Artificial surfaces are becoming increasingly popular in all elements of life. From replacing a traditional grass lawn with artificial grass to reduce garden maintenance to the installation of play turf to provide a mud-free, low maintenance area for outdoor – or indoor – children’s play areas; you’ll find artificial grass everywhere. They are also used for safety reasons and you’ll find safety surfaces – such as those found in children’s play areas or rubberised, high grip flooring in top-end stable yards – to help minimise the risk of accidents. Artificial surfaces are also commonly used for sports; including Golf, Football, Cricket, Tennis Court Surfaces and Hockey.
Over the past couple of decades there have been huge advances in the performance and quality of artificial sports surfaces. Long gone are the days when a tarmacadam tennis court or cinder running track offered a relatively low-maintenance – and often low-performance – alternative to grass.
Nowadays huge amounts of research and investment, the development of state-of the-art materials and the implementation of rigorous performance standards by various governing bodies for sport mean that pretty much every sport has the option of being played on an artificial surface designed to closely mimic the performance of a good quality natural turf pitch.
The types of artificial sports surfaces on the market have been developed to suit different sports. Sand-filled surfaces are one of the older designs and feature a lighter weight short pile fibre carpet filled almost to the top with sand. This makes the surface stable yet quite rough and hard, so they are not often found in high performance sites, but can be a useful all-round surface for curriculum level football, netball, lower levels of tennis and hockey and general play. Water based artificial surfaces – commonly used for elite hockey – have no sand between the carpet fibres but they do need regular wetting before and sometimes during play.
Sand-dressed artificial sports surfaces feature denser carpets with sand infilled to 5-8 mm depth and provide a good surface for tennis and hockey as well as for curriculum level football. Third Generation – or 3G – artificial sports pitches use carpet with even longer fibres filled with a mix of sand and rubber particles. This mix can be adjusted depending on the sport it will be used for to give a good replica of a well-prepared grass pitch prepared for that specific sport. Football, rugby and MUGA sports pitches – or multi use games areas – from grass roots right up to professional level utilise 3G artificial surfaces.