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Is Fake Turf Shiny?

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

Researched companies, check. Had each one out for an estimate, check. Next on the to do list: look at artificial grass samples and pick one. You’ve had your coffee, your tea, your “time to get up and go” drink of choice. You’ve opened the box and laid out the options. Hard work done. Now all that’s left to do is look at them and pick your favorite. But as you look across the sea of green comprised of squares received from all your potential contractors, you’re struck by one common fact: they’re all so very shiny. You can’t put something that shiny in the front yard. Can you?


If you’re finding yourself asking this question, it’s the right time to contact us and ask us how it all works. Or you could read on. Either way.


Myth: Artificial grass is shiny. It will always be shiny. You can always spot a fake lawn because of the sheen.


This myth is a common one, but in reality, is a misconception of a rather complex truth.


Truth: Fake turf is made of plastic. Plastics are, by nature, quite shiny. Artificial lawns can be installed in such a way as to minimize the visibility of the shine. A properly installed fake lawn isn’t shinier at all, at least from some angles.

synthetic grass and pavers front yard


Let’s break all of that down. The best place to start is, of course, the beginning.


Artificial turf is created by weaving plastic “yarn” through a fabric at an angle and then cutting the ends to make individual “blades” from the loops of yarn. Imagine sewing along a piece of fabric but leaving long loops on one side, not pulling them perfectly tight. If you did this covering an entire piece of fabric and then separated the loops, you’d have a piece of fabric covered in fringe. Same idea but with less of a 1970s vibe. So, to discuss why your samples are so shiny, let’s follow that yarn through the factory.


We left our piece of fake grass with the loops of yarn just having been cut. Once they are cut and secured, the giant sheets of artificial grass need to be transported to a place where they can be sold. To do that, all factories use the same mechanism. They roll the turf up in giant rolls. Usually, those rolls are around 13 – 15 feet wide and 80 – 200 feet long. When the grass gets rolled, the pieces of yarn get folded down by the pressure and weight of the entire roll. The rolls will stay this way as they are shipped from their manufacturing site to suppliers. They may stay that way for a quite some time waiting to be sold. Why does this matter? Great question!


Imagine you open your favorite novel to a random page and place it face down on a table. What would happen to the novel if you placed several very heavy books on top of it? Let’s say you leave all of your old college textbooks on top of your favorite novel for a month. You remember the novel and decide to reread it. You lift every heavy book off it and swoop up your novel, ready to descend into a fantasy land. What do you see? Do you see a book stuck open because it’s been held this way for so long? Exactly! That’s what happens to the yarns on your fake grass samples. To get into your sample box they’ve taken a long journey from manufacturer to supplier to installer to your hands. But fear not! This is easy to fix. (No novels were hurt in the making of this analogy.)


If artificial grass is always made this way, how do installers account for the manufacturing process and minimize how shiny it looks?


When a professional installer comes and installs your fake turf, they will account for two things: the way the yarn has been held down in one direction for a long time and the angle that artificial grass is woven into the fabric, which usually face the same direction.


Because artificial lawn is woven at an angle, it has what we like to describe as a “best side”. If you look at a perfectly manicured piece of fake grass from four different sides, they will look different. The front and back will look most drastically different, while the sides will be somewhere in between the two. The diagram below is labeled to help you envision this discussion.


Diagram of fake grass sample


If you face the turf from the side labeled “back” it will be at its absolute shiniest. If you look from the sides it will be slightly better. If you look from the side labeled “front” it will be its least shiny. When you look at it from the “front”, the blades are pointing slightly towards you. Because of this, you’re seeing less reflection and seeing deeper into the grass. It may appear darker or deeper in color. It will definitely be significantly less shiny.


PRO FACT: Because of the way it’s made, the “front” and “back” of the grass are always along the 13 or 15 foot width of the turf, not the side that can be cut to size. This doesn’t mean that your yard has to be 15 feet wide or smaller but does mean that it will be more cost effective to have a 30 foot wide yard than a 31 foot wide yard. Because the grass looks different on different sides, pieces cannot be turned to cover a little sliver. The great news is that no matter the measurements, a skilled installer can make your yard look like one continuous piece.


A professional, skilled installer will keep this grain in mind when installing your grass. A few examples of scenarios and how a pro might consider installing:


A) Scenario: You want your back yard replaced by artificial turf. You will mostly view it from the house, not the sides.


artificial turf from the side

Potential Install: A professional would likely consider installing your turf so the “front” of the grass was facing your house. This way, you’ll always see the best side of the turf.


B) Scenario: You want your front yard area replaced with fake grass. It’s important to you that it looks its best from the street so your neighbors don’t notice it’s fake (or at minimum notice and think it looks amazing).


artificial grass front yard

Potential Install: Look for an installer who knows that facing the “front” of the grass toward the street will give it better curb appeal, making your neighbors jealous of your green front yard for years to come.


C) Scenario: You’re installing artificial grass in your back yard. You’d like to look decent from the house but are most interested in it looking good from your side patio because you spend so much time cooking out there.


What do you think? Which way should the “front” of the fake grass material face?


Take your time.


Did you say that it should face the patio? You’re catching on! From the house, you’ll still be seeing the “side” of the turf, which is not its worst side. You decide you like this option best.


I know what you’re thinking. What if you want your yard to look stellar from every side, right? There’s a compromise for this, too!


Artificial grasses can be manufactured with additives that make them less shiny. A fake turf with this feature is called “delustered”. Delustered turfs are significantly less shiny from all directions and can be used in areas that you want or need to look good from every angle.


Unfortunately, delustered turfs are usually firmer than other fake grasses, so it may feel somewhat

harder to the touch. It’s important to decide whether you plan to spend more time looking at your turf from multiple angles or rolling in it. You may also find that you don’t mind the texture and like the delustered look. The key is to look at the options and make the choice that works best for you.

We now have all the information we need to return to the To-Do list task of the day: looking at your fake grass samples. Here is how you can make your samples look their very best so you’re choosing the best artificial turf for you in a few simple steps:


1. Let all of your samples sit out in the sun for about an hour. Artificial grass warms up slightly when it sits in the sun. When it warms up, the fibers soften and expand making the next steps easier to do.


2. While you wait, you’re welcome to think about your project, where you’ll be installing, and where you’d like the grass to look its best. You don’t have to, we’re happy to do this part – but you can if you’d like!


3. For each sample you would like to compare, look at the sample and figure out which way the blades are “pointing towards” or the “front” as we discussed earlier.


4. For each sample, use your fingers to brush the turf up going the opposite direction of the way the blades are pointing. You can think of this as raking your fingers from the “front” of each sample to the “back” of it, if that helps. Brush all of the fibers up until they are standing up as straight as they can.


5. Set the samples down so that the “front” of each one is pointing towards you. It’s important to make a fair ruling and the best way to do that is by looking at all of them from the same angle. Remember: The deepest color and lowest level of shine will be on the “front” side. Check out two pictures below of the same sample of fake turf from two different angles.






6. Compare, contrast, and pick! Now that all the samples are looking their best, the fun begins – time to pick one! If you’re feeling overwhelmed, check out our comprehensive guide on why there are so many types of fake turf.


There’s no two ways to cut it: some fake grasses are just shiny. But now that you know more about the direction turf is facing, how it’s installed, and delustered options, you’re well equipped to discuss your concerns with a pro and find a grass you’ll love for years to come.


We think it’s important to be clear and honest about what you can expect from artificial grass. While you can expect something beautiful, convenient, and long lasting, sadly we can’t promise everyone perfect. You and the person who reads this after you are highly unlikely to want your fake turf to do the same things. There’s always some kind of compromise, just like choosing between your lowering your water bill and your green natural front lawn. The fabulous news is that there are so many kinds of artificial grass, the choices are a lot easier to make. There is, we have found over years of testing, a right grass for most folks.


Keep this in mind as you think about shiny fake lawns you’ve seen before or your concern when you first saw your samples. Focus your energies on finding a grass you like best and communicating your concerns with a licensed, professional installer. A skilled pro will hear you, explain how it’ll be taken care of, and then do the rest for you.


If you’d like to know more about why fake turf can be shiny or to receive your own samples and quote you can let us know by clicking here! Even if you think your questions may be silly, it can’t hurt to ask! Remember, helping you find a turf you love and feel confident every step of the way is simply what we’re here for.

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