What is Synthetic Turf Made From?
Since its inception back in the 1960s, the manufacturing techniques used to produce artificial grass and the quality of the components and machines involved have all improved dramatically.
According to the Synthetic Turf Council, today’s artificial turf has been dubbed the ‘third generation’.
The quality of third generation turf has taken us to the stage where artificial grass can now be confidently compared to the real thing.
But its not just the realism that has made fake grass exceptionally popular for a wide range of applications in recent times, it’s that it also offers a whole host of benefits that you just don’t get from the real thing.
Synthetic turf offers a very low-maintenance alternative that is perfect for pets and ideal for children.
It also doesn’t require watering, or the application of potentially harmful substances, such as weedkillers, pesticides and fertilisers.
Choosing artificial grass means that there will be no more mud or mess and your fake turf will look stunning all year round, with very little effort needed on your part.
But what exactly is artificial grass made from? Let’s find out…
The Two Main Components
There are two main components of artificial turf.
The synthetic fibres that form the lawn that you see are known as the ‘yarn’ and the material to which those fibres are sewn is known as the ‘backing’.
Let’s take a look at each part in a little more detail.
The synthetic fibres used to replicate blades of grass are known within the industry as the ‘yarn’.
There are three types of plastic used to form the yarn: polypropylene, polyethylene and nylon.
Each plastic has various strengths and weaknesses; nylon is the strongest and most resilient, but also the most abrasive.
Polypropylene is the softest, but weakest, fibre, whilst polyethylene offers a good balance between resilience and softness.
When choosing the best-performing artificial turf for a wide range of applications, a blend of polyethylene and nylon fibres is highly recommended.
The pile height of a yarn can also vary in length. It can be as short as 10mm, right the way up to 70mm or 80mm – that’s the length used for 3G football pitches.
For typical domestic applications, however, pile heights tend to be somewhere between 25mm and 45mm.
That’s because these heights are considered to most closely replicate the real thing.
There are other factors that affect the quality and aesthetics of the yarn used for artificial grass, such as colour and performance.
In the case of colour, it’s now common to have more than one shade of yarn stitched into an artificial turf. This helps give a more realistic-looking lawn, when it’s laid, as not all real grass is exactly the same shade.
As we mentioned earlier, recent advances in the technology used for manufacturing artificial turf means that we are currently in the ‘third generation’ of synthetic turf.
This was brought about by the development of what is known as the ‘lower thatch’.
The lower thatch was developed to give artificial grass a more realistic look and feel. The length of the blades of natural grass, of course, vary, and this is exactly what the lower thatch replicates. Incorporating shorter lengths of fibre alongside longer fibres creates a dense lower thatch that also provides support and resilience to the turf.
A lower thatch may be straw-coloured, which enhances the overall aesthetic appearance. An artificial lawn with (for example) three natural shades in it and blades of different length will always look more realistic than something that is one shade and has fibres all the same length.
Additional advances in technology have added to the experience you get when you view or use an artificial lawn. Plastic both reflects light and absorbs heat, and the last thing anyone wants is a shiny, hot lawn. The incorporation of fibres with Natural Look® technology reduces the glare and Feelgood® technology keeps the yarn cool to the touch.
Finally, as we all know, if you leave something standing on a lawn for any length of time, the grass beneath it becomes flattened, and sometimes even yellows and dies. While artificial turf won’t die off, it can become flattened, and that makes it look fake.
Luckily, Instant Recovery® technology resists this flattening effect. Yarn manufactured to this standard will spring back more readily following heavy foot traffic or the placement of heavy objects on the lawn.
The backing consists of a primary and secondary layer.
The primary layer of artificial grass backing is made up of a woven or non-woven fabric, used in either single or multiple layers. The fabric is made from either polyester or polypropylene and is passed through a tufting machine, where hundreds of needles pierce the material and stitch the yarn to the fabric.
The secondary backing layer is made from either latex or polyurethane and is essentially the glue that holds everything together.
When choosing the best artificial grass, many consumers overlook the backing and focus solely on the aesthetics of the yarn.
This is potentially a dangerous move because, as we mentioned above, the backing layer is what is holding your entire artificial lawn together.
A poor-quality backing can mean that the yarn becomes separated from the backing material, resulting in excessive fibre loss, or worse, a lawn that will need to be replaced entirely.
A strong backing is weatherproof, resilient and can certainly prolong the lifespan of your fake lawn.
The best quality artificial grass is made from robust materials that will ensure your artificial lawn performs exceptionally well for many years.
As we have mentioned time and time again on our blog, it’s vital to consider much more than just the aesthetics of an artificial grass when choosing to buy the best available for your particular installation.
Let’s face it, having an artificial lawn installed isn’t cheap, so it’s very important that you choose a turf that is capable of withstanding the demands placed on it and so will prove to be an excellent investment.
For further tips and advice on buying artificial grass, please read our earlier blog post: ‘7 Important Considerations When Choosing the Best Artificial Grass’.
You can also request your free NeoGrass samples, by filling out this form.
Do you have any further questions on the materials used to manufacture artificial turf? Anything that we didn’t explain very well? Why not leave us a comment below?