Tennis Industry magazine


Showing the Colors

There’s a science — and a fine art — behind the choices for colors in court surfaces.

By Aimee Desrosiers

Color affects our lives in almost every way. It can be pleasant and soothing, such as a sky blue or seafoam green; it can signal warning or danger, like a yellow or red light; and different colors can be used to distinguish among a group of items, such as color-coded folders in a file cabinet. Colors can indicate events (red and green at Christmas, black and orange at Halloween), can be a sign of tradition (wearing white for a wedding or black for a funeral), or can describe your emotions (red hot, blue mood, green with envy). Colors are even used to indicate economic levels (a blue-collar worker, a white-collar job).

Pacific Life Open

Most industries, from automotive and home goods to graphic design and fashion, employ color experts to help them with their products. These color experts come from varied backgrounds — fine arts and design, marketing, sciences such as chemistry, and more. Color experts interpret, create, forecast, and select colors to enhance function, salability, and quality of a product.

At California Products, we take color seriously: Although we are best known in the sports industry for our DecoTurf and Plexipave tennis courts, we also have a third division, California Paints, which manufactures paints, stains and other coatings. Our chemists are not only experts in the formulation of performance materials, they are also experts in color as a result of our varied product offerings. Additionally, I am an official member of the Color Marketing Group (CMG), which is an international, not-for-profit association of 1,400 color experts. Having a CMG color expert is not necessarily a unique criteria for a paint company. Most paint companies employ color experts to identify the direction of color trends and work to develop annual color forecasts.

But over the last several years, color has become an increasingly important component of our recreational products divisions: DecoTurf and Plexipave. We consult with tournaments and facilities on sports surfacing and facility color, such as at the USTA’s National Tennis Center, home of the US Open; the 2004 Olympic Tennis Center in Greece; and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California.

Why the increased interest in color? The reasons to apply color to tennis courts — or any other manufactured product, for that matter — are much more than aesthetic. Many strategic marketing initiatives can be enhanced through the educated application of color, such as:

When applying color to any material, whether it is acrylic coatings, cloth, plastics, or even glass, we are bound by the laws of chemistry and physics. In the case of tennis courts, the courts are colored using pigments that are very small, relatively insoluble particles. While we can formulate nearly any color, certain pigments (and therefore colors) are better suited to horizontal, outdoor surfaces — particularly those with better UV resistance and color fastness.

In addition to ensuring a color-resist fade, it is important to be certain that you can produce consistent color. The manufacturing process is highly monitored to make sure that the pigment is evenly dispersed throughout the entire coating. It is vital that the “recipe” is measured and reproduced exactly so that there are no inconsistencies in color.

Color can also have an effect on the performance of an acrylic tennis court. For instance, California Paints has been asked to produce a fire-engine red court. In order to achieve that color, we need to lose much of the opacity of the mixture, and when you lose opacity, you have to increase the number of coats of material needed to cover the surfaces underneath. Changing the manufacturer’s recommended coats for an acrylic system may alter the speed of play, and it could even have an adverse affect on dry-time. Conversely, there are other colors that compliment the nature of the surface and are recommended by the manufacturer.

When it’s time to re-coat your courts, you should consider both the science, and the art, behind choosing the right colors for your facility.

Choosing the Right Color for Your Courts

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About the Author

Aimee Desrosiers joined California Products Corp. in April 2000 to spearhead marketing and advertising efforts. Based in Andover, Mass., California Paints is a division of California Products, manufacturer of quality paints, coatings, and sports surfacing systems since 1926. For more information, contact or



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