The Best Backyard & Gym Court Tiles By chad | Published on March 8, 2021March 16, 2021 The Best Backyard & Gym Court Tiles [review of the top 3 court tile companies] When shopping for game courts, it’s important to do your homework. Everyone wants the best deal possible, while also maintaining quality. But what do you look for? What features really matter? Here are Practice Sports, Inc., we’ve been in the sports facility design business for over 20 years. We understand the key details that impact performance, and what is simply sizzle. We also understand consumers like to review 2-3 different products for comparison. So we did the leg-work for you. This article reviews the top 3 game court tile companies in the industry. And exposes the 4 most important features to look for, when comparison shopping. TLTR: SnapSports is the best in the industry, hands down … or should we say “feet down” Either way, there’s really no contest. Bad sports pun very much intended. Although the other tiles may look *about* the same on the surface, what you don’t know (and don’t see underneath) WILL hurt you in the long run. But don’t just take our word for it, take a look at the actual physical differences between SnapSports and the leading competitors such as SportCourt & VersaCourt, and learn the top 4 reasons why SnapSports is king of the game court tile world. Let’s dive right into the geeky details … 1) Better Shock Absorption. Taller > Shorter. SnapSports tiles are simply taller. And taller tiles simply feel better underfoot. The standard tile from SnapSports is 5/8″ tall compared to 1/2″ from SportCourt & Versacourt, the leading competitors. SnapSports even offers a 7/8″ thick tile option. Why is taller better? The taller the tile, the softer the overall play and better shock absorption. This is due to the distance between your feet (joints) and the hard underlayment, typically concrete. Think of it like the difference between laying on a beach towel, compared to a foam mat. Which will you feel the concrete under more? If you don’t think it matters, ask your joints after playing on a softer surface for a few hours compared to a surface that feels like concrete. 2) Bigger IS Better. Larger tiles = fewer seams / better playability. SnapSports Tiles come standard at 12″ x 12″ and there is even an 18″ x 18″ option. The standard from SportCourt & VersaCourt range between 9” x 9” to 10” x 10”. Why is a larger tile best? The larger the tile, the fewer the seams and better overall play experience & appearance. How do fewer seams improve the play experience? To most accurately simulate a true basketball or volleyball court, it’s ideal to have as few of joints/seams as possible. Traditional indoor “floating wood floor” courts have the look & feel of a unitary (single) layer playing surface. This is optimal for peak play. Perfect ball bounce and a consistent surface to make pivots from can make the difference between winning & losing. BONUS reason why 1′ x 1′ square foot tiles are superior. Ordering tiles smaller than 1 sq ft adds an extra layer of complexity when calculating the number of tiles needed for a space. Because most rooms & concrete pads are built to the square foot, this often results in being “forced” to order more tiles than required, and even worse, being forced to TRIM the tiles to fit against a wall or your pad. And labor is never free. 3) SQUARE Interlocks vs. Oval / Round. The interlocks are the weakest point of court tiles, so it’s important for these to be as durable as possible. Square is more structurally sound than oval, which results in improved durability over the lifespan. Square interlocks also allow for better control of the “lateral flexibility” of the tile. Lateral flexibility = minor flex in the tiles left to right during play. One advantage of using modular court tiles over a single layer surface is the additional “flexibility” and shock absorption qualities. Because these courts are not static, this allows for some flexibility left & right, as the athlete plants & pivots on the court. This improves shock absorption, and makes it easier on the athlete’s joints. It’s also vital for the tiles to not shift *too* much, resulting in a diminished feeling of control by the athlete, or a “wonky” ball bounce. Square locks, being more structurally sound, have better control over the lateral movement, and are engineered to allow a price & optimal amount of flex. Reduced structural integrity means oval locks weaken sooner over time, which ultimately results in “buckling” across the court, creating an uneven playing surface. We have replaced multiple Sportcourts that had massive rippling due to failed locks. How do the locks impact installation? Square locks make installation quicker. SnapSports offers an entry-level tile called DuraCourt which uses oval locks. We can tell you from personal experience that these tiles take about 15% longer to install, compared to their square options. Over several thousand square feet, this can really add up. DuraCourt fills the need for an “econo” line which works great for certain courts applications. That should give you an idea on why SnapSports offers square for their premium tiles – they recognize the quality difference, and they are cheaper for a reason. It’s not cheap to produce tiles with different locks – it’s much less expensive for a manufacturer to run the exact same mold. But SnapSports acknowledges the difference in quality, and makes a commitment to offer a premium product for their premium line. Oval locks require less plastic to produce, allowing this tile to be offered for an econo price. In comparison, Sportcourt uses Oval / Round locks for ALL of their tiles. 4) Pedestal Coverage / Layout. What you don’t see will burn you. The “pedestals” are the vertical plastic pieces that give the tile their height / elevation. These also create the proper stability, and proper shock absorption. Why are more pedestals better? The more pedestals per square foot, the more sound the tile will feel underfoot, and better the overall engineering control of how the tile performs. Naturally, the more pedestals used = more overall plastic being required to produce said tile – so you could also understand that less pedestals = a cheaper tile to produce. Of course this gives the manufacturer incentive to sell you on the SURFACE of the tile, expecting the consumer will rarely even glance at the back of the tile, let alone understand what makes a quality backing vs a cheaply produced backing. An easy way to cut corners, save money, and have the false appearance of being a “better value” tile. We are here to expose this industry trick. Below are examples showing SnapSports vs a leading competitor. Notice the BLUE SnapSports tile has 12 pedestals PER SQUARE INCH, and the other RED tile only has 5! The proof is in the pictures. We hope this insider tile review will help you make the best decision when shopping for your backyard basketball court or home gym court. As industry pros it’s clear to us what makes SnapSports the best overall tile in the business, and hopefully by now it’s also apparent to you. If you enjoyed this article, please Contact Us for a free estimate on your project. Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your home court project!