Sports Turf is more complex to build than one might think. The sub-layer is just as important as the surface. Many universities offer sports turf science programs due to...
Artificial grass is perfect for recreation and workouts. Whether you're looking for a space to pull sleds, do cardio, weight lift, or even create an outdoor sports field artificial turf provides a clean and durable surface. Keep reading to learn about the different types of padding layers available to create a safe space for all to enjoy!
Artificial grass is a great flooring alternative when working out, as it provides much more shock absorption than tile, wood, or concrete. Sports turf also has the added benefits of being easy to install over hard surfaces, little maintenance needs, and being environmentally friendly.
What are Shock Pads?
When wondering what to put under sports turf to make it safer, the answer is a shock pad. A shock pad is a separate elastomeric layer made of foam, rubber, or polypropylene beads that are fused together with strong adhesives. Used to create a more cushioned and shock absorbent surface for workouts, playgrounds, and sports fields.
Why is Padding for Sports Turf Necessary?
Adding sports turf with a padded underlayment to your space will help protect your joints during high-impact workouts. We also recommend padded sports turf when there's lateral movement. Ex: field drills, cardio, agility training, or sports. Essentially any time there's the possibility of an athlete falling. In certain cases, a layer of padding may be required to meet ASTM standards.
Because heavy foot traffic or play can shift infill around, turf used for workouts and sports will experience wear and tear at a much higher rate than regular lawns. Over time the infill movement can create hard spots on the surface. Adding a layer of padding underneath the sports turf can help alleviate this problem and provides you with more protection during activity.
Benefits of Shock Pads:
- More shock absorbency
- Creates a more smooth and uniform surface
- Will increase the lifespan of the sports turf
- Can help customize surfaces, adding more sand to add speed
- Can sometimes be used for more than one cycle
Types of Shock Pads for Sports Turf
When shopping for sports turf, you'll find that there are options that have a 5mm pad built-in. This is a foam layer attached directly to the turf material that offers ease of installation. This option is perfect for adding a bit more cushion to the surface. Sports turf with built-in padding is ideal for batting cages, weightlifting, sled workouts, and other recreation. This type of padding is also great for indoor sports turf because it won't add much height.
- Easy to install, already attached to sports turf
- Cost-effective, don't have to buy additional underlayments
- No drainage holes built-in
- Doesn't meet ASTM performance standards, may require additional padding
This type of shock pad is often called a "Brock" pad, named after the industry-leading brand. This padding system consists of multiple small polypropylene beads that are molded and fused together under pressure into different designs. They're manufactured in panels that can then be fitted together on site. Brock pad is the most common shock pad for sports fields because it provides comfort, safety, and high performance for players.
- Rapid drainage
- Thoroughly tested and proven
- Outstanding shock absorption for player protection
- Various styles to meet budget and use
- Difficult to install
- Higher Product and Shipping Costs
Closed Cell Foam Padding
These pads guarantee uniformity in terms of thickness and density. Foam padding has been used in turf installation for decades and has proven performance. Foam underlayment padding is affordable, easy to manufacture, and can be monolithic requiring no seaming. Also a great option for young children or play areas.
- Rapid Drainage
- Good shock absorption
- Pricing is generally lower
- Ball bounce performance is not superior
- Typically made overseas (longer ship times)
- Less shock absorbent than beaded padding
Underlayment pads made of rubber crumbs have been used and proven for decades. They're a heavy option that provides superior durability. As an added bonus, rubber padding can be used for more than one lifecycle of turf. Mostly used for indoor gyms.
- Superior durability and lifespan
- Doesn't raise surface height very much
- Delaminates over time
- Not to be used outdoors, typically too thin for performance fields
Light Density Foam Padding
This type of padding system is made of recycled materials that are compacted together and available in 0.75“, 1.125”, and 2.125” cushions to meet or exceed fall height and ADA requirements. Can be installed over both permeable and impermeable bases. This type of padding system provides consistency in regard to density and dimension. This padding system is ideal for playgrounds and recreation but not competitive sports.
- Available in multiple cushions
- Can hold heavy equipment
- Won't hold up to rough gameplay
- Too bouncy for sports, doesn't react the same way natural turf does
Whether you're laying artificial turf in a batting cage, gym, sports field, or outdoor area we'd always recommend opting for an underlayment pad for added protection. While some are DIY friendly, others can be very complex and require professional guidance. Still unsure what will work best in your space? Speak with a professional installer below!