Field paint buildup on synthetic turf athletic fields can be damaging to the turf and potentially dangerous for players. It is becoming a common problem for field managers, especially on fields with heavy event schedules requiring frequent field marking changes. The resulting frequent cycles of painting, removal, and repainting can lead to an accumulation of paint residue over time that can cause field discoloration or “ghosting.” Besides issues with field appearance, the accumulation of paint can alter the play characteristics of the turf. Perhaps most importantly, the hardening of the field can increase the risk of player injury. Remediation of paint build-up usually involves costly extra removal labor, delays, and excessive field wear and tear.

Paint removal options available to field managers include mechanical scrubbing using detergents and specially formulated chemical removers, followed by the flushing of the removal residue into the field drain system. A second option is the use of extraction equipment to both scrub off and vacuum up the removal residue for disposal off the field. Extraction technology that is suitable for synthetic turf has only been around for about 5 years, with the first and only choice of equipment for extraction being the Mantis® Hydro Extractor, introduced to the market by Eco TempLine™ in 2009. The Mantis®, along with specially formulated water-based remover products and procedures, was developed in cooperation with the Seattle Seahawks, who were the first to incorporate extraction into their field management routine.

The NFL requires synthetic turf fields to be tested for depth and evenness of the infill. According to their field certification standards, the league measures infill depth at 40 designated areas around the field to make sure that it isn’t too soft or too hard, and that infill is distributed evenly. The testing can be done no sooner than 72 hours before a game. In the last few years, the league has specified Clegg impact testing as the standard for measuring hardness. The tester works by dropping a weight from a fixed height which generates a metered numerical value, or Gmax, with a high Gmax indicating a harder surface. Professional playing fields must register a Gmax less than 100 to comply with the NFL standards for safety, field performance, and appearance.

The NFL suggests that paint on synthetic turf fields be removed after approximately every four paintings. TempLine’s Mantis® Hydro Extractor has been the number one choice among NFL teams for the best paint extraction results, and for delivering the best in field appearance. The Extractor was specifically designed and engineered to be a pivotal component in the complete TempLine system of paints and removers. Thorough extraction minimizes paint residue to improve field appearance and play characteristics, while reducing the risk of player injury.

Features include:

  • Hydraulically driven twin nylon brushes, adjustable for an 18 to 36 inch scrub path
  • Twin pressure cleaners with adjustable 20 to 40 inch cleaning path
  • On-board 70-gal. water supply
  • Proprietary waste extractor head with 42 inch cleaning path

If you are a heavy painter on a synthetic field, you should consider incorporating complete paint extraction into your field care regimen. This decision will simplify the job of maintaining the safety and appearance of your turf, while helping to extend the useful life of your field.