How Much Does It Cost To Turf A Football Field Use Rubber Mats to Protect Your Track From Unnecessary Cleat Damage

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Use Rubber Mats to Protect Your Track From Unnecessary Cleat Damage

Summer is coming up and soccer practice is starting for many high schools and colleges. Soccer practice means cleats (hundreds of feet each day) cruising the oval track that often surrounds schools’ soccer fields. Jogging tracks can cost a small fortune and they look great. How long they look good depends on the measures taken to protect the track surface. Consider using rubber mats to protect your track.

Mats can be used to prevent track damage that can occur from soccer cleats, lawn care vehicles, and other types of equipment that are required to roll across the track to reach the infield area. Track protection is often an afterthought or not thought of at all until damage occurs and expensive repairs are required. Protection methods used may include placing some plywood over the track, carpet scraps, or some other product not designed to protect the underlying substrate.

Plywood is heavy, tends to warp over time, and is not very attractive. Coaches or athletic directors will have to “remember” to put up the plywood, remove it, and find someone to do this constant chore. Warping plywood presents a tripping hazard that can cause injury. Finally, if your school has invested a lot of money in a track, stadium, painting the field, and decorations for the big game, warped plywood tends to detract from the whole experience.

Using carpet scraps can work sometimes, but not for long. Rugs exposed to the elements will become heavy, soak with water, and begin to degrade. Gusts of wind can also wreak havoc on carpeting and plywood. It’s hard to control Mother Nature. The answer to this problem is to use rubber mats or mats that have certain characteristics:

Low profile – The rubber mats must be thin to prevent tripping and to prevent the wind from grabbing and taking the product around.

Portability – If the mats are too heavy, the weight presents another impediment to their use. It would be preferable if the mats could be rolled up for easy use and collection.

Durability – Mats must withstand cleats, garden equipment and tractors. Rubber floor mats offer this durability.

safe COF – The COF coefficient of friction means that mats must provide a safe walking surface that is not slippery, even when wet. Plywood can become slippery just like carpet, especially in wet or icy conditions.

The use of mats can provide some protection to field tracks. Most mats are low profile, portable, and provide an acceptable Coefficient of Friction (COF). Unfortunately, there are hundreds of mats to choose from. What type or types of mats offer the best solution?

My suggestion would be to consider only rubber floor mats. Many mats have a backing that looks like rubber, but is actually vinyl. Vinyl tends to degrade over time, becoming brittle and falling apart. Vinyl mats will lose their memory and will not lie flat if rolled and unrolled many times (especially when cold). If you’ve seen mats with wavy or cut edges, it’s most likely a vinyl-backed mat, not a rubber-backed one.

Mats often have a carpet or some type of fabric on their surface. This feature is great for adding colors, but it does not contribute to the functionality of the product. My recommendation would be to use a rubber mat with no carpet or cloth on the surface.

Rubber mats offer a high coefficient of friction, are easy to roll (portability), are highly durable, and when used in a 1/8- or 1/4-inch gauge, offer a very low profile. Rubber mats are heavy enough to stay in place, but not so heavy that they can’t be moved easily. Some rubber mats offer a ribbed or pyramid-shaped surface for “safety.” This is a feature that is not necessary because rubber already offers a safe walking surface. These nooks and crannies can actually hold water and freeze, posing a slip hazard in icy conditions, especially ribbed mats.

When choosing a product to protect your track, you may want to consider a rubber mat like Track Shield or some other type of thin rolled rubber mat. Products like these are durable and offer portability that allows the mats to be used for a variety of applications when you want to protect a floor or substrate.

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