Surfaces

When we think of outdoor court surfaces we think typically of post-tension concrete and asphalt. Indoor court surfaces are typically either gymnasium floors or in some cases where the conversion of a warehouse to pickleball courts is involved, the surface might again be concrete.

In order to be complete we should mention one other category. Less frequently, either outdoors or indoors, you see a cushioned sports-court surface in the discussion as a candidate for resurfacing. It happens most often when someone has an unused sports court and simply wants to reline it for pickleball. Often the two courts are nearly identically sized and this is an easy one to reline. This doesn’t amount to too much in this conversation because most of what we are talking about are appropriate surfaces for multiple courts, either as conversions (most often from unused tennis courts) or new construction.

(A final note on that before we move on…sports-court surfaces can actually play pretty well, some of them. Some of them suck..it depends. Before you invest any energy into conversion of a sports-court surface go out on the existing surface and just bounce a pickleball off it. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!) If it doesn’t bounce well you are probably in a bad situation and you don’t want to be replacing a sports-court surface unless you really have to. If you truly feel you have to, get in touch with us and we’ll put you in touch with someone who successfully did it. One in a thousand in our book.) 

We have not experienced building new indoor courts. We have participated in refinishing and re-striping indoor gymnasium floors in order to “add” permanent pickleball lines in with all the other lines (volleyball, basketball, etc. etc.) that these multi-use gym floors seem to have. But let’s focus more on outdoor courts where we have more experience.

We think most people would agree the choice between post-tensioned concrete and asphalt is a no-brainer; that post-tensioned concrete lasts longer, cracks far less, and so on. This could be true in some cases but certainly is not in all, and we actually prefer the play of the pickleball off a very good asphalt surface to that of a very good post-tensioned concrete surface. This is true for us if there is a good (similar) coating on both of them so you can make a real comparison. IOHO, a lightly (or poorly) treated asphalt court plays better than a lightly treated concrete court due to the “skip factor” off the poorly-treated concrete, and in both cases the asphalt feels a little softer after being on the courts for hours, so it isn’t always as clear a difference between the two constructions.

Back in the day, one real reason for going asphalt was cost; for a long time it was much less expensive than concrete. Today it depends on the price of oil, asphalt being a petroleum-based product, and it depends on who does the construction. For instance, in Bend, given a choice (meaning no low-bid-wins rule in place) we would always to do business with Dan Hanks of Cushion Tennis Courts in Redmond (Phone: 541 550 0941) who can do both asphalt and concrete and does a lot of both but is an amazing overseer of any project.

One project we were recently involved in, in an housing development (where we own a home), involved dumping the old and dilapidated tennis courts and replacing the whole thing with a “sports complex” consisting of tennis courts, volleyball, practice facilities with backboards, and (need we say it?) pickleball courts. Dan won the bid and bid two different solutions; one with post-tensioned concrete, the other with asphalt. The HOA chose asphalt. There Dan very creatively determined that the most cost-effective solution was to pour asphalt directly over the old concrete, using the old stuff as a firm base. The Mountain High development in Bend has every reason to expect years of good use and minimal cracking of this extremely well-developed asphalt core.

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Dan Hanks’ crew leveling asphalt at Mt. High

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Cushion Courts roughing the concrete to accept the asphalt

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Knife River was contracted to provide and pour the asphalt for Dan’s crew at Mt. High

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A terrific asphalt pour complete at Mountain High in Bend, courtesy Dan Hanks, Cushion Courts, Redmond

 

Here is a pretty good site for reading more about the differences, with the specifically linked article being a good way to start.

Here’s a picture of the first eight courts Dan Hanks did for the partnership of the Bend Pickleball Club and  Bend Parks and Recreation District at Pine Nursery Park in Bend. Again, these are asphalt courts. We could have probably had post-tensioned concrete for about the same money.

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The last part of surfaces goes beyond court construction and deals with the court paint. Typically there is grit added to these very specifically designed paints to allow the ball to bounce true without skipping. The more grit the “slower” the ball plays….it stays more in place and doesn’t bounce as much towards you. The proper level of grit is Tennis Two (2). This has enough grit for pickleball but not too much. Several companies provide these paint products. Recently folks have been favoring SportsMaster. DuraCourt is another you’ll here described with favor.

Here is a brochure from SportsMaster. They provide lots of court finishes. The colors being used on the eight courts above, which is a dynamite color combination in a rustic outdoor setting like this one, is Sportsmaster Brown (the darker almost-reddish color) and Sportsmaster Sandstone (the lighter almost tan color in the kitchen and around the courts).

 

42 Comments

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Daviela G.
    February 24, 2020

    I’ve been hearing a lot of comments about pickleball balls can hurt an outside concrete tennis practice wall.
    can you help me with your comments? thank you.

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      February 24, 2020

      Hi, Daniela. Thanks for your question. We’ve never heard of pickleballs hurting an outside concrete tennis practice wall. We imagine it could damage paint, especially if it was the wrong pain. There are lots of high impact concrete paints made…at some point we’ll probably look into which are best for that application. Frankly, other than paint, how could a plastic pickleball do any real damage to a concrete wall? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to us. We’ve seen many, many plywood backboards that we’ve painted and used for one or two seasons without even having to repaint them. So that’s our opinion. We’ll be interested in seeing if anyone else responds with a diffferent opinion.

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Brandon hoalt
    November 3, 2019

    I’m looking to build an indoor facility that would be used for baseball/softball and pickleball. What type of flooring would be suitable for pickleball yet not tear up the baseballs?

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      November 4, 2019

      Hi, Brandon. As far as we two moderaters are concerned, your question is beyond our paygrade (and questions about suitable flooring often are, as the whole subject is super-tricky). Hopefully one of the loyal readers will know more than we do (not hard with this subject, admittedly). Thanks for the inquiry…it’s a good one.

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Brent
    November 16, 2018

    I’ve seen limited “lawn pickleball” footage online. We were just experimenting on an indoor soccer field using a low compression tennis ball. Worked pretty well. Any thoughts here on other balls that might work on a synthetic grass court?

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Rick Darling
    May 21, 2018

    Can you place permanent Pickleball Post into an existing outdoor tennis court surface that has Post Tension Concrete?

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Tony
    January 27, 2018

    I have been playing indoor on a concrete surface using an indoor ball. It seems like the ball bounces higher than it would in an outdoor court. Should we be playing with an outdoor ball?

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      January 29, 2018

      I don’t think that will help. You could try it, but concrete is concrete, you know? The indoor balls I’ve played with are generally a bit softer and therefore are a bit slower although the bounce seems similar. Just IMHO.

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Sally T.
    January 9, 2018

    Our club has two Platform tennis courts. We are investigating the possibility of bringing in a removable pickleball surface to be used during the warmer months. Do you have any idea of the cost of such an endeavor?

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      January 29, 2018

      No, but I’d be interested in your coming back at some point and letting us know how that all worked out.

      • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
        Sue Omanson
        May 31, 2019

        I would be very interested in learning more about any way for platform tennis and pickleball to share the same space. Our park district has built pickleball courts because they are less expensive than platform tennis, but if we could build courts that could be used for both sports, we might consider it. Platform tennis is great for our winters in Illinois, where there is little to do outside (hardly any snow, but cold). So far we have none in our city. Thanks.

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Rob M.
      July 2, 2019

      We did this at our club and have had great success. We simply added lines where needed, Kitchen and extending center court. We used the blue paint for handicapped parking lines. The contrast is good, but not over powering and it is made for high traffic and wears very well. It took about 40 minutes to do each court.

      We had a pro come in and give a clinic and he recommended using the pure onyx 2 balls which seem to work very well. Another local club put a temporary surface down on the court and reviews are not that great, especially for the cost. We spent $27 on a gallon of paint is all.

      The thing I notice is in platform you do not run as fast to the sides because you can play off them. With Pickle a few over zealous people have met the screens fairly hard. Nobody hurt but something to consider as a player. Funny watching everyone at least once let one go and a millisecond later realize you cannot play off the screens.

      In the fall one of the courts will be resurfaces and we will have the company touch up the lines on the other if our leagues require it. I understand a few places in our league have done similar and I have not met anyone who thinks the additional lines will be distracting, but waiting for the final verdict.

      Good Luck!

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    john pizzi
    October 22, 2017

    I’m building a sports court for pickleball – outside using plastic tiles. Can you please put me in touch with someone that has done this successfully! Thank you!

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      October 22, 2017

      I’m not personally aware of pickleball played on plastic tiles. One guy who might is our go-to guy for construction generally. Dan Hanks, of Cushion Tennis Courts, and he can be reached at (541) 504-0875. Hope it works out!

      • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
        Ken
        October 22, 2017

        I just built 3 indoor courts over concrete. After talking with a USAPA Ambassador from Florida I cancelled the plastic floor, diamond ground the concrete for prep for acrylic painted courts. They were completed 2 weeks ago and I couldn’t be happier. Lots of stories out there about plastic courts being slippery when wet, lots of bad bounces / soft spots and injuries from falls on rough plastic surfaces. Play on a plastic court before you purchase one.

        • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
          John Brandenburg
          March 15, 2018

          We have plastic tile tennis courts at our Lake edition in Indiana. After falling in love with Pickleball in Florida we could not wait to play at home. To our dismay a regulation Pickleball will NOT bounce on our plastic tiles despite a tennis ball bouncing fine. Anyone know of a different ball for plastic tiles?

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Ken Knight, PickleBall Island
    August 23, 2017

    I am planning to install 2 Pickleball courts in a warehouse. 30 yr old concrete floors in excellent condition. The floors are sealed with a high gloss acrylic solvent based sealer. Will we be able to coat over this base without removing the sealer? Any suggestions??

    I would like to have a 2 color court with possible cushioning.

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      September 7, 2017

      Wow. Interesting but difficult problem. Coating over sealers would have to be a problematic issue, although we’re sure the solution is out there. Obviously we don’t know the answer to this one, Ken. If you do find out, please post it here. Thanks.

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Ken Knight, PickleBall Island
      September 22, 2017

      After much research and meetings with coatings contractors, we decided to mechanically remove the high gloss finish. It was a $3k decision
      but really had no choice if we wanted the new acrylic to stick. Color going down this week…..

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Duane
    August 16, 2017

    Hi, our club also wants to play pickleball on our platform tennis courts. Would any outdoor carpets provide an acceptable bounce for play? Thanks

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      September 7, 2017

      I would say “no” but would like to see it tried. If the foundation is concrete, as is recommended for new platform tennis courts (see link – platform tennis court construction) we’d say it might be worth a shot but please take an area and try it for bounce before carpeting the whole thing? Also, why doesn’t just the native concrete of the court (if that’s what it is) work with different lining?

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    John Mackey
    June 1, 2017

    Do you coat your asphalt surface and if you do with what product?

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      September 7, 2017

      Yes, and I don’t remember. But a guy who would is Dan Hanks, of Cushion Tennis Courts, and he can be reached at (541) 504-0875. Thanks.

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Ralph
      January 14, 2018

      Can Pickleball damage a tennis court surface. Our tennis players are claiming this

      • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
        Us
        January 29, 2018

        I don’t think so. What may damage the surface is the additional traffic because you have 4X as many players on a surface the size of a tennis court. But as long as both groups wear similar shoes, I’d think wear and tear for the same number of people would be identical. The balls certainly don’t hurt the court surface in either case. IMHO, no scientific evidence.

        • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
          Kathy
          November 2, 2019

          I play o tennis courts 3x per week. And one scenario permanent pickle ball lines are painted on tennis courts and were using a non-regulation Picklball net because we have to play with the tennis net. In another place where I play we make 2 quarts out of one tennis court and we map out the lines with chalk and use portable nets and that is on the tennis court also and I didn’t know people didn’t play on tennis courts

          • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
            Us
            November 4, 2019

            Hi, Kathy. We think either your thread was brok en or you didn’t really ask a question? Sorry if this is a stupid response but would you tell us what you are looking for, or are you just reporting in? (Hey, we love to hear from everyone, so that would be OK, too!) Blessings…

          • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
            Us
            November 4, 2019

            We could make a couple of observations.The regulation height of a tennis court in the middle is 36″ The regulation height of a pickleball court in the middle is 34″. What we have done when playing on tennis courts and not wanting to futz around with the tennis nets, we’ve simply taken two empty one-gallon milk jugs and hang them by S-hooks, one on each side. Then we fill ’em with water. Depends on the net how much water you’ll need. Generally less than half full will do it, but experiment. Great way to get to playing and not loosening a tennis net that you have to re-tighten later. And we’ve often, often, played on tennis courts striped with chalk or masking tape. We like masking tape and the quarter inch WalMart tape is super cheat and doesn’t leave gum marks on the court. And, yes, we recognize they don’t produce two-inch regulation lines but who cares? It’s only pickleball. (Smiles!)

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    zelma Poiriez
    May 11, 2017

    Can pickleball be played on indoor-outdoor carpet? Our church is planning to cover an existing concrete indoor facility with carpet as it is also used for children activities. We, the pickle ball players are opposed as we feel it will not play well. What do you think?

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      September 7, 2017

      Sorry for the delay; lots of site issues we’re working through. I don’t think Pball could be played on indoor-outdoor carpet successfully but could be wrong. I’ve only seen this done once and it wasn’t cool…but again, could have been the application. Suggest you try it on concrete in a controlled environment. If you’ve already addressed it let us know the result.

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Peter Marks
    February 22, 2017

    Does a cushion surface work for pickleball?

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      April 13, 2017

      Yes, with some variance in result depending on which surface you are considering. PLEASE do yourself a big favor and find a cushion tennis surface exactly like the one you are considering and try the bounce of a pickleball on it, BEFORE you invest in it. Thanks for your comment!

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Al Proctor
    June 26, 2016

    Can pickleball be played on synthetic grass type surface?

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      August 17, 2016

      Hi, Al.

      We really don’t know the answer to this question. We have seen attempts to play pickleball on various other types of surfaces (e.g. sport-court surfaces, etc.) fail miserably. We will ask the USAPA Ambassador Forum this question and perhaps we’ll have a more substantive answer in the future. Stay tuned!

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Donna Beers
    May 23, 2016

    Our club is considering purchasing a tile surface to place over existing platform tennis courts so we pickle players will have our own courts in the summer. Have any of you played on this surface? A friend and I played for an hour on it. One of the outdoor balls skidded and went left. An indoor ball played truer. I am used to a gym or hard court surface. Any comments would be appreciated.

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      August 17, 2016

      Sorry for this delay. If you haven’t bought the tile surface yet we hope you do not; most of the tile surfaces we have seen do not work out well. There are rumors of successful installations but if you’ve actually tried the surface you probably know better than the rest of us if the surface can be made to be successful. Truth be told we don’t even like gym floors all that much; here in Bend there is a group building an indoor facility and even though they are building it on the second floor they are putting in concrete courts. We’re sort of old-school about flooring but prefer concrete or asphalt and will play on indoor gym floors using the Onyx Pure ball but otherwise would prefer to play on asphalt or concrete even indoors, in which case the DuraBall and others are fine. Again, sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

      • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
        D. Jeffries
        March 30, 2018

        Just some feedback on concrete/asphalt pickleball court surfaces. Yesterday for the first time I played pickleball on a concrete court that was surface finished with a sand paint. It looked great…it had lots of grip for footing and the ball seemed to bounce and react normally…..one problem and I think it’s a big one…..I looked at my paddle after playing 5 and 6 games and there was surface damage to the paddle. The paddle has a typical fiberglass construction. You could see small chips out of the paddle surface. Pickleballs are of course plastic whiffle balls. Apparently small particles of sand would get stuck onto the ball surface and upon contact would tear the paddle surface. I wouldn’t recommend using this type of surface finish…not only because of paddle damage but also if a player was to fall while playing, it would rip the crap out of their skin.

        • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
          Us
          March 30, 2018

          That’s great feedback and thanks! We would love to know what grit they actually put in the paint. As you probably know there are different levels of grittiness available from the earlier days of tennis courts. If they were to use a heavy grit (medium is best for pickleball or lighter, although we forget how the numbers work) then you’d get a very slow surface. I hate the idea of falling in that, being on blood thinners. I’d probably just bleed out in the court! Thanks for the great feedback! Hope everyone who is building new courts sees this.

          • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
            D. Jeffries
            April 1, 2018

            Not sure exactly what size grit was added to the pickleball surface paint but would say it is about the same as the grit on a sheet of 50-100 grit sand paper. When walking along the outside of the court you can see the surface sparkle as the sun hit’s it….much the same what you would see when driving at night on an asphalt road that has ground glass in the asphalt mixture. If the sand paint used for pickleball was a much finer grit it may eliminate the damage to your paddle and would also minimize the damage it would cause to your skin if you happen to fall on the court. Safety should always be the first consideration with any design of anything…followed by function. Certainly there is a correct way to achieve both.

            dj

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Harry Hinman
    August 27, 2015

    Can Pickle ball be played on a hard-true tennis court? I was told that the ball must bounce before you can hit it and it will not bounce on this surface.
    Thanks,
    Harry

    • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
      Us
      August 31, 2015

      I think the company you mean is Har-Tru and their website is here. Har-Tru I’d suggest you ask them directly as I’m not familiar with the bounce of a pickleball on a Har-Tru court but there certainly are some surfaces that do not work well for pickleball. Most tennis court surfaces do but this one, being clay, may not. It is not true that the pickleball must always bounce before you hit it, btw. Just after the serve and the return of serve. Otherwise you may volley the ball. Good luck and post back with what you find out about Har-Tru.

  • , Surfaces, Pickleball.biz, Pickleball.biz
    Mark Nelson
    April 5, 2015

    I’ve heard the argument that asphalt is a softer surface to play on and therefore easier on your joints. I just have a hard time understanding how that is possible. I can understand a runner saying it’s softer running on an asphalt road as opposed to a concrete sidewalk. A road has an uneven asphalt surface. It is not perfectly flat. There are very small high and low spots of the surface that allow the cushioning affect of the runners shoe to be much more effective. A concrete sidewalk is very flat and very hard. The shoe hits a solid surface with no small depressions to lessen the impact. The concrete sidewalk will feel harder.

    This reasoning doesn’t hold up for pickleball courts. Both asphalt and concrete courts are very smooth and very hard. Neither one have any give to them. How can one be softer than the other when there is no give? We do deflection tests on our paddles to see what kind of give each different surface has. The surfaces with too much deflection are deemed illegal for tournament play. I’ve never done a deflection test on asphalt or concrete pickleball courts but it’s hard for me to believe there would be any difference. Without give how can a surface be softer?

    As the article says the court coating has everything to do with how well the surface plays. Very fine grain silica sand is mixed into the coating before it is applied. The more sand you put in the more grab the the surface has. The more grab there is the slower the surface is. Less sand equals less grab and a faster court. If you have a smooth hard surface, what you coat it with will be the biggest determination of how it plays.

    I am working with Reno Parks and Rec for some dedicated pickleball courts. I will be pushing for tensioned concrete. The tennis courts we will be converting are 20+ year old asphalt. They haven’t been playable for at least the 8 years I’ve seen them due to cracks large enough swallow a small child. Asphalt will always crack. It is an oil product. Oil dries out over time shrinking and cracking. In some climates the process will be slower than others but the asphalt will crack.

    I was involved with building post tension concrete courts in Arizona. The cost of the concrete courts was 20% higher than it would’ve been for asphalt. It was a no brainer in Arizona. Our facility had 12 year old asphalt tennis courts that were beyond repair. Those courts needed complete resurfacing at $50,000 per court. Had they been done originally with post tension concrete those repairs would not have been necessary. The people writing the check for our new courts saw that it was much smarter to spend the extra money upfront and not have to deal with resurfacing issues in the near future.

    If Reno won’t spend the money for concrete courts and wants to go with asphalt. That will be ok with me. We should be able to get close to 15 years from asphalt in Reno. I’ll be 80 years old when the cracks are getting bad. I’m hopeful that pickleball is still a big part of my life then but there is a good chance court cracks will not be important to me at 80.

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