Increasing the Use of Synthetic Turf
Friday, September 21, 2018
Posted by: Synthetic Surface Inc.
Synthetic turf installations, especially outdoors, are very visible to the public. Their good appearance in the beginning, plus long-term durability afterwards, is important to their future sales and the overall image of the industry. A good installation sells more installations; whereas, a poor installation with a bad appearance initially or over time unsells synthetic turf. Cheap turf; accessories (paint, adhesives, seaming tape, etc.) that are sold on low price instead of high quality; and amateur installers, are three of the major reasons why we think that synthetic turf doesn't reach its sale potential.
It is important to note from the beginning that outdoor installations are a completely different world than indoor installations. Indoor installations are usually done under controlled conditions, whereas outdoor installations are done under widely variable conditions such as: hourly changes in temperature, humidity, wind, weather and climates. An experienced outdoor installer is better than an experienced indoor installer or an amateur when it comes to outdoor installations. There is no substitute for experience outdoors, especially when conditions can vary from day to day and place to place in different weather and different climates. Even on the same day the conditions are often different as the weather changes.
The above is why we think indoor laboratory testing (when samples are prepared indoors and then subjected to outdoor exposure) are of little value. Exterior durability can only be measured after long-term outdoor exposure in different weather and climates. The test samples or installations should be prepared outdoors under different weather conditions and climates. We also think that installers with outdoor experience are necessary for successful outdoor synthetic turf installations.
We would like now to mention some of the other factors that we think are also extremely important to the success of outdoor turf. The most important factors in outdoor synthetic surface installations are things like using high quality turf and accessories to install the turf. In our opinion, many outdoor turf failures are also because the sale was based on the low price of the installation and/or low quality of the materials used. During the sale very little thought or attention was given to the extra cost and time expense of turf failures and what it takes to repair them. The mindset of some seems to be to just install the product, get paid and worry about the consequences later.
We are not turf experts or shock pad experts or infill experts, but we know high quality in all three of these components is extremely important. Our area of expertise is adhesives, so we're sharing some thoughts on this. Selecting adhesive based on indoor laboratory tests, low price and a strong initial bond are some of the causes for disasters later. The adhesive must not only be able to be applied under variable weather conditions worldwide, but after installations it should remain durable after long-term weathering.
An impressively high initial strength may deteriorate quickly after weathering. Selecting cheap adhesives initially may look good but when they fail later it is analogous to an object that looks harmless but is a "time-bomb" that later explodes causing an installation failure. It often happens only after several initially good-looking installations begin to fail. In our opinion, adhesives should be made from high quality raw materials, be usable under variable outdoor installation conditions, and remain durable after long-term weathering. The adhesive should only be sold after preparation and testing outdoors. An adhesive that proves successful after several seasons and different climates is extremely important, unless it's a temporary installation.
Common tools for installing turf are a trowel, squeegee, glue-box and airless sprayer. The first three are most common but airless spraying adhesive is receiving increased use, particularly on large installations. It is essential when spraying that the adhesive has negligible overspray and minimal airborne aerosol adhesive mist. This is for everyone's safety whether they are installers, employees or observers, as well as for the cleanliness and protection of clothing, equipment and the surrounding area. Negligible overspray helps prevent the adhesive from getting onto skin, clothing, eyeglasses, equipment and other nearby objects without resorting to wearing a mask - even outdoors. And, the benefit of not inhaling an aerosol mist of sticky, durable adhesive is obvious.
Another safety opinion is to never use metal nails to permanently install turf because they can result in barefoot wounds, falling injuries and in some cases tetanus from rusty nails. Removing all temporary "stay nails" before opening to traffic is acceptable.
In summary, for successful outdoor installations and durability thereafter, high quality materials are essential, experienced outdoor installers are extremely important, and adhesives that can be used under variable weather conditions and remain durable after weathering are necessary. If some of the basics outlined above are followed there will be fewer adhesive installation failures, longer lasting installations that are safer and maintain their good appearance for many years with fewer call-backs, and more turf will be sold.