from the hardware store won’t cut it, even a coating made for natural turf grass is not recommended to be used on synthetic. There are many factors that will play into the longevity of your synthetic turf field, so you’ll want to do your best to set the stage for success by protecting your investment with the right products. There are coatings specifically engineered for synthetic turf, some being designed for durability and others, removability.
Durable - Long lasting synthetic turf coatings provide maximum adhesion to grass blades, while remaining exceptionally flexible.
Removable – Removable coatings are chemically engineered to release from the turf blades when a remover solution is applied.
There are several potential issues that can arise with your synthetic turf if the wrong paint is applied including: infill binding which could become a hazard for player safety, and clogged drainage systems.
We’ve now stressed the importance of using a paint specifically engineered for synthetic turf but before you get striping, we need to ask, what’s your turf type? Paint sticks to various materials differently so it’s important to identify a few things before you can start painting:
- Who manufactured your turf? Each turf company is going to have different tricks or best practices when it comes to their turf, so who better to lead you in the right direction than the actual manufacturer.
- How old is your turf? Paint will adhere differently to turf that’s on its fifth season opposed to newly installed fibers. If your turf is older or the fibers are brittle, paint will find its way into crevices and fill up those spaces with extra paint. On brand new fields, there may be oils on the fibers that may affect the longevity of the paint's life. There are ways to combat either scenario, but it’s best to know what you’re dealing with before you start painting.
- What style are your fibers and what are they made of? Paint will operate differently depending on the fiber. For example, a certain type of paint may hold to nylon because of its rigid makeup, while it may flake off of a flexible blend like polyethylene. Introduce new shapes into the game and it becomes even more complex. With new shapes like triangles, tubes and corkscrews, there are a lot of nooks and crannies paint can fill into.
- Is the field infilled or not infilled? Similar to fiber types, paint adheres differently to different infill materials. SBR rubber is still the most commonly used infill on the market, but there are some new kids on the block. Manufacturers have come out with new ways to infill turf in order to address the safety concerns of some companies and to offer a more environmentally friendly solution. Some common new infills include: cork, TPE plastic, coconut, EPDM natural rubber, coated sand and corkconut (a mix of cork and coconut).
- E-Layer? An E-Layer is a rubber pad that is installed between the base layer and the turf itself. It stabilizes the turf and provides cushioning to keep your Gmax (surface hardness) in check. When it comes time to remove paint from your synthetic turf it will be helpful to know what is under your turf. It can be tricky to prevent paint buildup in this layer but if done correctly, can add years to your turf system.
Alright, there you have it, you’re on your way! Join us next week for part two of our synthetic turf guide.