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What are they, and where did they come from?
Synthetic turf systems have improved since their initial start in 1965. Throughout the 1990s these systems evolved using a combination of sand and rubber as infill material. Since that time turf systems have been engineered to advance life and player safety.
During the late 1990s, we encouraged the use of a pour in place e-layer. E-layer systems were originally recommended to be installed under turf systems. The systems were new, so there was no history of player safety. As time went on and the products improved, better maintenance was developed, and different turf types evolved.This evolution brought the industry comfort levels up, and the new turf systems began to eliminate the requirement of a pad. Over time, pile heights have been reduced, turf density has increased, and the use of all rubber infill has evolved into a blend to sand and rubber. In the late 1990s e-layer systems were installed below infilled fields to provide additional safety.
What is beneath a synthetic turf product?
Depends on the sport, but typically an engineered porous aggregate custom blended material that provides both structural support and allows water to drain vertically through the system.
What are the benefits of using pads in turf systems?
The installation of a pad system can contribute to the safety of the field when the turf system cannot maintain infill levels. Infill is used now, where pads were used in the past. The infill is used to for 2 things, to keep the fibers vertically, and also used to provide cushion and hit proper gmax requirements. The gmax requirements are a measuring guide for player safety. Almost every system that is installed today is a blend of sand and rubber. All rubber infills are rare, if they exist at all. Using a turf system that has a rootzone keeps infill from migrating. This keeps the infill level, as it is designed. If it is not maintained, this can create higher risk. If infill level cannot be maintained, a pad is a good option.
How do Pads contribute to safety?
With an increasing fear of concussions from all the different injuries, the installation of a pad to supplement the turf system is a good suggestion to provide extra protection to the owner and players. The existing turf systems are designed around player’s safety – and remain safe as long as they are installed correctly, have the right balance of sand and rubber, and are maintained. Depending on the sport, or the purpose of the installation, if it has less infill and a shorter pile height, this increases the importance of a pad installation. It can be typical to experience turf options offered that encourage no maintenance in a standard system, but if it is a system where the infill can migrate, this greatly increases the maintenance cost. This is where a pad is a very good option. Pads are not mandatory, but it is an additional protection for the owner and the player.