August 21, 2019 • Athletic AdministrationFacilities

4 critical questions when choosing synthetic turf adhesives

turf adhesive application
A synthetic turf adhesive is applied by airless spray to a porous shock pad. | Photos: courtesy of Norris Legue

Coaches and athletic directors are attentive to the safety and appearance of their sports field. But few know much about the components in the surface until there’s a problem or failure.

One critical component of any turf surface is the adhesive used to install it. The best turf, finest shock pad, or sturdiest base is of little use if the adhesive holding them together fails due to normal use, age, or weather. It could result in a small cosmetic problem or a catastrophic failure, such as torn seams that can create dangerous tripping hazards.

The adhesive athletic programs use can significantly affect the safety, quality and durability of the surface performance. Trying to “save money” by using a cheap adhesive, or one without years of proven durability, can result in serious problems.

Since there is no one-size-fits-all adhesive for every project. To reduce potential installation delays or other unexpected problems, ask these important questions before choosing an adhesive.

1. Can the adhesive be applied from sub-freezing temperatures to intense desert heat, or must installers wait for the temperature to be in a specific range? Because time is money, installers may not wait for an “ideal” temperature. It can prolong the time it takes to complete the project. On the other hand, an adhesive that can be used in any temperature allows the project to stay on schedule, regardless of the climate.

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2. Can the adhesive withstand rain shortly after installation and before it cures? If not, losing work time due to inclement weather adds days or weeks to the project, resulting in additional costs. Remember: Time is money.

3. Does the adhesive have high ‘green strength’ (grab), or is it oily/slippery during installation and before it cures? Green strength is a unique and important adhesive property (tack/grab as opposed to oily/slippery). It gives it the ability to hold the surfaces together when first contacted and before the adhesive develops it, ultimate bonding properties when fully cured.

synthetic turf adhesive dispensing
Seaming tape is dispensed from a glue box.

Green strength is vital for successful outdoor installations. It helps overcome the tendency of surfaces like synthetic turf to separate, curl, bubble, lift, creep, slip and wrinkle during installation.

4. Does the adhesive have a proven record of long-term durability, particularly outdoors after years of aging and weathering? The adhesive company’s website can usually provide details about their history, products and level of experience with athletic surface installations. This can boost your confidence in using their product or raise doubts about whether their adhesive is a good fit for your project.

Before making a final decision on the adhesive, read as much information as possible about each product. Don’t hesitate to call the manufacturers to get answers to these four important questions.

By making a well-informed decision for your adhesive, your field should deliver long-term durability, safety and visual appeal.

Norris Legue is the president of Synthetic Surfaces Inc. in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.

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