"I'd say they need to be resurfaced and restriped every five years. The two school systems we have around here are on a maintenance program," Buck says. "We go in every year to fill in the cracks, because you're not going to get rid of the cracks once they're in there. You can hide them, but we go in and fill them with the filler. You have to make sure that the filled cracks don't stick out because you don't want kids tripping on them."
A leveling coat should be used if it is the first time the court has been surfaced. This will create a smooth surface for the color applications. The leveling coat is also necessary if patchwork has been done or if the surface is rough. On a court resurfacing project, it is acceptable to skip this step if the surface you are working with is smooth and in good condition.
The color coating is the last step before striping. Some customers will want a two-color court, with the play area one color and the out-of-bounds area another. Other customers will request a one-color court. If you're surfacing a two-color court, you will need to measure out the 78-foot by 36-foot play area before you begin. (See guidelines in "Doubles layout" below.)
Color coatings are available in pre-mixed formulas and concentrated formulas that require mixing. If you're using the concentrate, you can dictate how much water and sand goes into your mix. Be aware that the amount and size of sand used in the mix has a very important effect on the finished product.
"The speed of play is controlled by the amount and size of sand — the mesh of sand," Sampson explains. "If there's not a whole lot of sand in the material, it's a fast court; if there's a lot of sand in the court it's a slow court. It's a lot easier to practice and play on a slow court, and if you're an older client you might want a slow court because you can't always get to the ball. The sand actually grabs that ball and it really slows down the speed of play. A high school court will typically be a medium-play court, and homeowners themselves will be pretty particular about that."
The color coat will typically be applied in several coats. Wait for each coat to dry before applying the next, typically four hours.
When working on an indoor court, there are a few things you need to keep in mind during the various steps of the surfacing process that can be different from outdoor work.
"We did a job in Pennsylvania last year that was a tennis racket club inside a building, our first time inside, and there were some different aspects in that," Buck says. "The evaporation of the sealer takes a lot longer to dry, and then you can get condensation on the beams and lights, so you'll probably get some dripping from the ceiling, which you don't have to deal with when you're outside. But then again when you're outside you have the weather to deal with and when you're inside you don't."
You can begin striping a court after the color coats have cured, generally 24 hours. Striping a tennis court demands great attention to detail. Lines are not generally placed with a walk behind striper. Instead, most contractors use a tape machine that rolls out two perpendicular strips of masking tape, leaving a space in between to apply the paint. When you pull up the tape, your line is crisp. There are sealers available that you can apply to the junction of the pavement surface and the tape which ensures that there will be no paint bleeding underneath the tape.
"Most people do tennis court striping by hand, just because customers are so picky about the finished job," explains Gearheart. "There are some people who use a machine, with or without the tape machine, and they can do a very good job. But when you do it by hand you don't have to worry about the wind or overspray."
Tennis court lines should be 2 inches wide. The baseline should be between 2 inches and 4 inches wide. All court measurements should be taken from the back edge of the painted line (the edge of the line furthest from the play area). Courts will generally be striped for doubles play, which also includes the lines for singles play. Court dimensions can be found in manuals, on the Internet, and are often available from the supplier of your court surfacing materials.