The benefits of having a shock pad underneath your synthetic turf are well discussed, so when such an investment is made, it is reasonable to expect the chosen pad to last beyond the life of the synthetic turf.  For new build pitches, this is now the case, with some excellent pads from companies such as Alveo, Nottssport and Vita, being installed along with more robust in situ rubber pads from specialist installers. But this has not always been so. The quality of in situ and pre-formed rubber pads installed in the last 20 years has often not been good enough, and these pads will need replacing when the surface wears out.

Henley Shock pad
In situ pad after 16 years of life

What is more frightening is that many of these pads were correctly specified and sold with a life expectancy of at least two surface lives (24 years). In reality, to meet “lowest price wins all” tenders, compromises in the choice of pad means either the materials used were not suitable or poor workmanship is to blame. Many owners will be in for a nasty shock when it comes to stumping up an estimated £40-60,000 extra.

Examples of poor installations include in situ pads installed under hockey surfaces, but with insufficient binder content to hold the pad together. With the surface removal the rubber pad is in danger of “fretting”.  The lack of binder causes the rubber granules to loosen and the pad to disintegrate, meaning it has to be removed and a new pad laid. This adds a huge cost to what should have been a relatively painless project.

So how do you ensure a good shock pad?

Well there are two rules to follow:

  1. If you go with an in situ rubber pad make sure the quality and amount of binder is of a high standard, and get it checked by an independent lab. Also make sure that the installer uses the right equipment and keeps a uniformed density throughout the pitch.
  2. If you go with a pre-formed pad make sure you have test certificates and follow the recommended installation procedures, joining the rolls or panels where necessary.
16 year old shock pad

A good pad should last at least three pitch lives and needs to be designed and installed correctly. And if you already have a pad, check its quality when budgeting for your replacement surface. Remember, if you pay a low price you quite often will get low quality, so don’t be surprised.

Read more about the importance of shock pad.