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painting a basketball court

Those that follow our Facebook page know one big project hanging over my head was painting a basketball court, the floor itself, at a local church. It was part of a deal that the athletic association at my daughters’ (plural) school struck with the church in trade for free court time. Our school has a pretty robust basketball program (for a primary/middle school) – one to be proud of. One that makes it sometimes difficult to get onto the court at our own school.

basketball court in need of painting

How’d I get involved in this? Well, my friend, let’s call him – Randy, prez of the association got wind that, well – I do something with construction. Ha! He recruited me back in June. It was my job to specify the products and actually produce the materials we would use. I needed to determine how, roughly, we would go about doing the floor. The funnest part – the budget for this particular project – $0. Well, to be more accurate, the actual cost and the amount of equivalent gym time we had received totaled about $1000. In other words, our goal was to paint the floor for, well, less.

Conditions & Product Selection

This floor, concrete, had been “painted” before, five years earlier, and it, the coating, had pretty much warn away. So my first task was to determine what could go over a previously painted floor. The coating too would have to hold up to sports-type foot traffic.

Early research, and questions I asked at my local pool, lead me to what I’ll call “tennis court paint” and other trowel-on type epoxies. From that, epoxies, too, that you would see on a garage floor or maybe in a pool-side-type application. Many are reasonably priced and are available now in a one-part configuration.

This same space not only acts as a basketball court, but it also serves as an indoor futsal court, and an overflow for a day care operation also housed at the church. The presence of children forced the consideration of VOC content in any of the products we would select.

miscellaneous-concrete-floor-staining-products

I got on the horn with the support lines for the products I was looking at. In every case, I heard, “How are you going to prep the floor?”

We ruled out pretty early the idea of stripping all the existing paint from the floor. In all cases, I heard if we did not intend to fully strip the floor, a premium coating was just a wasted expense.

4200sf basketball court

Other considerations included not only the size of the floor, around 4200sf, but also both the amount of time we would have to do it and how many bodies we’d actually have working at a time.

This project was originally scheduled for the weekend before Thanksgiving, but a surprise last minute rental of the space forced us to postpone. … until, well, this past weekend. We leveraged Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday Monday. Six of us all together worked at varying intervals.

Prepping the Floor

While some suggested both sweeping and mopping the floor, I added that we could pressure wash. These ideas though were ultimately nixed, because of the potential added time to dry.  Even with the added Monday, we’d only have access to the floor Saturday 2pm through that Monday.

Prep included spot scraping of loose patches, push-broom sweeping, dust-broom sweeping (a 6-foot janitorial type model came in very handy). We finished by wrangling bits of remaining dust off the floor with a herd of leaf blowers.

floor prep with scrapers and leaf blowers

Due to the consistent wear, I believe the floor was not painted but rather stained. That said, I expected to see more and deeper … color saturation. Rumor had it, the court’s lines were originally painted on using a template specifically designed for basketball courts. We could neither locate the original template nor did even look for a new one. Because …

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We used the existing lines, masking directly over them prior to applying any base coat. For this, and via an introduction made by Roeshel, the DIY Show Off, I approached Frog Tape… my favorite of all masking tape brands. They donated both their classic green Multi Surface tape, which we used for taping over the existing lines, as well as some of their yellow Delicate Surface tape, which we later used in masking off for new lines.

FrogTape

I’ve loved Frog Tape’s edge technology – Paint Block for crisp lines, but I think the others also were super impressed.  While the 1.88-inch tape worked excellently for taping directly over the existing two-inch lines, I found that the one-inch tape (.94 inch actual) worked much better with masking the arches at both the top of the key and at the three-point line.

taping lines off before stain

Yes, the taping was by far the most labor-intensive, time-consuming portion of this project. But it was well worth it.

taping lines in the archs

Painting or should I say Staining?

For the base coat, and working very closely with the manager at my local Glidden Pro Store, I selected their Concrete Coatings – a stain.

Glidden-Concrete-Coatings

I was thoroughly impressed by this product’s ability to cover. It is a very good choice when working with an un-coated surface, but still it still adheres decently over an already painted surface. For estimating, I calculated using a number that split both the theoretical and actual coverage, found on the data sheet (350sf per gallon yielded eight gallons for a gray court surface and four gallons of red for the area outside the court).

painting-a-concrete-floor (2)

Because the floor itself contained some irregularity, I selected semi-rough rollers with a ½” nap for our method of application. While I considered purchasing 18” roller set-ups, the added cost I felt was not warranted. Surely members of our team already owned standard 9” roller set-ups. In the end, I supplied all the roller frames, roller pans, etc. we would need.  I selected Glidden’s Ulra Fab – their mid-range roller cover made for them by Wooster.

painting-a-concrete-floor

On applying the stain, we worked using extension poles. I won’t say there was any science to the way we worked. It was more like … “those guys are working over there, so we should work over here.”  In the end, we worked in quadrants – from the center. Remaining mindful of what was wet, we painted ourselves out the door.

working-in-the center-of-the-floor

In the end, and again considering the tight schedule, we did one thorough coat (which gave us decent … hide) and only touched up the blatant misses for a part of a second coat. The end result was lots of excess stain. We used appropriately 4 ¼ gallons of gray to cover approximately 2800sf and 2 ¼ gallons of red (which did get pretty close to a full second coat) to cover approximately 1400sf.

floor-base-painted

Painting Lines

We removed the tape we had laid before applying the base coat.

Again we found a little good fortune, here. I reached out to a few paint manufacturers, including Glidden, but was overjoyed when Rust-Oleum agreed to lend their support. Now, I know what you might think – Rust-Oleum = spray paint. And I actually did think about spray painting the lines, but you may not know that Rust-Oleum has an entire line of industrial paints. A call again into their support line yielded – Concrete Saver, a urethane-based floor paint, which … supposedly does excellently with lines on concrete. In the end, we chose to roll-on. Three-inch touch-up rollers purchased at the HD worked great.

Rustoleum-Concrete-Saver-Glidden-Concrete-Coatings-FrogTape

We selected white, and as you’ll see, it really really made the floor pop. But before we got to this and as I mentioned above, we used Frog Tape‘s Delicate Surface tape, designed for going over freshly painted surfaces. By specification, a minimum of 24-hour dry time, but we unfortunately did not even have that luxury. We used about 300 yards of the green tape in masking – double that for both sides of the new lines.

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rolling on lines

Once masked, five of us working, we applied the Concrete Saver in three quick coats. Once lines were tacky, we removed our masking tape. We were very conscious of “tear out” and the possible dipping of waste tape into our newly painted lines.

removing tape from lines

Of course our lines were razor-blade sharp, but we did unfortunately see some “peel-up” from the base coat. (This, I think, was largely due to the dips and gullies in the surface – though again, another credit to Frog Tape.)  Working with touch-up pads we went around the room. In the end, this only added about a ½ an hour to the project.

touching up

Ideally the entire floor should not see heavy use, i.e. be played on, for at least 72 hours. Fortunately for us, it snowed and school was cancelled for two days additional days after.

The total expense on this project sits at around $440. The church also has plenty of left over stain for touch-ups or even a complete re-coat … one day.

before and after painting a basketball court

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Making the Center Circle

While we had the opportunity to mask the center circle before applying the base, we opted instead not to. The thinking was – a nail driven in at the center and running a string or wire around it, we could freehand with a two-inch roller or pad. In the end, the group collectively decided to mask off anyway for that sweet crisp line.

Because we decided initially only to mask the “4 corners” of the circle, we improvised using a 2×4 and two pencils spaced two inches apart. We drove a concrete nail driven in, as initially planned, at the center of the circle. Three members of our team operated this home-made compass.

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That’s it. Maybe it helps. Thanks for reading and another quick thanks out to Frog Tape and Rust-Oleum for their support. Find many of their great products in their Amazon shops, here and here. Thank You! ~jb

For more less-than-usual projects, please visit our top level Category – etc. For more on working with flooring, concrete and/or paint, there.