Tag Archives: multi sport

Acid Etching Concrete Sport Surfaces

Sport and game courts are as popular as ever, especially with the extreme growth of sports like pickleball and continued popularity of basketball, tennis and multi-sport games and courts.

SportMaster has a multitude of durable and vibrant acrylic surfacing systems that are designed for asphalt or concrete courts.   Each substrate has a somewhat different approach to preparation, prior to application of the sport surfaces.  We are going to discuss a common step that is required when coating concrete courts for the first time.  This process is called acid etching or acid washing.

What Is Acid Etching? | Concrete Court Surfacing

Acid etching is the process of pouring a mixture of water and acid on a fully cured concrete slab.  Generally, either muriatic or phosphoric acid is used, but muriatic is a bit easier to find.  In a nutshell, acid etching promotes an ideal environment for chemical bond of coatings to concrete.

What is acid etching?

Why do I Need To Acid Etch My Concrete Court Surface?

Concrete goes through a chemical curing process after it is poured. It takes 28 days for a concrete slab to completely cure. There is a good bit of water in the concrete mix and as the concrete is curing, water is continuously wicking and evaporating upward and out of the slab.  As the water is migrating upward, it brings efflorescence, or salts, that reside in the concrete.  After the initial curing phase is complete, there is a crust of efflorescence on the surface of the concrete.

Lesson In PH & Surface Chemistry

PH, or “potential of hydrogen” is the scale of acid vs base.  The PH scale goes from 0 to 14, whereas 0 is very acidic and 14 is very basic (alkaline).  For ideal chemical adhesion, coatings prefer a neutral environment.  This would be 7 on the PH scale.  When concrete cures, the surface crust or salt deposits, are very high in alkaline (a PH around 13.5).  The process of acid etching neutralizes the high alkaline crust and brings the surface PH back to neutral.  The acid washing process also helps to break down and rinse away the powdery efflorescence.  This also prevents flaking or peeling of coatings & migration of powder into the color coatings resulting in a cloudy appearance.

Concrete Sport Surface PH

How To Acid Etch A Court | Pickleball – Basketball – Tennis

In this section, we will outline how to acid etch a concrete court surface.  But first, here are a few pointers:

  • Make sure to acquire and wear adequate safety gear, when working with acid.  Thick rubber gloves, safety glasses, and relevant clothing and boots.  Avoid breathing in the direct fumes of concentrated acid and ensure that you have plenty of air flow when inside.
  • As a general guideline, it should take around 2 to 3 gallons of acid to etch a smaller court, like a 30′ x 60′ pickleball court & around 8 to 9 gallons for a full tennis court (60′ x 120′).
  • Protect any sensitive plants or surrounding materials around the border of the court.  Even though you will be rinsing off acid that is very diluted and has already reacted with the surface, it’s a good idea to minimize contact as much as possible.

Step 1:  Spray water on the court to dampen the surface.  This helps the mixed acid and water to flow and better penetrate the surface.

Step 2:  Properly mix the acid and water, following the dilution measurements on the acid bottle.  There should be directions for “masonry etching” on the bottle instructions.  Remember to fill the empty bucket with water first and then pour the correct amount of acid into the water.  This helps to prevent splashing of acid.

Pouring Acid Into Water

Step 3:  Pour the acid & water mixture onto the concrete, working in small areas or sections at a time.  If you’re able to have a helper, have the 2nd person immediately broom the solution around with a push broom to make sure the acid comes into contact with every square foot of concrete.  Make sure that you don’t pour the acid mixture and expect it to span a long distance.  Instead, pour around a small zone in a tight “s” pattern to ensure direct contact with the surface.  Since the acid mixture reacts instantly with concrete, the potency diminishes as it spreads.

Pouring and Brooming Acid Concrete

You will notice a cloudy appearance in the liquid and minor bubbling reaction, which means the acid is working to neutralize the surface salts.

Acid Neutralizing Concrete

 

Step 4:  As you move on from section to section, you will notice the reaction dissipates in the previously treated area.  At that point, you can rinse those areas off to flush surface contaminants and  move the neutralized acid solution off the court surface.  If possible, it’s best to start on the high end of the court and slowly move all of the water toward the low end of drainage.  If possible, try to keep the entire court damp throughout the process, which keeps the sediment from sticking to the surface.

Step 5:  After you have etched the entire court surface, and rinsed away most of the remaining acid mixture and sediment, it’s always good to do a final rinse of the entire surface.  This ensures a completely clean surface, free to any potential acid or other contaminants.  If you’re indoor and don’t have available drains, a floor cleaner machine can be used for a good final cleaning.

Rinse Surface Clean Water

*Remember to protect and avoid adjacent concrete areas that are not receiving the sport coatings, as the acid can create a different color or appearance to exposed concrete.  This is hidden when coatings are applied over the acid etched play areas.

Acid Directly On Concrete

Common Misconception About Acid Etching

Many people think that acid etching creates a physically textured surface for the coating to adhere.  This is not the case, as the actual purpose was established earlier in this bulletin.  It is still very important for the concrete surface to have a medium-broom finish or similar.  That is very important for physical adhesion of coating systems.  Remember, the two most importance factors for good adhesion of sport coatings is:

  • A good surface texture/profile for physical adhesion
  • Neutral surface PH for excellent chemical adhesion

 

Are Acrylic Sport Surfaces Breathable And Permeable?

Question:  Are acrylic sport surfaces breathable and permeable?

Answer: Yes, SportMaster 100% acrylic sport surfaces are breathable and classified as semi-permeable.

Acrylic Sport Surfaces for Athletic Surfacing

SportMaster Sport Surfacing systems are produced using high-quality, 100% acrylic resins.  This is the industry-standard for sport surfacing on asphalt and concrete tennis, basketball, pickleball, and many other athletic and recreational court surfaces.  One of the main reasons for this is the fact that 100% acrylic resins are semi-permeable and allow a small to moderate amount of vapor transmission.

It is important to know that this does not mean you can have poor drainage and slope on a court surface and expect the acrylic coatings to “fix the problem”.  As a leading producer of acrylic sport surfaces, we strongly recommend following the construction guidelines of the American Sports Builders Assocation (ASBA).  The ASBA maintains an updated library of publications that demonstrate the right way to build tennis, pickleball, and athletic courts, along with running tracks and other recreational surfaces.  If athletic surfaces are not properly engineered, drained, and constructed, our (and any other) sport surfacing systems may exhibit bubbles, blisters, or failure.

Multi-sport acrylic surfaces

 

Asphalt & Concrete Athletic Court Construction

The recommended slope, for asphalt & concrete athletic court construction, is 1%.  This should be 1″ fall per every 10 feet of surface, in one direction.  This is enough pitch to allow runoff of water, without creating issues for the players.  Courts will be able to drain quickly and re-open for play.  Plus, acrylic coatings do not like to be constantly submerged, or the coatings will start to breakdown and wear at a quicker rate.

It is very important to have a professional drainage plan and make sure that water coming off of the court doesn’t accumulate beneath the slab.  Perimeter drains or other drainage plans, to take the water away from the courts and into the drainage system, is necessary.  Concrete courts should also be built with a vapor barrier to prevent hydrostatic pressure, in the form of water vapor, beneath the slab.  When the sun heats up the court surface, sub-surface water turns to vapor and creates vapor pressure to escape.  If enough water builds up beneath the slab and pushes upwards, it can create bubbles and blisters in the coatings and lead to peeling.

Important Factors For Sport Surfacing Success

    • Consult an experienced sport architect/engineer
    • Hire a qualified sport construction & surfacing contractor
    • Stick with 100% acrylic primers and coating systems throughout the entire sport surfacing system.
    • Follow the manufacturers specifications and recommendations
    • Don’t cut corners on proper construction and drainage.  It will only cost you more down the road

SportMaster Tennis Court Surfaces

Multi Sport Backyard Courts

Multi sport backyard courts are a great way to optimize space in your backyard, driveway, or playground.  With the onslaught in popularity of Pickleball, there has been a demand for smaller courts and combination courts to accommodate players.  In areas where the interest in Pickleball exceeds tennis, blended lines are added in another color so that the courts can be used for both sports.

Pickleball Courts with Blended Lines

 

 

 

 

 

Another option is to use your driveway for double duty, as you may already do for basketball, and add coatings and blended lines for pickleball and you’ve really got a multi use court.Driveway Pickleball Court

 

 

 

 

Playgrounds are also underutilized. Many times, there are large areas behind schools that are plain asphalt blacktop. Acrylic sport surfaces can provide a lighter, cooler surface to play basketball, volleyball, pickleball, and many other games. The lightly textured surfaces are also safer, especially when conditions are damp and potentially slippery on normal pavement.

Game Courts

 

 

 

 

 

SportMaster also makes a special color coating for higher wear areas, including areas with moderate traffic from vehicles, bikes, and more aggressive play. The system is called ColorPave, and there are a few different variations. The ColorPave system was recently used at the new Facebook campus in Menlo Park, CA, in their under-building parking garage.
ColorPave Red Asphalt Color

ColorPave is also ideal for high-wear, multi sport surfaces and driveway basketball and pickleball court areas.  Bike lanes, zoos, amusement parks, and other specialty asphalt colored areas can also benefit from a coating system like ColorPave.

If you are thinking about building a new multi sport court or have an existing pavement area or sports court, we can put you in touch with an experienced sport surfacing contractor.  They can perform a site visit to evaluate your project and provide a free estimate.  Not sure what you want, our installers can provide recommendations based on the available space you have and on your sport and activity preferences.