Which Artificial Grass Is Best For You?
Have you ever walked into Home Depot looking for a light bulb, looked at the available selection, scratched your head and wondered what is the difference between them all? Which is the best? Which one will last the longest, should you go Incandescence, CFL, LED, Full, Warm or Soft? It can be an intense buying process.
Today’s artificial grass market is almost just as saturated with distributors (who like to re-brand grasses to make it seem their own) and artificial grass installation contractors that re-brand the same grasses to create the illusion of them having their own “exclusive” line of artificial grass when in reality there are only a handful of manufacturers that supply the San Diego and southern California market.
Allow us to shed some light on the subject and disclose some of main questions about artificial grass and the important things you should be looking at when trying to educate yourself on the different artificial grasses and which ones are worth purchasing.
What is Artificial Grass?
Artificial grass, also known a synthetic grass and artificial turf, is a man-made product designed to look like real grass. It was originally created in the 1960′s by David Chaney. It was first noticed by the American public in 1965 when Astroturf, one of the first brand names of artificial grass, was put down in the new Astrodome in Texas.
Astroturf as well as other brands of artificial grass became widely used in the 1970s in indoor and outdoor areas, chiefly for use in football. The benefits of having artificial grass put down for use in outdoor football stadiums quickly made it a popular choice as the need to work so hard to maintain the look of the grass was all but gone. For stadiums where the field was used for other things besides football, using synthetic grass kept the field looking nice all year round with little need for any kind of maintenance.
With What and How is Artificial Grass Made?
Most Artificial grass is made from polyethylene (the most widely used plastic with about 80 million metric tons manufactured annually). Polyethylene is seen in everything from packaging materials, to structural foam, to nautical equipment (because of its buoyancy), and pressure pipe systems (because of its strength and durability). It’s has even replaced steel and galvanized pipes for underground gas lines because of its longevity!
In its natural form, polyethylene comes as small little clear, granulated beads and is then melted and converted into its intended form. For artificial grass, it is extruded into a yarn. During the melting process, a dye is added to create whatever color you want your product to be – ever wonder how sports fields get the white hash lines or colored end zones? They dye the plastic.
Once the yarn is spun it is then tufted into a primary backing that is a woven plastic fabric. Think of a sewing machine that makes a stitch with a spool of sewing string. Once the stitch goes into the fabric and back out, it is cut. Then another stitch, and another, until the stitch row is finished. The height at which the yarn is cut is called the ‘pile height’, some grasses are 1/2″ tall, some are 3.5″ tall and everything in between. Once all the stitch rows are complete a secondary backing is applied. The secondary backing is usually either a polyurethane or exterior latex in a liquid form that is brushed on, then hardens to create a ‘tuft bind’, this is what holds the grass intact and keeps the blades from falling out.
Domestic vs. Imported
Because of the lead that was found in some artificial grasses that were imported from China, along with some children’s toys, there is… and rightfully so.. some lingering skepticism when purchasing products labeled ‘Made In China’. The reality is, however, the majority of artificial grass being installed in San Diego is in fact Made In China. this is not as bad of a thing as you may think (speaking relative only to product quality between domestic and import product). Looking at the issue, when unacceptable traces of lead were found in some artificial grass products, as well as some other consumables, it was the lead chromate in the color dye that contained lead, not the plastic or the backings. Lead, for the most part, is no longer an issue with imported products. 99% of the artificial grass products available have non-detectable amounts of lead, meaning they are under 1 part per million. The acceptable ratio by the U.S. government is currently 300PPM, an amount close to what you will find in most native soils in and around San Diego, and up until the last few years it was 600PPM. A reputable artificial grass supplier such as Purchase Green tests their imported products regularly for lead or any other unwanted or outlawed chemicals.
How to Know Which Artificial Grass To Buy?
So far we have established what artificial grass is made of and the manufacturing process, but what makes one grass better than another?
- Blade Shape:
Most artificial grasses look alike, which makes sense considering its all made with the same, or similar variations of the same material (polyethylene). However, little advances in particulars such as blade shape have improved performance and even temperature heights of the synthetic grass. For the past decade most yarns were extruded to be straight, flat yarns. In recent years manufacturers have created “S” or Diamond shaped yarns to enhance the memory, or ‘rebound’, for the grass after foot traffic and to minimize the amount of blade face being exposed to the sun, which in turn, reduces the temperature of the artificial grass.</p><br>
As mentioned above, the synthetic grass yarn is tufted into a primary backing and later a secondary backing is brushed on to bind the tufts. Both of these backings impact the strength and longevity of the synthetic grass. All of the grasses installed by Panjia have THREE layers of primary backing and 32 ounces of secondary backing. As a comparison, a lot of the more inexpensive synthetic grass products have a single primary backing and 20 ounces of secondary backing. Additionally, Panjia uses exterior latex as the secondary backing as opposed to the market standard polyurethane. Reason being is we believe the polyurethane has a higher elasticity than latex and offers a stronger tuft bind. If a backing is more elastic, the more likely you are to see ripples in your synthetic grass installation.
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