Pickleball has become so popular that seemingly everyone wants to build a new court. Whether in a backyard, at a new venue, or converting an existing tennis court, building a court can be quite an undertaking.
The process of building a court, however, is all too often more than meets the eye. Done incorrectly and you will be out significant time, money and will have too-many-to-count headaches later. Therefore, before starting the project, please consider the following items.
Critical Considerations Before Building a Pickleball Court
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Pickleball Court?
Tip #1: Plan your budget.
Whenever starting a new project, it’s a good idea to come up with a budget so costs don’t get out of hand. Be conservative when planning your budget because, as we all know from experience, unexpected costs always seemingly arise at the most inopportune times.
The cost of a pickleball court will vary depending on many different factors such as:
- What court surface will you use?
- Are you using an existing tennis court or starting from scratch?
- Are you building it yourself or hiring contractors?
- What net system you will use?
- Do you need lighting, etc?
All of these considerations factor into the ultimate price of a court build. Depending on all of the different variables, a new pickleball court typically costs anywhere between $10,000 – $50,000.
As you might imagine, figuring out a budget ahead of time is well worth the effort. If you’re building a court that will include fencing, lighting, and covering, it might be best from a cost perspective to build in phases. The most important thing is to get the court surface laid and the net set up so you can begin playing! All of the other items can be added later.
Pickleball Court Layout
Tip #2: Make sure you have enough space, it’s level and is facing north/south.
Do you have enough space for a pickleball court? Fortunately, pickleball courts are smaller than most other sports courts. However, in addition to the actual court dimensions, don’t forget to account for space around the court.
Official pickleball court dimensions are 20′ wide x 44′ long. However, the total playing surface for the court should allow for at least 10 feet of extra space around the width of the court and 16 feet of extra space around the length since players serve behind the baseline and can hit shots that are outside of the court boundaries. If you have the space, the USA Pickleball rulebook says a court size of 40′ x 64′ is preferred.
Once you have determined what size court you’re going to build, get a lay of the land. You will need a level surface with no hindrances near the court.
Additionally, when laying out an outdoor court, make sure it is facing north and south. You don’t want the glaring sun to constantly be in your eyes while you play.
Tip #3: Hire help. It will save time, money, and headaches in the long run.
Are you going to hire a contractor to build the court, or are you going to tackle it yourself? Of course, building a court on your own can save some costs, but only if you do it correctly. Going with a professional contractor who has experience building courts can save time and headaches later.
From reading through comments on social media from those who have previously built a court, the majority recommended hiring a contractor.
In addition to experience, contractors can give you recommendations on layout, court surface, paint, permits, and more.
Contractors will also have the specialized tools and equipment needed to build the court. If you build the court on your own, you might need to add equipment rental to your budget.
Tip #4: Make sure you have the proper building permits.
If you’re building a new court, you will more than likely have to obtain a permit. If you hire a contractor, they should be able to help you with this.
Each city is different when it comes to what they require to build a court. Some might require zoning compliance, a building permit, or an application for home construction/renovation. If you are obtaining the permit yourself, contact your local code officer to see what is required.
Best Surface for a Pickleball Court
Tip #5: Do your research before choosing a court surface.
After you have your budget and layout complete, it’s time to get to the fun stuff – designing the court. One of the most important features of a court is its surface.
Typically, the base of the court is either concrete or asphalt. Concrete courts are more durable, but they can be harder on the knees when playing. Asphalt is durable, easier to install, and gives a little better – but it can be rather slippery when wet.
Adding a cushioned layer on top of the base is becoming quite popular as these courts are less damaging to your joints.
Pickleball Court Colors
Tip #6: Choose contrasting colors to that of a pickleball.
Is the court being installed at a venue, park, or backyard? Choosing court colors at a park will likely be different from colors at a new venue or in someone’s backyard. However, one of the main considerations when choosing a court color is to choose a contrasting color to that of a pickleball. While there is an endless array of pickleball colors on the market, yellow is undoubtedly the most popular. So, no matter how much you may love the maize-and-blue, stay away from yellow as a court color as it will blend in too much with the ball.
You will, no doubt, want complementary colors for the court, non-volley zone (kitchen), and outside perimeter. Lines should typically be white. However, you can choose whichever color goes with your theme.
Keep in mind that lighter colors result in a cooler playing surface while darker colors absorb more heat from the sun and make for a much hotter experience on the court.
If you’re building a residential, or venue court, consider adding a logo or graphic on the court – while again being mindful of ball visibility. Be creative and have fun with it!
Pickleball Court Paint
Tip #7: Choose paint that is blended with aggregate.
Choosing court colors (and line colors) is one of the most fun, yet stressful decisions you will make. Once you decide what court colors you’re going to use, the next item to choose is the type of coating or paint for the court and lines. According to USA Pickleball, 100% acrylic coatings are recommended for surfacing the court. Many times, the acrylic is mixed with a specialized blend of aggregate to create an ideal surface texture.
If lines are painted and are not blended appropriately with aggregate (sand), the ball will skid when hitting the lines. You definitely don’t want that. Adding aggregate will mitigate that issue.
Tip #8: Install a permanent net system – or invest in a heavy-duty portable net.
Once you have your surface, paint, and colors chosen, it’s time to decide on a net system. Do you want a permanent net or a portable net?
If you want a permanent net, you will need to drill holes in the court surface to install the net posts.
If you want a portable net, there are different options from which to choose. Some nets are heavy-duty and come with rollers such as the Douglas Premier Portable Pickleball Net System. This net is the closest you can get to a permanent net without having the expense of drilling holes in concrete.
Other portable nets don’t have rollers but they are easy to assemble such as the SwiftNet Portable Net.
Pickleball Court Dividers and Fencing
Tip #9: Don’t skimp on fencing around the perimeter of the court.
A court needs to have a fence or other dividers around it since balls can go flying. Dividers also enhance safety on the court. Where your court is located (indoor or outdoor) will determine what you will need regarding dividers.
For outdoor courts, it’s best to have a fence around the perimeter. If you have multiple courts, it’s best to have dividers between the courts, such as a fence, or net barrier. Believe me, you don’t want to be chasing balls all over the place.
Pickleball Court Lighting
Tip #10: Don’t skimp on lighting. You’ll thank us later.
Although lighting can be added in phase 2, it is still something to consider when initially building a court as you will need an electrical power source near the court for permanent lighting. You will also need to determine if you have enough space for the light poles.
Proper lighting is essential for play at night. Of course, it helps you see the ball, but it also keeps people safe from running into something on the court by accident.
There are different types of court lighting, so it is worth taking the time to research different companies.
Tip #11: Consider shade covering during your budget analysis.
Will your court be outdoors? It’s important to provide shade whether it’s on the courts, or as a separate shade structure.
The heat and sun can be brutal when playing pickleball. Both players and spectators need shade.
Shade structures can also help extend the life of your court and equipment by preventing it from fading in the sun, or warping from rain.
Court covering can be added in Phase 2 or 3, but should definitely be considered during an initial budget analysis.
Pickleball Court Accessories
Tip #12: Don’t forget about the “fun” accessories.
Finally, after your court is built, it’s time to deck it out with court accessories.
One thing you will want to have on hand is something to hold or store pickleballs. A net post holder can attach to the side of a net post – or to the fence – and hold several balls.
If you have multiple courts, you might want to get something to hold paddles. This helps when several people want to play.
It’s nice to have a storage container on your court. This will help keep extra, balls and paddles in a secure place.
A ball hopper comes in handy when you’re practicing or drilling on the court. It holds all of the balls and then can be turned over to collect the balls after.
It’s also nice to have a ball machine on the court for practice. Again, this is something that can be added in Phase 2 or 3.
Building a Court
Having a new pickleball court is great for many reasons, but making sure it is built correctly will save a lot of time, money, and headaches. We have seen too many times where a court is installed but needs to be redone because it’s facing the wrong direction, or didn’t have the proper surface material, for example. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of epic fails.
By addressing the items above and planning out a budget, your building project will go a lot smoother.
If you have built a pickleball court, please let us know in the comments below. What worked well and what didn’t? Additionally, let us know if you have a court builder you would recommend. Don’t forget to also let us know what part of the country you’re in. We look forward to reading about your experiences – both the good and the bad.
See you on the courts!
Teresa is the idea-maker behind PickleballMAX. Teresa joins Todd to manage and market PickleballMAX. She creates pickleball content and assists with pickleball tournaments. In 2023, she wrote a pickleball devotional book titled Pickleball Is [Not] Life.