Ghosting and extraction: You will always have one without the other

Whether you’re a seasoned field turf marking professional or just getting started in painting synthetic turf fields, it’s important to know about ghosting. It’s good to understand why ghosting occurs and what you can do to limit its appearance on your field.

Ghosting can happen for several reasons. The first is improper paint choice. The higher the quality of removable paint you buy, the better off your field will be – with emphasis on the word “removable”. There are products on the market that claim to be removable, but are not! It’s also important to apply paint correctly, covering the turf fibers themselves – not the infill. But in most cases, ghosting happens because of inadequate paint removal.

There are pros and cons to the different methods for removing paint from your field, concerning the risk of ghosting.

The scrub and rinse method is the most common and economical in terms of equipment, but it’s also the most labor intensive and potentially the most damaging to your field. The process typically involves applying remover, scrubbing the paint with a brush, and then rinsing the residue off the field through the turf fibers, infill, and backing – essentially washing paint off the surface. You can do this by hand or use equipment like the TempLine™ Scrub Bug and Water Bug.

The scrub and rinse method is time-consuming, especially if you’re removing paint from large areas – like end zones or logos. And if you’re not careful with the type of brush you use (metal brushes should be avoided), you can also damage the turf fibers. It’s also essential to have proper field drainage under the turf. After several cycles of painting, removing, and repainting the turf, paint residue frequently accumulates in the infill or on the turf backing, causing “ghost” lines on the field – or the condition known as ghosting.

A less common but more effective method that actually removes the paint residue from the turf includes an extraction step. This method requires specialized equipment like the TempLine Mantistm Hydro Extractor. The Mantis is a self-propelled, ride on platform that includes a scrub stage, pressure wash stage, and an extraction stage for paint removal. The machine actually vacuums up the paint residue and captures it in an on-board tank for later disposal into an off-field drain.

Extraction is an option for all synthetic turf fields, but it’s especially useful for those that lack adequate on-field drainage. It’s also valuable for facilities that require frequent field changes, with large painted areas, or have numerous fields that need to be converted.

Thorough paint removal is critical to limiting ghosting on your field. You’ll always have one without the other. By using proper extraction techniques and equipment, you can also cut down on wear and tear and extend the useful life of your field.