Recreational Facilities

Recreational facilities include playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts and just about any other surface intended primarily for pedestrian use.

Figure 1: HMA Tennis Courts

Figure 2: HMA Basketball Court

Assumed Traffic

Pedestrians and an occasional maintenance light truck.

Design Considerations

Pedestrians tend to like an extremely smooth pavement.  Maximum aggregate sizes larger than about 0.5 inches are noticeably rough.  Playgrounds and athletic courts can be finished with a commercially manufactured slurry seal to provide a smooth playing surface.

Construction Considerations

  • Recreational facilities should be compacted to a minimum of 90 percent TMD (Rice density).  Lower levels of compaction may result in driveways that will significantly compact under the occasional vehicle load or scuff easily.
  • Because a smooth pavement is essential for user satisfaction and safety, special care should be taken to ensure roots from nearby trees are not growing directly below the intended path location.  If left in place, these roots may cause local pavement upheavals, which can be a safety hazard.
  • Proper drainage is critical – especially for athletic courts.  Even minor pooling of water can render a court unplayable.  In order to drain properly, they should have a minimum slope of about 0.5 percent (1 inch per 10 feet) on a true plane from side to side, end to end, or corner to corner.  Generally, there should not be a grade break in the middle of the court.
  • Areas that show a pronounced deflection under heavy construction traffic indicate instability in the subgrade.  Such areas probably require removal of the material and replacement with suitable subgrade soil material such as crushed stone or gravel borrow.
  • For courts and playgrounds an edging of brick, concrete, or treated lumber should be installed around the entire perimeter.  The edging’s top elevation should be 0.5 inches below the finished grade level, and the surface should be tapered from 6 inches from the edge to meet it.
  • Where there is the possibility of recurrent vegetation growth, a quality commercial grade herbicide should be used.
  • Courts can be finished in color (see Figure 1).  Before color finishing it may be prudent to conduct a water check to determine if there are any depressions where water could pool.  This is done by flooding the surface with water and allowing it to drain.  Depressions of sizable dimensions (greater than about 0.125 inch) should be patched and leveled with the material recommended by the color finish manufacturer (APAI, no date given).

Recommended References

  • The Asphalt Institute.  (no date given).  Asphalt Pavement for Athletics and Recreation, Information Series No. 147.  The Asphalt Institute.  Lexington, KY. (Asphalt Institute)
  • Asphalt Institute.  Model Specifications for Small Paving Jobs. CL-2.  Asphalt Institute. Lexington, KY. (AI Maintenance and Rehabilitation Documents)
  • The United States Tennis Court and Track Builders Association.  A centralized source for information on tennis court and track guidelines for builders, manufacturers, professionals and consumers.  They have extensive online guidelines for tennis court and track construction. (