If you’re currently working on planning out a football field for any U.S high school or university, you’ll undoubtedly have run into the question of whether or not it should use natural grass or synthetic / artificial turf.
There are a number of advantages of choosing artificial turf, and the following article is intended to assist you in the decision process of why you should opt for artificial turf.
How Much Does Artificial Turf Cost for a Football Field?
The exact cost of procuring a turf field will vary depending on factors such as your location, the type of material that you prefer, the size of the area of you wish to cover, and even the type of sport for which you want to install the turf for.
For simplicity’s sake, we will assume that you want an average quality synthetic turf for an 80,000 square foot football field in the U.S.
Base Preparation / Drainage Costs
On average you can expect a drainage cost of around $4.00 per square foot of land which translates to $320,000 for an 80,000 square foot football field.
A properly drained base can last upwards of 30 years, so it is a long-term investment.
Synthetic Turf Material and Installation Cost
The average turf carpet will incur a cost, for both the material and its installation, of around $5.00 per square foot of land for a decent quality of material.
This translates to approximately $400,000 for an 80,000 square football field.
It is possible to acquire synthetic turf with material and installation costs as low as $3.75 per square foot, which results in $300,000 in overall material and installation costs.
However, cheaper material may prove to lack the durability necessary for use in a sports context, so it would be preferable to maintain a higher budget.
The materials and installation costs of a synthetic turf do far exceed the materials cost for a similarly sized field of natural grass, which can be acquired for as little as $2.85 per square foot or $228,000 for a football field.
However, as we shall soon see maintenance costs make up the difference between the two.
Turf Equipment and Maintenance Costs
A turf football field, since it is an artificial bed of microfibers, has relatively low equipment and maintenance costs with an average maintenance cost of $5,000 per annum.
A grass field on the other hand can have an average maintenance cost of as high as $23,000 per annum.
Overall, the maintenance cost for synthetic turf is relatively low compared to actual grass.
Turf Football Field Cost in Total
In aggregate, a synthetic turf field of average quality for a 80,000 square foot football field will cost approximately $720,000 to establish a drainage basin, procure the materials needed and install the actual turf field itself.
The annual maintenance cost is approximately $5,000. So, for a period of ten years, it will cost approximately $770,000 to install and maintain a turf field.
How Long will a Synthetic Football Field Turf Last?
The precise longevity of a football field of artificial turf will depend on how well it is maintained and how often it is used.
The average artificial football turf field has a life expectancy of between 10 and 20 years depending on how well it is maintained and how often it is used.
Most high-school and college football turf fields in the U.S are replaced after 10 to 12 years of use as they experience heavy usage by high school and college athletes.
How Long Does It Take to Install a Turf Football Field?
It depends on the area, the quality of the material, and the stability of the existing ground upon which the turf field is intended to be laid upon.
For an average U.S high school football field of 80,000 square feet in size, it should take an average of 60 days or 2 entire months to complete the installation.
From establishing the drainage basin to laying down the material itself and preparing it for use.
What Happens When it Needs Replacement?
After a period of 10 to 12 years, you will notice that the turf will lose some of its coloration and physical properties. If the drainage base is not properly maintained or has been damaged, you may experience some issues with flooding as well.
Time for Football Turf Field Replacement
When these issues arise with a turf field, it is a clear sign that it needs to be replaced. Replacing a turf field is not a particularly time-intensive activity, although it could take upwards of 90 days.
Recycling Old Turf
Once your previous turf field has been removed, you can either dispose of it by shipping it for recycling purposes or incinerating it, the latter of these two options is much less safe than the former.
Used turf fields are often used for recycling purposes in the U.S which makes turf fields a relatively sustainable product as well.
Inspecting Drainage Base
Once the previous turf field has been completely removed, you will need to check the drainage base for signs of damage, and depending on its condition you may or may not require building a new drainage basin.
Once your drainage base has been sorted out; you can install a fresh new turf field to replace your old one. Turf fields are not particularly difficult to replace as long as your drainage base has been properly maintained and has escaped damage over the years.
If it has been damaged, it could take slightly longer as a proper drain base is necessary for safe turf field installation.
Considerations for Field Turf Warranty
A turf field is an expensive investment for a school, so it is very important to make sure that you consider all the warranty terms and conditions provided to you by your manufacturer.
Warranty Terms and Duration
It is important that you select a manufacturer that provides warranty terms that are as suitable for your individual institution’s needs as much as possible.
A turf field will typically come with a warranty of between 5 to 8 years, depending on the individual manufacturer, which is very close to the natural life-span of the turf field.
Most manufacturers will state in their warranty agreement that they are not responsible for any defects caused by the ‘normal wear and tear’ of synthetic grass products.
But they will usually guarantee that there will be no defects on the turf field while it is being installed provided the installation process is carried out according to certain rules and instructions.
Many manufacturers will also provide guidelines on proper maintenance, and how to avoid common sources of damage to the product.
Overall, you will want to find a manufacturer whose warranty terms are long-lasting, and lenient enough, that you can be sure your turf field will not be extensively damaged before the end of its natural life cycle.
Why Should You Choose Artificial Turf Over Natural Grass for Football Fields?
There are a number of keen advantages of choosing artificial turf over natural grass including:
Artificial turf has a maintenance cost per annum of $5,000 while natural grass has one of up-to $23,000 which makes artificial turf considerably cheaper to maintain.
Useable in All Types of Weather
Artificial turf, provided it is properly maintained, will not flood or get wet or muddy during the rain, and can be used all year-round.
Field Endurance and Durability
Artificial turf is much more resistant to wear and tear than living-breathing grass, so it is far less likely to suffer from damage over years of extensive use.
Since artificial turf is composed of synthetic material, it has a very consistent texture, so an entire turf field will look like an ocean of grass.
Natural grass is extremely difficult to maintain consistency as grass growth will vary from area to area.
Natural brown spots of dry grass intermixed with green grass is a relatively common sight in a natural grass field.
As a synthetic material, artificial turf does not require nearly as much water as natural grass does since it does not use water for growth.
Artificial turf only requires water if any spills have been made on to it that need to be cleaned. Otherwise, there is no need for water in a synthetic turf field.
No Pesticide or Fertilizer Usage
Synthetic grass can neither attract pests nor insects, become infested with weeds or require fertilizer for growth purposes.
Due to these advantages, there is no need to use pesticides or fertilizer on a turf field.
Both are required for use on a natural grass field, however, so choosing a turf field will eliminate the need for both of these things.
Hence, with a synthetic field, you forgo both the cost and effort required for applying pesticides and fertilizers in a natural field.
How to Choose a Vendor for Purchasing a Football Turf Field?
Now that we’ve covered why you should choose a synthetic grass field; it is time to discuss from whom you should purchase your synthetic grass field.
Choosing the right manufacturer is important for practical reasons. So, we’ve outlined four factors that you should keep in mind when choosing a turf field provider for your football field:
Different manufacturers provide different levels of durability with respect to their products. Durability is a major concern for you since you will want your turf field to last as long as possible and suffer from as little damage as possible long-term.
For a sports-field, it is especially important that the product you choose should be as durable as possible. So, be sure to check out the stated durability of a turf field provider to judge whether or not their product is suitable for your needs.
Different manufacturers tend to adopt different installation methodologies with some providing a much more precise, and aesthetically pleasing, installation than others.
Given that a turf field is no small investment, it would be ideal for you to find a manufacturer that, preferably, specializes in installing turf for football fields in high schools or colleges.
This will ensure that you have a clean and precise installation experience as possible.
As discussed above as well, different manufacturers will provide different warranty terms.
It is most important for you to find a manufacturer whose warranty terms you find to be the most aggregable with respect to your individual case.
The more vague a manufacturer’s warranty seems, the less desirable it will be generally speaking.
As with any other industry or business, turf field manufacturers will have different reputations and diverging levels of consumer confidence.
Some manufacturers are highly rated by the market and have acquired a reputation for providing a high-quality product and safe installation.
Some manufacturers may have a reputation for being cost-effective but provide a lower-quality product and others could be reputed for providing a high-quality product at decent rates but have strict warranty terms, and so on.
You should first decide upon exactly what you want to receive from a manufacturer, be it higher quality, lower rates, more lenient warranty terms, etc.,
Research manufacturers to find the one whose reputation most closely aligns with what you want to receive.
Choosing a synthetic turf football field, in preference to a field of natural grass, can be a very intelligent decision for your school or institution.
The average synthetic turf field not only incurs a significantly lower cost overall (synthetic grass has very limited maintenance requirements) but it can also provide your field with a much more uniform and consistent appearance than what a grass field can realistically achieve.
It is, however, extremely important to make sure that you choose the right manufacturer for your field which involves looking at a number of factors such as their warranty terms and conditions, financial costs, reputation, and overall profile within the industry.
Overall, a synthetic football turf field can be a great low-cost long-term alternative to a grass field.