How to choose artificial turf for soccer field?
Whether playing for fun or for a league, you’d like to play on a consistent ground. Sometimes, natural grass doesn’t offer optimum consistency with regards to playing soccer, particularly when it rains and soccer players have a hard time dealing with the mud and puddles. That’s why soccer players need an artificial turf soccer field instead of real grass because the fake version offers the best consistency. But first, why should a soccer player consider playing at a field with artificial turf?
Benefits of an artificial turf soccer field
Initially, when the synthetic grass was introduced, it had several shortcomings that made it not as good as natural grass. However, decade after decade, new inventions have been upcoming to improve on the original design of the synthetic grass. Currently, we have artificial turf that is far much better than the real thing.
Traction and stability are the key properties that any soccer play would look for in a field. Being a contact sport just like football, physical contact with the surface might result in injuries when playing soccer. While real grass provides a natural feel when making physical contact with the ground, artificial turf provides the same feel or even a better one because it contains infill which acts as a shock absorber to your foot thus providing a cushion for a natural feel.
Unlike real grass, you’ll not require tons of watering and more so the input of dangerous fertilizers to keep the turf looking great. With artificial turf, you only need to sweep it occasionally without necessarily having to use too many natural resources to keep it looking great.
Now that you’ll not need to keep watering the turf, your bill will be considerably low. There’s also no need to mow or trim the turf thus further lowering expenses. With natural grass, you’ll have to repaint the field often particularly after heavy usage. On the contrary, artificial turf comes with a permanent painting that doesn’t rub off irrespective of the intensity of usage. The costs of weeding also become an art of the past.
Choosing the best artificial turf for soccer field
To be able to know how to choose the best turf, you’ll need to have basic knowledge of the components of artificial turf. Presently, a modern artificial turf system is made of 3 components. The first component forms the base layer and consists of an elastic material that is soccer friendly. Secondly, there is the layer consisting of artificial grass and finally, there’s the infill which could either be quartz sand or plastic granules.
Now that the market is full of designs of this artificial turf, you’d want to know the criteria for choosing the best. The criterion is based on the components of the turf system as below:
The base layer: with elastic layer vs. without an elastic layer
Artificial turf systems that lack an elastic layer are available in the markets. These systems compensate for the missing elastic layer using turf that is longer when compared to the system with an elastic layer. Additionally, the systems have considerably high amounts of infill from recycled tire granules thus calling for higher maintenance, notwithstanding the high cost of the infill.
Artificial turf with an elastic layer often has the layer measuring a thickness of 35 mm on average. The layer is capable of providing good elasticity for a consistent period of about 30 years so even if the artificial grass on it wears out or gets outdated, it can always be replaced without having to buy the whole package. The layer is made of binders and recycled rubber granules. These materials ensure that the unevenness of the subsoil is leveled, resulting in an ultimately flat surface that is water permeable.
When comparing the two, the artificial turf with an elastic layer proves better. For one reason, they are cheaper in the long term and secondly they are safer to play on due to their force reduction characteristics.
The grass layer: smooth grass vs. textured grass
The grass layer is available in two forms: smooth and textured grass/tuft. Both are mechanically stitched to the carrier fabric so that they form a firm and permanent bond. Smooth tufts are the best choice for expert players. Alongside being comfortably soft, soccer players can agree that the tuft l allows for optimum ball rolling and leaves an experience that resembles that of natural grass.
Before getting into comparison, it’s important to first understand what it means by “textured”. Texturing implies a much better fixing of the sand/rubber granulate/fillings on to the grass material. Texturing is advantageous in that it minimizes the loss of infill and therefore calls for lower maintenance. On their part, textured tufts have longer durability than smooth tufts. It’s noteworthy that today’s textured tufts are not as rough as those of the past; they are much softer though not like the smooth tuft. For intensive soccer games, it’s best to choose the textured tuft variety.
The infill: normal granules and sand made vs. EPDM- made infill
Infill is made of different materials but for this case, we’ll focus on that made of quartz sand and elastic and plastic granules compared to that made of a newly innovated EPDM material. Quartz sand weighs tuft down giving adequate support to the tufting system. The elastic-plastic granulate offers a number of functional properties needed for soccer while protecting players from injuries. In terms of color, green infill works best to give the soccer pitch a lively and fresh appearance.
The EPDM infill is made of certain rubber variants that are not affected by the weather. This means that they are not sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and they are moisture-resistant. The EPDM-made infill is made with quality characteristics that protect players from getting injured.
With all said, choosing the best artificial tuft for soccer depends on two factors: budget, and the quality characteristics of the artificial tuft system you desire. However, we could run into a general conclusion that the best artificial tuft system is that with an elastic base layer, textured grass, and a high-quality infill.
Good luck with your choice.