Thermoplastic Sports Courts vs Painted Line Markings

There is a debate over the use of thermoplastic sports courts marking in comparison to the traditional painted line markings on macadam outdoor MUGAs and all weather surfaces. Both line marking specifications have their different characteristics and advantages in terms of performance and durability but it’s important to choose the right type of marking for your project.


Be sure to contact us if you would like to know more about the prices for installing the different types of coloured markings. One of our specialists will respond as quickly as possible to advise you on what we do.

Thermoplastic Sports Courts

The thermoplastic sports courts lining is applied in a specialist plastic which is laid onto the existing macadam surface and then heated up until it melts and sticks down onto the tarmac. Once applied, the thermoplastic line markings are very durable and long lasting against heavy use and weathering so they’ll retain their colour and provide clear lines for a range of sports including netball, basketball and tennis over long periods of time. The material used for thermoplastic sports courts marking can also be installed in bright colours on playgrounds to create fun graphic designs and games which are enjoyable and help kids to learn outside the classroom. Other uses also include roadway markings, bus and cycle lanes, car parks and other access routes as the durability and bright colours of the thermoplastic graphics will keep these areas safe for longer. Thermoplastic line markings are great for recreational outdoor sports courts and school MUGAs where activities are more focused on fun rather than serious competition.

Basketball Thermoplastic Sports Courts Lines
Thermoplastic Basketball Marking Design

The disadvantage of applying thermoplastic sports courts lines is that the plastic ends up being slightly raised against the macadam surfacing, whereas with painted markings the paint is flush against the tarmac so the surface remains completely flat. This slightly raised plastic can cause a ball to deviate from its true path and bounce off in another direction if it hits the thermoplastic line which means the performance quality is not always ideal for professional training or competitive sporting events. The interaction between the playing surface and the athlete’s feet can also be changed as the lip of the plastic marking could potentially get in the way of someone sliding for a ball.

Painted Line Markings

Specialist acrylic painted line markings are commonly used for tarmac sports courts in the UK because the specially designed paint is mixed with an anti slip aggregate which gives the surface perfect playability for multi sports. Unlike the thermoplastic graphics, painted line markings are not raised against the surface so the macadam sports court remains completely flat and ball roll and bounce is consistent when the ball hits one of the lines. For facilities which are more driven towards competitive events and training, painted line markings would be recommended as they don’t distort the ball bounce and they allow players to slide evenly along the macadam court surface.

Netball Court Line Marking in White Paint
White Painted Court Line Marking

However, in comparison to the thermoplastic sports courts lines, painted line markings aren’t as durable and they don’t last as long. The paint can fade more quickly and become cracked as a result of regular heavy use of the court with a lot of different sports. For this reason, many schools and recreational facilities often choose to have thermoplastic markings installed because they’re more durable and need reapplying less often.

Choosing The Right Line Marking Specification

Although the thermoplastic sports courts lines and the painted line markings both have their advantages for different purposes, facilities which are more focused on the best performance for sport should be looking at having the lines applied in acrylic anti slip paint. This specialist sports paint is designed for use on macadam courts and does not affect ball bounce or player slide during game play and training. The thermoplastic markings are a more durable option but can distort the direction of they ball, so they’re better for recreational facilities which wouldn’t necessarily be used competitively.

If you’re interested in installing either of these line marking specifications to your existing macadam sports court please send us your details through our contact form and we’ll get in touch to send you over some further information about our products. You can also visit our website at to find out more about the rest of our products and the different outdoor sports facilities we build in the UK.

Please feel free to share this article if you found it helpful and leave a comment below if you’ve got any questions about thermoplastic sports courts or line markings of different multi use sports surfaces.

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