Artificial Grass

What is Turf Rubber Infill – Crumb Rubber vs EPDM – Pros & Cons

Ever wondered how the blades in artificial turf keep standing upright instead of drooping down, always looking fresh and erect?

It is the turf infill that helps support these blades, enabling them to withstand external conditions such as windy weather or falls in a soccer field.

What is Turf Rubber Infill?

The name of the type of turf rubber infill comes from the source of the rubber that is used.

Constructed with tiny particles of crushed rubber, turf rubber infill can be of two types:

  • Crumb rubber infill (SBR- Styrene Butadiene Rubber)
  • EPDM (Ethylene-Propylene-Diene Rubber)

The rubber granules are strewed between artificial turf fibers.

The type of turf rubber infill that will be used for artificial turf totally depends on the purpose of the turf itself.

Purpose of Rubber Infill for Artificial Turf

The type of rubber infill that will be used for the artificial turf will be chosen according to the area where the artificial turf will be installed.

Makes Turf Feel Like Real Grass

However, the general objective of using turf rubber infill is to give the artificial turf a tangibility that will make it look like real grass.

Without infill, the fibers of the turf will be more susceptible to swaying, breaking, and getting damaged.

Protects Turf Backing Material

Also, if the infill is not present, any shoes, feet or paws moving on the artificial turf will dig into the backing of the artificial turf to gain grip, in order to move forward.

This will, in turn, damage the turf backing and the blades that are held together by the backing.

Weight Down the Turf

Furthermore, once the artificial turf has been installed, without infill, there is the possibility that the turf will move or wrinkle: this is one of the reasons for using turf rubber infill.

The rubber infill scattered throughout the artificial turf will keep it weighed down so that it does not wrinkle or budge with movement.

Provide ‘Bounce’

Rubber is a more common option for artificial turf infill because it is porous and bouncy, and makes the turf look lush and fresh, just like freshly mowed grass.

Also, turf rubber infill gives users the feeling of soil in natural grass, as they walk on the artificial turf.

Crumb Rubber Turf Infill

The turf rubber infill that is derived from recycled rubber tires is known as the crumb rubber turf infill.

Also known as Styrene Butadiene Rubber, or SBR.

What is Crumb Rubber Turf Infill?

This type of rubber turf infill can be derived from recycled tires of trucks, tractors, earth movers, and cars.

Other types of rubber and materials such as black carbon, Sulphur, zinc, and oils that contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can also be added to this type of turf rubber infill.

Cost of Crumb Rubber Infill

The cost of crumb rubber infill depends on the amount purchased.

At an average, crumb rubber can sell for about $0.83 per square foot.

When bought in bulk, crumb rubber generally costs less.

Pros of Crumb Rubber Infill

There is a reason why crumb rubber infill is used widely when choosing artificial turf infill.

Helps Recycling

Using crushed tires to come up with crumb rubber infill is a great way to ensure that millions of tires are recycled every year, instead of ending up in the landfills.

Despite a lot of controversy regarding the health concerns related with crumb rubber due to its chemical content, studies have proved that crumb rubber really is not as bad as it is perceived for the environment or for human health.

Cost Effective Infill for Large Areas

Crumb rubber infill is quite affordable and is a great option for playgrounds, football fields and other areas used for recreational purposes.

This is because of its bouncy and cushiony nature, making it a great shock absorber.

Also, to create a heavy-duty infill, crumb rubber can be easily combined with sand, which prevents the sand from holding bad odors or cramming together.

Drawbacks of Crumb Rubber Infill

Although crumb rubber is a good option for artificial turf infill, there are a few drawbacks to it.

Retains Heat

A characteristic of crumb rubber is that it absorbs heat really well.  This is a reason why it cannot be used in places where the temperature can reach high levels.

May Be Toxic

Another disadvantage of using crumb rubber is that it can be messy to use.

Although not proven by research, there is a chance that the chemicals and metals present in crumb rubber may be inhaled by human beings.

As the infill granules get smaller over time (wear and tear), it is possible that chemicals will begin mixing in the air right above the artificial turf and start entering human or pet nasal passages, along with dust.

Might Get Smelly

Unwanted odor and bacteria are another downside of crumb rubber infill.

EPDM Rubber Turf Infill

The other type of rubber turf infill is the EPDM rubber infill, or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer.

As opposed to crumb rubber infill or SBR, it is not made up of recycled tires, but of virgin rubber manufactured especially for the purpose of making rubber turf infill.

The chemicals added to EPDM can be guessed from its name: Ethylene, propylene, and diene.

Cost of EPDM

The cost of installing EPDM has two components:

  • The initial cost of infill material
  • The cost of material that acts as a shock absorber

The average cost of installing EPDM material can be $1.76 per square foot for the infill and approximately $85,000 to $130,000 for the shock pad.

Pros of EPDM Infill

There are several reasons why people will choose to install EPDM in their artificial turf.

Color Options

First of all, it comes in a variety of colors, suited for many different applications.

High Durability & Weather Resistance

EPDM is highly resistant to weathering, the ozone, ultraviolet rays, and ageing.

It is also less susceptible to wear due to steam, hot water, and chemicals such as methanol, acetone, and esters.

Furthermore, a time-tested quality of EPDM is its durability in all types of climates.

Finally, the elasticity of EPDM makes it a good choice as a high performance and stable infill.

Drawbacks of EPDM Infill

More Expensive vs Crumb Rubber

Since it is not recycled, EPDM tends to cost more than the traditional crumb rubber, because it needs to be especially manufactured.

Can Be Toxic

EPDM, like crumb rubber, is thought to pose health risks, although not proven by research, but still a possibility.

Retains Heat

And it is prone to getting really hot in the summer months, increasing the chances of turf burn.

How Much Rubber Infill Per Square Foot of Turf?

Generally speaking, most athletic, pet, and landscaping projects will require 1.5-4.0 pounds of infill per square foot of turf.

However, the amount of infill you use will also depend on the height of the artificial blades of grass, hence the depth of the artificial turf.

The deeper the turf, the more infill will be applied.

To ensure that your artificial turf will be weighed down properly to avoid wrinkling and help keep the plastic blades erect for a longer period of time, the right quantity of rubber turf infill needs to be used.

Which Turf Infill is Better – Rubber or Rubber Sand Mix?

When talking about rubber turf infill, there are two options that can be considered:

  • Using just the crumb rubber as the infill or mixing the crumb rubber with sand
  • Creating a rubber sand mix which can then be used as an infill for artificial turf

It is a known fact that although sand is one of the most economical options for artificial turf infill.

However, it has the tendency to settle deeply into the depths of the turf, which requires more material to fill the artificial turf.

A benefit of sand is its ability to repel odors, unlike plain crumb rubber infill.

Unlike sand however, crumb rubber does not settle deeply in the turf. Hence providing a great cushion and support for the artificial grass blades and preventing injury in the case of falls.

Considering the pros and cons of both crumb rubber and sand, it can be deduced that adding sand to crumb rubber can create a mix that combines the qualities of both to provide an infill that will prove to be durable over a longer period of time.

How to Remove Rubber Infill from Used Turf?

There may be instances when artificial turf needs to be repurposed after being recycled.

There is a step that needs to be performed before a reinstallation of artificial turf can occur: removal of rubber infill from used turf.

The purpose of removing rubber infill from used turf is to make it easier to resize and move it to the new location because the infill can make it considerably heavier, hence making it a difficult task to transport it.

The traditional way to perform this task is to make a hole at the outer edge of rolled artificial turf and tie a strong rope through that hole, keeping the turf rolled up.

Next, tie the other end of the rope to a vehicle and start moving in the opposite direction so that the turf starts unrolling, in a slow smooth motion.

This will allow the infill to easily slide out of the artificial turf on the ground, as the turf lays upside down.

This method may be applied to turf that is not very large in size, however, if the area from where the rubber infill needs to be removed is extraordinarily vast, this traditional method may not work.

A machine known as the infill remover may also be used to remove rubber infill from artificial turf.

The infill remover is a more efficient and time saving way to remove rubber infill from used turf, although it may not be as economical, as the machine will need to be bought or hired at a cost.

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