Tag Archives: tennis court surfaces

How To Properly Prepare Concrete For Sport Surfacing Athletic Courts

Athletic & recreational courts (tennis, pickleball, basketball, etc.) are built from either asphalt or concrete pavement.  The type of substrate used is normally determined by region, cost, preference, availability or site access.

Each substrate (asphalt or concrete) has its own set of requirements, when it comes to application of acrylic sport surfaces.  This bulletin will discuss how to properly prepare concrete for sport surfacing athletic courts.

Concrete Court Construction

When it comes to proper concrete court construction, there is a long “to-do” list.  As with anything, there is always a good, better, best list of what to do and why it is important.  If you are considering having a recreational court built, we recommend getting a copy of the American Sports Builders Association’s construction & maintenance manual.  They publish and sell these for tennis or pickleball, which is also useful for basketball and other sports.  That being said, we will reference a short list of the most important factors, prior to application of acrylic surfaces.

New Concrete Pickleball Court
New Concrete Pickleball Court

Install Vapor Barrier

Prior to pouring the concrete slab, a vapor barrier should be installed to prevent upward migration of ground moisture.  This normally consists of two sheets of 6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting, laid in opposite directions.  Make sure it is overlapped and taped at the joints.  The vapor barrier is on top of the stone base and under the concrete slab.

Ensure Adequate Perimeter Drainage & Slope

Another very important factor, when trying to minimize water accumulation under the concrete slab, is good perimeter drainage.  If one or both of these items are lacking (vapor barrier & perimeter drainage), your court surface could be in danger of bubbles or blisters in the coating.  In most cases, this will lead to peeling of coatings and bare spots down to the concrete.  Court surfaces should be sloped at 1% in one direction, which is 1″ fall in every 10 feet.  This helps to keep water flowing off the court and ensures fast drying surfaces and less standing water.

Medium-broom Finish or Similar Surface Texture

When pouring and finishing the concrete, make sure that the concrete contractor applies a medium-broom finish on the surface of the concrete.  This is very important to a good physical bond of the sport coatings.  A steel-troweled finish is too smooth and will also raise the chances of peeling surfaces.  If the concrete is already in place and doesn’t have a medium-broom finish, you can use specialized equipment to achieve sufficient texture.  The most commonly used piece of equipment is a shot blaster.  For more information, check out our dedicated page on shot blasting concrete court surfaces.

Medium Broom Finish Concrete Court
Medium Broom Finished Concrete Court

Allow Full Cure Before Coating Application

The curing process of concrete is a chemical reaction that takes 28 days to complete.  During the process, quite a bit of water is escaping from the slab and depositing high-alkaline salts on the surface.  It is important to allow a full 28 day minimum cure, prior to moving forward with coating application.  Also, after the full cure and prior to application of coatings, the concrete slab must be acid etched (or acid washed).  This helps to create a neutral PH on the surface for an ideal chemical bond of coatings.  This is fully explained on our page, acid etching concrete sport surfaces.

One more note on curing, avoid using curing compounds on concrete court surfaces.  Once the concrete is poured, it will instantly begin to losing water via evaporation.  If the temperatures are hot, water will leave the wet slab quickly, and this could lead to surface cracking (like mud cracking in a puddle).  To prevent this, most concrete contractors spray curing compounds on the surface to slow down the evaporation of water.  Many curing compounds are made up of oil based or incompatible materials that can leave a residue on the the concrete surface.  This residue, or film, can potentially cause a bond breaker and lead to failure of the acrylic sport coatings.  To avoid this situation, make sure the concrete contractor moisture cures the slab.  This is performed by keeping the slab wet after pouring, with a covering of moistened burlap, a polyethylene sheet, or other curing paper.  After 7 to 10 days, it can be allowed to dry and cure under normal conditions without the keeping the slab moist.

Not sure if curing compounds have been used, or you know they have been used?  The surface can be shot blasted to remove any bond-breaking films.  Note, you can pour a small amount of water onto the concrete slab to see if water beads up on the surface.  If it does, there is likely a curing compound or sealant on the surface.

Application Of Concrete Primer & Sport Surfaces

At this point, the concrete slab should be ready to receive the sport surfacing system.  Once the surface is clean and dry, apply one coat of SportMaster Acrylic Adhesion Promoter.  This product acts as a concrete primer and helps the SportMaster color coating system adhere to the concrete.  It also helps to lock down potential concrete powder, or efflorescence,  that may migrate into the color coating “paint” layers and leave a hazy color hue.

Concrete Primer for Sport Surface
Acrylic Adhesion Promoter being applied on concrete court surface

After the Acrylic Adhesion Promoter dries, Acrylic Resurfacer and the colored surface coatings can be applied.  There is no special timing required with Acrylic Adhesion Promoter.  The successive coatings can be applied as soon as it is dry to the touch, or on another day thereafter.

One or two coats of Acrylic Resurfacer is usually sufficient to fill broom patterns and concrete surface texture on a new concrete court surface.  Follow that with SportMaster color coatings, 2 coats minimum, and striping to complete the new concrete recreational court surfacing.

New Concrete Pickleball Surface Preparation

Tennis Court Surfaces | Speed of Play

Tennis court surfaces can be customized to achieve very specific speed of play.  The ITF (International Tennis Federation) has a technical testing program to classify all kinds of tennis court surfaces into court pace ratings (CPR).  Here is the current chart of CPR and pace category:

  • Category: Slow | CPR less than or equal to 29
  • Category: Medium-slow | CPR 30-34
  • Category: Medium | 35-39
  • Category: Medium-fast | 40-44
  • Category: Fast | greater than or equal to 45

Customizing Acrylic Court Surfaces

Most tennis court surfaces can be customized to some extent.  However, acrylic court surfaces have the widest flexibility of options.  Due to the ability of acrylic coatings to suspend different blends of silica sand and specialty aggregates, they can generally achieve all ITF paces with the correct combination of texture.

Angular Silica Sand | 50 Mesh for Acrylic Patch Binder and Resurfacer
Round Silica Sand | 90 Mesh for Colored Tennis Court Surfaces

Professional Tennis Tournament Surfaces

When it comes to professional tennis tournament surfaces, the speed of play is very important.  The court surfaces are usually kept consistent to the other tournaments in the same series.  This enables the players to hone their game on courts that perform similarly, prior to the most prestigious event at the end of the swing.

Tournament Tennis Court Surfaces

College & University Tennis Court Surfaces

College & university tennis court surfaces are also commonly resurfaced to meet specific court speeds, depending on the current strengths and weaknesses of the players.  Many times, the tennis coach will prefer a slower court to help the home team if they lack power serves and pride themselves on volley or returning the serve.  On the other hand, fast court surfaces favor the player with a fast serve.

Recreational Court Surfaces | Safe Texture

Recreational court surfaces normally require a safe texture, and are usually installed at a medium speed of play.  This ensures that the court surfaces have enough grip for common dry or wet conditions.  If players happen to play on the courts during or after rain, or when dew is still present, there will be minimal chances for slipping and falling from slick surfaces.  This surface pace is well suited for all sports from tennis, basketball, and pickleball to recreational play.

Sport Surfacing Systems | Installers

To learn more about speed of play and creating the ideal surface conditions for your sport surfacing systems, contact a SportMaster representative.  They can assist with apples to apples specifications and put you in touch with an experienced contractor to install the coating system to the manufacturer specified pace.

When Is It Too Cold To Apply Tennis Court Surfaces?

When is it too cold to apply tennis court surfaces?  The quick and direct answer is:  It must be 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) and rising during application, and for at least 24 hours after.  This is very important to ensure curing of the 100% acrylic latex binder.

My tennis court coatings were dry, why is it failing?

As explained in a previous article, there is a difference between drying and curing.  The coating must dry first, which means the water in the paint evaporates.  This leaves all of the coating molecules, which are unconnected.  It looks normal to the naked eye after drying.  However, the particles are not melted together or coalesced.  If the temperatures fall below the recommended range and the coating gets wet from dew or precipitation, it can be easily damaged.

Tennis Court Coating Failure
Tennis court coating failure from improper curing, during cold temperatures.

Application During Marginal Temperatures

You have to be very careful when the temperatures are close to the edge.  As a general rule of thumb, don’t even think about applying tennis court coatings when the nighttime lows are forecast to be below 50 Fahrenheit / 10 Celsius.  Here are some other important risk factors to consider when temperatures are marginal:

  • Apply coatings very early in the day, just after dew has dried.
  • Don’t apply much later than early afternoon.
  • Sunshine is very important to drying and warmth of the pavement.  Shade can prevent drying of coatings for many hours.
  • Make sure to measure ambient air temperature, as well as pavement temperature.  The ground temperature is usually colder than air temperature during spring and fall.
    Measuring Pavement Temperature
    Infrared Thermometer for measuring surface temperature
  • High humidity slows down drying, and coatings must dry before they start to cure.
  • White lines reflect sunlight and are usually the first coating to fail if not properly cured.

Completing the surfacing process in cold weather

What happens if you start a tennis or sports court resurfacing project, and you run out of good weather part-way through?  No worries, you can wait until next spring/summer to finish the job.  It’s not worth risking failure and having a major cleanup on your plate.  No matter what stage of the coating process you are in, it can wait until the weather is right.

How To Get Blended Line Paint For A Multipurpose Sports Court

Multipurpose courts are becoming very popular with the growth of booming sports like pickleball.  The best use of real estate, when it comes to athletic game courts, is to add blended lines to existing tennis or other court surfaces.  This way, the tennis court lines can be white and other sport lines can be another complimentary color. So that poses the frequently asked question of, “How to get blended line paint for a multipurpose sports court.

First of all, there is no right or wrong shade of color for blended lines, however the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) deems that the tennis court lines must be white.  Also note that the USTA tried to set up some standards for 10 & under tennis court line color, and this is what was proposed:

  • All blended lines for 10 & under tennis courts (kids tennis) shall be of the same color family as the surface, just lighter or darker.
  • To achieve the “standard” paint color, use one of the following ratios:
  • 75% court surface coating to 25% white line paint for lighter shade or 25% black acrylic resurfacer for darker shade. (80% to 20% was also approved for a slight variance for shade).

In simple measurement terms, you would use 3/4 gallon of the court surface color (let’s say blue) and mix in 1/4 gallon of tennis court white line paint to achieve blended lines in a lighter blue shade.  Or, use 3/4 gallon of the court surface color and mix in 1/4 gallon of black acrylic resurfacer to produce the darker line variation if preferred.  This enables court resurfacing contractors to easily achieve blended line colors with common coatings and paints that they already have on-hand and use every day in the field.

Painting Tennis Court Lines
Painting Tennis Court Lines

Applying blended lines will not cost a fortune, by any means.  If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, we would strongly suggest having a sport surfacing contractor do this for you.  Adding blended lines can be done at any time.  The best time would be during the initial court resurfacing, to minimize the contractor mobilization costs.  However, the cost would still be minimal down the road and you will be able to enjoy multiple sports on your multipurpose sports and game court.

SportMaster | Official Playing Surface of the Connecticut Open

SportMaster is excited to be the official playing surface of the Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies.  This is a WTA Premier event, taking place at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven, CT from August 19-27, 2016.

This prestigious tournament takes place a week before the US Open and highlights some of the best and top-ranked women players in the world.  Here are just a few of the high-caliber women players that have committed to the CT Open this year:

  • Roberta Vinci (Current WTA World Ranking – 8)
  • Svetlana Kuznetsova (Current WTA World Ranking – 10)
  • Madison Keys (Current WTA World Ranking – 11)
  • Dominika Cibulkova (Current WTA World Ranking – 12)
  • Petra Kvitova (Current WTA World Ranking – 13)

Are YOU pumped for #ctopen16!? We are! ????????????

A photo posted by Connecticut Open (@connecticutopen) on

Men’s Legends Event | PowerShares Legends Event

The Connecticut Open will also host the Men’s PowerShares Legends Event and will feature four of the best tennis players of all time: John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Mark Philippoussis.

SportMaster Tennis Court Surfaces

There will be 18 tennis courts used for the event, which have been recently surfaced with tournament-quality, SportMaster tennis court surfaces.  The specialized sport coatings were fortified with a specific mix of specialty aggregates, to provide spin-responsive play and the preferred speed of play for this tournament.  These surfaces are durable and provide safe footing for optimum performance.

Tournament Quality Playing Surfaces | Installers Worldwide

SportMaster Sport Surfaces are installed nationwide and around the world by experienced tennis court contractors and surfacing professionals.  If you are interested in having a private court built or resurfaced, feel free to reach out to us and we can provide qualified local installers to provide you with free estimates.

SportMaster products are distributed and supported throughout the United States by the SealMaster franchise systems.  There are currently over 90 locations nationwide.  For more information, please visit http://www.sportmaster.net.

How Often Should Tennis Courts Be Resurfaced?

Tennis courts should be resurfaced every 4 to 8 years.  This is a standard range with quite a few variables, as you could imagine. Lets go over some reasons why the same resurfacing process would last 4 years on one court and 8, or double the amount of time, on another.

Tennis Court Construction Methods | Surface Longevity

Tennis courts, and other sport surfaces, should be properly built. There are important differences between a parking lot or driveway, and a tennis court surface.  The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) maintains construction guidelines for tennis courts and even has a certified tennis court builder program.  If tennis courts are not built correctly, they could require more frequent repairs and resurfacing.  Here are just some of the common construction problems influencing the decision of how often tennis courts should be resurfaced:

  • Improper slope = ponding water and premature breakdown of acrylic surfacing system.
  • Insufficient compaction  = susceptible to deforming, moisture damage, cracking, etc.
  • Incorrect or missing drainage system = backup of water and a long list of problems like surface bubbles/blisters, premature surface wear, and more.

Environmental Conditions and Surrounding Issues | Resurfacing Cycle

Acrylic tennis court surfaces require very little maintenance, but here are few important tips in extending the life of color coatings:

  • Surface debris removal – Don’t let leaves, pine needles, or any other organic debris build up on the court surface.  It will hold moisture and rot on the surface.  This is cause faster wear of the tennis court surfaces.
  • Trim edges – Be sure to keep grass, vegetation, and dirt trimmed down around the court edges.  This will help to prevent back-up of water that drains off of the court.  Puddled water will break down the acrylic surface coatings prematurely, and result the need for more frequent resurfacing.
  • Periodic washing –  Light to moderate pressure washing of the surface with mild detergents will help to extend the surface life and keep the court surface looking good.

Acrylic Resurfacer | Money Well Spent When Resurfacing

Many court owners want to skip the Acrylic Resurfacer step and just apply the color coatings.  Acrylic Resurfacer re-textures an old smooth court and helps to ensure the proper application rate of color coatings.  Since tennis court coatings are applied with a soft rubber squeegee, the colored surface coatings tend to “wipe off” when the surface is old, smooth and polished.  This results in thinner surface layers that won’t last as long, and definitely impacts how often the tennis court should be resurfaced.

Active Players and Busy Tennis Courts

Obviously, if there is good tennis programming and lots of players, it can impact the wear of the tennis court surfaces.  Active players and high traffic counts will speed up wear of the surfaces.  If this is known before resurfacing, talk to  a SportMaster representative and they can offer recommendations or prepare a custom scope tailored to your facility.  Extra coats may be recommended to extend the life of your tennis court surfaces.

Is It Time To Resurface Your Tennis Court?

Click on the “Contact Us” button and we can put you in touch with a factory-authorized tennis court contractor.  They can provide free estimates and make sure your tennis court is resurfaced properly. SportMaster Sport Surfaces are stocked and supported world-wide, and are ideal for all climates from extreme heat to frigid cold.

 

Can Pickleball Be Played On A Tennis Court?

Pickleball has become one of the fastest growing sports in the nation.  The demand for places to play Pickleball leads to the question, “Can Pickleball be played on a tennis court?”  

Yes, Pickleball can be played on a tennis court surface, and we will discuss some great options to keep Tennis and Pickleball players happy.

Blended Pickleball Lines On A Tennis Court

A common trend, that is working well, is to maximize the current “real estate” of existing tennis courts.  That is usually a “win-win” and has been done for years with tennis and basketball court combinations.  By USTA and ITF rules, tennis court lines must be white.  Pickleball court lines can be added in a different color, so that tennis or pickleball can be played on the same court (at different times, of course) and the eye can focus on the applicable set of playing lines.  As with the USTA’s kids tennis program known as 10 & under tennis or Quickstart, it is usually recommended to paint the Pickleball lines in the same color family as the court surface color. To better explain, if the court color is blue, apply the Pickleball lines in a shade of blue that is lighter or darker than the surface color. This makes the lines less distractive to tennis players.

How Much Does It Cost To Add Pickleball Lines To A Tennis Court?

This is a relatively inexpensive process and is usually performed by a qualified tennis court contractor.  It can range anywhere from $250  to $600 per court, depending on a variety of factors:

  • Existing surface condition (how much cleaning and prep is needed in order to get the new line paint to adhere properly)
  • Total number of Pickleball courts to be painted (better price per court, for multiple applications to minimize mobilization)
  • Lower cost to apply the Pickleball lines as the tennis courts are being resurfaced.

To get a free estimate from a qualified Pickleball court contractor on your facility, contact us and we can put you in touch with an experienced installer.

Pickleball Court Construction | Permanent Pickleball Courts

There is also a boom of permanent Pickleball courts being installed in park districts and residential settings.  Since Pickleball courts are smaller (44′ x 20′) than tennis courts (60′ x 120′), more and more avid players are building backyard Pickleball courts.  It is great fun for families, kids, and older players alike.  In fact, many older players that are unable to physically handle tennis are turning to Pickleball for fun and fitness.

Pickleball court construction utilizes the same construction methods as tennis and basketball courts.  Generally they are comprised of an asphalt or concrete substrate, and then surfaced with a non-slip, textured SportMaster brand of acrylic surface.  Here are some additional resources for Pickleball court construction, surfacing, and striping layout:

  • Pickleball Court Surfacing Specifications – Asphalt
  • Pickleball Court Surfacing Specifications – Concrete
  • Pickleball Court Striping Layout & Dimensions – Diagram

 

 

How Do You Get Rid Of Puddles On A Tennis Court?

So, how do you get rid of puddles on a tennis court?  Puddles on a tennis court are a nuisance for many reasons.  Either you wait for the water to evaporate before you play, or get a court dryer to move the puddles off the surface.  Puddled areas, or low spots, can also be a trip hazard if they have sunk enough to effect the players footing.

But what about adverse effects on the acrylic surfacing?  Acrylic tennis court surfaces are very durable, and designed to have good wet adhesion and resistance to the elements.  However, if water sits on the surface for prolonged periods of time, it will shorten the coating life and begin to break it down.  Plus, when water puddles in those areas, dirt and debris tends to accumulate in the water.  This creates a sandpaper-like friction on the surface from play and scuffing of tennis shoes.  The bottom line is, none of this is good for the tennis court surface.

Removing Low Spots and Puddles with Acrylic Patch Binder

The American Sports Builders Association maintains guidelines for puddles, or “birdbaths” on a tennis court surface.  A hour after a rain, or flooding the court, any area where standing water is measured at 1/16″ (2mm) is in need of patching.  This is usually measure by placing a U.S. nickel in the center of the puddle, and if the water covers the head of the nickel, it is deep enough to require leveling.

Acrylic Patch Binder is a 100% acrylic binder that is job-mixed with portland cement and specifically graded silica sand.  This creates a slurry that can be poured into the puddle area and screeded in with a steel or aluminum straightedge.  If done properly, this will bring the low, puddled area back to level and allow the water to flow off the court (with help from the court’s 1% slope).

Is Tennis Court Patching a DIY Project?

Leveling birdbaths and patching tennis courts can be very tricky without proper experience.  If not properly done, you can easily create a dam on your tennis court surface.  We would highly recommend seeking a qualified tennis court contractor to do this the correct way.  Feel free to contact us and we will be happy to provide you with experienced and affordable sport surfacing professionals.
Here is a short video demonstrating mixing and application of SportMaster Acrylic Patch Binder on tennis court puddles:

 

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. You can view our Engineering Specification for Athletic and Recreational Surfacing on our Sportmaster site.