The Importance of a Strong Backing in Artificial Grass
A good quality backing is one of the key components of the best quality artificial grass.
A common mistake consumers make when searching for the best fake turf is that they judge samples purely upon their aesthetic appeal.
Of course, choosing a turf that will look good is very important, but it’s only half the story.
Let’s face it, having an artificial lawn installed isn’t cheap. Therefore, it is extremely important that you invest wisely and choose turf that will look good and perform to the highest standards for as long as possible.
Choosing a cheap turf that looks okay now, but needs replacing after a few years, is a false economy.
The best quality artificial grass, although perhaps requiring a larger initial investment, proves to be the most cost-effective in the long term.
As the saying goes, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and that is certainly true of artificial grass.
In order to choose the best turf, one that will stand the test of time, we need to look under the skin of each product.
There are many factors that play their part; micron thickness, pile height, pile density, fibre material, fibre shape, decitex and a good quality backing all play their part in forming quality synthetic grass.
Today, we will be looking at the importance of a strong backing.
We’ll tell you why it is so important, what artificial grass backings are made from, how to spot poor quality backings and how backing strength is measured.
Let’s dive straight in.
What are Artificial Grass Backings Made From?
The backing material of artificial grass is typically made up of two separate layers.
The first layer, known as the primary backing, is a nonwoven textile. This textile is normally manufactured from polypropylene.
This is the layer to which the artificial fibres are sewn.
The second layer, known as the secondary layer, is made from either latex or polyurethane.
This layer acts like the glue that holds everything together. It also gives the fake grass its rigidity, so that it will hold its position, i.e. the fibres will remain upright, in the shape of blades of grass in a lawn, and also withstand and recover from foot traffic.
Why is the Backing so Important?
It is vital that your chosen fake grass is manufactured with a good quality backing.
This is because the backing is essentially the glue that holds everything together.
As we have learnt, the artificial grass manufacturing process involves stitching the fibres (yarn) to a backing membrane, which is then coated in latex or, in some cases, polyurethane.
Choosing a synthetic turf with a poor-quality backing can result in several potential issues.
The first is that it can cause excessive loss of yarn, whereby the fibres become detached from the backing. This will result in a pile that progressively thins over time, creating a patchy, thin artificial lawn with fibres that are unable to recover from foot traffic – due to the sparse pile, the synthetic fibres will lie in a permanent horizontal position.
Good quality backings also prevent the backing materials from separating. The last thing you want is for the two layers to peel apart!
What Makes a Good Quality Backing?
Good quality backings have a strong primary layer of polypropylene membrane, and the vast majority of products found within the UK do have this.
The primary layer should also be UV resistant, to provide protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
However, one of the key ways in which some manufacturers are able to sell their products at such a cheap price is by reducing the amount of latex used in the secondary layer of their backing material.
It is an easy way of cutting costs and the vast majority of consumers are none the wiser, as the backing won’t necessarily look any different from that of good quality artificial grass.
A good quality backing should have a high quantity of latex present. The higher the quantity of latex, the stronger the backing will be and the less chance there will be of it breaking, cracking or the two layers separating enitrely.
Good quality backings will have a minimum of 900 grams of latex used per square metre of artificial turf, to give the fibres a strong attachment and dimensional stability.
How to Spot Poor Quality Backings
Contrary to popular belief, you should not judge a backing by its colour.
There is a myth within the synthetic turf industry that the darker the colour of the backing, the better quality it is. This is due to the belief that the higher the quantity of latex present, the darker the colour will be.
However, this is simply not true – dark coloured backings do not indicate quality.
Despite this, the myth persists, and some manufacturers have begun adding a dark black dye to their backing material, to falsely create the impression of the presence of high quantities of latex.
The best way to tell just how good a backing is, is to firstly get your hands on free samples of any products that you are considering purchasing, by requesting them directly from the manufacturers.
Once you have the samples in hand, take the corner of the piece of turf and, using your thumbs, try to separate the primary backing from the secondary backing.
You should not be able to pull apart the two layers of backing. If you can, avoid that particular product, as there is a good chance that your lawn may suffer from excessive yarn loss, or – worst case scenario – the two layers will separate entirely, as shown in the video below:
When comparing backing materials, you should also check the datasheets from your chosen manufacturer. You should be looking for the quantities of latex used.
As mentioned above, good quality artificial turf will have a minimum of 900 grams of latex per square metre.
How Does the Backing Allow Water to Drain Through?
One of the last stages of artificial grass manufacturing involves punching small holes into the backing material, to create perforations.
These perforations allow water to drain through the surface of your turf, preventing standing water.
Although small and barely noticeable, these holes will allow enough water to drain through your grass to withstand even the heaviest of downpours.
The majority of products allow at least 50 litres of water to drain through the grass, per square metre, per minute.
How is Backing Strength Measured?
Backing strength is measured by the force needed to extract a fibre from the backing material.
This force is measured in newtons.
For domestic garden lawns and, indeed, the majority of applications, we recommend that you choose a product with a minimal force of 30 newtons, to prevent yarn loss.
This will enable the turf to withstand heavy usage, including that from playing sports and the wear and tear caused by dogs and other pets.
Check the datasheets or speak with your manufacturer for details on this.
The importance of a good quality backing cannot be overstated.
You can have the very best fibres in world, but if the backing isn’t up to scratch, then don’t expect your turf to perform particularly well.
Artificial grass is only as good as its weakest link.
Requesting samples of potential products and testing them using the methods described above will help you find a good quality artificial grass that will perform extremely well, regardless of continuous use from pets and children, garden parties and BBQs, or whatever else busy family life can throw at it.
Of course, there are many other aspects that you should be considering alongside the backing; for further information, please see our guide, ‘7 Important Considerations When Choosing the Best Artificial Grass’.
If you have any questions or need further clarification on any of the points raised above, then let us know by leaving us a comment below. We welcome any questions or feedback that you may have.