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How to Install Artificial Grass On Balconies, Patios, Rooftop Decks

A complete guide on how to install artificial grass on balconies, patios, rooftop decks, and other hard floor spaces. Determine if this is what you need. Learn about the differences between landscape and hard floor artificial grass installation. Find the right materials and approaches for balconies and rooftops. Prevent potential balcony artificial turf installation flaws.

balcony turf cost calculator

Benefits of Balcony Turf Installation

Artificial grass is common on balconies because it's soft, barefoot-friendly, and spruces up the look of your space. Turf doesn't have the same care needs as natural grass, so you can install it in many places including balconies and patios. Below are just a few of the many reasons people opt for the installation of artificial grass on balconies, rooftops, and patios! 

Enhance Your Space

The most obvious reason to install artificial grass on a balcony or patio terrace is to make your space more cosmetically pleasing. Balcony turf adds more functionality to your most unusable areas. Adding artificial turf to your outdoor areas also improves property value. You can create almost any space you want because the grass can be cut and placed around any obstructions. This also gives you the option to only partially cover your area with artificial grass. The possibilities are endless. Your creativity can create the perfect space to entertain guests or simply have your morning coffee.

Install Artificial Grass On Balconies, Patios, and Rooftops

Safety Benefits

Installing artificial grass on your balconies, rooftop decks, and patios terraces also brings a softer and safer surface. Concrete and wood surfaces can become very slippery when wet and pose a dangerous risk. Laying down turf can help avoid mold and mildew growth on your deck as well. Drain core is installed underneath the turf to alleviate the area of moisture quickly. It is a good drainage for balcony turf. Also, artificial grass is significantly less slippery than concrete or wood when wet. 

Easy Maintenance

Maintaining your freshly installed grass is quick and simple. Because it's artificial, there is no need to keep it trimmed or watered. How nice does that sound? The turf can be cleaned like most indoor surfaces, it can even be vacuumed - yes you heard that right. For any unwanted leaves or foliage, you can simly pick them up by hand or use a rake to form a pile. For light spills or pet messes, we recommend using water and a cleaning solution to rinse the area. Don't worry, your drainage system will soak up the moisture. 

To learn more about grass turf on balcony pros and cons, check out our article Benefits of Installing Turf in Unconventional Spaces!

Artificial Grass Recycling

Landscape Turf vs. Turf for Balconies and Patios

Not all types of artificial grass are suitable for every surface. So what is the difference between grass used for lawns and grass used for patios? Because we try to eliminate the need for a sand infill, there are fewer options when it comes to installing artificial grass on a balcony, rooftop, or patio.

When deciding what grass is best, you want to look for an option that has good dimensional stability and thicker blades. Grass with a thicker thatch is less likely to wrinkle and buckle as temperatures rise. To make your space barefoot-friendly, opt for soft and plush artificial grass! 

 fake turf balcony

 

BEST Artificial Grass for BALCONIES and Rooftops

Heavyweight Artificial Grass

Because we want to eliminate sand infill, we recommend using grass that has a thick thatch to give better dimensional stability. This will be the best fake grass for a balcony. Thicker blades work better for balconies, patios, and rooftops as well. As temperatures rise, you want a more heavyweight option that won't buckle as much and cause wrinkling. 

Artificial Grass With Plush Fibers

A plush fiber turf is an excellent option when it comes to adding artificial grass to your rooftop. The soft grass has a great look and feel and will provide you with a bare-foot-friendly space. 

Artificial Grass That's Dimensionally Stable

This refers to the turf's ability to retain its original size. For these projects, we recommend a heavier material that doesn't expand and contract as much in the sun. 

Artificial Grass Made of Nylon

Nylon is a very strong material with the stiffest blades. It holds its shape under distress, and as mentioned earlier it is the only turf that withstands really high temperatures. Due to its strength and durability, it's the most expensive artificial grass material. However, because it's so tough it can lose the natural look and feel of real grass. This material is recommended for commercial rooftops, areas that receive a lot of direct sunlight, or spaces at risk of magnification. 

Determine If Balcony Turf Is Right For You

Open or Enclosed Balconies/Rooftops

There is a substantial difference between installing artificial turf in enclosed areas as opposed to open areas. When you have an open balcony, the installation process becomes more difficult. Over time wind may pick up the artificial turf causing the edges to flap, or even worse fly off the rooftop damaging property or injuring someone below. In this case, you have to make sure that you prevent the artificial turf from uplifting by either applying weight to the surface (with furniture) or attaching it to the roof. 

Another way to prevent wind damage is by applying a heavy layer of sand infill to weigh down the surface. However, sand tends to make surfaces warmer and will eliminate the ability to vacuum your artificial grass.  

rooftop balcony

In most cases, people with smaller balconies will just lay turf on top of an existing surface. The turf will sit directly on the balcony and offer little ventilation. While you can easily lay artificial grass on the surface, we always recommend using a layer of drain core underneath. We discuss the importance of drain core in a separate article.
 

Turf Magnification on Balconies

Magnification is a common issue with Artificial Grass. Like anything laying in direct sunlight, artificial grass can become warm on high-temperature days. Magnification happens when the sunlight is reflected from windows, multiplied, and then reflected onto the surface of your artificial grass. This can lead to turf melting. Most balconies will have another balcony directly above that can block the sun and prevent magnification issues. However, in some cases, there is an overhead window that reflects sun onto the surface causing magnification to occur.

If you spot any white reflection lines, you can simply place a piece of plastic in the area and observe. If by mid-day the plastic isn't phased, you should be safe. It can be difficult to determine if magnification will be an issue in your space, so feel free to speak with one of our installers.
 
Before you choose to install artificial grass on your balcony, read through the list below. If the answer is yes to more than one question, please further look into magnification before proceeding. This will save you time and money!
  • Does your outdoor space have no overhead protection? 
  • Do you have a second-level window with no roof coverage? Is it west facing?
  • Have you seen white stripes on the ground?
  • Do you have reflective furniture? 
  • Do you use stainless steel appliances outdoors? 
  • Do you have a glass fence with chrome lining?
  • Do you see reflections from your neighbor's windows?
  • Do you have a fire pit sitting on the ground? 

Artificial Grass Drainage

Fortunately, most balconies are designed and constructed with water drainage in mind. We do not recommend installing artificial turf in any area that has an issue with water pooling. You don't want your artificial grass retaining water. If water builds up, mold and mildew can occur. Before installation, you'll want to confirm that there is somewhere for rainwater and other liquids to go. In most scenarios, a drainage grid should be installed underneath the turf to allow water to escape quickly. 

air drain drainage balcony

Door Placement

While door placement is not something people think to consider when deciding if artificial grass is the right decision, it can affect installation. Most balconies have sliding doors that don't open outward. While this is the best scenario, we know that not all balconies are the same. Doors that open out onto the balcony can have issues going over the artificial grass. If the door can't easily open and close after your turf installation this can quickly become a safety hazard.

In this situation, you can either trim the grass to allow the door to open, or install a piece of shorter turf in that area. To prevent any tripping hazards this piece would have to be glued to the surface. If you do have a door that opens out onto the balcony, there must be at least a gap of approximately 1 inch to allow enough space for turf placement.

Furniture Placement on Artificial Grass

Can you put furniture on artificial grass? Yes. Similar to placing furniture on carpet, as long as your furniture doesn't have any sharp edges or broken pieces it should not tear or damage your turf. One thing to keep in mind is that if your furniture is very heavy it will in time leave an imprint in your artificial grass. For any large pieces of furniture, we recommend moving them around every few months to prevent imprints from occurring. A thick and durable grass is best when planning to fill the space with furniture. Thicker turf will keep your furniture more level. 

Artificial grass can be damaged by any hot embers or coals from fire pits and grills. It is not recommended to place these items on artificial grass. However, this can be easily avoided by installing turf in a smaller area to utilize the grassy space while still enjoying those amenities. 

Also remember that stainless steel appliances, such as grills, can burn your artificial grass or even plastic tiles. We recommend installing wood tiles around grills. Wooden floor tiles do not melt and are much easier to clean when food or grease falls from your grill.

Selecting the Right Drainage for Fake Grass on Balconies

When it comes to the drainage system, there are a few options that are considered. Before making a decision it's important to really diagnose which option will work best for you and your space. 

No Drainage

Artificial grass sits on stitches and has holes every few inches in every direction. While this is not the best ventilation, water will eventually evaporate where turf is placed in open areas under direct sun. However, the turf will hold water runoff which will lead to the growth of bacteria and a layer of drainage is recommended. 

Drain Core

The drain core cell is a flexible material. It allows grass to sit on bumps and breath efficiently. The water will run off the roof quickly. While it is the most affordable drain grid, when walked on it produces a cracking noise when installed over rough surfaces. This can also expand under direct sunlight causing wrinkles. (when not glued down).

Air Drain

This is a rigid 1-inch tall material. It provides the best ventilation and fastest runoff. It expands moderately in the heat and doesn't show waves or inconsistencies. The shortcoming of this material is that heels may puncture the grass not only damaging the turf but can result in injury. Heels should not be worn on this surface.

Air Drain Cell for Artificial Grass on Balconies and Rooftops

Perforated Tile

This rigid and small celled tile is very durable. It is best for event areas. It will survive heels and heavy furniture. Turf is also able to be glued directly to the tile.

Soft Pad

Perfect for kids and low flow drainage. This option is often used in enclosed areas as it improves risks of uplift or must be glued down to the floor.

Without proper drainage, the longevity of your artificial installation will be greatly affected by the build-up of contaminants. Ignoring drainage can be a costly repair because flooding can easily happen. Once flooding on your balcony begins it can easily run into the interior of your home.

Check out our Drainage Options article for more info!

Pet Turf For Balconies - Porch Potty

While the idea of being able to let your dog do its business right out on your balcony or rooftop sounds convenient, is it safe and sanitary? The answer is no. There are pet turf systems available for front and backyards, but it is not viable to allow dogs to pee directly on balconies and decks without a grass potty for dogs.

Without something to catch the waste, all of your pet's urine will accumulate under the fake turf and it will begin to smell and become unusable. There will also be bacteria growth over time. Even with a drainage layer, it's unsanitary to water down the turf and allow the waste to spill onto other people's property or your own walls.

An artificial turf porch potty is the best solution. Put a removable 1-inch tall container underneath the air drain cell and incorporate it into an area that your dog already uses often for relief. These containers are available in many sizes and forms.

Place the container under the turf and cut the drainage layer and turf in that area so it's removable when the container needs to be emptied and cleaned. The grass patch will be fastened with velcro tape for easy access. This makes the perfect patio/balcony potty for pets! 

Even though having dog turf on a balcony requires maintenance, it is better than spilling dirty pet waste onto your neighbor's areas. Be a good neighbor! Use an artificial grass porch potty! 

Rooftop Artificial turf Installation: What to Consider

When installing artificial grass on rooftops there are a few extra things to keep in mind. The first is the current state of your roof. If the roof is in any way damaged we do not recommend applying artificial grass on top of it. The turf itself doesn't provide insulation and therefore won't provide any added protection. If at any point after installation there are leaks coming from the roof it becomes significantly harder to pinpoint where the leak is coming from and can become a lot more costly. For this reason, you should not install artificial turf directly to the base of the roof so that it can be removable when the roof needs inspection. 

To hear more suggestions about what to consider before installing turf on a rooftop, check out our other article!

Common Approaches to Balcony Turf Installation 

Turf Attached to Frame

Installing a frame around the perimeter allows us to attach the artificial grass to the frame, rather than directly to the ground. This is beneficial because it makes getting underneath it easier in the event that repairs need to be made. It is much more cost effective to repair a damaged frame than the surface of your balcony, patio, or rooftop. 

Lay Down Directly on Surface

The most popular method to add artificial grass to a balcony or patio is to just simply roll it out and lay it down. While this sounds nice and easy, it typically won't achieve the desired look and feel. With no adhesive, the artificial grass may begin to buckle and wrinkle along the surface, posing a safety risk as well. Another risk in the laydown method is that your artificial turf can uplift and fly away any time the wind blows...Uh oh. Protect you and your neighbors and secure your turf! 

Glue Down Artificial Grass

In this method, artificial turf is glued directly to a base surface. We don't recommend this method. Gluing down directly to the surface will allow pockets of air to form and bacteria will grow. This also allows bugs and water to get into these pockets causing your synthetic grass to basically fall apart. It will also be very difficult to remove and can potentially damage the base it was glued to. Apply this method at your own risk. 

Artificial Grass Uplift Protection

There are a couple of ways to protect your turf from being pulled up by the wind. The most effective way is to use the frame method we went over above. This will make sure your turf is securely attached to prevent buckling on the edges. Another option is to put a heavy layer of infill down on top of the installed artificial grass. While this also helps prevent any uplifting, it restrains your options when cleaning your turf because it eliminates the ability to use a vacuum.

Combining Turf With Other Surfaces (Wood & Paver Tiles)

Artificial Grass With Wood Tiles on Balcony

The great thing about installing artificial grass is that you can cut it to fit any area. You have control over how much of the space is covered with turf. To have a multifunctional area, you can combine fake grass with other surfaces.

balcony turf cost calculator

Preventing Common Rooftop/Balcony Turf Issues

Artificial grass is an amazing addition to any home or commercial space. It makes even the most unusable space livable. However, if not installed and maintained correctly you can run into many costly issues. When considering installing artificial grass there are a few main precautions to take to maintain the integrity of your installation.  

Mold and Water Damage

The best way to prevent water damage is to make sure a proper drainage system is installed. You want to make sure there is air circulation and water flow. With nowhere for the water to go, some of it will naturally evaporate over time but if there is heavy rainfall it can quickly lead to flooding into your home. Also, the same way you wouldn't leave a food spill on your kitchen counter, you shouldn't leave any spilled food or drink on your artificial grass. Regardless of whether the waste is left on natural grass, concrete, or artificial turf, mold will grow when combined with moisture. Regularly removing debris and cleaning up spills as they happen is critical to avoiding mold. 

Static Electricity

Sometimes we see artificial turf have issues with static electricity which can become very annoying. While it typically goes unnoticeable, there are ways to prevent this from happening. A tip to avoid static electricity is to place an iron under the surface nailed to the ground. This piece of metal will then become a conductor and absorb any electric charge. Copper is usually recommended in this situation. Another simple way to prevent static electricity is to just water your grass. Adding a fabric softener can also be useful.

Wrinkles & Buckling

In order to prevent wrinkles, we recommend installing a frame around the perimeter of the area where the artificial grass is being installed. The artificial grass will be stretched and stapled to the frame. Another option is applying a layer of sand infill on the surface of your newly installed grass. Remember though, that applying sand will eliminate the ability to vacuum your surface.

Installing Artificial Grass DIY? What to Expect

Because there is no soil to remove from your base, it is an easier process to install artificial grass on a balcony or patio. DIY artificial grass on a balcony can become nasty quickly if you don't follow the correct steps. Check out our DIY Turf Installation article to learn how to lay your own turf on a balcony or rooftop. Or, here's what to expect during installation:

artificial turf on rooftop

1. Select the Right Artificial Grass

There are only a few types of grass that are compatible with balcony projects because you won't be using infill for most installations.  When buying artificial grass, look for a soft and heavy artificial turf with improved dimensional stability and antimicrobial technology. This is usually your best option.

2. Ensure the Area is Measured Properly

Oftentimes people don't purchase enough artificial grass. When determining the amount of turf needed, make sure to use measurements from the widest points of your space. Artificial grass comes in rolls that are 15 ft. wide so often you'll have to purchase more than needed and cut to size, make sure you factor that into your budget.

In some cases, it may be necessary to cut the grass before bringing it to the residence because the rolls may not fit through door frames. 

3. Plan Your Manpower for Hauling

You may be able to lift a lot, but in most cases, it takes at least 3 people to move large pieces of artificial grass. You will need 2 people to carry the grass while a third person navigates and watches the corners to prevent damage. Repairing any scratched or damaged areas is not a cost you want to add on. We recommend wrapping your rolls of grass to keep any sharp edges away from walls. Consider using a moving dolly, chiropractors also tend to be expensive.  

4. Measure the Artificial Grass 7 times, Cut it Once

You heard it right - there is no room for error. Once the grass is cut, it becomes very difficult to repair and patch small areas especially if you are not gluing. 

5. Lay Drainage Cell for Artificial Grass (Optional but Recommended)

We heavily recommend anyone installing artificial grass DIY in an area larger than 100 sq. ft. install a layer of air drain to the base prior to laying the fake grass. This will help prevent any costly issues and give your area an adequate water drainage system. 

6. Lay the Artificial Grass and Connect at the Seams

This part is crucial. Do your research when it comes to the glue you use. You want to use glue that doesn't expand and still secures the seams. Be very careful when applying the glue. If applied incorrectly glue can damage the surface beneath. Please also make sure you are not violating any HOA rules or guidelines when applying your adhesive. 

7. Haul and Remove Waste Material

You may have scraps left over that don't fit in your regular bins. Plan to haul away any excess material. We'd recommend holding onto any larger pieces to use in the event that the fake grass needs repaired or replaced in a certain area. 

8. Sit back, Relax, and Enjoy Your New Area.

You've earned it! After putting in the time and money to enhance your space, it's yours to enjoy. You now have a barefoot-friendly area year round! 

Are you ready to build your cozy outdoor patio, but want us to handle it all? We've got you covered!  Request an estimate below! 

Request a Custom Artificial Grass Estimate