DIY Turf Blog

In-Depth DIY Guide to Foam Shock Pads for the Best Artificial Turf


If you have kids at home who will use your new artificial lawn, you’ll come across foam underlays for the best artificial turf sooner or later. They’re a common addition to artificial grass playgrounds because they create a safer surface for kids.

Foam pads are beneficial for regular landscapes, too. For instance, they cushion trips and falls, smooth out undulations and create a softer feel underfoot.

Because of this, you may be thinking of adding a foam underlay underneath your installation, as well. And chances are, you have a lot of questions.

That’s why we’ve put together the most common questions we get here at Artificial Turf Express about this accessory.

First, let’s start with what foam shock pads are.


What are foam shock pads?

Aka foam underlay, padding or foam shock pads, it’s a type of underlay that’s often used as a base for artificial grass in playgrounds, schools and nurseries. It’s firm but spongy, which makes it ideal as an outdoor safety surface.

How to know if you need foam pads for artificial grass?

Foam underlays offer many advantages for artificial grass installations. As a result, a lot of DIY installers choose to fortify their installations with it.

However, do note that it’s possible to install a synthetic lawn without it.

To help you decide whether to invest in a shock pad or not, we’ll look at a few situations that call for a foam underlay.

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, then you should seriously think about investing in a foam shock pad.

Do you want a soft surface for your artificial lawn?

If you do, then you should install padding under your artificial turf. While synthetic grass is already soft to walk on, foam pads make it luxuriously springy. And don’t worry— it won’t make your new lawn feel like fake grass and it’s easy to clean, too.

If you’re used to walking on the hard ground under natural grass, it can seem like a strange sensation at the beginning. Soon enough, however, it’ll feel amazing every time you set foot on your new artificial lawn.

Do you want extra protection against trips and slips?

Real grass is terribly unsafe when it’s wet, because it gets dangerously slippery. Reducing this risk is actually a common reason why so many homeowners are turning to artificial grass.

Aside from being slippery, natural grass doesn’t offer a soft surface to land on. This can lead to injuries after trips and falls. It’s doubly worrying if you have kids, older adults and mobility-challenged individuals using your lawn.

As we mentioned above, synthetic grass already has a soft surface. However, a foam underlay adds an extra layer of protection.

For instance, it softens the impact and reduces injuries. Since you’ll be clearing debris and smoothing out the ground before the installation, there’s also fewer rocks, roots and other trip hazards on an artificial lawn.

Does the surface you’re planning to install turf on have any existing undulations?

Planning to install synthetic turf on concrete and other existing surfaces? Consider buying foam pads along with your artificial grass mats.

Padding will mask any lumps or bumps on surfaces. Without it, these imperfections often show through the finished synthetic surface.

If you’re installing synthetic grass on a wood deck, for example, the groovers of the boards may eventually show through the turf if you skip the padding.

Do you need to comply with Critical Fall Height Standards?

If there’s even a tiny possibility that people can fall from a height on your artificial grass, then padding is a must.

Foam shock pads help prevent injuries by cushioning and absorbing the impact of falls. This is especially important for protecting the head and other critical areas.

In public situations like parks, schools and playgrounds, foam underlays and artificial grass allow facilities to comply with ASTM F1292 and other fall height requirements.

While DIY residential installations do not have to comply with such regulations, it’s still a wise choice to install padding under your synthetic turf.

It’s especially prudent if you have children and if you have climbing equipment and other playground equipment where falling is a possibility. In some instances, DIY installers also add padding when working with grass and rock landscaping which children love to climb on.

Is a foam shock pad essential for all artificial grass installations?

Like we said above, not all turf installations need padding. For instance, you don’t really need it for standard installations like replacing an existing synthetic lawn.

Furthermore, you may not need it if you’re installing the turf on a perfectly smooth surface. You can also skip the padding if you’re fine with the softness of artificial grass alone. Finally, shock pads are rarely necessary for the best putting greens since they can interfere with ball roll.

In many cases, however, foam padding can significantly improve an artificial lawn. It boosts safety, makes the lawn more comfortable to walk on and gives the turf a beautiful finish.

Will water be able to drain through shock pads?

It depends on what kind of foam overlay you get. Mostly, though, high quality padding is permeable and provides fantastic drainage.

Can I still use a foam underlay if I have dogs?

Sure! Top-quality foam underlays are capable of withstanding daily – even rough – use from dogs. To learn more about the durability of artificial grass for dogs, head over to this article.

How to choose the right thickness for foam shock pads?

It depends on what you need. Our team at Artificial Turf Express would be happy to walk you through your options. But in general, it depends on the following factors:

  • The level of softness you’re looking for
  • If there’s a fall height risk anywhere on your lawn
  • How much foot traffic the area will receive
  • Whether there are pronounced undulations on the installation surface and how pronounced they are
  • The pile height and density you need
  • Whether you need to satisfy fall height standards

Naturally, the thicker the padding, the softer and safer it is.

How long do foam shock pads last?

Properly-installed, padding can last as long as artificial grass itself— at least 10 years up to 15 years and even longer.

How to install a foam underlay?

It depends on where you’re installing it. For typical installations, you can secure the padding to the perimeter edging using adhesive or nails. Make sure to lay it on a proper sub-base. In addition, secure any joins with duct tape or galvanized U-pins.

If you’re fitting it to paving, concrete and other existing surfaces, you can use adhesive to secure it. For decking, you can use decking screws. Feel free to check out our collection of the best artificial grass accessories to see what you need for your project.

Where can I buy a foam underlay?

You can get padding directly from Artificial Turf Express and we will deliver it to you. We have several options and thicknesses:

  • Brock Foam Shock Pad

    This underlayment will increase the fall rating of artificial turf. It also drains at more than 350 inches an hour, which is faster than most artificial grass products. The Brock Pad was developed for sports fields, but it’s perfect for backyards, too.

  • Play Padding 1 ¼” and Play Padding 2 ¼”

    Excellent for playgrounds and comes with two thickness options. Like our Brock Foam Shock Pad, our Play Padding also has drainage holes.

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