There is so much information out there on latex and Polyurethane artificial grass backing that it can be hard to get your head around. Is PU backed artificial grass as durable as latex? Will latex backed artificial hold more smells? What’s the best backing for artificial grass? But don’t worry, you are in safe hands. Here at Cheshire Artificial Grass, we have done some investigating with our manufacturers and compiled all the answer in one place… here!
As the years go by, more and more people are getting artificial grass. The popularity grows as many realise the advantages it has on everyday life. It’s low maintenance, less mud, season proof and perfect for busy families with children and pets. Due to its durable nature, it’s less likely to wear or be damaged by things like dog urine.
Artificial grass has come a long way, and many developments have occurred over the years to make the grass better and more realistic. From the artificial grass fibres to the materials used in production, and now the backing of the artificial grass. The backing in artificial grass is important as it keeps all the grass blades in place and strengthens them. Without it, you wouldn’t get a beautiful looking lawn. Artificial grass can come with two backings, which is either the trustworthy favourite latex or the new-found glory PU backed. Before we go into which one is better, we first need to look and understand the options available.
Latex Backed Artificial Grass
What is Natural Latex?
Natural latex is a milky white liquid that is extracted from 10% of all flowering plants. Not to be mistaken with plant sap, latex is mainly harvested from the Hevea-Brasiliensis tree, better known as the rubber tree. They do this by a process could rubber tapping. This consists of making an incision into the latex vessel which is then lightly tapped. The results are collected in a small bucket, similar to how maple syrup is gathered for a maple tree. Rubber trees are native to South America and attempts were made to grow them in other parts of world because of their great value. However, they preferred the hotter climates which means we still get most of our natural latex from South America and South-East Asia.
What is Synthetic Latex?
Synthetic latex is a synthetically made compound that mimics the properties of natural latex. Rather than being harvested from rubber trees, it is produced from petrochemicals. Several types of synthetic latex exist but SBR (styrene-butadiene rubber) is the most common type of synthetic latex used in the production of synthetic latex foam.
Which is Used in Artificial Grass Backing?
But when it comes to the artificial grass backing, which latex is used? Well, we’re here to tell you that when it comes to our range of artificial grasses, it’s a mix. Fake grass needs two layers of latex to secure the grass fibres and create strength in the product. Our manufactures use one layer of synthetic latex and then one layer of natural latex. This is because both hold slightly different properties. The natural latex is better against fighting the elements where as its synthetic counterpart bond quicker and costs less to produce.
Polyurethane Backed Artificial Grass
What is Polyurethane?
Polyurethane was manufactured in world war ll for the use of coating aircrafts. Created to replace rubber however, at first, it was extremely difficult and expensive to get. Today, it is used as a coating for various objects such as footwear, fridge freezers, steel railway carriages, wooden furniture and gaskets for cars. Polyurethanes are polymers. Best thought of as a chain of three-dimensional structures made up of long, repeating smaller units called monomers. Other well-known polymers include nylon, silicone, polyethene, polypropylene and polystyrene.
Why is it Now Being Used in the Backing of Artificial Grass?
Polyurethane backing, more commonly known as PU backing has many properties that complement the manufacturing process of artificial grass. It has strong bonding properties that keeps the individual grass fibres in place, as well as provides them with extra strength. This strength makes it wear and tear resistance, making it highly suitable for being underfoot. The material is highly flexible, making the installation process easier. Not to mention its lightweight, so no one break they’re back moving it around.
So, Which One is Better Latex or PU Backed Artificial Grass?
To answer this question, you need to consider a few factors, for example;
- Do you have dogs?
- Do you, your family or your pets have any allergies?
- Does your lawn see a lot of direct sunlight?
Artificial Grass Backing and Dogs
We all know that when we have a dog, our lawn becomes its very own personal bathroom. When it comes to artificial turf there is a lot of discussion of whether dog urine stain or damages it. The answer is no! It doesn’t stain, damage or burn like natural grass… whether it is PU backed or latex backed. However, there is a possibility of bad smells occurring… especially in extreme heat. This is all down to the grass backing, the base works use and how often it is cleaned.
Both latex and PU backed artificial grass have drainage holes throughout the back. This is to aid drainage and allow liquids to pass through quicker. But if this is on both, how can one be better? Research has been done into how pet urine drains through PU and latex. In these tests, it was found that polyurethane backing for artificial grass doesn’t absorb as much moisture and, therefore urine as much as latex. In addition, if the latex backed artificial grass is not cleaned and washed through regularly, this can cause the urine to crystallise and give you a bad-smelling garden. Which can prove difficult to get rid of. Needless to say, maintenance is very important when having artificial grass for dogs. We advise with whatever back artificial lawn you have, to wash the area regularly with water and if needed use a diluted disinfectant for hygiene reasons.
All in all, deciding on which backing to get will be wasted if your base works under the grass isn’t correct. The base works are key to provide the proper drainage, so no liquid is able to sit on or under the artificial turf. Using MOT stone and a limestone grit is the established method as both these materials are coarse. Once they are compacted and levelled, microscopic holes still remain which gives the liquid somewhere to go, faster. Other materials like building sand are too fine and once compacted, will just absorb the liquid. Therefore, holding in whatever smell may come with it and no one wants that.
As explained above, some of the latex used in the backing is natural. Which natural substances allergies can develop in humans and animals… including your pets. Similar to how we have allergic reactions, our pets can to, with latex it usually causing a skin reaction. Your pets will start to show symptoms like redness, dry/scaly skin and hair loss. This may affect their behaviour to, as they are constantly scratching, chewing and licking the fur. It’s always best to speak to your vet before getting artificial grass. Using PU as the backing creates a latex free artificial grass option that will be perfect all year round, without harming your pet.
Is your Garden a Suntrap?
Unlike latex backed artificial grass, PU backed artificial grass is very weather-resistant and corrosion-resistant. Latex backed artificial grass can expand and contract in extreme temperature variations. Meaning when the days start to get hotter, the grass will expand, resulting in your artificial lawn having air bubbles and wrinkles. But there is no need to panic! Your grass will contract when the weather starts to get colder, leaving you with the beautiful lawn exactly how it was installed.
Studies from our manufacturers show that PU backed artificial grass is very temperature stable. Meaning it is less likely to react to extreme weather changes. Making it the better choice if your garden sees a lot of sun.
If you have no conflicts with the three questions above… then you can choose between either latex or PU backed artificial grass. However, if you find yourself answering yes then we would recommend consider to choose a PU backed artificial grass to make sure you get the garden you deserve. Don’t forget to check out our new EcoGrass, its backing is 100% recyclable. The backing holds similar properties to PU and uses a fully recyclable glue to bind the stitching together. Perfect for high traffic, dogs and families.
If you would like any more information on the artificial grass which we have available here at Cheshire Artificial Grass, or wish to book a free site survey, please feel free to contact the team. Also if you are looking for 5 meter width check out our 5m PU or latex backed artificial grass.