When he hired Competition Athletic Surfaces (Chattanooga, TN) to resurface the courts at Manker Patten Tennis Center, Ned Caswell could hardly have been more eager to get the job done. Lee Murray, a principal of Competition Athletic Surfaces, figures he cut 4-5 days off the Manker Patten assignment by spraying, instead of squeegeeing and spreading, the cushiony DecoTurf (Andover, MA) layer onto the newly paved courts.
"We’re convinced spraying is a better way to do the job," says Murray, a 25-year veteran of the paving and athletic surfacing industry. Besides saving time, spraying on the acrylic surface seems to give it more buoyancy. "When it comes out of a nozzle as spray, it tends to stand up," says DecoTurf Regional Sales Manager Ron Melvin. "It’s kind of suspended. It feels more cushiony."
Caswell wanted surfaces for members "whose feet have been around the court a few times." A majority of those members are over 40. "They like a surface that’s easier on the knees and other joints," he said. But the layer of 100% acrylic adds to the cost of each court.
"The challenge was to find a way to economically and efficiently install these courts," according to Art Tucker of California Products. "Spraying is much less trouble than the traditional squeegee method, so it cuts the time the job takes almost in half. And by spraying you get a bit of air in the surface and that makes it a little softer." Tucker goes on to say a surface applied by spraying "is certainly more uniform. You have absolute control, so you can assure the proper amount of acrylic is put down. If you’re squeegeeing, it’s difficult to get the precise thickness you want."
Despite the advantages of spraying, most DecoTurf courts are installed by the spreading method, Tucker says, estimating that no more than a couple of dozen DecoTurf installers apply the surface by spraying.
"Lee and his partners, Mike Gregory and Steve Clift, have worked in the general paving business and spraying is more OPINIONlinewidely done there," Tucker says. "In that business you have to do a parking lot in a weekend, so you need to go as fast as you can. Adapting that method of spraying to tennis courts - well a lot of people don’t have the experience or desire to do it." Some installers may be put off by the initial investment for the spraying equipment. And making arrangements to move the equipment onto the site can pose challenges.
"If you’re accustomed to the old spreading method, spraying is easy to dismiss," Murray says. "You have to take extra thought and planning. The logistics are different. And there’s the cost of the equipment." But Murray, an engineer, says he’s never encountered insurmountable logistics problems and the equipment pays for itself in time saved. And as for spraying versus spreading, Caswell calls the issue "A no-brainer. Spraying clearly seems the way to go."