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How To Install a Multi-Game Athletic Court Outside, Without Concrete!

We install multi-game athletic courts throughout Nebraska (Omaha – Lincoln and Western Nebraska), and select other states around the country.

Contact us for a quote on your backyard or commercial court project.

Compacted base courts are a viable alternative in cases where a customer wants to remove the court at a later date, or just does not want concrete or asphalt in the backyard. It is also an option whereby the customer could do the work themselves. Here are some brief steps to the process and a few considerations.

Step By Step Multi-Game Athletic Court Installation

  1. The site should be graded in a similar manner as if you were putting down a permanent base. For example, vegetation removal, leveling with a slope of 1″ per 16′ for drainage, and compaction of the ground.
  2. Once the court area has been rough graded it is best to contain the court with 6″ x 6″ x 8′ landscape timbers from Home Depot, Lowes, or local lumberyard. Straight ones work best. The timbers are used just to create a border to contain the base materials. This helps to eliminate erosion of the base over time. 4″ x 4″ x 8′ timbers can work, however 6″ x 6″ work best. They can be set down by digging out 2-3″ along a squared up stake and string line, then placed in the dug out area.

Secure the Timbers

  1. It is best to secure the timbers by drilling holes 3 per 8′ timber and driving 18′ long 1/2 steel rebar stakes thru the pre drilled holes. The stakes should be flush or slightly below the timber top grade. The holes drilled should be slightly smaller such as 3/8″.
  2. Timbers can be secured to each other using 4-6″ framing plates from Lowes or Home Depot one on each side connecting the timbers together.
  3. Leave one section or end open for bringing in base materials.
  4. Bring in compact-able base materials of limestone, granite, or road-base. Place in 1″ lifts, level, then compact with a vibrating plate compactor (rental store) or a small roller if you have access to site. Continue to add base material and compact to grade slightly above height of timbers. You can run a string line between timbers side to side to check on your grade to get it as close to level as you can. It is important to spend the time on this aspect because it will determine the quality of the court once finished. Whatever compact-able material is used, you want to make certain that there is no stone larger than 1/4″. There are several materials available and some that are local-area specific. There are also some sand type materials that are highly compact-able and can be used on top layer. If the sub-ground is wet or unstable you may consider placing an inch or two of larger stone 3/4″ for stability and drainage. Often the final layer of stone around the edge of the frame will need to be compacted with a hand tamper (rental store).

After You Level the Base

  1. Once the base is leveled and compacted to grade, cover the base with a landscape fabric. Landscape fabric is usually in rolls 4′ to 6′ wide (gray and allows water to seep thru if it sits or runs off if it rains). It can be found at Home Depot in garden department in rolls 4′ x 50′ for about 10-12 cents a sq ft. Larger wholesale landscape or material outlets may have it in larger widths. The material should be laid lengthwise and stapled inside of form on ends and sides. It is placed along the lowest grade, then overlapped slightly. Place on top lengthwise as you add rows so water runs off on top of the fabric when it drains. The fabric serves as a weed and moisture barrier. It also keeps the base material from piercing the surface or the surface from embedding into the base. It is important to do a good job of squaring up your court measurements and lay your forms to a string line grade. If the court is not square, unsightly trimming may have to be done at the end. Getting the base properly compacted by doing it in 1″ lifts will help insure a more level plane and solid base for your surface. The measurement of the surface should be calculated based on the dimensions of the product and accounts for expansion and contraction. Contact the company for exact court dimensions for your forming.
  2. As you lay a couple of rows of fabric you can begin laying your court surface to avoid the wind blowing your fabric out of place.

Placing the Components

  1. It is best to place components in a 2 x 2 or 3 x 3 ft concrete wing. Components may include basketball hoop poles, lights, and net posts. Any fencing should be placed outside the form, so you do not disturb the base. The location of the anchors for the basket, light, or net post also need to be calculated for best performance. This is especially true for the hoop based on the model and overhang from the pole. Contact the company for recommendations on your basketball pole location.
  2. If your game court is on the side of a hill it is important to try and re-route any water runoff around the court. This helps prevent it from going under your court causing erosion or soft areas over time. Drain tile around the high side of the court with some gravel can help eliminate this future maintenance concern.

Compacted Base Multi-Game Athletic Courts

There have been many compacted base courts built over the past 30 years. They can perform and play very well over time. If for some reason a low spot develops you can always take a section of the court out. Then cut the fabric and peel it back and add some base material. Re-compact with a hand tamper and reinstall the fabric and surface. This only takes a little time and not much in terms of material cost. The key again is taking the time to get it level and compacted good initially. You want to be sure to use good compact-able materials on the final 2″ of the court base.

Compacted base court materials are less expensive than concrete or asphalt. The labor is a little more involved if you take your time to do it right but if you are doing it yourself with some help from neighbors, family, or friends it can be cost effective.

Perimeter Borders for Multi-Game Athletic Courts

It is not absolutely necessary to have a perimeter border for your multi-game athletic courts. It helps with aesthetics and containing base materials over time.

There are compacted base multi-game athletic courts customers have built without perimeter borders as a cost and time savings. If done this way you want to have your court grade flow uniformly with the surrounding landscape.

SnapSports Tiles with Shocktowers for impact absorption

Contact us for a quote for your backyard or commercial multi-game athletic courts.

8 comments
  1. Smiter
    Smiter
    May 17, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Do the tiles go directly on top of the road base or do you need to put down plywood or some other type of wooden base first? Also how much is the cost of each tile and what are the dimensions

    Reply
    • chad
      chad
      May 18, 2020 at 9:30 am

      Hi Smiter,
      Thanks for reaching out about our backyard courts!

      The tiles range from about $3.89 – $5.00 / sq ft. They are 12″ x 12″ tiles.

      You should not place any type of wood or rubber on top of the crushed rock, as this will deaden the ball bounce.

      You should place landscaping fabric.

      The section in the article titled “After You Level The Base”, offers more details.

      After You Level the Base
      Once the base is leveled and compacted to grade, cover the base with a landscape fabric. Landscape fabric is usually in rolls 4′ to 6′ wide (gray and allows water to seep thru if it sits or runs off if it rains). It can be found at Home Depot in garden department in rolls 4′ x 50′ for about 10-12 cents a sq ft. Larger wholesale landscape or material outlets may have it in larger widths. The material should be laid lengthwise and stapled inside of form on ends and sides. It is placed along the lowest grade, then overlapped slightly. Place on top lengthwise as you add rows so water runs off on top of the fabric when it drains. The fabric serves as a weed and moisture barrier. It also keeps the base material from piercing the surface or the surface from embedding into the base. It is important to do a good job of squaring up your court measurements and lay your forms to a string line grade. If the court is not square, unsightly trimming may have to be done at the end. Getting the base properly compacted by doing it in 1″ lifts will help insure a more level plane and solid base for your surface. The measurement of the surface should be calculated based on the dimensions of the product and accounts for expansion and contraction. Contact the company for exact court dimensions for your forming.
      As you lay a couple of rows of fabric you can begin laying your court surface to avoid the wind blowing your fabric out of place.

      Let us know if you have any other questions!

      Chad Schneider
      Operations Director
      Practice Sports, Inc. | 14706 Giles Rd. Omaha, NE 68138
      800.877.6787 x805 | 402.592.2000 | Fax: 800.577.3046chad@practicesports.com | practicesports.com

      Reply
  2. Brian
    Brian
    May 24, 2020 at 6:25 am

    Embarrassed by this question but you say compact the base in 1” lifts. What does that mean?

    Reply
    • chad
      chad
      May 26, 2020 at 1:35 pm

      No problem Brian! That just means compact the rock every 1″. So you lay down 1″ of rock, run the compacter, the add another 1″ and so on.

      All the best!
      Chad
      Practice Sports, Inc.

      Reply
      • Brian
        Brian
        June 2, 2020 at 2:25 pm

        Thanks Chad. Appreciate the insight. Are you giving up much by way of true bounce and playability with a compacted base vs concrete? … Also, you mention a few base material options. Which is your favorite?

        Reply
        • chad
          chad
          June 5, 2020 at 9:16 am

          Hi Brian,
          The ball will not bounce quite the same on a court installed over crushed rock. Concrete always creates a more firm / true bounce.

          I can’t say how much of a deviation without scientific testing, and it depends on how well the sub-base is compacted – but you could expect between about a 5 – 15% deviation in “true bounce”.

          We like 1/4″ minus crushed rock with fines, which results in a nice firm compaction.

          Would you like pricing on a court?

          Thanks.

          Chad Schneider Operations Director
          Practice Sports, Inc. | 14706 Giles Rd. Omaha, NE 68138
          800.877.6787 x805 | 402.592.2000 | Fax: 800.577.3046 chad@practicesports.com | practicesports.com

          Reply
          • Brian Heffron
            Brian Heffron
            June 8, 2020 at 9:09 am

            Thanks for the info. Sure, I’d like to understand pricing on the tiles for a 30×30 court.

          • chad
            chad
            June 10, 2020 at 10:06 am

            Sure Brian. Where are you located?

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