BUILDING YOUR PICKLEBALL COURT
PICKLEBALL COURTS & EQUIPMENT
By Arlen Paranto
The court size will depend upon the space available. A court size of 26’ X 60’ would provide adequate surface for the 20’ X 44’ court. If room is available, a little wider court would be even better. Try a few courts to see which size is best for you.
A snap-together plastic surface the companies like Sport Court provide - These have an open waffle type pattern and are usually applied over concrete or asphalt surfaces. See yellow pages for dealers. Advantages: Provide a beautiful surface with plenty of variation possibilities, by altering the layout patterns of the courts, hopscotch, shuffleboard, etc. Disadvantages: Higher cost and sometimes the expansion caused by hot weather may result in some dead spots.
Asphalt – Initially a cheaper surface than anything. Requires no expansion joints. Disadvantage is that the upkeep may be higher (sealing, etc.) and it may develop low spots for water puddles to collect.
Concrete – Provides the best surface durability at a reasonable cost. Cement slabs should be installed over 4” of sand for moisture drainage. The ground itself should be graded to provide for water runoff also. The slab, should, ideally include reinforcement with 3/8” or ½” re-bar on a 24” grid. Slabs should be protected for expansion changes by using devices called “Zip Strips” (plastic shaped extrusions) across the net line and down the centerline. On slabs larger than 26 X 60, another strip may be added across the court just back of the baselines. It is extremely important that at least a one percent slope for water runoff be provided, preferable from side to side. This would be 3” for every 25’ of surface. On this type of slope a ball will gently roll all the way across the court. Anything less than this will create “birdbaths” on your court where water collects.
Lighting: Large courts could be equipped with one 1,000 watt quartz fixture at each corner. Smaller courts can be well lighted with two 1500 watt quartz fixtures. The light source being a pole in the middle of the court and set back from the court sideline 24”. The height of the light fixture should be 18’ to 20’ high.
After installing four courts of fixtures/poles, I found that the best system consists of a square 3” aluminum pole, topped with a welded 3” sq. Aluminum Crossbar 3’ long. This pole was bolted, using two ¾” diameter bolts, to a base post. The idea being to have a post that can be easily swung into position, using one of the bolts as the hinge pin, then installing the other bolt to secure. This avoids the use of a ladder for installing/replacing lights, etc. The power line comes up through the base post, which is about 3’ high. I put a flexible conduit pipe over the power line and provided enough flex in the conduit to allow swinging the light pole up and down.
The light post is normally used as one of the net posts. This is set back 24” from the sideline. The other net post can be a 2” square or round tube. A square tube allows one to install a sleeve into the slab, so the net post can be removed, if desired for other court uses like skating, etc. A steel supply company such as Northwest Steel (Tacoma, Washington) can supply such tubes and sizes for you. Larger posts, if desired for use such as basketball and volley ball should be installed to a depth of at least 3’. Smaller posts to a depth of 2’.
Courts can be used without any special finishes, but a colored surface provides one with an outstanding surface and makes the game much more enjoyable as it is easier to track the ball. The most common surface finish is called “Plexi-Pave”. This material is used on courts all over the world and is an old one. It consists of a gritty material, which provides good footing. This can be done by licensed contractors or by a “do it yourself” operation.
I just found out another alternative to this method that my son has used on his new court and it works great! He had his court slab finished as a “broom finish”, which provides a slight rough finish. Then he applied a couple of coats of Plexi-Pave’s line coating material, which I think is actually the plexi pave, minus the gritty compound. This method costs something like $300 instead of the $1500 plus for the full treatment. His court proved to be an outstanding playing surface. His court is all green. He did it all himself and the lines also.
Lines should be white and 2” wide. The 20X 44 court borders should be centered on the playing surface, using a chalk line system to locate all lines. Chalk lines should be attached to stakes at court edges. Lines lie within the baseline and sidelines dimensions. The court centerline does not extend through the Non-Volley Zone. The Non-Volley line also lies within the 7’ distance from the net centerline.
Mask off all lines with 1” wide tape and press down firmly before painting. If you are painting lines on a single colored plexipaved court, you can achieve very sharp lines by a process called “Chroming”. After masking, apply a coat of the colored plexipave paint over the inside edges of the masked lines. This seals the line edges and prevents the white line paint from seeping under the tape and blurring the line edge.
Chroming the lines, on a two color type court requires somewhat the same procedure. On a green court with a red border, one would use a red paint on the inside edge of the line area to seal that edge. Then a green paint on the inside edge of the line area to seal that edge of the tape.
When this is done, then the white line paint can be applied. This will result in a very crisp, unblurred line.
NOTE: If you decide to just use the plain concrete court, even if temporary, and want to paint lines on it, be sure to USE A LATEX TYPE PAINT, as any other such as enable paints, will cause problems if you ever decide to plexipave the court.
PLEXIPAVE DOES NOT ADHERE TO ENAMEL PAINTS!
LIGHTS: Quartz Halogen fixtures can be purchased from several electrical outlets, including Home Base.
CABLE WINCH: A light duty winch like used on some boat trailers is ideal for mounting on your net standard for adjusting the net. Check marine supply houses.
BALLS: The best ball for Pickleball and the one used when the game was invented, the Safe T Play Ball, made by Cosom.
* A Plastic pvc tube should be installed under your court in a strategic spot, so you can install a power line or water line for any future needs.
* Lights should not be installed on basketball standards, as the vibration may cause failure of the light element.
* Light switch should be installed high enough to prevent children from operating it.