Which type of artificial grass fiber fits your home?

Ever wonder whether luscious, green artificial lawns are made of the same stuff as the putting green at your local mini-golf course? Believe it or not, there are quite a few different types of artificial grass fibers, each with its own unique properties. This article will explore the most common synthetic grass fibers, their pros and cons, and help determine the best fit for your home.


The main artificial grass fibers used today are nylon, polyethylene, and polypropylene. Each has advantages and disadvantages depending on the application, traffic, and desired look and feel. While additional coatings and infill products help improve lifespan, odor resistance, and playability, the base fiber constitutes the bulk of the artificial turf product.  

Let's take a closer look at each fiber type. 

What is nylon fiber? 

Nylon is a synthetic polymer that was first mass-produced in 1935. Nylon turf fibers are made through a process called polymerization. The nylon yarn consists of long chains of polyamides that give it a smooth, continuous filament. This material is then tufted into an artificial grass product with slit-film and monofilament manufacturing techniques. 

What are the pros and cons of nylon for artificial grass? 

Nylon artificial grass has several advantageous properties but also some distinct downsides. 

On the positive side, nylon is highly resilient and can withstand a lot of foot traffic and activity. The nylon fibers bounce back upright after being stepped on or compressed. This ability to "spring back" minimizes the need for grooming or fluffing up flattened areas. 

Nylon is also highly resistant to UV radiation from sunlight. It retains its color exceptionally well without fading or discoloration over time. This makes nylon a good choice for lawns in hot, sunny climates with high sun exposure. 

However, there are some notable disadvantages to nylon grass. The stiffness of the fibers can cause "turf burn" abrasions to skin from sliding or activity on the lawn. Nylon is also semi-permeable, which allows it to absorb moisture and liquids to a certain degree. This can lead to odor issues from pet urine, spills, or excess rain. 

Finally, nylon is one of the more expensive options for synthetic grass installation. While ideal for artificial grass putting green, nylon may not be the best choice for a lawn used by the family. 

What is polyethylene? 

Polyethylene is a synthetic plastic made from petroleum that has become a top choice for artificial grass blades. 

This material has a soft, flexible texture that closely imitates real grass. Polyethylene blades have a natural curve and varied blade widths. 

What are the pros and cons of polyethylene yarns? 

Polyethylene is a top choice for artificial grass blades due to its many desirable properties. 

This material has a soft, flexible texture that closely imitates the feel of real grass. Polyethylene blades have a natural curve and varied blade widths, giving the turf a realistic, lush appearance.  

The result is synthetic grass that looks impressively like the real thing. 

Polyethylene is also non-abrasive and gentle on the skin. Unlike stiff nylon fibers, polyethylene allows barefoot play and activity without irritation. Families with kids and pets will appreciate this comfort factor. 

Additionally, polyethylene resists absorbing moisture, which helps control odors and bacterial growth from pets, spills, and rain. The non-porous nature prevents liquids from seeping and festering deep in the turf backing. 

Its durability, vivid color tones, and true-to-life texture make it easy to see why polyethylene has become a top seller. Homeowners looking for artificial grass that mimics natural lawn grass will be pleased with the realistic aesthetics polyethylene offers. 

While polyethylene has many benefits, it's not without flaws. 

Polyethylene is susceptible to UV degradation when exposed to prolonged sunlight. The ultraviolet radiation can cause the fibers to become brittle and break down faster than more UV-resistant fibers. This can shorten the lifespan of a polyethylene grass installation. 

In terms of resilience, polyethylene lacks the springiness of nylon turf. Under heavy foot traffic and activity, polyethylene blades will become matted down and compressed into a flattened, unnatural orientation. This requires more maintenance by brushing or fluffing the blades to restore their upright position. The matting and compaction will be especially noticeable in high-traffic areas. 

So, while polyethylene closely replicates lush, natural grass, some homeowners may not want to deal with the extra care. This is where polypropylene steps in as a lower-cost, more carefree option. 

What is polypropylene? 

Polypropylene is a versatile synthetic plastic polymer that has become popular for manufacturing artificial grass blades. 

Chemically, polypropylene consists of long-chain hydrocarbons made from the monomer propylene. The propylene molecules (C3H6) are assembled into a polypropylene polymer through chain-growth polymerization. 

The result is a lightweight, flexible plastic material that can be produced in various grades and densities. During manufacturing, polypropylene pellets are melted and extruded into thin, grass-like fibers. 

What are the pros and cons of polypropylene artificial grass? 

Polypropylene as a synthetic turf fiber has some advantages, but also notable drawbacks. 

On the positive side, polypropylene blades have a natural, soft, wispy texture that closely mimics real grass. The fibers are thin and flexible, providing a cushioned feel underfoot. Polypropylene is also highly resistant to absorbing moisture, which prevents issues with odors, bacteria, and damage from pet urine. 

However, polypropylene lacks durability and resilience compared to other options. The soft fibers flatten readily under foot traffic and are slow to bounce back to their upright position. This can lead to matted, flattened areas that detract from the look of the lawn. 

Polypropylene also degrades more quickly than nylon when exposed to sunlight and UV radiation. Unprotected polypropylene can become brittle and discolored after prolonged sun exposure. Manufacturers often add stabilizers to help, but polypropylene is still less UV-resistant overall. 

Finally, while polypropylene is a very affordable synthetic grass fiber option, the lower cost comes with some performance tradeoffs. Homeowners need to weigh whether the softer feel and natural appearance outweigh the lack of resilience and shorter lifespan in areas of heavy activity. 

So, in summary, polypropylene provides a lush, wispy texture at an economical price but requires care to maintain appearance. 

How do nylon, polyethylene, and polypropylene artificial grass fibers compare? 

When comparing nylon, polyethylene, and polypropylene turf fibers, there are some key differences in durability, appearance, feel, and cost. 

In terms of durability, nylon is the longest-lasting fiber. The resilient nylon blades can bounce back from heavy foot traffic, pets, and play with minimal flattening or matting. This makes nylon a good choice for high traffic areas. Polyethylene is moderately durable, though not as crush-resistant as nylon. Polypropylene is the least durable option, as the soft thin blades flatten down more readily. 

For a natural appearance, polyethylene looks the most like real grass, with its softness and varied blade widths. Nylon is stiffer and obviously artificial at a glance. Polypropylene can look quite realistic, though the thin blades may seem sparse in some products. 

In terms of feel, polypropylene and polyethylene offer a much softer, more cushioned texture underfoot. Nylon is stiff and can be abrasive, causing "turf burn" rashes from activity. Polyethylene offers the most barefoot-friendly comfort. 

UV and heat resistance also differ. Nylon withstands prolonged sun exposure and high temperatures best. Polypropylene degrades fastest in sunlight. Polyethylene falls in the middle for UV stability. 

Finally, nylon is the most expensive material, requiring the highest investment upfront. Polypropylene is the most affordable while polyethylene lands in the mid-range for pricing. 

Considering these differences can help you choose a suitable fiber. 

How do you select the right synthetic turf fiber? 

When selecting an artificial grass product for your home, remember your specific needs and priorities. 

For high-traffic areas that will see a lot of foot traffic, playing, and activity, a very durable and resilient fiber is best. Nylon is the hardest, while polyethylene is a bit softer but handles moderate traffic well. Both bounce back to an upright position quickly after being stepped on or compressed. 

In spaces used by pets, polyethylene or polypropylene are good choices to limit odors, as neither absorbs much moisture. Liquid waste drains through these fibers quickly rather than pooling on top. They are easy to clean and sanitize. 

To mimic the look and feel of a lush, beautiful natural lawn, soft polyethylene is an ideal pick. The varied green blades and naturalistic textures perfectly resemble natural grass. The softness is also comfortable for kids and pets. 

For homeowners on tight budgets, polypropylene is typically the most economical fiber option. The cost savings come with some tradeoffs in durability and resilience, but polypropylene still creates a decent-looking lawn. Expect to fluff or groom flattened areas occasionally. 

Also, factor your local climate into the decision. For regions with very hot weather and intense sunlight, nylon and polyethylene with UV stabilizers will handle the sun exposure best. Polypropylene needs more shade in sweltering climates. 

Finally, look at other factors like blade length and thatch density. But choosing the right base fiber starts your synthetic turf on the right foot. 

With a range of synthetic fibers to choose from, you can find the perfect option to suit your home's unique needs and specifications. 

Do your research, weigh the options, and make an informed artificial grass choice. Soon you’ll be hosting neighbors on your glamorous new lawn with pride. 

Link to Experts Guide to Comparing Artificial Grass Installers