Q. It has long been my dream to have a tennis court. We now have the property for it, but prices are sky-high. What is the least expensive way to build a family tennis court, and what do-it-yourself techniques can we use to lower the cost? Mrs. Guy de Brun Lakewood, Colo.
A. The right way to build anything is cheapest in the long run. Tennis-court materials will cost the same (maybe even more), if you do the job yourself compared to contracting it out.
Thus, your own labor and supervision become the only prospecting saving.
The quality of your workmanship, or lack thereof, will show up in the finished tennis court. Be sure you don't take on more than you can handle.
In most areas, a concrete tennis court is probably the cheapest and certainly the most durable. In extremely cold climates an asphalt-base court may be preferable to avoid spalling.
Whether you use concrete or asphalt, it is critical to develop a uniformly compacted base at an elevation to prevent incursion of adjacent runoff or ground water.
The pad should be carefully graded to a true plane with a 4- to 6-inch fall side to side, with the long court dimension dead level.
The concrete should be poured very dry and in a 4 1/2:1 mix. Expert concrete placement and finishing are essential to avoid "birdbaths."
The slab should be a minimum 4 inches thick, with thickened edges at the perimeter. Slab reinforcement is with No. 3 bars at 16-inch centers both ways, carefully placed in the middle one-third of the slab.
Construction joints properly placed and timed help to prevent cracks in the concrete.
The slab itself may be machine-finished, leaving one-sixteenth-inch-high even swirls from one side of the court to the other so as to keep the court from "playing too fast."
Although the court may be used in its natural concrete color, most tennis courts are "squeegeed" with colored acrylic, which gives the court an even texture to control the speed of the play.
There is a bundle more to be said about tennis-court construction relative to the curing process, placement and dimensions of the net posts, fencing, wind screens, lighting, etc.
For additional information get in touch with the United States Tennis Association Inc., 1515 Broadway, New York, N.Y . 10036.
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