How to Spot Poor Quality Artificial Grass
You won’t be surprised to learn that not all artificial grass is created equal.
Like most things, there are shortcuts that can be taken throughout the manufacturing process that save the manufacturer money. This enables them to offer their products at a lower price than their competitors.
Unfortunately, however, these cheap prices only come by sacrificing quality.
Even if you are only just considering having artificial grass installed you’ll probably have already realised that there is a vast array of fake grass products available both online and at your local DIY store.
For the individual consumer it can be difficult to sift through the many different varieties to find the best quality artificial grass for you, one that not only looks realistic but also stands the test of time.
To help you avoid purchasing an artificial grass that you might regret further down the line, we have written this guide to help you spot poor quality products before you make any purchasing decisions.
If you get it right, you’ll realise that artificial grass is a fantastic investment in your property and you’ll enjoy the many benefits that having a fake lawn brings for many years into the future.
It can be difficult to advise exactly which artificial grass will suit your needs best as almost every application is unique, but this guide will give you some general advice that can be applied to all types of artificial grass.
You’ll only notice ‘striping’ after you’ve purchased your artificial grass and unrolled it.
Striping occurs during the manufacturing process, when a spool of yarn of a slightly different colour dye is used and the anomaly is not spotted by the machine operator or by a quality controller.
Should your artificial grass suffer from this striping effect, it will ruin the entire look for your artificial lawn and give it a truly false appearance.
Manufacturers aiming their products at the low end of the market need to produce their products in the shortest time possible.
This rushed manufacturing process, with little to no quality control, results in a poor quality finished product.
If, when unrolling your artificial grass, you notice striping, we recommend that you immediately stop the installation and contact your supplier for either a full refund or an exchange.
Low Quantities of Latex
There’s more to artificial grass than just the plastic fibres.
One of the keys to a long lasting, high-performing fake lawn is the quality – and quantity – of the backing material used.
The backing is where the stitches are held together and is made up of both a primary and secondary layer.
The primary backing is a woven material into which the fibres are stitched.
The secondary backing is made up of either latex, or in some instances polyurethane, and this layer holds the tufts in place and allows the fake grass to lie flat.
Another of the ways in which manufacturers are able to offer such cheap prices is by adding very low quantities of latex.
The end result can be separation of the primary and secondary layers, as shown in the below picture
To avoid purchasing an artificial grass with poor quality backing ask your chosen manufacturer for samples.
Then, using your fingernails, attempt to pull the primary and secondary layers apart. If the artificial grass has been manufactured with sufficiently high quantities of latex, this shouldn’t be possible.
You should also ask your manufacturer for datasheets on their products and look for the weight in grams of the secondary backing. Anything above 900 grams per square metre is considered to be good.
When comparing artificial grasses, you’ll also need to look closely at the plastic fibres.
It’s crucial in finding the best quality artificial grass.
The best way to compare fibres is to remove them from the backing and compare them side by side.
Ideally, you’ll want to be choosing a grass that has wide fibres. In most instances, the wider the fibre is, the stronger it will be.
Narrow fibres may be more susceptible to damage, which may result in an artificial lawn looking flat, and the key to natural looking artificial grass is the ability of the fibres to remain in an upright position.
Whilst comparing fibre width, it’s also important to consider fibre thickness.
Again, you should ask your chosen manufacturer for datasheets on their products and find information on the ‘filament thickness’, which is normally measured in microns.
A micron is equivalent to one millionth of a metre.
The higher the number of microns, the thicker the fibres.
Another way to test fibre thickness is to hold one up to the light. You shouldn’t be able to see objects through the fibre.
If you can, then that product should be avoided as it can be considered to be a poor-quality synthetic fibre.
Excessive Yarn Loss
A certain level of yarn loss is to be expected; however, it shouldn’t be easy to pull out tufts from the backing material.
You can test the anchoring resistance of an artificial grass by pulling at the fibres in the centre of your artificial grass samples.
Be aware, though, that if you pull the fibres on the edge of an artificial grass sample, you’ll likely be able to remove them with ease as the tuft is exposed.
This is to be expected even with the best quality products, so only test the fibres in the middle of your samples.
Again, it’s advisable that you check with manufacturers for details about the anchoring resistance of their products, which will normally be measured in newtons.
A good benchmark is an anchoring resistance of 25 newtons.
Sparse Pile Density
It’s pretty obvious that the sparser the pile, the cheaper the product will be to manufacture.
This is, of course, because it involves using less plastic and therefore, there’s less cost for materials.
Better quality artificial grasses tend to have a thick, dense pile that looks natural to the eye.
A fuller pile also helps the fake grass to recover better from the effects of foot traffic.
But that’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever consider purchasing a grass with a sparse pile.
Deciding on the necessary pile density really does depend upon the application.
For front gardens or areas with low levels of foot traffic, it actually makes perfect sense to use a thinner pile, as the extra cost of a fake grass with a denser pile is an unnecessary expense.
Something with around 13,000–16,000 stitches per square metre would be sufficient in this instance.
For an area that will receive regular foot traffic, such as a back garden, you’ll want to choose a denser turf, with around 16,000–18,000 stitches per square metre.
And for applications such as balconies, roof gardens or terraces, you might even want to go higher than 18,000.
Why? Because for these types of areas, the fake grass will be viewed almost exclusively from directly above, and therefore a thicker pile is recommended to ensure lush-looking AstroTurf.
As a general rule of thumb, better quality artificial turf has a denser pile.
Not Verified Against Harmful Substances
Several years ago, some potentially harmful substances were found in a sample of artificial grass tested by health officials in New Jersey, in the US.
Although this was a rare case and a shake up for the industry, it is extremely important to purchase your artificial grass from a manufacturer who can prove that their products have been independently tested and verified as being free from harmful substances.
To do this, speak with your chosen manufacturer and ask to see their certifications. Doing this will ensure that your artificial lawn is safe for your family and pets to use.
Manufactured Outside of Europe
Generally artificial grass manufactured within Europe tends to be of a much higher quality than that manufactured outside of the EU.
This is because of the stringent standards and regulations that have to be complied with by European manufacturers.
When choosing the best artificial grass, ask your manufacturer for evidence that it has been manufactured within the EU.
For the untrained eye, picking a good quality artificial grass is a difficult task.
Offering advice as to which product would be the best for your own individual circumstances is difficult, as it really depends on the specific application.
Artificial grass has a wide range of uses, including domestic gardens, artificial grass for pets, roof gardens and balconies, schools and playgrounds, golf putting greens, events and exhibitions, sports, offices, commercial and public areas, and swimming pool surrounds, to name but a few.
This makes it very difficult to recommend the best artificial grass to you within a single article.
However, following the general advice given here should help you pick out a good quality artificial grass from some of the poorer stuff, which you’ll be sure to come across in your search for the best artificial grass.
If you would like to request samples of the NeoGrass range of products, click here.
If you have any questions on choosing the best artificial grass, then leave us a comment below and we’ll be sure to get back to you.