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Tennis court paint: What it is, how the tennis court industry refers to it and How To Paint a Tennis Court Like The Professionals.
Tennis court paint is a special 100% acrylic coating engineered to withstand the rigors of aggressive foot traffic inherent in competitive tennis, basketball, pickleball and other court sports. It is also designed to be non-slip, even when wet.
Let’s first clear up any confusion between what many of you know as tennis court paint, or painting a tennis court and the terms our industry uses. The tennis court construction and service industry calls tennis court paint, “court coating”, or “tennis court surfacing material”. The industry term for re-painting a tennis court is, “tennis court resurfacing”. Many confuse this latter term with more extensive projects, such as repaving a court or court reconstruction. Resurfacing is just patching, re-painting and re-lining. The industry term for painting a tennis court that has never been painted is simply, “tennis court surfacing”.
Another confusing industry term for one tennis court surfacing product made to smooth and fill bare asphalt, a heavily patched court surface, or any other rough surface is, “Resurfacer”. Of course, a quick search in your dictionary will reveal this is not a recognized word, but the tennis industry made it our own over 60 years ago. This (Resurfacer) product is colored either black or neutral. Its richness in fibers and sand give it filling qualities far superior to color-coatings, but it doesn’t have enough pigment to be used as a final coat. It is also not a primer, even though it is sometimes referred to as a, “base coat”. Two to three coats of a high-quality tennis court color-coating create enough opacity to adequately cover your old surface, without Resurfacer, even if you are changing court colors. Resurfacer also does not help the color-coatings stick better to your old tennis court surface. Good tennis court paint (color-coating) does not need priming in the traditional sense. Color-coatings have the same, if not better, adhesion qualities as Resurfacer. In summary, Resurfacer has no other function than to fill the roughness of an existing surface. If you don’t have a rough surface, don’t waste money on a Resurfacer base coat.
A STEP BY STEP GUIDE FOR TENNIS COURT SURFACING AND RESURFACING
Planning: Our experts are available to offer free planning assistance for your tennis court project. To help our experts provide the most relevant advice, your first step should be to take 10 to 20 pictures of your court and email or text them to us (call or email for a cell phone to text pictures). Take a few pictures of the overall court and then take some close-ups of your problem areas (cracks, low spots, rough areas, etc.). Dropping a coin in your close-up shots will provide helpful perspective. Then let’s talk about your expectations, your budget, and the logistics for doing this work yourself.
If you prefer not to contact us for personal assistance, we recommend you visit a few of our pages filled with all the planning information and resources you will need: ‘How-To Information’, 'Estimate Forms', ‘DIY Resources’, and ‘DIY Videos’. The following information is an overview of phases of a complete tennis court resurfacing or surfacing project.
Inspection: Draw a diagram of your court or request one from us. Carefully walk the court when it is dry, sketching in the areas that will need to be patched or otherwise addressed before applying any coatings. Some of the imperfections you will be looking for are:
The next inspection step is to flood the court with a garden hose or wait for the next good rain. One hour after flooding you should walk the court with a big yellow carpenter’s crayon in one hand and a nickel in the other. One hour is enough time for the negligible surface water to dry, leaving only the deeper standing water that could eventually degrade your new color-coatings. You will know if an area holding water is a potential problem by dropping the nickel into the middle of the puddle. If the standing water covers the top of the nickel it is a bona fide “Birdbath” (another strange term the tennis court industry has adopted). This simply means water will stand in this area long enough to allow mildew (algae) to grow, which will eventually eat away the coatings prematurely. This standing water also increases the time before play can resume or causes extra work to remove it to speed drying.
When you find a birdbath (puddle that covers the nickel), take the yellow crayon and mark around its outer edge. After all the birdbaths are all marked, sketch them on your diagram, making note of the approximate dimensions and depth of each. We use a nickel because it is a little less than 1/8” thick. The U.S.T.A. (United States Tennis Association) has deemed any water, 1/8” or deeper, standing in an area, one hour after flooding, to be a flaw needing repair for the reasons stated in the previous paragraph.
You now have the information necessary to accurately estimate the labor and materials required to prepare the court for surface coatings. You can call or email this information to us for a quote or you can use one of our interactive estimates to estimate the materials required. For labor requirements, you need to contact us via email or phone. We will be more than happy to help.
Cleaning: Before painting any surface the first obvious step is to clean it thoroughly. A tennis court surface is no different. While a pressure washer (minimum 1500 PSI rating) is the fastest most efficient method of cleaning, a garden hose, a couple of common household cleaning agents, and a stiff bristle broom will suffice. Read our full article on removing unwanted vegetation and our full article on cleaning a tennis court.
Repairing Cracks: There are several crack repair methods, all relatively simple to execute. The method used is largely determined by the type of crack you are patching, the desired longevity of the repair and your budget. One word of caution concerning your expectations about crack repair. While the crack repair products we sell are among the finest in the industry, they will not prevent cracks from re-occurring. Crack repair done in moderate, tropical climates will have the best chance of long-term success. Excessive moisture, expansive soils, and freezing temperatures will guarantee the return of the cracks repaired. In most cases the cracks will begin to re-open slowly and will progress until they are as large as they were before you patched them within 3 to 5 years. The only long-term solutions are to install a membrane system such as CrackSpan over the cracks or to correct the cause of the cracking which is usually found well beneath the surface. Click here to read our full article on crack repair.
Patching A Court: Whether you are planning to apply surface coatings over a new court or are resurfacing an existing one, chances are some patching will be needed. Patching is not difficult. You just have use the right product for the specific repair and have the detailed instructions on how to use it. Our article titled, “Patching issues you may encounter and the repair techniques and products to fix them”, explains the typical patching issues found on courts around the country and points out which of our products best addresses each issue. If you need more crack repair information: ‘click here’.
Preparing Concrete For Coating: Every year we get dozens of calls from do-it-yourselfers ready to purchase tennis court paint for their new concrete slabs. One of the very first questions we ask is: did your contractor finish your concrete with a broom, leaving some texture on the surface, or is it finished it smooth? Sadly, at least 80% of them report they have a smooth finish. “Smooth” may be the right finish for a warehouse floor, but it is precisely the wrong finish for a slab you plan to apply coatings of any kind, except maybe some type of liquid stain. Click here to read our full article on preparing concrete for coating.
Does Your Court Need A Resurfacer Coat: A Resurfacer base coat has one function and one function only: to fill rough areas on a court surface. It is not used in the same way a base coat on a wall would be used. It is not a primer for better adhesion, or a base for better color development of the final paint coats. Click here for our full article on this subject.
Applying Resurfacer: Resurfacer is typically applied over the entire surface area prior to applying the color-coatings. The first pour for this coat is usually made along the edge of one of the two back fences and squeegeed parallel to the baselines. The end at which you start is dictated by the best end to finish (i.e. the end having a gate you can use to squeegee out the court). Read our full article on applying resurfacer here.
Roller vs. Squeegee To Apply The Color-Coatings: This is one of the most frequently asked questions from prospective surfacing customers every year. Having come from the world of professional tennis court surfacing and construction we have always been partial to applying all coats with a squeegee. This is because squeegee application is the most productive use of every man-hour. We finally realized this is not the paradigm of many do-it-yourselfers. Labor is usually cheap or free, and often his/her own. The goal of all do-it-yourselfers is a finished project that looks like it was done by a professional. This can be accomplished by either application method. It is the unique set of court conditions, available labor, and time blocks you can commit to the project that will determine which method is best for you. For more information, click here to read the full article.
How To Apply The In-Bounds Color-Coatings With A Squeegee: You should always coat the in-bounds area first. Tape 8" wide masking paper around the perimeter outside of the inbounds area, using the center of the lines as your taped edge. It is advisable to use 24" paper behind the baseline where you will finish each coat. The extra paper will be much appreciated as you squeegee off the court. See illustration below. Click here for the full article.
How To Apply The Out-Of-Bounds Color-Coatings With A Squeegee: The steps and techniques used to coat the out-of-bounds are very similar to those for the inbounds. You will always use the same (upside down U) pattern of squeegeeing no matter what coating you are applying or where it is being applied. The only real difference will be in how squared-off or curved the (upside down U) pattern is. A squared-off (straight) pattern should be maintained when squeegeeing across large areas, such as an inbounds or an entire court. A curved pattern is preferred by most professional applicators of tennis court paint when squeegeeing out-of-bounds alleys. Click here for the full article.
How To Roll On Color-Coatings: Assuming you have determined rolling is the best application method for you, we will now explain how it is done. Most of it is common sense, so I will try to be thorough without insulting your intelligence. You should use a ½ nap roller cover between 8” and 18” wide. Use as many people as are available to roll on the coatings. If you are coating an existing court with lines, let each person paint one section at a time (i.e. a service box, no-man’s land, alley between the doubles line and the fence, etc.). Click here to read the full article.
Marking, Taping And Painting The Lines: One of your first considerations before starting your resurfacing project has to be whether you will place your new lines precisely over the position of your old ones. This is largely dictated by the amount of patching and the number of color-coats that will be applied over your existing court surface and lines. Unless you plan to resurface your court with at least three coats of color or your old lines are almost completely worn away, they will be slightly visible through the new surface. In this case it is best to place the new lines directly over the old ones. There is a trade-off here. If the old lines were not accurately placed, you will must either live with new lines being slightly off, or place enough coatings over the old ones so they will not show through the finished surface, after you have correctly marked and painted the new lines. You can hide the old lines by rolling two coats of color over them prior to apply the surface coatings. Click here for the full article, including graphics and measurements.