Top Synthetic Turf Installation Problems and Solutions
Synthetic turf installations can be tricky. Learn to look for potential issues and solutions here.
September 14, 2023
Drought tolerance, increased watering restrictions, and low maintenance have all contributed to an increase in the popularity of synthetic turf for residential and commercial settings. If your project calls for synthetic turf, make sure to review these top installation problems and solutions beforehand to avoid headaches and potential customer call-backs.
1. Inconsistent turf grain
Like most materials manufactured from fibers, synthetic turf has a grain. When the grain of sections doesn’t run in the same direction, the visual difference is noticeable. Like the way a pair of corduroy pants looks different once you touch the surface, all the fibers of synthetic turf should be running concurrently so the artificial nature of the product isn’t emphasized.
This fact is also important when ordering synthetic turf to ensure you order enough to cover the project area without having to tile pieces with differing grain directions. Depending on the shape and location of the area, it may be necessary to order more material to ensure coverage using a continuous run.
TIP: Synthetic turf blades should face the primary viewing point (like a house) to reduce glare and maximize appearance from the most common perspective.
2. Differing dye lots
Each lot of synthetic turf is individually dyed and can have variations in coloring from one run of yarn to the next. While these variations are typically slight, it’s important that you order all the material you need for a project at one time so supplies all come from the same dye lot.
For projects where you’re installing synthetic turf next to existing synthetic turf have your supplier look up the manufacturers’ original dye lot number using your sales ticket or PO number for reference. This may allow you to source additional material from the same lot.
TIP: Order at least 10% more turf than you anticipate needing to complete a project. The extra will allow customers to patch areas if needed and provide coverage for any miscuts during install.
3. Too much reflective light
Most synthetic turf is made using polyethylene yarn which has a melting point of 248°F. When the sun’s rays bounce of reflective or metallic surfaces like windows, polished gutters, mirrors, or reflective panels onto turf the temperature can quickly rise and turf can misshapen or melt.
Many synthetic turf manufacturers exclude reflective light from warranties. Make sure to observe your customers’ surroundings before synthetic turf install and note the location of secondary reflective surfaces where this could be an issue.
TIP: Where potential issues are noted, the following steps should be considered:
• Install awnings, screens, or protective films on windows to minimize reflection onto turf.
• For non-window reflective surfaces, consider applying non-reflective paint.
• For areas where secondary reflection is unavoidable use nylon synthetic turf (manufactured using 100% nylon). The melting point of nylon is around double that of polyethylene.
4. Miscut Seams
Some manufacturers instruct installers to alternate the side of the seam they cut on to close rows (i.e., cutting close to the stitching on one side and cutting away from the stitching on the other.) It’s easy, however, to become confused about which side of the seam you should cut once you flip the turf side upward. This can lead to overages or gaps between rows.
TIP: Cut directly between the rows of stitching for more consistent spacing.
5. Not enough infill
Working the infill down into synthetic turf is the most physical part of the installation process, but it’s an important one. The small pieces of crushed silica, rubber or cork provide support for the individual turf blades and keep the turf looking good into the future.
When too little turf infill is installed (or when the infill migrates after install), the turf will get matted down in spots and cause premature wear on the individual blades. If the turf is a putting surface too little infill can also cause inconsistencies across the playing area.
TIP: A good rule of thumb is to install 2-3.5 lbs. of infill per inch of turf height.
1” Tall Turf = min. 1.5-2 pounds per square foot
2” Tall Turf = min. 3-4 pounds per square foot
6. Roll Crush
This situation develops when the blades of artificial turf are damaged beyond repair while on the roll, typically during shipping. The trained cutters at manufacturing facilities are skilled a identifying this issue when they roll out smaller sizes from the turf roll; however, if a full roll is purchased it’s more difficult to spot before shipment.
TIP: Roll out the entire turf roll and let it warm in the sun before install. Inspect the turf for any areas that appear crushed. For areas that are compressed, first use a broom to try to see if the blades will remain upright. Do not install the product if the turf still appears compressed; call your supplier for a replacement.
The adage about an ounce of prevention rings true here. By familiarizing yourself with what to look for before you complete your next synthetic turf install you can put yourself well on your way to a more satisfied customer.
SiteOne Has Your Back
If you have any questions or need help with your installation, talk to SiteOne associates for guidance. For educational opportunities, check our events page here. If you’d like to order supplies for the job, visit your local branch or shop online at SiteOne.com.