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What causes bubbles or blisters on a tennis court surface?

Bubbles and blisters on a tennis court surface, or other coated sport surface, are fairly common.  This is usually a result of improper tennis court construction or malfunction of the drainage system.  When sub-surface water becomes excessive and is not properly drained away from the court, it can breathe through the slab in a vapor form and create hydrostatic pressure under the coatings.  This pressure builds more in weaker surface areas and creates a blister or bubble.

How Do I Get Rid of Bubbles and Blisters on a Tennis Court Surface?

In order to take care of the bubbles and blisters, long term, you will need to do some investigating.  Start by making sure any and all drains around the tennis court are free of debris or anything that would prevent proper flow of drainage water.  You may want to enlist the help of an architect or excavation professional in order to evaluate the current drainage system and see if it was installed properly, or at all.  If the court substrate is concrete, you must ensure the following:

  • Was a vapor barrier installed beneath the court when poured?
  • Are there perimeter drains that can take the water away from the court when it runs off after a rain?
  • Was the concrete allowed to cure for 28 days, prior to coating?
  • Was the concrete surface acid etched to neutralize the alkalinity and balance the PH?
  • Were any curing compounds used on the concrete?
Tennis Court Blisters
Tennis Court Blisters

The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) maintains construction guidelines for asphalt and concrete tennis court and sport surfaces.  Ensure that the construction of the court meets their guidelines and find out from the tennis court builder if they followed the ASBA recommendations.  This may help you figure out why the blisters are occurring.  If you are still not sure what to do, feel free to fill out the contact form on this page and we can put you in touch with a SportMaster recommended, tennis court builder.  They can perform a free site visit with you and provide feedback and estimates for repair, resurfacing, or re-construction.

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What Causes Rust Spots On A Tennis Court Surface?

In various regions, rust spots are a common sight on tennis court surfaces.  They are actually visible on driveways, parking lots, and other asphalt surfaces, but they are more pronounced on a colored tennis court surface.

The rust spots are the result of metallic minerals, called pyrites, that contaminate the stone used to create asphalt.  Asphalt pavement and acrylic tennis surfaces allow vapor to transmit, or breathe through them.  When the mineral pyrites become wet, they rust and bring the stains upward into the acrylic surfaces.  These rust stains are unsightly and mostly an aesthetic issue that don’t affect the ball bounce or play of the game.  However, sometimes the aggregate reacts, swells, and pops out.  This leaves a rust stain and sometime a small mound with a tiny hole in the surface.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a good or compatible primer or stain blocker that can prevent this from happening.  The best defense is a good offense, which means:

  • Use only non-recycled asphalt when paving tennis and basketball courts
  • Do research: Stay away from limestone or aggregate sources with known contamination issues
  • Talk to an experienced architect and/or tennis court contractor ahead of time in order to avoid the wrong asphalt type and source.
What causes rust spots on a tennis court
What causes rust spots on a tennis court?

If it is too late and you already have rust spots on your tennis court, here are a few tips:

  • Your tennis court contractor can use a hand drill and drill out the reactive spots.  Acrylic Crack Patch can be used to repair the surface holes and the court can be touched up or completely resurfaced.  Sometimes there are hundreds of rust spots and drilling is not always a viable option.
  • This may sound silly at first, but you can pick a color scheme that closely matches and doesn’t contrast the rust color (i.e., Brown, Maroon, Red)

For more information on this, fill out the contact form on this page and we will be happy to answer your questions or put you in touch with a local tennis court contractor.

 

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Kids Tennis | Adding Blended Lines for 10 and Under Tennis

The QuickStart (10 and under) tennis format, also known as Kids Tennis, is a program that the USTA is promoting to ensure the growth of tennis.  Statistics show when kids learn a sport early in their lives, they are more likely to continue playing throughout their adult life.  Kids tennis takes it one step further and reshapes the tennis court surface dimensions, racquet sizes, and tennis balls to better fit the size and abilities of kids.  This makes is much easier for kids to begin learning their tennis techniques, and have fun doing it!

QuickStart/Kids Tennis has changed the following standards, to meet the needs of kids:

  • Smaller Tennis Courts – Less area for kids to cover
  • Specialized tennis balls with less compression for slower and lower bounce
  • Smaller kid-friendly racquets for easier handling
  • Modified scoring rules for age groups

Many clubs, parks, and schools have begun adding kids courts to their facilities.  Some have installed permanent quickstart courts, but many have been adding blended lines so that players of all ages can use all of the courts.  This makes the best use of space, and provides flexibility at a minimal cost.  Blended lines for kids tennis, are normally painted with a shade of line paint that is lighter or darker, but of the same family as the tennis court surface.  For example, if the inside court color is blue, the quickstart lines must be a darker or lighter shade of blue.  The standard court lines are always white.

There are two different sizes, when it comes to quickstart courts.  The 60 foot court length is for 9 and 10 year olds, and the 36 foot courts are for ages 8 and under.  If you have a court that is designated for kids, you may also check with a surfacing manufacturer or contractor about resurfacing your court with a slower playing acrylic surface.  This will slow the ball bounce down and give the kids more time to get to the ball and volley.

If you are interested in finding a qualified tennis court builder near you, fill out the contact form on this page and we will provide qualified contacts.  We can recommend authorized installers near you that are trained in application and knowledgeable in standard tennis and quickstart tennis court layout.

 

How Important Is Silica Sand In Tennis Court Paint and Coatings?

Using the correct size and shape of silica sand is very important to each specific coating or repair product used in tennis court resurfacing.  The right kind of sand is integral to the performance of each tennis court coating, patch material, or crack filler.  Without the proper sand type and amount, a coat cannot achieve its purpose.

Tennis Court Coating Coverage Rates

Tennis court coatings are squeegee applied.  The squeegee floats at the highest point of a coating, so if you are using a larger silica sand, the squeegee rides higher.  This will generally yield a thicker coat and use more coating, unless there are lots of asphalt voids and the sand it pushed down into them.  If a finer sand is used, as in the color coats, you will use a little less material and put a thinner coat.

Silica Sand for Acrylic Resurfacer and Acrylic Patch Binder (50-60 Mesh)

The size and shape of silica sands both have a specific purpose.  The lower the number, the larger the particle size (in the AFS scale of measurement).  Since Acrylic Resurfacer and Acrylic Patch Binder are both filling voids in asphalt and concrete, the larger mesh size is better.  Also the angular shape allows the sand to key together and form a nice, strong base film or patch.  Acrylic Resurfacer is also designed to provide a consistent, but somewhat rough surface.  This helps the color coating grab on and apply at the correct thickness for good coverage and long wear.

Silica Sand for Tennis Court Color Coatings and Line Paint (Rounded 80-100 Mesh)

The silica sand that is commonly used in color coatings is finer and mostly rounded.  The rounded shape helps the sand to roll under the squeegee, instead of dragging through like a small stone that fell into the puddle.  This helps to minimize surface streaking and provide a smoother, blemish-free surface.  The smoother finish also reduces the amount of tennis ball fuzz, which creates more housekeeping issues in indoor tennis clubs and facilities.

SportMaster tennis court coatings are manufactured with fibers, which will also minimize tools marks and streaks in the color coatings. The use of fibers is a big help, since many court owners and players are looking to slow down the play by using larger and more angular-shaped silica sands in the colored tennis court surface coatings. The fiber-containing formula of SportMaster enables them to have the surface speed they want, with less streaking than most other brands.

 

Indoor Tennis Court Resurfacing Problems | Common Drying Issues

Resurfacing indoor tennis courts can have a few challenges not common to outdoor tennis court resurfacing.  Indoor tennis courts do not have to contend with outdoor enemies like UV rays and harsh weather, but some indoor conditions can wreak havoc, even for the experienced tennis court surfacing contractor.

Indoor Tennis Court Resurfacing | Drying Problems

Acrylic tennis court surfaces are water-based and dry by evaporation.  Water is the vehicle that allows the heavy coating solids to be squeegee applied.  Once the coating is applied, the water begins to evaporate.  If there is not adequate ventilation in the facility, the water can be trapped in the airspace above the courts and slow down the drying of the surfaces.  This can cause a “marbled” look on the coating, resulting in light and dark or patchy areas.

Marbled Tennis Court Surface
Marbled Tennis Court Surface

Poor ventilation and cooler outside temperatures can also create problems by causing condensation to “rain” down onto the tennis court surfaces.  If the inside temperatures are warmer and the ceiling is cool from colder outside temperatures, the moisture can drip onto the partially cured surface, creating blemishes.  To prevent both of these issues, make sure to turn on heating or air conditioning systems to draw humidity out of the air. Open any available vents, doors, and windows to allow an escape route for moisture.  Large industrial fans can also be rented and help to circulate the air, as well as push moisture out when placed at exterior doors.

Tennis Court Squeegee Application Issues | Smooth Indoor Court Surfaces

Another common problem with surfacing indoor tennis courts is application of coatings on a very smooth surface.  Indoor courts do not benefit from the wind and rains, which actually help to move debris off the surface.  Dirt and sand particles, that come out of the surface, become abrasive to color coatings under the scuffing of tennis courts.  Long-term, this can create a very smooth surface which makes it difficult for application of color coatings.  The application squeegee can wipe the coatings off of a smooth surface, and leave a very thin coating.  This can sometimes cause irregular color patches or inconsistent textures on the surface.  To prevent this, apply the first coat of Acrylic Resurfacer (properly mixed with sand and water) with a squeegee, but follow directly behind with a soft, horse hair-type broom or brush.  This puts a fine grooved text in the coating.  Once the first coat of Resurfacer is dry, squeegee apply another coat of resurfacer, going the cross-direction.  This allows the second coat of resurfacer to “grab” onto the groove finish and deposit a complete textured coat.  At this point, the surface is ready to accept the tennis court color coating surface layers.

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How Long Does Tennis Court Crack Filler Last?

Question: How long does tennis court crack filler last?

Answer: Cracking of asphalt and concrete pavement surfaces is a common problem. Even if the asphalt or concrete is properly built, there are still variables beyond the control of the contractor and crack filler producer.

There are different reasons for pavement cracking, but a majority of the cracks on concrete and asphalt courts are structural. This means that the cracks go completely through the pavement layers, into the base of the tennis court.

Acrylic tennis court crack fillers are designed to fill and seal off the surface of the crack. This is designed to minimize water and moisture flowing into the crack and stone base of the court, and slow down degradation of the court through further cracking. The main problem is that once a structural crack opens, there are two separated slabs of pavement constantly moving back and forth. This expansion and contraction happens daily, depending on temperatures, moisture, and other environmental conditions. That being said, cracks that have been filled may open within days, weeks, months, or years of application.

Pourable Tennis Court Crack Filler
Pourable Tennis Court Crack Filler

Even though we offer some elastomeric acrylic crack fillers, the degree of movement in the crack determines how long the product can perform before breaking open or pulling away from one side of the crack. Frequency of moisture, freeze-thaw, and various climate conditions are other factors that play a role in longevity of crack fillers and repair.

Crack filling is a maintenance role. The best way to maintain a tennis court crack is to fill it whenever you see it open. A good rule of thumb is to check the court(s) over in the spring and early fall (when temperatures are not getting below 50°F or 10°C) and perform necessary crack filling to extend the life of the facility. Many sport surfacing contractors also offer maintenance programs, where they make spring and fall visits annually, and advise court owners of needed crack repairs, resurfacing, or other issues.

 

Drying Vs Curing | Tennis Court Surfaces & Paint

One of the most understood topics and frequently asked questions are,  “what is the difference between drying and curing”  when it comes to tennis court paint and coatings.

Acrylic sport coatings are water-based, and latex is the binder or “glue” that adheres to the pavement or existing acrylic surface.  The binder also locks in all of the components of the coating system, like pigments, sand, and other proprietary ingredients. Water is the vehicle that thins the coating solids so that application by squeegee can be achieved.  Once the coating is applied, the water evaporates leaving the solids of the coating in a consistent film.  This evaporation is “drying“.

At this point, the film solids are dry.  They can even be walked on without a problem. However, all of the components of the coating are not entirely connected and bonded in a strong film.  In order for the coating components to properly coalesce, or “melt”  together,  it is important that the film remain mostly dry and in temperatures above 50° Fahrenheit.  This is especially important within the first 24 hours.  This is “curing“.

If the coating is not allowed to achieve this initial cure, the components like sand and pigment can wash or roll out the film can fall apart to varying degrees.  The level of damage or failure depends on how marginal the cure.

Tennis Court Curing Failure
Tennis Court Curing Failure

Many coating and paint specifications include the statement “product shall be applied when temperatures are 50° and rising”.  This means start coating in the morning when the temperatures are at least 50° and getting warmer, not late afternoon or evening when temps are dropping.

Remember, the coating must dry before it can begin to cure.  Starting application late in the day puts the film at risk of dew and cooler nighttime temperatures. A good rule of thumb is to avoid acrylic paint and coating application on days when the nighttime lows are forecasted to drop below 50°.  If the daytime highs are not very warm and it is cloudy, or the courts are heavily shaded, you also need to take that into consideration.  The shade will increase the drying time and affect the temperature of the court surface.  These factors affect drying and curing.

If you are forced to push the application on marginal days, you may want to use an infrared thermometer to check the surface temperature.  Pavement absorbs and holds cold for longer than most people think. In Spring and Fall, the sun is further away and not as intense. The pavement surface isn’t able to warm up as quickly as it does in the summer.

If you are a contractor and your customer is pushing you to apply when the temperature and weather is not within acceptable range, make sure to provide them with a copy of the coating manufacturer’s specifications and ask to reschedule application when conditions allow.

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Does My Tennis Court Need Acrylic Resurfacer?

Acrylic Resurfacer is a product that is commonly used when resurfacing tennis courts and other sport surfaces. All major manufacturers of acrylic sport surfaces produce this product and recommend using it on both new and existing court surfaces. Even though many installers think of Acrylic Resurfacer as a primer, it serves specific purposes not entirely related to good adhesion.

First of all, Acrylic Resurfacer is a filler coat.  It is designed to suspend large amounts of silica sand for the purpose of filling minor voids in the surface.  Asphalt is a common pavement used for tennis court construction.  Mostly comprised of asphalt binder and rock, asphalt can exhibit a wide variety of porosity from one location to another.  Many factors can influence the pavement porosity, from available regional and local sources of aggregate to project specifications.  Acrylic Resurfacer can fill the surface voids to produce a tight surface without voids and pits that show through the pigmented surface layers.  If the surface voids are not properly filled, they can lead to some of the following problems:

  • Pitting on the playing surface
  • Surface pinholes that are created from air in the voids during application of tennis court color coatings
  • Poor coverage rate on the pigmented surface coatings

Secondly, Acrylic Resurfacer creates or restores texture to the surface prior to application of the colored surface coatings.  Existing acrylic sport surfaces tend to become smooth with years of wear.  The fine silica sand that was in the coating eventually rolls out and the acrylic color surface becomes polished and smooth.  The resurfacer uses an angular sand to create a sandpaper-like texture to better accept the color coating layers.  The colored tennis court surfaces contain a very fine, rounded sand to minimize surface streaking and application marks.  If resurfacer is not applied to create proper texture, the color coating can be applied too thin by the application squeegee.  An example for comparison would be cleaning a glass window with a squeegee.  Since the window is very smooth, the liquid glass cleaner is wiped almost completely off.  If there is no texture on a tennis court, the surface coatings will not be applied in an adequate thickness.  This will minimize film solids and shorten the life of the court surfacing system.

With its heavy body, one or more coats of Acrylic Resurfacer can also be used for shimming rough surface repairs, and hiding patches from depression or crack repairs.  After application, resurfacer dries to a firm, hard film and can be scraped and sanded prior to application of the acrylic color surfacing coats.

Finally, the only situation where Acrylic Resurfacer is not required is when you have an existing acrylic surface with adequate texture.  This occurs when the courts have been properly maintained and resurfaced before the original texture is lost.  Visit SportMaster for a tennis court maintenance manual and for further care instructions on extending the life of the sport surfacing system.

What is the best tennis court surface?

What is the best tennis court surface? That depends on what you are looking for in a surface, of course. The vast majority of players and facility managers prefer acrylic tennis court surfaces, and here are just a few of the main benefits:
  • Very low maintenance
  • Durable and compatible with all climates
  • Textured & Customizable for desired speed of play
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Cost effective & Affordable

Acrylic tennis court surfaces actually benefit from the wind and rain. Properly built tennis courts should have a 1% slope for drainage, so rain helps to keep the surface clean and somewhat free of dirt and debris. Whether you live in a very hot and dry area or a cold and moist location, acrylics can withstand all of the above.  The standard resurfacing cycle, with a high-quality acrylic tennis court surface, is every 5 to 8 years.

Best Tennis Court Surface
Acrylic Tennis Court Surface

Another advantage of acrylic tennis court surfaces are their ability to be customized to all desired paces, or speeds of play.  The ITF (International Tennis Federation) has a pace classification program where tennis surface manufacturers send in factory-textured samples and have them tested for speed of play.  The ITF and approved independent testing labs perform specific procedures and classify each sample as a specific pace.  The current pace categories are: slow, medium-slow, medium, medium-fast, and fast.  There are only a few brands that currently hold all five paces and they are acrylic (not clay, tiles, or grass surfaces).  The texture that determines pace also makes for a safe, non-slip playing surface.