As we have mentioned, tennis court contractors, at least the ones who have stayed up with the changing technology, have essentially moved away from asphalt tennis court construction in favor of post tensioned concrete.
Why? What happened? A couple of things specifically:
First of all post tensioned concrete has been the preferred construction method for almost 30 years. The courts don’t crack like asphalt ones do, and will last 2, 3, or 4 (or more) times as long. The issue when we first introduced them to the Northeast market in 1988 was the difference in initial cost.
At that time, due to the price of asphalt at the time, building in post tensioned concrete was twice the investment. Even if asphalt was less durable the price difference was tough to swallow and people just figured they would deal with the crack repair and other issues, and they would replace the court in 18 – 20 years.
Then two things changed. First the price of asphalt went up, which closed the gap significantly between an asphalt court and post tensioned concrete.
Then the quality of asphalt went way, way, down.
This is where we are today. Right now we are seeing early failure of asphalt courts almost across the board. What is happening is that due to a lower quality asphaltic cement and more recycled road product in the mix, the top course is not as flexible and is drying out prematurely often in the first year or two. This is resulting in small “squiggle” cracks (sometimes called “stripping” or “crazing”) either in localized areas or even across the entire court.
These cracks show right through your newly coated tennis surface and although they are large enough to be noticeable, they are too small to effectively repair.
It’s real ugly.
We do not believe that you will find someone who will guarantee an asphalt court in New England for more than 2 years, and it is often just 1 year. We guarantee post tensioned concrete courts against structural cracking for 25 years as comparison and in reality, they will last much longer.
Even when asphalt was in its prime, post tensioned concrete was a smart investment from a structural and a lifecycle cost analysis standpoint. Now that asphalt is showing rampant early failure, it makes zero sense to build with this method from both an owner’s or a contractors point of view.