Installing A Basketball Hoop
Between us we have eight children and eight grandchildren. Including our wives, that’s enough for four basketball teams – or one basketball team and an enormous cheering section. Young or old, boys or girls, basketball is an American favorite. And when you’re all alone — you can even have your own one person tournament.
Mounting a hoop over the garage is relatively easy and inexpensive, but the roof and garage door often will take quite a beating. The most versatile, permanent-installation involves a freestanding pole mounted in a concrete filled hole (in the ground). Using a pole instead of the house makes it easier to select a location that is safe and comfortable (i.e. shady, sunny, etc.), as well as a location that offers the best court arrangement.
Three styles of poles are available: a three-piece sectional, light weight, round steel tube, a much thicker and heavier one-piece square steel tube and a wooden post. The sectional steel tube is probably the easiest to handle and install. That’s because the individual sections are smaller and so much lighter in weight than the alternatives. Wood or steel – mounting a twelve-foot pole in the ground and getting it straight up and down can be a chore for the handiest do-it-yourselfer. There is an extra step with the lighter weight, sectional pole that requires it to be filled with concrete for the needed strength. Even with the concrete, we feel it is still the easiest one to install.
If a steel pole is not available at the sporting goods store, then the local lumber yard will more than likely have an 8×8 wooden post, which is the proper size for the height required in this situation. Fir is a bit stronger than pine, but either will do the trick. If possible, it is important to use pressure treated material. A pressure treated post buried in concrete will last 50- to 100-percent longer than untreated lumber.
Whether the pole is made of wood or steel, don’t forget padding. An old rug, plain foam rubber or carpet padding can reduce the chance of bruises and broken teeth when the players are paying more attention to the ball than to their own safety.
The concrete base that holds the pole should be at least 2 1/2-feet in diameter and 2-feet in depth – more diameter or greater depth are OK. If a wood pole is used it is a good idea to dig the hole 6- to 12-inches deeper and fill it with gravel or rock. This will act as a drain field and reduce the chance of wood rot.
Most backboards either bolt directly into place or are held on to a pole with a U-bolt- or U-shaped-collar. However, there are fancier models that can be adjusted up and down a pole by releasing an integral lever with a broom- handle or a long stick. This option can increase the cost of the project by 40%. Remember, the best height for a basketball hoop is 10 feet.
The most difficult part of this project is digging the hole. This shouldn’t become a pick and shovel job – for two reasons: 1) digging with a pick is very hard work, and 2) digging with a pick can damage underground utilities ranging from phone, power and cable lines to sprinkler, gas and sewer pipes. Simply soaking the area with water and waiting for the water to soften the soil will make light work of any (and every) small digging project. Wet the soil with a slow trickle of water for an hour or two. Let the moisture soak in and dig until reaching hard pan. Repeat the process as often as needed to keep the job simple and easy.
Ready mix concrete in bags is not the strongest kind. Stronger concrete is acquired from a concrete mixing plant and is recommended if budget allows. To save big on a small delivery ask the batch plant clerk if you can be scheduled for a stand-by delivery of left-overs from one of their other customers. And don’t add water. Use it just as it comes from the truck. Wet concrete doesn’t cure as strong as concrete with less water content.
Finally, be prepared to spend between $125 and $375 dollars for the hoop and pole — not including the cost of an asphalt or concrete court. Also, for several additional dollars, a clear acrylic backstop is available. Use caution here. Acrylic certainly is good looking, but it will not hold up as well in the sun as painted boards will. You may recall that the place you normally see acrylic is at indoor arenas.