Choosing the Right Sports Court Surface

We compare different court surfaces based on five crucial factors

Important aspects of a sports court surface

Almost all schools and playgrounds in Australia have some form of sporting surface. These are often made of asphalt, concrete, acrylic, clay, or grass. There are five important factors to consider when choosing a sporting court surfacing:

  • Performance
  • Durability
  • Maintenance
  • Aesthetics
  • Budget.

Based on these five criteria, the team here at Road Seal Australia help us look at each sporting surface and how they stack up against each other.

Types of sports surfaces       

Concrete courts

Asphalt courts

Asphalt is the cheapest type of sports surface material, but it is also the most fragile. After around 5 years, cracks can begin to develop, and after 20 years, a full restoration will be required.

Performance: Asphalt is often used as a base with another material poured on top. This top surface will affect the pace and bounce of the ball.

Durability: Asphalt is prone to cracks and puddling, resulting in unsavoury playing conditions.

Maintenance: Requires little maintenance but is challenging to repair.

Aesthetics: Tidy but painted markings quickly wear away. They can also get very hot in the summer.

Concrete courts

Concrete courts are reinforced with F82 mesh placed on 50/65 bar chairs. They last many years with no structural damage.

Performance: Slow to medium pace; harder on joints and muscles than other court surfaces.

Durability: Can be used all year round with extensive and frequent play.

Maintenance:  Low maintenance but difficult and expensive to repair.

Aesthetics: Utilitarian appearance.

Acrylic courts

These are concrete or asphalt surfaces coated with layers of acrylic paint. A rubberised cushion can be added on top.

Performance: Ball bounce is good, but pace depends on the amount of sand added to the painted surface.

Durability: Depends on the quality of construction; heavy shade can result in dampness.

Maintenance: Sweep occasionally to remove debris.

Aesthetics: Tidy, pleasant appearance that can be an attractive feature for landscapes.

Grass courts

Grass courts

The slippery surface of grass makes this surface the fastest of them all. The ball has a lower bounce, thanks to the soft soil underneath. However, grass courts may also produce an unpredictable bounce when the grass is uneven.

Synthetic grass courts

Performance: Consistent ball speed, spin, and bounce over the entire surface. Artificial turfs are easier on your joints and limbs.

Durability: Made of high-quality yarns and processes. Ready for play in any weather condition.

Maintenance: Low maintenance compared to natural grass courts since no irrigation is required.

Aesthetics: Brightly coloured surface with clear delineate boundaries.

Natural grass courts

Performance: Fast, non-reflective, and comfortable playing surface. Sensitive to seasonal changes and cannot be used when wet.

Durability: Surface wears off with vigorous or extended play.

Maintenance: Extremely high maintenance that requires irrigation, fertilisation, weeding, rolling, and mowing.

Aesthetics: Lawn courts are a labour of love by the in-house gardener. Glorious and luxurious when well-maintained.

Hard courts

The most common type of sporting surface is the hard court, built with a combination of asphalt and concrete. Balls tend to bounce higher on a hard surface, but it is pretty predictable on a flat surface.

Clay courts

Clay courts

Clay courts are synonymous with the French Open at Roland Garros in Paris. These types of surfaces are the slowest.

Synthetic clay courts

Synthetic clay is a practical alternative to a natural clay court. It has a similar appearance and playing characteristics but does not require reconstruction at the beginning of every tennis season.

Performance: Slow pace and high ball bounce. Easy on the joints.

Durability: Longer lasting than natural clay and with clearer markings; dries quickly after the rain.

Maintenance: Cost-effective surface that requires little maintenance. No expensive irrigation is needed.

Aesthetics: Retains the glowing terracotta colour of clay with white markings throughout the year. Maintains its look and integrity in all weather conditions.

Natural clay courts

Natural clay surfaces are made of natural stone that has been crushed in graded sizes. Red clay is made from crushed brick, while grey clay is made from crushed basalt. The finest layer, powdered clay, is laid on top for dressing the surface.

Performance: Slow surface that is known to kill the speed of the ball. The dusty surface also makes the ball bounce higher and allows players to slide.

Durability: It cannot be used when wet or in frosty conditions, so they are primarily dry-weather courts.

Maintenance: Daily maintenance, including irrigation, sweeping, and levelling, is required to keep natural clay courts in top condition. The lines also need regular painting as the surface is mobile. Operators of natural clay courts undertake a substantial reconstruction of the surface every spring to make it playable for the summer.

Aesthetics: Clay courts look dramatic due to the deep red colour of the surface. However, the appearance quickly changes depending on the season and level of care.

Synthetic multipurpose courts

Synthetic multipurpose courts are becoming more popular as different sports can be played on just one surface. Line markings in different colours are painted on these courts to delineate boundaries for basketball, volleyball, netball, and tennis.

Multipurpose courts have considerably high traffic due to their multisport capabilities. They offer excellent slip resistance, spin response, ball bounce, and superior functionality for an endless number of sports. Some of these courts even come with cooling technology for enhanced player comfort in direct sunlight.

Choosing the right surface for your sports court

Your choice of surface will depend on local climate conditions, especially if you prefer natural surfaces such as grass or clay.

Natural glass and clay require intensive maintenance, which is likely to cost a lot of money compared to maintaining a synthetic surface. The availability of water for irrigation and the ongoing cost of upkeep are definitely big factors to consider when deciding on the right surface for your sports court.

Choosing a durable, low-maintenance surface with consistent performance all year round could add significant value not just to your property but to the community.

Contact Road Seal Australia for your resurfacing needs

Contact Road Seal Australia for your resurfacing needs

Our experts at Road Seal Australia are more than happy to work with you on building the perfect sports court for your needs. We can build asphalt, concrete, and synthetic courts for homes as well as commercial and public properties. Call us today on 1800 902 202 or email your enquiries to info@roadsealaustralia.com.au.