Impact of Paint on Turf

Impact on turf due to painting of athletic fields

The painting of athletic fields is a common practice to define the dimensions, creating team logos, and advertisements. White paint is commonly used for defining areas like the touch line, penalty area, center circle, etc. Bright colorful paints are often used on field logos and advertisement. Latex, water based paints are the most commonly used on athletic fields. Most paint manufactures try to produce quality paints that are both affordable and safe to turf. However, sports managers often notice a decline in turf quality with repeated use of paint.

Latex paints consist of pigments, solvents, resins, and additives. Pigments are the most injurious to turf. Examples of pigments found in latex paint are titanium dioxide, and iron oxide. Pigments add opacity to cover the turf surface by blocking the penetration of light. Pigments also provide the color to the paint through light absorption.

With repeated use of paint regardless of color, turf decline occurs. However, colorful paints absorb greater amounts of light compared to white paints. Thus, turf tends to be injured more from colored paints (example red) because they absorb more of the photosynthetic desirable wavelengths.

Thickness and dilution of the paint is important in the level of injury to the turf. The thickness of the paint application is important in providing a uniform painted surface. The thicker the paint is applied the more turf injury that can be expected. Diluting the paint with water in a 1:1 or higher ratio increases light reflectance and transmission and reduces the level of turfgrass injury.

Painting is an integral part of athletic field maintenance. The challenge facing sports managers is applying the paint in a fashion that provides a uniform vibrant colorful athletic field but at the same time reduces the potential for injury to the turf. In areas where turf is expected to suffer from traffic and wear, and paint needs to be applied, try to use white.


Reynolds, W.C., G.L. Miller, T.W. Rufty. 2012. Athletic Field Paint Impacts Light Spectral Quality and Turfgrass Photosynthesis. Crop Sci. 52:2375-2384.


Repeated applications of paint can cause a decline in the turf. In this photograph notice the darker colored paint has resulted in a significant reduction in turf quality compared to the white paint.