As I prepped to run a pickleball tournament in a parking lot, I researched and tested several options for taping a temporary outdoor pickleball court. I even considered spray chalk applied with a machine designed for industrial inverted chalk.
In the end, I think I found the best tape for outdoor pickleball courts.
Nearly all of the information I found online about taping courts related to indoor courts. USA Pickleball recommends FrogTape. I figured I’d start there.
Testing different tapes
I was in a rush, so I ran my test with just those two tape options. I applied a strip of both tapes in the parking lot. They went down fine on dry pavement. I poured some water and tried to tape over moist pavement. Not happening. Neither tape adhered to wet asphalt, not even a little bit.
The Scotch tape look bright. The Frog tape looked translucent.
I knew it was going to rain the next day, so I left the test strips (on dry pavement) and I returned three days later to see if they survived.
The test results
Three days later, the FrogTape was curling along the edges in a few places.
Three days later
The Scotch Exterior Painter’s tape looked … beautiful. Despite rain showers, it still adhered to the pavement. The tournament was a month off, so I left the tape strips there. After a month, the Scotch tape still looked amazing. The Frog tape was battered.
One month later
I realized that the Frog tape is great for temporary indoor pickleball courts because it has light adhesive. It does not damage the finish on a wooden indoor court, nor does it leave behind a strip of sticky adhesive when you remove the tape. Frog tape might be the best tape for indoor courts.
(Also, I just re-read the USA Pickleball recommendations more closely and it recommends green FrogTape for temporary pickleball courts and says “Yellow Frog Tape and blue painter’s tape tend to disengage from the courts quicker.” I missed that. Yellow FrogTape is for delicate surfaces. Green Frog Tape is medium adhesion and orange FrogTape is high adhesion for exterior surfaces. I did not test the green or orange FrogTape.)
The Scotch Exterior Painter’s tape had strong adhesive and the tape itself was waterproof. This combo saved me on tournament day.
A chalk experiment
I planned to tape 8 temporary courts the day before the tournament, but rain was in the forecast.
I knew tape would not go down on wet pavement, so I ran a test with industrial chalk. Yes, the spray chalk went down fine on wet pavement. Then I tested whether it withstood a little rain shower. I sprinkled water on the wet chalk. The chalk quickly disappeared. I let the chalk dry and then sprinkled water on it. It sort of survived, but the edges of the line became blurry and it was obvious it would not withstand a steady rain.
Final decision: Scotch External Painter’s tape
I decided to tape the courts a day early with Scotch Exterior Painter’s tape and hope for it to survive a day of rain.
First, I used a leaf blower to clear as much sand and grit as possible. The tape went down perfectly.
Tip: there are no re-dos. If you misalign a strip of tape on the pavement and try to lift it and stick it again, it won’t stick. It picks up too much grit. Start with a fresh strip.
Even though we taped the courts a day early, it was a busy retail parking lot that could not be closed off a day early so cars drove over the tape. Then it rained. For a day and a half.
The morning of the tournament it was still raining but the tape held like a champ. Water beaded on top of the tape. Plenty of water squeezed under the tape but somehow it was holding.
(Full disclosure: The rain was not an overwhelming, flooding kind of rain. It was a steady, but gentle rainfall that lasted 24 hours on a parking lot that drained well and was probably paved three years ago. The parking lot had zero puddles so the tape was not sitting in water.)
We started playing games when the pavement was still wet. The pavement itself was not slippery but the wet tape was very slick. We used towels and blowers to dry the tape as much as possible. We used the blowers cautiously because the gas-powered ones had enough strength to lift the wet tape off the pavement.
Over the next day and a half, 100 players used the courts. The tape failed in a couple of corners and one strip failed on a court. More than 95 percent of the courts were intact despite rain and heavy use. We re-taped the trouble spots. One of them was on a crack that was still wet, so we used regular chalk to re-draw the line.
Overall, the Scotch External Painter’s tape performed amazingly. When it came time to remove it, it came up in long easy strips.
Next time, I will test the orange FrogTape, but until then, Scotch Exterior tape is a great option.