To encapsulate or not to encapsulate, that is the question.
When it comes to track surfacing, encapsulation is an option worth considering for any project that includes a wearing course with thrown rubber granules.
Encapsulation is an added coat, sprayed on top of the track surface that locks the granules into place. The advantages include a longer life and better UV protection thanks to the additional coat. The encapsulation layer also cuts down on rubber migration, or the amount of granules that will break loose from the polyurethane. (Usually between 1 and 3 percent of the rubber will come off after the installation process in the first year since granules may only be lightly attached.)
The final consideration is purely a matter of preference. Some in the sport feel an encapsulated surface is “faster” because it creates a firmer surface. It’s true, a surface that’s too soft could affect a runner’s speed, especially when sprinting, but tract surfacing products are carefully engineered for the greatest comfort without sacrificing performance, with or without an encapsulation layer.
Encapsulation can add a sizeable cost to a project, but could be worth the added expense when all factors are considered. It’s best for owner to consult with their athletic department and track and field coaches to determine if encapsulation is needed.