When you’re evaluating surface options like synthetic turf or artificial grass for a playground or play area, there’s a lot to consider. You want something robust to withstand heavy use yet safe and accessible to accommodate everyone at play. We’ve compiled a comprehensive overview of synthetic turf, weighing all the critical factors. While we may be biased about poured-in-place surfacing, we still think you should closely examine all your options before you make a purchase for your business.
Is Artificial Grass or Synthetic Turf the Best Option for Playground Flooring?
Synthetic turf or artificial grass is constructed of synthetic, grass-like fibers or yarn. It is devised to look and feel like a natural lawn. Used on sports fields for years, synthetic turf is becoming a more common occurrence on the playground. The fibers are often polypropylene or polyethylene and consist of multiple layers, a backing, cushioning, drainage layers, and infill, usually composed of recycled rubber tires or natural cork. Certain playground grass is made of recycled materials, but be sure to do your research as a lot of it is not.
- Safety of Synthetic Turf
- Cost of Synthetic Turf
- Accessibility of Synthetic Turf
- The Appearance of Synthetic Turf
- Quality of Synthetic Turf
- Installation of Synthetic Turf
Safety of Synthetic Turf Playground Flooring
- The top factor for a playground surface is the level of fall protection it achieves. When installed with the proper padding and infill, synthetic turf meets the American Standard Testing Methods (ASTM) standards and can provide excellent shock absorption.
- Artificial turf with a thickness of 2.1-3.1″ achieves a fall height of five feet, whereas a thickness of 3.3-4.3″ achieves a height of seven-feet, recommended for most residential and commercial playgrounds.
- Certain types of artificial turf may not absorb falls from as high as poured-in-place surfacing.
- Synthetic turf may need additional padding or underlayment to keep kids safe and achieve the proper fall-height rating.
- It’s essential to confirm the specific product’s details to ensure it is safe.
Cost of Synthetic Turf as a Playground Surface
- The lifetime cost of artificial turf is relatively low. After three to five years, the costs associated with maintaining natural grass exceed the installation’s high price.
- Using synthetic grass in a building project can accumulate LEED points for various reasons: water efficiency, recycled or recovered materials used, low emission materials used, and the material composition of the turf itself.
- Overall, synthetic turf is very costly to install. Not only do you have to pay for the turf itself, but the ground prep, irrigation needs, and more.
- Depending on the manufacturer, prices vary from $6 to $20 per square foot.
- It’s relatively uncommon, but any damage to artificial grass can be cut out and replaced with a new piece, averaging about $12 per square foot.
- A fresh new patch often sticks out as the majority of synthetic grass will look slightly worn.
Accessibility of Synthetic Turf Flooring
- As long as the artificial grass is firm and a wheelchair can move around it with ease, you can use synthetic grass for accessible playgrounds and ADA compliance.
- Synthetic turf is also perfect for people suffering from hay fever or other allergies, thanks to its zero-pollen count.
- Synthetic turf surfaces are not immune from bacteria, which cause foul odors and sanitary problems. However, some manufacturers have developed antimicrobial additives built straight into the product or sprays to inhibit bacteria’s growth.
Appearance and location of Synthetic Turf Playground Flooring
- When considering artificial turf for your playground area, you can choose various colors, styles, densities, and heights or aim for the most natural appearance and texture.
- You can also use it both indoors and outdoors.
- The biggest bonus about synthetic turf is the natural look and feel it brings to your playground. This “grass” always stays green.
- Unfortunately, you can’t stencil games, shapes, logos, or other graphics into your synthetic turf. If that’s a deal-breaker, we know where you can find surfacing with limitless design options.
Quality and maintenance of Synthetic Turf as a Playground Surface
- If you compare synthetic turf to real grass, you’ll find it’s much more low maintenance. No watering, mowing, harmful pesticides, or fertilizer is required.
- It will need an occasional rinse-off, but water drains well off its surface.
- Playground turf maintains a higher face weight, the amount of material used by the square yard, making it quite durable and able to withstand significant wear and tear.
- If it does need a repair, luckily, you won’t need to replace the entire turf. Cut out the damage and replace it with new turf.
- Plus, say goodbye to mud and grass stains.
- Synthetic turf is UV stable and won’t fade in the sunlight. It is also heat and frost resistant.
- Creepy-crawlies will be a thing of the past as insects often steer clear of artificial grass.
- When it comes to maintenance, synthetic turf is a bit needier than poured-in-place surfacing.
- The faux turf requires frequent cleaning, especially if you live in an incredibly dusty locale.
- Dust, sand, and leaves will accumulate in the fibers, but you can remove them with a blower, rake, broom with stiff bristles, or a garden hose.
- When the heat rises, so does the temperature of your synthetic playground turf. While there are additional fills to keep temperatures down, artificial grass is generally much hotter to touch than real grass.
- Also, static electricity may build on the synthetic turf, and the surfaces may need an anti-static solution.
- No certified manufacturer guarantees artificial grass to last more than eight years. However, it usually endures about 10-15 years, meaning you’ll have to replace it sooner rather than later.
Installation of Synthetic Turf Playground Flooring
- The one plus about synthetic turf installation is that it’s relatively easy to find a professional to assist with your project.
- The initial install for synthetic turf has many small details and requires a good deal of planning.
- Professionals will need to create an initial base surface of flat, crushed stone or gravel to allow for proper drainage.
- A level surface is an essential step as any issues can create stagnant water or odors. Another important layer is a weed cloth to avoid growth.
- Besides, most installations require an infill layer to maintain the structure and hold the blades upright.
There’s a lot to take in when it comes to selecting a surface for your playground area. If you’re still considering your options, we invite you to look at some of our other playground surface pros and cons. If you’re ready to take the next steps with a poured-in-place rubber flooring, contact us today for a free quote.