One of the most frequently asked questions
For this exercise, lets assume we are working with a 1,000 sqft tired front lawn that is looking to be replaced with beautiful New Synthetic Turf. (Please Note: All figures discussed in this example are based on Southern California Pricing and will need to be adjusted based on your geographical location)
Are you ready…..here we go…
There are 5 main costs:
4. Company Overhead (i.e Workers Comp, Gen. Liability Insurance, Advertising, Gen. Office Expenses, etc.)
Now, lets break these 5 components up and jump right in:
When considering the materials needed for an artificial grass installation, you would be looking at the following:
– artificial grass
– class II road base
– weed barrier fabric
– weed killer
– bender board or mow-strip(paver mow-strip is a good option especially if you have pavers elsewhere on your property)
– seaming tape, glue, staples, stakes, and nails
– misc. (i.e. turf deodorizer, drainage membrane, lawn padding, flag set, golf cups, etc.)
There are many different styles of synthetic lawn to choose….from pet turf, to putting greens, to athletic turf, to landscaping turf(most popular). The landscaping turf can have thick blades, thin blades, tall blades, short blades, brown thatching(to resemble dead grass) to green thatching, you name it, there is a perfect selection with your name on it.
For the sake of this exercise, lets assume we are talking about medium to high-grade synthetic turf, which are by far the most popular selection when presented with all your options.
(note: think about it, you are investing in a synthetic product, that being fake grass, so it makes sense to get the best looking grass out there which resembles the real thing. Otherwise, you might as well just save your money and go ahead and paint your dead lawn green and call it a day. There is a BIG difference between low to high-end turf….a BIG difference! The last thing you want is to go from an ugly dead lawn to one that screams FAKE, or to a lawn that blinds your neighbors as they walk by your house due to your poor quality selection — all just to save a few bucks)
Typically, the medium to high-grade synthetic lawns run anywhere from $1.95/sqft plus tax to $3.15/sqft plus tax, all depending on which manufacturer and style you choose. You can see a full list of the Artificial Grass Manufacturers Here. Keep in mind that you will have to account for waste when ordering the material.
Lets assume we select one of the most popular turfs, which happens to be a med-high-grade turf. It is not the cheapest, however, it is definitely not the most expensive by far. We are going to use this one in this example due to its popularity. This particular turf is $2.55/sqft plus tax. For the sake of this exercise lets also assume there is going to be 15% waste.
The waste factor will vary depending on the shape of your project. On average, there is usually 10-20% waste on turf projects. For instance, if you have a “pie shaped” yard, you will be looking at a lot more waste than a rectangular yard. The turf is rolled out like carpet and typically comes in 15ft widths, so if you can try to imagine the grass being rolled out in your head, you can visualize how much waste there is going to be with a pie-shaped (or any irregular shaped yard) vs. a simple rectangle.
Quick Number Crunching…
Now, if we add 15% to 1,000 sqft, we get 1,150 sqft. Lets multiply 1,150 sqft by our turf cost of $2.55/sqft and then by 7.75% to account for taxes(Southern California). We get $3,159.77 (1,150sqft x $2.55/sqft x 7.75% = $3,159.77) .
To figure out the price/sqft we would divide $3,159.77 by 1,000 sqft and we come up with $3.16/sqft, which takes into account the 15% waste and 7.75% California taxes.
Lets take a look at the next material, that being the class II road base which will vary depending on your specific location. For this example we will go with the least expensive route. Using a 1,000sqft, we would be looking at roughly $.35/sqft (including taxes), which would be around $350.
The next item to think about is the weed barrier fabric. A typical roll comes with 1500 sqft of fabric, so that will be plenty for this project. At $70 a pop, we are looking at $75.43 (including tax) for the fabric.
Looking at the weed killer, if you are using a high quality concentrate, typically 7fl oz /2 gallons of water will be sufficient for 1,000sqft. A good quality weed killer with run about $15(including tax).
Up next is the bender board or poly board. The 4in. height brown poly board sells for about $20 per roll which is 20ft long ($21.55 including taxes). There are cheaper alternatives with the bender board, however, we have found this board to stand the test of time(which means it will save you money in the long run).
You will need to figure out how many soft-scape edges you have, which will determine how many rolls you will need to order. For this example, lets say the dimensions of your lawn are 25ft wide by 40ft long (25 sqft x 40sqft = 1,000sqft) and we would need a the bender board to support all sides except the 25ft that abuts up against your garden wall(which is made of concrete).
If we add up the 3 sides, we get 105 feet of soft-scape areas that will need attention. So we will need to purchase 6 rolls to cover 105ft. This comes to $129.30 including taxes. Keep in mind that this is just the cost of the material, this does not include installing the poly board.
Now if you wanted to go the paver mow-strip route, we will need to calculate the cost of the concrete footing as well as the pavers for the boarder. At 6-8 inches deep and 6-8inches wide, we would have roughly $.625/ft or $66 for the concrete. If we take a standard non-tumbled paver, which costs roughly $.38 per piece, we would be looking at about $50 for the pavers, if we went that route. Again, this also is solely the material cost, not labor.
Next up is the seaming tape, glue, stakes and nails. This is also going to vary on each project depending on the number of seams, as well as the length of the perimeter. For this example, we can lay the turf 2 different ways where one installation will have 2 seams and the other will have 1, so I think we will all agree that the 1 seam route is the way to go. Ordering the minimum quantity(you will have extras) of each item we will need, we would be looking at about $205 for the seaming tape(40ft), glue(1 gallon), nails(1box), stakes(1 box) and staples(1 box).
The last item is infill and there are many different types to choose from. Your options are basically rubber, flex sand, silica sand or an acrylic coated sand. The costs can vary drastically for the infill and this is where a lot of companies cut corners with cheap infill. Make sure you are getting the highest quality infill, it makes a big difference and you will save in the long run as well too because you will not have to keep reapplying the infill. You can read more about it here.
For this example we are going to go with the most popular choice, and that is the antimicrobial acrylic coated sand due to its multitude of benefits. A standard installation uses anywhere from 1-2lbs of infill per sqft. At $17 per 55lb bag, we will need roughly 28 bags to account for 1.5lbs per sqft. This would cost right around $476 of 1.5lbs/sqft of acrylic coated sand for a 1,000 sqft synthetic lawn.
That just about covers the “very basic standard material costs” for 1,000sqft artificial turf.
Now, lets turn our attention to the Operational Costs
These include dump fees(dirt, grass, concrete, etc.), fueling costs, and delivery fees.
For a 1,000 sqft lawn we would have roughly 2 trips to the dump(2 truck loads of grass and dirt). At approximately $100 for each load, we would have a total of $200 in dump fees.
Fueling costs are a little too difficult as it all depends on the proximity to the dump and the exact materials that we are hauling away. Lets just pick a safe number for this example and say it costs $150 in fueling fees throughout the course of the project. This shouldn’t be that far off, if at all.
The last item is the cost of delivery which will range from $150-250 per trip, all depending on the manufacturer and distance to the project. For this example we will use $150, so it will cost us $150 to deliver 1,150 sqt of synthetic grass.
Next up is the Labor Cost
This is the difference maker( or the “X Factor” as Simon Cowell would say), as everything else that has been provided is the exact same across the board from one company to the next. You absolutely 100% get what you pay for in the labor department in terms of the long term durability/integrity of your project.
There are installers who have been installing artificial grass for 6-12 months and there are installers who been installing turf for over 15+ years. You might guess that the team with over 15+ years under their belt might cost a little more and you are absolutely right! But boy oh boy, well worth the investment!
For a solid crew, who has the experience that you should want for your installation, you would be looking at $2.25-2.75/sqft for the labor. At 1,000 sqft, that would be $2,250-$2,750 in labor.
You can always go cheap here, however, the last thing you want is to be regretting that decision later down the road when your project is falling apart and the company is out of business or day laborers are nowhere to be found.
If you are looking to get your installation done right the first time and never have to think about it again, then you will want to pay the extra money to get a Solid Installation Crew to install your project. This is definitely not an area to shave off a few dollars.
Moving on…lets tally up what we have so far:
Material for 1,000 sqft Artificial Lawn (rough estimates)
– artificial grass = $3,159.77
– class II road base = $350
– weed barrier fabric = $75.43
– weed killer = $15
– bender board/poly board or mow-strip(lets figure the poly board on this one) = $129.30
– seaming tape, glue, staples, stakes, and nails = $205
– infill = $476
– misc. (i.e. turf deodorizer, drainage membrane, lawn padding, flag set, golf cups, etc.) = $0 (lets assume no extras)
– TOTAL = $4,4410.50
Operation Costs for 1,000 sqft Artificial Lawn (rough estimates)
– Dump Fees = $200
– Delivery Fee = $150
– Fueling Fees = $150
– TOTAL = $500
Labor for 1,000 sqft Artificial Lawn (4-5 person team, taking 2-3 days to complete) (rough estimates)
– Outstanding Crew = $2.75/sqft
– Good Crew = $2.25/sqft
– TOTAL (Assuming Outstanding Crew) = $2,750
– GRAND TOTAL = $7,660.50
Keep in mind that this figure of $7,660.50, is the cost BEFORE the Turf Company has paid for any of their overhead costs (aka “costs of doing business” and more importantly the costs to remain in business as a legal entity).
AND this is also the cost BEFORE the Artificial Grass Company has made a penny in profit.
After-all, making a profit is probably one of the main driving factors to being in business unless the intent is to become a nonprofit. We are not aware of any nonprofit turf companies out there. If you know of any, please let us know.
Moving right along to the Overhead Costs:
Listed below are some of the Overhead Costs for a legitimate synthetic grass company:
– Workers Compensation Insurance
– General Liability Insurance
– CA Licensing Fees
– Contractors Bond
– Corporation Fees
– CSLB Home Improvement Sales(HIS) License Fees
– Payroll Expenses
– Accounting Fees
– Business Taxes
– Lawyer Fees
– Advertising/Marketing Expenses
– Administrative Staffing Fees
– Auto/Truck Expenses
– Certifications (BBB, ICPI, etc.)
– Office Expenses (B-Cards, Contracts/Diagrams, Yard Signs, Car Magnets, Company Shirts, Company Phones, Website, Hosting Fees, Internet, Computers, Camera, Credit Card Processing System, Office Rent, Yard Expense, Electricity, General Supplies (tape measure, landscaping paint, etc.)
The overhead costs are not limited to what is described above and it is too difficult to attach an “overhead number” to each installation, however, the point is to showcase that there are quite a few costs that do add up when analyzing the anatomy of a synthetic turf deal, aside from the material and labor costs.
Again, there are a lot of companies out there that Do Not intend on using the best crews, and Do Not intend on operating legally, so they can and will, offer you a much more enticing “cheaper price.”
Once all of the overhead is paid, the materials are all paid, the operating expenses are paid and the labor is paid, then what is left over, if anything, is the company profit.
Lets keep rolling with this example
We will go ahead and just pick a number to work with for the overhead. Lets go with an overhead figure of 10%, which is definitely erring on the LOW side. Marketing, Workers Comp, and Payroll Expenses alone are more than 10%, let alone everything else on the list above. Keep in mind that we have been erring on the low side in this entire exercise.
So if we use 10% for the overhead costs in this example, we would be looking at $766 for the overhead expenses ($7,660.50 x 10% = $766).
Adding the overhead to our previous total, we now have a Rough Cost of $8,426.55 for a 1,000 sqft synthetic lawn or $8.42/sqft.
Now, anything less than $8.42/sqft, should be “red flagged” immediately ONLY IF you are interested in getting your installation completed right the 1st time, which would include the highest quality materials manufactured in the USA, a highly skilled turf installation team who have been installing for years(not months), a professional synthetic turf designer, a dedicated construction manager supervising your install and a robust company that will be around to assist you in the future should you need help.
Knowing this information, what do you think an Artificial Turf Company should make to remain a healthy and happy company? Should they make 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%?
Please note that the money that is left over, which we have labeled “Company Profit Share,” is to pay for the Field Supervisor, the Design Consultant who assisted you with your project, and The Company as a Whole, so they can continue to grow and thrive as a robust business. So this company profit will be split and shared 3 different ways:
– At a 10% margin, your price would be = $9,361 (company profit share = $935)
– At a 20% margin, your price would be = $10,532 (company profit share = $2,106)
– At a 30% margin, your price would be = $12,049 (company profit share = $3,623)
– At a 40% margin, your price would be = $14,043 (company profit share = $5,617)
What price do you think is fair?
In this exercise we have been assuming the Middle to Least Expensive Scenarios for all the components involved with determining your turf installation price, with the exception of the crew where we went with a more experienced crew and we know a more experienced crew is always going to cost you more.
We believe this is not the area to skimp on and you should always consider using the most experienced crew possible. This will be money well spent, Guaranteed!
When looking at these prices, you can get a very good idea as to what you might expect your project will cost on the medium to low end.
Medium to Low End? What do you mean?
There are so many factors that can come into play which will raise the price of your project (i.e. accessibility, type of turf you choose, drainage issues, excessive roots, how many sqft you have, whether you want turf deodorizer, a putting green, mow-strips, extra labor costs, etc.)
The Bottom Line:
The key take away of this post is to really shed some light as to what a typical artificial turf project might cost. By unveiling the curtain and allowing you to have a sneak peak inside to see how the numbers breakdown, we hope that this provides you with the confidence you need to make the right decision on which contractor to use to install your synthetic lawn.
As you can see from the breakdown above, the only way a company could possibility offer you a lower price than what we have mapped out for you in this example is if they are:
A.) using a less experienced crew and pay them less than what we have outlined about which is considered industry standard
B.) using sub-par materials (whether it be the grass, or the accessories, it is vital to make sure you are investing in the highest quality materials from a very reputable manufacturer who stands behind their products with the strongest guarantees in the business).
C.) they are not running a healthy company and neglecting to pay the overhead items listed above which are essential for operating a legal and healthy business(this example is assuming a CA run business)
D.) they are not paying themselves what they should to remain in business.
The company that falls into any of these 4 criteria listed above will not be in business very long. A business based solely on price or cutting corners to reduce the price is simply not sustainable and often times results in a LOSE-LOSE scenario for all parties involved in the transaction.
We hope this synthetic turf installation breakdown helps with your decision making process.
If you are interested in finding out what your artificial grass project will cost, please contact Install-It-Direct today to get your FREE Synthetic Turf Design and Estimate by clicking on this link or feel free to give us a call at 858-925-3000.
We look forward to answering all your questions and working with you to transform your home!