How The Pros Layout And Paint Tennis Court Lines

The task of marking and painting tennis court lines may seem to be complicated and laborious to the novice. However, with the right tools and a few tips the Pros use, you can apply perfectly crisp white lines accurately and easily.

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 either have to live with new lines that are 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.

The best way to make an informed decision about which way you should go with this is to measure your existing lines for accuracy before you even place your order for resurfacing materials. If your lines are fairly close you may choose to paint the new ones in the same position. If they are way off, you will probably want to cover them up well and mark and paint the new ones in the right position. The U.S.T.A. regulation only allows for 1/4" tolerance in all playing lines. It is honestly very rare that we find lines placed this accurately. It is however, not that difficult to achieve this level of accuracy, with a little care.

Below are instructions for measuring and marking tennis court playing lines. The instructions show measurements which represent the center of all lines. Most tape machines, including ours are made to follow a chalk line placed at the center of what will be the new playing lines (see the illustration below). The measurements are for (U.S.T.A regulation) 2" wide playing lines everywhere except the baselines. We show measurements for three inch baselines because they are the most popular. The U.S.T.A. regulation allows for any baseline width between 2" and 6". If you want a two inch baseline, your doubles line measurement will be 38', 11" (Step 6), and your diagonal measurement will be 52', 10-7/8" (Step 7). If you don't plan to use a tape machine you will find all of the measurements for marking your lines from the outside edge at this link Tennis Court Dimensions.








Laying The Masking Tape:  Now that you have chalk lines representing the center of all of the playing lines, you are ready to begin laying the masking tape.  This is an easy process but there are a few tips that will you avoid critical mistakes.  Note:  Make sure the tape you have purchased matches the width of the machine's tape guides..

The first step is to carve half of the inner cardboard spool out of each roll of tape.  This is very important because the aluminum spools on the tape machine are a little too big to allow free movement of the tape rolls as you roll the machine down the line.  This will cause tension on the tape, stretching it slightly as it is applied to the court.  After the tape is down it will begin contracting, causing it to break free from the court surface. So DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.

 Most professionals prefer to tape and paint all of, what they refer to as, the vertical or long lines first.  More specifically, these are the two singles lines, the two doubles lines, the center service line, and the two service tabs at the baselines.  After the paint is dry, they pull up the masking tape and tape and paint, what they refer to as, the horizontal or short lines.  They consist of the two baselines and the two service lines.  This method eliminates the need to cut out intersections where the tape crosses.  This not only saves time but also prevents tiny cuts in the surface which will eventually become cracks.

 Below are illustrations showing process of taping and painting lines using this method.

 Tape All Of The Long Lines And Service Tabs First



Place Strips Of Tape At Ends (at Chalk Lines) To Prevent Over Painting

Service Tabs At Baselines Are Typically 6” Long

Paint Inside Of Tape


Pull Up Tape After Paint Has Dried And Lay Tape For Short Lines Boxing Ends Of Baselines With Tape


Paint Inside Of Tape


Pull Up Tape After Paint Has Thoroughly Dried

Download PDF Version For Printing

Download PDF Basketball Lining Instructions