What is Synthetic Turf Infill and What Are The Types?
Synthetic turf infill can be composed of any material but put simply, it is the layer of product installed into your turf fibers for support, performance, and aesthetics. Every synthetic turf sports field requires infill but the type of infill installed depends upon your needs. Before we cover the many types of infills available, let’s talk more about why you need infill in your synthetic turf field.
Infill’s Importance In Your Synthetic Turf Athletic Field
Artificial turf infill is a crucial element in any synthetic turf installation. Infill is installed as one of the last elements of a synthetic turf field, but it is arguably, one of the more important components and here’s why:
- Infill is installed into the turf carpet itself, holding the turf fibers up tall creating a full and lush appearance. Picture a natural grass field, the grass blades are volumus and stand up straight. Infill in synthetic turf fields is what holds the artificial turf blades up tall so that they do not lay flat.
- In sports fields the infill is filled almost to the top of the turf carpet leaving only a short fiber reveal, making the infill one of the main components the game is played. This means infill has the biggest impact on performance characteristics like a true ball roll or player foot interaction.
- Infill extends the life of your field by protecting your turf fibers and backing. Heavy activity on areas with low infill levels leaves your turf without a protective layer and can lead to fiber degradation, or fraying. Not only are the fibers themselves exposed, but this absence of infill leaves your turf backing unprotected from the elements and athlete’s spikes which can puncture the backing.
Types of Artificial Turf Infill
While infill can be any material, it is typically categorized in one of the following groups:
- Traditional Infill:
- Crumb Rubber: Crumb rubber, sometimes referred to as SBR, is the most common infill option used for synthetic turf fields. It is created from ground up recycled tires and is the most economical infill option you will find. Crumb rubber is top dressed over a sand ballast and can be installed with a shock pad for added assurance but is not required.
- Progressive Infill:
- Virgin Polymer (Virgin Rubber): Virgin polymers are either a TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) or EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) product. A key difference between this infill category and crumb rubber is that they are made from known components avoiding unknown chemicals that the recycled tires could have picked up in their previous product use. Virgin rubbers are typically more expensive than crumb rubber but come with benefits like consistency and resiliency. They are also recyclable and reusable. While these infills are shaped to allow for additional shock absorption, a shock pad is always recommended when installing a virgin rubber.
- Coated Sand: Envirofill, is our recommended coated sand infill. It is one of the more expensive infill solutions, however, it has an extensive list of benefits and unique features making it well worth the investment. As a homogenous infill, Envirofill is easy to reclaim and with the industry leading 16-year warranty, you can reuse it for a second life cycle. It is low maintenance, non-toxic and durable providing a consistent high performance surface. Similar to a virgin rubber infill, a shock pad is always recommended when installing Envirofill.
- Organic: Organics are the newest infill category, but are rapidly becoming popular due to their sustainability and cooling benefits. Most natural infills are made from cork/coconut blends, walnuts shells, fruit pits, or wood. Organics cost more than crumb rubber and can come with more demanding maintenance requirements. However, they are made from natural products, they’re chemical free and compostable. Safeshell is our recommended natural infill option. It is the most durable organic infill on the market. Made from dense walnut shells, Safeshell is the lowest maintenance infill that can cool a field by up to 50°F.
Infill selection can seem overwhelming with so many varying options. Ultimately it depends upon factors such as budget, maintenance experience, location, and more. Contact us by filling out the form below with any questions you may have. Not ready to talk to someone yet? Use our free system recommender for a customized field recommendation.