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Turf Installation On Rooftops: What to Consider

While putting artificial turf on a rooftop deck is a creative long-lasting way to enhance your space, it can come with costly repairs if not designed and installed correctly. Below we'll share a few things to keep in mind while discussing the installation with your installer.

Artificial Grass Recycling Petition

Roof Damage

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 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 never install artificial turf directly to the base of the roof so that it can be removable when the roof needs inspection. 

Drainage

Fortunately, most rooftops are designed and constructed with water flow in mind. We don't recommend installing artificial turf in an area that has an issue with water pooling. You don't want your artificial grass retaining water. If water builds up, mold mildew and roof leaks can occur. Before installation, you must confirm that there is somewhere for rainwater and other liquids to go.

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. Below are the drainage systems we offer at InstallArtificial:

  • Drain Core: This 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. This can also expand under direct sunlight causing wrinkles.
  • 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. We'd advise against wearing heels on this type of surface.
  • 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.

perforated tile drainage system for artificial grass installation on rooftops

  • 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.

Magnification

Magnification is a common issue with Artificial Grass. Like anything laying in direct sunlight, artificial grass can become warm on high-temperature days. Only nylon turf can hold up against severe temperatures and it's double the price. Magnification happens when the sunlight is reflected onto the surface of your artificial grass. This can cause the material to melt. Magnification is usually more likely on balconies, but if you experience reflections from any neighboring buildings, this may affect you.

If you spot any white reflection lines along the surface of your rooftop, there's an easy way to determine if artificial turf will melt in that area. You can place a piece of plastic in the area and observe. Don’t leave the plastic bag unattended because in some cases this can cause a fire. If by mid-day the plastic isn't phased, turf more than likely won't melt in that space.

Frame Installation

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 rooftop. Another benefit to frame installation is that it will prevent the surface from wrinkling over time without the need for infill. Without infill, you have the ability to vacuum the surface making cleaning super simple. Also, frame installation eliminates the need for a sticky adhesive to secure the turf. 

frame installation for nail-free rooftop artificial grass installation project

Door Placement

While this is not something most people think to consider when deciding if installing artificial grass is the right decision, it can affect the space. Doors that open outward onto the roof can have issues getting stuck on 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, we recommend either trimming the grass to allow the door to open, or installing a piece of shorter turf in that area. If you do have a door that opens outward onto the rooftop, double-check that there's at least a 1-inch gap to allow enough space for turf placement. 

Furniture Placement

One thing to keep in mind is that if you're planning to use heavy furniture, it will in time leave an imprint on 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 also 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 on a hard surface. 

We discuss all these considerations with our clients before moving forward with installation because we care about the lifespan of your artificial grass and don't want to cause any costly repairs in the future. To get your project started, use our cost calculator below to get an idea of pricing! 

balcony turf cost calculator

Want to DIY? Start shopping for balcony turf materials on our online turf store now!