What is Infill? Why is it Used on Artificial Grass?

During the installation of artificial grass, a very small granular material called infill is spread over the turf. Typically consisting of sand, this infill serves several important purposes that contribute to the overall performance and longevity of the grass. Let’s explore how infill plays a vital role in maintaining the appearance and functionality of artificial grass.

1. Upright Turf Fibers: Once spread on the artificial grass, the infill is power-broomed to evenly distribute it and help it settle between the fibers. This action ensures that the grass blades stand upright. When you step on the artificial grass or apply pressure to it, the infill assists the grass blades in returning to their original upright position. This not only helps to maintain the aesthetic appeal of the grass but also ensures that the turf fibers are prepared to withstand regular use.

2. Protection from UV Rays: Infill not only keeps the turf standing but also shields the backing from the harmful UV rays of the sun. This protective layer helps maintain the quality and lifespan of your artificial grass.

3. Mimics Natural Sensation: In addition to its appearance-enhancing qualities, infill also provides a cushioning effect that mimics the natural impact absorption capabilities of soil found under natural grass. This means that when you walk on artificial grass, you can expect a similar sensation to walking on real grass. This comfortable experience adds to the overall enjoyment and satisfaction of having artificial grass.

4. Weight and Stability: Infill plays a crucial role in preventing the formation of wrinkles, buckles, or ripples on the artificial grass surface. By acting as ballast, the infill weighs down the grass and keeps it securely in place, even during movement or heavy foot traffic. This ensures that the aesthetics and integrity of the grass are maintained over time.

5. Efficient Drainage: Infill aids in the drainage of water and pet urine from the artificial grass. By keeping the turf fibers upright, the infill allows liquids to flow through the turf’s backing and into the sub-base underneath. This efficient drainage system helps to maintain the cleanliness and hygiene of the artificial grass surface.

Considering the numerous benefits of infill, it is highly recommended to include it in the installation of artificial grass. The most commonly used type of infill is silica sand due to its affordability and proven track record. However, for specific installations like synthetic grass for dogs, it may be worthwhile to consider upgrading to alternative infill materials that offer additional features to enhance the functionality and performance of the grass. Now that we have explored the importance of infill, let’s delve into some of the most popular types of infill materials commonly used.

Types of Infill Materials

Natural grass is incredibly resilient. Its blades always bounce back, no matter what nature throws at them. On the other hand, artificial grass blades aren’t quite as resilient on their own. Fortunately, the best artificial grass products have a durable backing that supports the blades and helps them stand upright. But here’s the real game-changer: infill! Artificial grass utilizes various types of infill materials, each serving the essential purposes of weighing down the turf and keeping the fibers standing tall. Now, there are countless infill products flooding the market, claiming to be revolutionary and must-haves. But don’t get overwhelmed! Let’s focus on the most commonly used infill materials in artificial grass.

Silica Sand Infill

Silica sand is derived of quartz that has been eroded by wind and water. As the quartz erodes, it breaks down into small granules. This infill is ideal for areas that don’t get a lot of traffic, such as hills, thick turfs, balconies, commercial spaces, or open fields that aren’t used a lot.

Silica sand helps keep the blades of artificial grass standing in an upright position. It also helps to improve drainage. Another benefit of this type of infill is its cost; generally, it is the least expensive type of infill material. However, there are some downsides to this type of infill product. The composition of the sand can also harden, which means that your artificial grass can end up losing its permeability. Lastly, it has been known to trap pet odors, so if you have pets, you may want to avoid this type of infill.

Silica Sand Infill Closeup
T Cool Infill Closeup

T°Cool™ Infill

TºCool® infill is an innovative evaporative cooling technology that reduces synthetic turf surface temperatures by 35° F – 50° F without compromising the performance benefits. T°Cool® is an eco-friendly solution that cools synthetic turf up to 50ºF by coating the turf’s infill to combat the heat and make the synthetic turf surfaces cooler, safer and more playable.

To create this evaporative cooling effect T°Cool® simply requires hydration in the form of irrigation, rainfall, or humidity to continuously activate – making it the only proven synthetic turf cooling infill that cools the entire synthetic turf system for sustained periods of time.

In addition to the maximum, sustained cooling TºCool provides, TºCool is Infused with the non-metal, BIO BASED Antimicrobial, BacShield®. Derived from the renewable resource, Chitosan, BacShield helps to prevent the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew, and prevents stains, odors and product deterioration. BacShield is sustainable, renewable, hypo-allergenic, and biodegradable.

Envirofill Infill

Envirofill is essentially a manufactured sand that has less sharp edges than regular sand. This makes it safer for kids to play on versus regular silica sand. It also tends to have slightly more shock absorption qualities than silica sand.

Envirofill is also an excellent high traffic area turf infill since the “rounder” edges of the product are easier on the artificial grass blades over time. It also has built-in antimicrobial protection from Microban® that claims to help prevent microbes such as odor-causing bacteria resulting from pet urine. This infill also tends to be cooler than rubber on hot sunny days and is generally thought to be safe and free of any toxins.

Envirofill sand is still very similar to silica sand in that it does not have a lot of cushioning properties and is still more abrasive against skin than a rubber infill. If you are planning on using your area for soccer or other athletic events, it is probably best to stick with a rubber infill.

Envirofill Infill Closeup
HydroChill Infill Closeup

HydroChill Infill

Hydrochill (a.k.a. Chill fill) is the coolest infill available hands down. It is made of sand that’s covered with a proprietary coating from the manufacturer. With the help of evaporative cooling (think spraying the turf off quickly with a hose or sprinkler), this coating slows heat absorption in direct sunlight and sheds heat at a better rate than any other infill. Hydrochill is a sand so it will have similar downsides as that of other sands. It won’t absorb shock very well, and it will be slightly more abrasive if one were to slide on it like in soccer.

ZeoLite Infill (ZeoFill)

Zeolite infill (a.k.a. Zeofill or Zeolite Max) is a naturally occurring substance this is generally considered the best infill to use to help eliminate pet waste smells. Zeolite is also very porous which helps to keep your turf cooler in direct sunlight compared to most rubber or sand infill options. Zeolite can be too lightweight for use as a primary infill. Generally, it is best to use a heavier infill, such as one of the sand or rubber infills, as your base infill and to then add a secondary infill layer of Zeolite as your top layer.

ZeoFill Infill Closeup
BrockFill Infill

BrockFILL Infill

BrockFILL™ is a durable, cool, affordable, high-performance infill engineered for athletes. And it’s organic. In a world that is getting too hot, it’s time to cool off. BrockFILL™ is a highly engineered wood particle infill specifically designed to improve traction and reduce artificial turf heat. It’s made from a species of southern pine grown, harvested, and replanted in continuous cycles. Through a 9-step manufacturing process, they’ve created a durable, affordable, and renewable organic infill produced here in the USA.

SafeShell® Infill

SafeShell® and SafeShell SmoothPlay™ are both part of Motz Group’s organic infill lineup, made from 100% USA-grown walnut shells. These infills provide all the benefits of a natural infill while maintaining safety, integrity, and quality. They are low-maintenance, long-lasting, and safe for people, pets, and the environment, making them a significant improvement for turf systems.

Safeshell SmoothPlay is Motz’s latest innovation in infills, designed to be cooler, with less friction and high durability. Its fine granular size allows it to settle easily into dense turf systems, resulting in a less abrasive surface. Abrasion in SmoothPlay is reduced by up to 42% compared to traditional crumb rubber and sand systems. It’s recommended for sports such as soccer, baseball, and American football.

SafeShell Infill & SafeShell SmoothPlay
Cork Infill Closeup

Cork Infill

Cork is a natural, renewable material that is also suited to use as infill for synthetic turf pitches. It boasts good cushioning properties and is applied over a layer of sand. What’s more, the odorless material obtained from the bark of cork oak and is completely biodegradable. Cork is a very light infill; it is therefore important to choose a fibre structure that optimally holds the filling material in place with cork-filled synthetic turf systems. Maintenance requirements and loss of infill are thus significantly reduced.

EDPM Infill

EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) rubber is a man-made rubber that can be made in any color and is generally thought to be safer than crumb rubber. It is also very durable, low maintenance and great for use in artificial turf for athletic fields, to help absorb shock. EPDM rubber infill tends to cost more than crumb rubber as it is not recycled. It may also still have some long term health concerns, although once again, studies haven’t definitively stated this yet. EPDM infill can also get quite hot on a sunny summer day.

EPDM Rubber Infill Closeup
Crumb Rubber Infill Closeup

Crumb Rubber Infill

Crumb rubber infill is the most popular turf infill used and is made from recycled tires. It is inexpensive and will last for years with little to no maintenance required. It is often referred to as SBR Rubber (styrene-butadiene rubber) and is black in color.

Since it is recycled, it helps to keep tires out of landfills. It is also generally accepted as one of the best infills for athletic fields since it has good shock absorption qualities. Since this product is made from recycled tires, it tends to be the infill option most often associated with potential health concerns. There hasn’t been a lot of definitive tests one way or the other but there are studies ongoing and Shaw has released their own statement on the topic. Crumb rubber also tends to be the hottest infill in direct sunlight.

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