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Football Field Turf Buying Guide

Football Field Turf Buying Guide

Even though baseball is still considered the national pastime, football is the most popular sport in the U.S.  There is never a shortage of participation in football at all levels, from peewee football to high school and college football.  The NFL has the highest revenue and highest average attendance of any single professional sports league in the world and the Super Bowl is the most watched televised sporting event in the U.S. each year.  Clearly, football is a major part of American sports culture.

Artificial Football Field Turf While football is traditionally played on natural grass, more facilities, high schools, colleges, and NFL stadiums are using artificial turf for their football fields.  Artificial turf technology has come a long way since its inception in the 1960s as it is more versatile, durable, and safer for athletes than previous versions of turf and even natural grass.  If you want to switch the football fields at your school or facility from natural grass to artificial turf, you will need to purchase football field turf that best suits your needs and budget.

Artificial football field surfaces are systems that consist of fibers that mimic grass, infill which fills in the space between the fibers like soil, and the backing system that secures the fibers and infill and allows for proper drainage.  At Kiefer USA, we provide and install artificial football field turf that offers high performance capabilities while improving athlete safety.  In this guide, we will help you learn more about the features of artificial turf as well as the football field turf products we offer.

History of Artificial Turf in Football

St. Charles East High School artificial turf fieldArtificial turf was first used in 1966 at the Houston Astrodome for Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros.  This turf, known as AstroTurf, consisted of a dense nylon carpet with short fibers and a closed-cell elastomeric foam pad installed between the surface and a compacted soil base.  While AstroTurf rose in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s because it was durable, consistent, and easier to maintain than natural grass, it was also a hard surface that made it difficult for athletes to make sharp turns.  Being tackled on this hard surface led to injuries for football players.

By the late 1980s, AstroTurf was disappearing from football fields because of the high risk of injuries.  Second generation artificial turf was developed in the mid-1970s and featured longer fibers on the carpet surface, silica sand infill that made the fibers stand up like natural grass, and a shock-absorbing pad beneath the carpet.  However, this type of turf was not commonly used for football fields.  Third-generation turf that consists of fibers made from polyethylene, polypropylene, or nylon and shock-absorbing rubber crumb infill appeared in the late 1990s and has been used for football fields at all levels ever since.

Artificial Football Field Turf System

Artificial turf systems for football fields consist of three main components: fiber, infill, and backing.  When looking to purchase football field turf for your school or facility, it is important to understand what each of these elements are and how they form a safe, durable, and high-performance playing surface.


The fibers are the part of the artificial turf surface that act as natural grass blades.  They are typically made from polyethylene, polypropylene, or nylon and they are tufted into the backing.  These materials are chosen for the fibers to create a surface that has high resilience, superior durability, temperature stability, and low skin friction.

The following are the main types of fibers used for artificial turf surfaces:

  • Monofilament: Monofilament fibers are solid, single-strand fibers made to look like real individual blades of grass. These fibers are designed to stand up straight and give natural ball-to-surface characteristics including ball roll and ball bounce.
  • Slit-film: These fibers are fibrillated to create a net that helps keep the infill in place. They can also absorb heavy impacts from kicks, tackles, and slides.
  • Hybrid: Hybrid systems contain both monofilament and slit-film fibers that offer the resilience of monofilament with the impact absorption and infill encapsulation of slit-film.


Mondoturf – Ecofill Turf Infill System KieferUSAThe infill is the layer of the turf system that acts as the dirt.  It typically consists of ground recycled rubber, polymers, or organic materials that provide a shock absorbing layer.  The purpose of the infill is to absorb impacts and help the fibers stand up straight like natural grass.  It plays a crucial role in the performance, safety, and energy restitution of the turf field.  The more infill there is on the field, the safer the surface.

The following are the three main types of infill systems:

  • Three-layer: This infill system consists of three layers, a base layer of sand, middle layer mixed with sand and rubber, and a top layer with larger pieces of rubber. The interlocking properties of the rubber and sand in the middle layer create a stable surface with excellent energy restitution.
  • Two-layer: This system consists of a layer of sand at the base and a top layer of rubber. Two-layer infill provides firmness and shock absorption.
  • Low infill: Low infill systems consist of a pad at the base that is constructed of thatch. These systems may have a small amount of rubber infill or none at all.

There are several options when it comes to the type of infill material for your turf system.  The following are the main types of infill materials:

  • Cryogenic SBR rubber: Cryogenic styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) consists of recycled rubber that is ground in a mill. After being ground, the smooth particles are separated and frozen at a temperature of -112 degrees Fahrenheit, which creates a material similar to glass.  This material is then processed through a specialized mill that cuts it into smooth, rounded particles.  The round shape of the particles allows for consistent drainage, and it connects well with silica sand which provides excellent energy restitution.
  • Ambient SBR rubber: This type of rubber is processed through a high-power mill that creates granules of inconsistent shape.
  • Natural infills: This infill consists of natural or organic materials such as granulated cork, olive cores, and coconut peak. Natural infills require a shock pad underlayment to provide shock absorption.
  • Post-industrial recycled rubber: Post-industrial recycled rubber is an alternative to SBR that is produced with reclaimed post-industrial materials such as shoe grind material. The performance, safety, and durability of infill is similar to that of SBR.
  • Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE): TPE consists of a mix of polymers that have similar performance, safety, and durability characteristics as SBR infill.

Backing and Drainage

The backing is the base of the entire turf system that holds the fibers in place and allows for drainage beneath the turf.  The fibers are tufted into the backing which is then coated to keep the fibers in place.  There are two main types of backing:

  • Perforated backing: Coating is applied to cover the entire backing and holes are punched in the coating to allow water to drain. The amount of holes punched allows for quick drainage.
  • Finger-unit backing: For this type of backing, the coating is applied only to the areas where the fibers are tufted. The uncoated sections are porous and allow for faster drainage than perforated backing.

What to Consider When Buying Football Field Turf

University of Kentucky Artificial Football Field Turf When looking for football field turf for your facility or school, you should first have a good idea of your needs and budget.  Artificial turf that is used for football fields should provide stability, shock absorbency, and energy restitution.  You should also consider more practical things like the appearance of the turf and drainage capabilities.

When choosing football field turf, consider the following:

  • Durability: It is important to consider durability and choose a turf surface that can withstand the climate and the sport of football. A good artificial turf surface should last between 8 and 10 years.
  • Appearance: The appearance of the turf is another thing to consider as turf with a higher density of fibers looks lush and full. You can also customize the turf with the colors and logo of your school or facility.
  • Drainage: The turf should be able to provide good drainage. If you are in a climate with a lot of rain, you must ensure that the turf has excellent drainage qualities.
  • Pile height: You should consider the height of the fibers as football fields are recommended to have a pile height of about 2-3 inches.
  • Regulations: If the field will be used for competition in leagues such as high school football or the NCAA, the field must meet the regulations of the league, including dimensions, pile height, performance, and safety.

Mondo Unite FTS3 Artificial Turf System from Kiefer USA

Kiefer USA along with Mondo set out to create an innovative artificial turf system that reproduces the characteristics of a well-maintained natural grass playing field to be used for football.  The result is the Mondo Unite FTS3 Turf System that provides exceptional biochemical conditions for games and practices.  This is the world’s only turf system that surpasses the benchmarks of the best natural grass fields in terms of performance and safety.


The Mondo Unite FTS3 Turf System consists of the following:

  • Dual XN fibers: The Dual NX fibers combine XNOVA monofilaments with 4XN monofilaments.
  • Ecofill Rebound: The patented Ecofill Rebound consists of thermoplastic rubber granules for maximum performance.
  • Unite Thermo-Bonded artificial turf carpet: The multi-layer carpet fuses to the fibers through a thermo-bonding process.
  • Fine Tune System shock pad: The underlayment is made from granules of post-consumer rubber that provide a uniform elastic response for excellent shock absorption and drainage.

Ecofill Turf Infill

Ecofill Turf InfillThe Ecofill Turf infill was created by Mondo to provide the closest performance, feel, and safety as a natural grass field.  They found that Ecofill was the best option to achieve these results. The following are the main features of the Ecofill Turf infill:

  • Enhanced safety: Ecofill has consistent resiliency and efficiently absorbs impact which allows players to pivot, plant, turn, twist, and accelerate without getting stuck in the turf. The dimensional memory of the Ecofill offers excellent energy return.
  • Enhanced performance: Ecofill provides a perfect energy return that allows the athlete to accelerate, plant, pivot, and turn to the best of their ability.
  • Less radiant heat: Traditional black rubber granules can increase radiant heat from the field by up to 79.8%, increasing athlete fatigue and discomfort. Ecofill does not radiate nearly as much heat.
  • Low migration: Ecofill is more dense than regular infill which reduces granule migration for a more uniform and stable surface.
  • Environmentally green: Ecofill consists of 95% recyclable materials and is free of PAHs, heavy metals, and amine aromatics.

Classic Infill

Minnesota Vikings - Artificial Turf StadiumThe classic infill is the affordable, traditional rubber infill that has the following features:

  • Excellent durability
  • Rubber granules and sand are a size and shape that helps prevent compaction
  • Granules are virtually non-abrasive to athletes
  • The contaminants have been removed from this infill during the granulation process
  • Conforms to ISO 9001 high production and quality standards
  • Dust free
  • 60% shock absorption
  • 100% post-consumer recycled granules

Fine Tuned System Underlayment

The Fine Tuned System underlayment is made from ground recycled tires encapsulated in polyurethane between two polyester layers.  This underlayment has the following features:

  • Uniform and controlled playing surface: The Fine-Tuned System revolutionizes turf underlayment by preventing compaction and granule migration. This ensures consistent biomechanical field characteristics over time, offering exceptional shock absorption and energy return for top athlete performance while maintaining safe impact conditions.
  • Superior drainage: This underlayment has 50% more drainage capacity than traditional underlayment due to its unparalleled vertical drainage rate, lateral transmission, and water retention rate.
  • Environmentally friendly: The FTS granules, coated with polyurethane and bound together, form a durable porous structure that safeguards athletes and the environment from harmful substances found in black rubber recycled tire granules.

Shaw Sports Turf

Artificial Football Field Turf Shaw Sports Turf have developed a range of products that prioritize both performance and safety. Their turf systems have been designed specifically to cater to the needs of athletes and sports programs. From fibers and padding to infill materials, they offer various options that can be customized to meet the unique requirements of the customers. Whether you need a turf system that enhances performance or one that prioritizes safety, Shaw Sports Turf has you covered.


Turf Nation

Turf Nation produces high-quality synthetic turf systems that are ideal for various sporting events, including football, lacrosse, baseball, soccer, field hockey, and rugby. Their products are used by a wide range of users, from professional franchises (such as 13 NFL teams) to collegiate programs, major arena leagues, local high schools, and municipalities. Whether you need a synthetic turf system for intense professional matches or casual games at your local park, Turf Nation has the perfect solution for you.


University North Dakota Football Field Artificial TurfContact Kiefer USA

Kiefer USA is an industry leading supplier and installer of artificial turf for football fields at all levels, including the NCAA and NFL.  We can work with you to install our innovative Mondo Unite FTS3 Turf System at your facility for a safe, consistent, and high performing playing surface that is ideal for football.

Contact Kiefer USA at (800) 322-5448 for more about our options for football field turf products and installation.


Amber Stromberg

Kiefer USA is a leading athletic surface design and sports flooring installation company. Amber Stromberg is a Director of Marketing. 10 Years with Kiefer.
Favorite Hobby: working out and spending time with her kids and family.

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