Feature: Toronto Star Oct. 2005

Playing around on backyard surfaces

Tennis anyone? is the question in some yards
Hoops, volleyball, shuffleboard also right at home


Today's families are particularly concerned about safe play areas for their children.

And David Shaw, director of Barber Sport Surfaces Ltd. in Markham, has seen a growing trend of homeowners turning backyards into a more utilitarian play space.

"Homeowners are now utilizing their backyards more and more these days," Shaw notes.

"Instead of pools, they're installing sport surfaces like Sport Court, which are traditionally used in commercial settings," he adds.

Now the homeowners' children and neighbourhood friends can come to their backyard to play, Shaw points out.

For some parents, it's a welcome change from children playing on the street, or running off to their local school where parents can't keep an eye on them.

Having enjoyed a smaller version of the Sport Court at their family cottage for the past 10 years, Joanne and Michael Vogler decided to install the system at their new home in Thornhill. Today the Vogler family's three children — ranging from 11 to 17 years of age — enjoy an array of activities on their 36 foot by 71 foot (11 metre by 21 metre) play surface.

Whether it's basketball, shuffleboard or installing a net to play volleyball or tennis — the Voglers have found the Sport Court a great entertainment solution for family and friends.

"It was something we thought was an added bonus to the house in order to get the kids to stay at home and bring their friends over," says Joanne Vogler.

"We even added lights, which can be switched on from inside the house, allowing the kids to play outside safely in our backyard," she adds.

Shaw points out that the Sport Court has a good deal of lateral forgiveness, so it's really easy on your joints, knees and hips. The surface, in essence, plays with you, Shaw explains, unlike some other surfaces that are very hard and can add unwanted stress to the body.

The other bonus is you can use it 365 days a year. "We have clients who use it in the winter by freezing overtop of the surface enabling them to have their very own backyard rink," says Shaw.

"We can't wait for winter," says Vogler. "It'll be something the whole family will be able to enjoy."

As for the installation, it's a snap.

Once proper excavation of the ground surface has taken place, including the placement of concrete slabs, polypropylene tiles that are 25cm square (9 ¾ inches by 9 ¾ inches) are snapped into place, making it easy to replace any damaged tiles.

As for the cost — the flooring itself is around $7 per square foot and construction is an extra cost. And with more than 20 colours to choose from, your backyard can be the talk of the neighbourhood.

The sport options are endless and will provide a safe surface for kids of all ages to play in the safety of your backyard.

Whether it's to watch the little ones ride their bikes or the chance for your kids to play a game of hoops with Dad — this backyard surface is breaking new ground on year `round family entertainment.

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