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Synthetic Turf Basics

Category: Synthetic Turf  |  Permalink

Published: Tuesday, July 6, 2010

As a consumer it is always helpful to become educated about the product you wish to purchase. Becoming educated regarding artificial grass is no different because there are a lot of false claims being made by landscape designers and synthetic turf installers. The trend among these designers and installers is to sell you on how much better their turf is than the competition. It is the goal of this article to dispel the myth that any one manufacturer of turf is superior to the others. To do this lets go over the basics of synthetic turf. Let us first discuss how synthetic grass is manufactured. There are 7 tufting mills that manufacture artificial turf in the United States. When I use the term "manufacture," what I mean is the actual tufting process by which all of the materials are combined to make the final product.  So for the purpose of this article lets refer to the turf manufacturers as tufting mills. Here they are: 

 

 All of these tufting mills make synthetic turf using an identical process called tufting. Tufting machines were first invented and used in the carpet industry. These days that same process is used to manufacture artificial turf. Tufting is simply a process of taking a woven backing material feeding it in to the tufting machine which then uses hundreds of needles to stitch the blades of grass, called yarns, in to the backing. The newly made turf is then shipped to a company called Universal Textile Technology or U.T.T., who applies a poly urethane coating to the underside of the turf. This process locks the stitches in place. Most of the above 7 manufacturers use U.T.T. for their backing.  It is interesting to note that most of the tufting mills for artificial turf reside in the state of Georgia, the same area which is renowned for its carpet making.  If one were to closely examine a piece of synthetic turf (any synthetic turf), you will notice that it is made up of 3 distinct parts:

  • The woven backing which is nothing more than 2 layers of pvc mesh
  • The blades of grass or (yarns)
  • The poly urethane coating

All of these manufacturers get their yarns from the following companies:                                                                                                                                                                                              

Yarn man
Tincati (owns tiger turf)
Bonar
Radici
Polytan

This process of making yarns is called extrusion. This process is the same, regardless of the yarn manufacturer. These yarns are then shipped to the U.S. tufting mills in large spools. As you examine the piece of artificial grass you will notice that there are two types of yarn:  Monofillaments (long blades of grass) and Thatch (short curly blades of grass). Because all of these tufting mills manufacture artificial turf in the same way and with the same materials, it becomes evident that there is really no difference in the quality of the turf from one manufacturer to the next. As a consumer, it is important to understand this because the trend in the synthetic turf sales pitch is for the sales people to tell you how wonderful their turf is.  Now that you know all turf is basically the same we can focus our attention on some of the more technical aspects of synthetic lawn that contribute to the differing grades of the turf product. 

Yes you read that last sentence correctly!  Each of the tufting mills offer a wide variety of synthetic turf grades.  In my next article I will talk about such things as face weight, denier, stitch gauge, and stitch rate. I will talk about how to identify each and why each is important. I will also explain the proper turf installation process.  I hope this article has been helpful in educating you regarding some of the basics of synthetic turf.

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About this page: Take a few minutes and learn some of the basics of synthetic turf: how artificial turf is made, who makes synthetic grass and why it is important.