For many people, when the search for the correct artificial turf and system begins, there are a lot of questions about what to look for and how to choose between the vast options that are available. So here we have decided to give you some answers to some frequently asked questions, to help you in your quest to find the best artificial turf for your pitch.

What are the key requirements for a synthetic turf pitch base?

When a pitch is tested to the relevant governing body standards, there are at least 4 key criteria it should meet. From bottom upwards: the pitch must drain, be stable, compacted and even at the top.

Drainage is essential as there are so many local conditions that may impact on how any water is removed, or kept under the pitch. In the UK, drainage is always vertical, through a stone raft that has the capacity to store water, before it is discharged into the external drainage system. Often an outside expert is used to design the attenuation system that ensures the correct management of water.

The type of construction varies according to the contractors or consultants personal preference, and is influenced by local ground conditions. The construction depth may therefore vary, but it should be well compacted and firm to walk on.

The normal design for a pitch is a slight slope, to assist with water flow in the system and also to help make the surface appear flat. The base should be even, with no dips or bumps in the top.

How is pitch construction tested?

This depends on who is building it and under what type of contract. The client is recommended to have someone to monitor construction, and ensure the agreed pitch specification is followed. This could be an appropriate person with some surveying or engineering experience, or a specialist consultant.

The pitch would be tested at different stages during construction, such as base formation, stone application, finished surface level. Tests would check for depth of material, drainage capacity, base compaction and levels.

Before the synthetic turf is laid, with or without a shock pad, it is important that the base levels are thoroughly checked, and any corrections made.

It is rare to find a pitch built today that does not match the agreed specification. Key stage inspections have really helped raise the standards in base construction.

Does one construction system work for each sport?

In theory, yes. However, contractors/consultants have their own preferences, often determined by their experience and equipment, which tend to dictate the type of base offered. Bound bases (engineered tarmac) and unbound bases (stone construction) can be used for football, rugby and hockey. The key point is that whichever type of base is installed, it must be built to the highest standards. Neither works well when poorly constructed.

Football pitches outside the UK are nearly always built on unbound stone bases, whereas the UK’s contractors often opt for a tarmac layer. This makes the base harder and, unless there is a shock pad included, is not as safe to fall on.

Rugby pitches must have a shock pad to meet World Rugby’s Reg 22 standards. This shock pad can be laid over either base, but again, safety and player comfort is enhanced on an unbound base.


Hockey also uses a shockpad and, depending upon the type of surface, may use an unbound base, as is common in Holland and Germany. The UK again prefers the security of a tarmac layer to ensure the best possible surface levels.

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