Latex vs PU backed artificial grass - what's better?

There is so much out there on latex and PU-back artificial grasses. It can be a lot to get your head around. What's better what's the difference, and what does PU stand for? Don't worry in this post we are going to detail everything you need to know about the difference between latex and PU-backed artificial grass. In the hopes of helping you make a more informed decision on which artificial grass is right for you.


Over the years artificial grass has become increasingly popular. Partially because of its ease and low maintenance. However, it has also been developed so much to bring a high standard making it look more realistic than ever. One thing that has come a long way over the years is the backing. IE. Its ability to drain water and not hold smell etc. The backing you choose won't have much impact as nowadays they are all created to a high standard, but there are some differences. We still want to tell you the difference and you can decide what's right for your project.


Latex-backed artificial grass


Natural vs. Synthetic latex


Natural latex, a milky-white fluid derived from approximately 10% of flowering plants, stands apart from plant sap. Its primary source is the Hevea brasiliensis tree, commonly known as the rubber tree. The process to obtain it is known as rubber tapping. This involves creating a slight incision into the latex vessel and, subsequently a gentle tapping. The resulting liquid is collected in a small container, reminiscent of the gathering of maple syrup from maple trees. Indigenous to South America, rubber trees were transplanted to various regions due to their immense value. Yet, their preference for warmer climates has led to the majority of natural latex production remaining concentrated in South America and Southeast Asia.


On the other hand, synthetic latex is an artificially formulated compound designed to replicate the attributes of natural latex. Unlike its counterpart sourced from rubber trees, synthetic latex is synthesized from petrochemicals. Multiple variants of synthetic latex exist, with styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) being the prevalent type utilized in the fabrication of synthetic latex foam.


What do we use?


When it concerns the backing of artificial grass, the latex variety employed is a blend that offers optimal performance. In our selection of artificial grass varieties, a combination of latex types is utilized. The synthesis of artificial grass necessitates the incorporation of two layers of latex to firmly anchor the grass fibres and enhance the product's durability. Our manufacturing process involves the application of a layer of synthetic latex followed by a layer of natural latex. This strategic choice is made due to the distinctive attributes of each type. Natural latex showcases superior resilience against environmental factors, while its synthetic counterpart forms quicker bonds and with lower production costs.


PU-backed artificial grass


What is PU?


First of all, let me tell you what PU stands for. PU is an abbreviation for polyurethane. A polymer was created back in WWII to be used as a coating for aircraft. Today it is used for all sorts of things; shoes, fridges railway carts, furniture, artificial grass backing, I could go on forever. Best thought of as a chain of 3D structures of long, repeating

smaller units called monomers. Other common polymers include nylon, silicone, polyethene and polystyrene. 


Why do we use it to back artificial grass?


polyurethane has strong bonding properties that keep the grass fibres in place, along with providing extra strength. This strength makes it wear and tear-resistant, making it highly suitable for being underfoot. The material is extremely flexible, making it a lot easier to install. Not to mention it's lightweight making it a bit easier to carry and ship compared to its latex counterpart.


PU also is better at not absorbing as much liquid as latex, which is especially useful if you have pets. This is because if the urine and the backing absorb all the urine it will start to smell very quickly. This is also why our 25mm pet grass is backed with PU as it is slightly less absorbent compared to latex. Not a huge issue as our pet 30mm is latex-backed.


What's better Latex or Polyurethane


To answer this you first need to answer these three questions;


  • Do you have dogs?  
  • Do you, your family or your pets have any allergies?  
  • Does your lawn see a lot of direct sunlight?  


Do you have dogs?  


We're all familiar with the fact that when we share our lives with a dog, our garden inevitably turns into their toilet. When it comes to artificial turf, there's an ongoing debate about whether it's susceptible to staining or damage from urine. The answer is no. Unlike natural grass, artificial turf, backed with polyurethane (PU) or latex, doesn't succumb to staining, harm, or burning. However, a potential concern, is the unpleasant odours, particularly in hot conditions. This odour issue is primarily dependent on the backing, and frequency of maintenance (cleaning).


Both PU and latex-backed artificial grass feature drainage holes throughout, allowing liquids to pass through. However, if both types possess this feature, how do they differ? Research has delved into how pet urine interacts with PU and latex backings. The findings indicate that PU-backed artificial grass has slightly lower moisture absorption, resulting in less urine retention compared to latex. Furthermore, neglecting regular cleaning and maintenance of latex-backed artificial grass can lead to urine crystallization and the subsequent emergence of persistent unpleasant smells in your outdoor space. Getting rid of said odours can be difficult. Maintaining artificial grass is extra important for pet owners. We recommend consistent washing with water, and if necessary, using a diluted disinfectant.


In the grand scheme of things, the choice between these backings becomes inconsequential if the foundational work beneath the grass is poorly executed. The foundation's construction plays a vital role in facilitating proper drainage and preventing any accumulation of liquids on or beneath the synthetic turf. The endorsed method involves using coarse materials like MOT stone and limestone grit for this purpose. Once compacted and levelled, these materials retain microscopic gaps that facilitate swifter liquid drainage. In contrast, fine materials like building sand. When compacted, it tends to absorb liquids, resulting in the retention of odours, which is far from desirable.



Do you, your family or your pets have any allergies?  


A latex allergy is quite common not only in humans but your pets. In most cases, a latex allergy will cause skin irritation and rashes. If you or your family have this allergy, latex-backed is not a good choice. As for your pets, it is harder to know if they are allergic to latex. It may be a good idea to ask your vet to check this. Or just play it safe and get PU-backed grass such as this one. 


Does your lawn see a lot of direct sunlight?  


Unlike latex, PU is more weather and corrosion-resistant. Latex-backed artificial grass can expand and contract in hot and cold temperatures. Meaning when the days start to get hotter, the grass will expand and contract in the cold. Resulting in your artificial lawn having air bubbles and wrinkles. Do not worry! Your grass will return to normal as the weather settles back to normal.  


Studies from our manufacturers show that PU-backed artificial grass is more temperature stable. Meaning it will have a minimal reaction to temperature compared to latex.




If you have no issues with any of the above. It does not matter what you choose be it latex or PU. However, if you answer yes, or want to be safe then maybe a PU-backed grass is better for you such as a pet or play.


Alternatively, check out our Eco grass. Its backing is fully recyclable and holds similar properties to polyurethane. Additionally, it has been designed for families and high traffic areas. It is also good for the environment.