Backyard Ice Rink: 10 Dos And Donts For Home Skaters
Are you thinking about a backyard ice rink?
If you’re a skating fanatic like we are or have kids that play hockey or figure skating, the thought must have crossed your mind a few times.
It’s possible – and in some cases, easy – to build an ice rink in your backyard.
The thought of lacing up your skates and stepping outside (with bumpers on, of course) and onto the rink seems too good to pass up.
Backyard ice rinks have been around for decades, and now, you have several options at your disposal.
At the same time, the process can become costly and time-consuming if done incorrectly.
We’ll go through some do’s and don’ts so you end up with an at-home ice skating solution that everyone will love.
Types of backyard ice rinks
There are a few options available for a backyard rink.
The one you choose will be based on factors like weather, space, building ability, and budget.
Here are the options to consider:
Snow and water
Yes, you can build an ice rink with just snow and water.
If it has snowed and built up a large enough mound of ice, you can dig out a big enough space, using the snow as rink walls.
Fill the area with water, then let the weather get to work.
Once the temperature is consistent, you can skate for weeks.
A cheap, practical option, but messy with too many variables involved.
Tarp and plywood
If you are good with your hands, you can consider crafting your own rink with some simple hardware items and Mother Nature.
This method requires a large enough tarp or plastic lining to cover the backyard ice rink.
Then, you’ll build the rink walls using plywood and steel brackets.
Fill the rink with a couple of inches of water and wait for freezing temperatures.
Add in a quick spray with hot water, and you have a smooth, skateable, at-home ice rink.
This is the OG method and the most popular one for backyard rinks, but it does take some building know-how.
Skating rink kits
Think of the tarp and plywood method but with all the materials in one place, ready to go.
There are several companies selling DIY rink kits.
The lining, walls, brackets, and other necessary tools come in one package.
Follow the instructions, fill the rink with water, and you can have a backyard skating option.
The biggest challenge is choosing the right provider—quality matters.
Synthetic Ice tiles/panels/kits
Synthetic ice rinks are growing in popularity thanks to their affordability, ease of installation, and durability.
These are polyethylene tiles or panels that are skateable.
You place them on your designated spot, connect the boards, and you have a rink!
Synthetic ice is also easily scalable.
Choose between our Home Starter Kits and Larger, bigger panels:
- Pro-Glide Infused - Full Panel (1/2" X 46" X 96", 80 lbs. per)
- Pro-Glide Infused - Half Panel (1/2" X 46" X 46", 40 lbs. per)
These panels are easy to assemble and will have you ice skating in no time in virtually any location.
Refrigerated ice rinks:
The rinks you see your favorite NHL team using?
These rinks use the same concept it takes to keep your home AC or refrigerator cool using water, coolant, and refrigeration machinery.
Refrigerated rinks were only for more extensive, commercial spaces, but now there are several at-home options.
While these rinks give the closest professional feel, they are the most expensive and need time and expertise to install and continuous maintenance.
Backyard Ice Rink Benefits
Choosing to build a backyard rink is a no-brainer.
For instance, you can skate at any time in the safety of your home.
It is also a great community-building tool.
If you have neighbors or kids that like hockey or ice skating, they can enjoy it too.
Backyard rinks are also easy to install, with many rinks or materials easy to access and set up.
You also have more time to train, get stronger, and build a competitive advantage with your rink.
If you’re ready to install a rink, you’ll have a few questions.
Here are some DOs and DON’Ts that prepare you for at-home skating on your new backyard rink:
DO consider the weather.
Weather conditions play a significant role in building a backyard rink.
What are your winter weather patterns?
Can you rely on consistent temperatures?
Is there constant snow or rain?
These factors will determine your choice of the rink.
For instance, if you want to build a rink but can’t rely on consistent weather, a synthetic or refrigerated rink may be the best choice.
If you want to skate through the year, synthetic is the only option.
The other methods are great for a consistent winter season, but even these are becoming shorter and more sporadic due to climate changes.
DON'T skip the design process.
We often notice that rink owners overlook the other pieces that make a backyard space unique.
So, take some time to design your space.
For instance, you will want a longer, rectangular rink or a square one.
Lights, goal posts, nets, and bumpers for safety are other accessories that will turn your rink from good to great.
DO make sure you’re on level ground.
A common mistake from rink builders is installing on uneven surfaces.
Most backyards are not entirely level.
If you overlook this, you’ll have a poor skating experience.
For rinks that need water, a sloped backyard can make the ice thinner in some areas.
If you’re installing synthetic ice, the uneven surfaces can cause falls or damage to the panels.
Check that the yard is level first. Use these steps to check the grade of the yard.
You may need some thin sheets of plywood to compensate for uneven surfaces.
DON'T compromise on quality materials.
There are several rink providers on the market.
Some focus on quality items, ease of use, or versatility.
There are also others on Amazon that you can get with a few clicks.
However, some are low-quality materials that can cost more in the long run.
For instance, an ice rink kit might have poor quality lining or rink walls.
Others may have synthetic ice which is not made of High-Density Polyethylene, may break down, lose its effectiveness, or require constant application of a Slip Surface Conditioner.
Take some time to research before choosing your rink.
DO consider rink walls or rebounder bars.
If you choose a natural or refrigerated ice rink, walls are required.
However, for synthetic ice, you don’t need rink walls to start skating.
On the one hand, this is a great advantage if you want to reduce costs.
However, rink walls are great for safety.
Who wants to fall over the edge if you’re playing hockey?
It also stops your puck from flying everywhere.
DON'T forget about safety.
With ice skating, safety is paramount.
Falls and collisions can happen, especially with hockey.
If you’re building a skating rink for your kids, you want a space where they can skate without constant supervision.
Installing foam on rink walls is an excellent example of a safety measure.
It would be best if you also cleared the area around the rink to avoid injuries.
DO enlist some help.
Building a rink can be time-consuming and, in some cases, requires some handyman abilities.
If you’re building a rink with water, you’ll need someone to help install rink walls and place the liner.
For refrigerated rinks, you’ll rely on the provider to install the rink, but if you’re DIY, don’t do it alone.
The advantage of synthetic ice is that you can install the rink without help.
A soft mallet is enough to set up the rink.
You should get some help anyway since it’s fun to set up your rink with a friend!
DON'T forget about maintenance.
The best skating experience will require maintenance of your rink.
For backyard rinks with water, snow and ice can pile up on the rink.
You’ll need to resurface the rink with hot water.
Synthetic ice rinks are easier to manage but do need to be cleared of dirt and shavings.
In some cases, you’ll need to resurface the rink with conditioner.
Set a schedule to clean and maintain the rink, with the right tools to make it happen.
DO have fun!
When you’re in the process of building a rink, the anticipation builds as you get closer to the end.
That feeling when you first touch the ice is priceless.
You’re making the rink to have fun!
Don’t forget to enjoy it and look for ways to mix things up so you can get the most out of your investment.
Invite friends and neighbors over.
Try different activities like curling or host an ice movie night.
Focus on fun, and you’ll enjoy the rink for years to come.
If you're an ice skating enthusiast, beginner, or just want to have fun with your friends and family then learn how to ice skate at home!
There are so many rink options you can consider: basement rink, garage rink, deck rink, patio rink, rooftop rink, travel rink, spin rink....the list goes on and on.
Our PolyGlide Synthetic Ice has added diversity to ice skating in both affordability and access.
You are only limited by your own creativity and ideas on what you can accomplish with your skating.
It’s time to skate!
There are several considerations when building a backyard ice rink.
During the winter, people gravitate to the plywood and tarp or rink kit methods.
If you’re willing to invest the energy in maintaining the rink, it can be a truly fantastic experience.
However, synthetic ice is becoming the go-to for at-home ice skating simply because it's easy to use, durable and scalable.
Our synthetic ice has helped hundreds of homes transform their backyard into a winter skating staple.
Follow the do’s and don’ts of backyard rink building, and you can have one too.
Check out all of our rink packages to choose the ideal rink for you home.