Synthetic ice was initially made to facilitate year-round skating. Over the years, the ice moved from only available in large malls and public spaces to homes with custom panels. Anyone can now have synthetic ice panels delivered to their homes for a personal skating experience.
This has brought a rise in the installation of synthetic ice rinks. Some persons want to build a large, at-home rink to practice hockey, figure skating, or to pick back up a childhood hobby. Others are small businesses that want to add a large rink as an added source of income or to host an event. Whatever the reason, installing a rink has become more accessible than ever. At the same time, you can make some synthetic ice rink installation mistakes. Let’s break down the process and offer some simple tips to consider before installing your rink.
What is Synthetic Ice?
If you’ve stumbled across the concept of synthetic ice for the first time on this blog post, let’s help you out. Simply put, synthetic ice is interlocking panels made of a high-quality polymer.
There are several synthetic ice manufacturers on the market, but ours is made of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) or Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE). Both materials create a fantastic skating experience that feels similar to natural ice.
You can order synthetic ice panels to size and shape, installing them quickly to start skating in short order. Because these panels are customizable and accessible, it’s possible to create small and large synthetic rinks for your skating needs.
Synthetic Ice Rink vs. Conventional Ice Rink
There is a subset of persons who enjoy creating a DIY ice rink every year. A smaller subset still has a conventional rink installed in their homes. However, there are several advantages to opting for a synthetic ice rink vs. a traditional ice rink.
- Easy maintenance: When compared to conventional rinks, synthetic panels can be maintained with minimal effort. Boards only need a mild cleaner to remove dirt and shavings. The panels will get scuff marks, which is a good thing. Those grooves improve the skating experience. Conventional rinks need skilled personnel to maintain the rink. DIY (flooded) rinks have a short shelf life but depend on factors like temperature.
- Improved Skating Experience: With DIY rinks, builders run the risk of creating a sloped rink if the water is not easily distributed. This tends to happen when the ground is not level. You may not get this issue with a refrigerated rink. However, synthetic ice panels allow for flexibility in installation. This flexibility reduces the chances of an uneven rink.
- Durability: Synthetic ice panels can last over ten years, with some being able to last well past 15 years. Conventional DIY rinks last only as long as the freezing weather. Refrigerated rinks are durable like synthetics but come at a high cost, as we’ll explain shortly.
- Seasonality: The advantage of getting panels is the year-round availability. You can skate freely on your rink in the offseason without worrying about melting ice. For instance, some persons consider using snow for a border or base of their rink. That snow can melt, creating leaks and poor skating experience. When you’re installing in warmer seasons, just make sure to dress lightly, because you’ll be working up a sweat!
- Cost Savings: Both a conventional, refrigerated rink can cost tens of thousands of dollars to set up and maintain. We’re not even talking about energy costs. These rinks can still run in hotter weather, but unless you’re a professional athlete, the cost-benefit won’t add up. DIY ice rinks can cost you a trip to the hardware store and a lot of time to set up if you’re not good with your hands. Synthetic rinks cost cheaper than both per square foot. It’s also easier to install!
Now that you know what synthetic is panels are and the advantages of installing a rink, you might be raring to install one. Simultaneously, it’s easy to make some installation mistakes that will prove costly or create a poor skating experience. Here are some mistakes to look out for and how to avoid them. These tips can save you time, money, and help you get the most out of your synthetic ice rink.
1. Choose the Right Space for your Rink
If you’re deciding on installing a sizeable synthetic ice rink, make sure to choose the right space before you start anything. For at-home use, you’ll want an area that you can use for an extended period. Don’t choose a site where you will need to remove your rink. For commercial use, you have far more questions and logistics to consider:
- Is the selected space easily accessible?
- Is the space available for several persons to use at once?
- Do you have the necessary approvals to install the rink?
- Will you require liability insurance?
- What’s your system for getting persons in and out of the rink?
Some of these questions may even apply to home use. Overall, making sure that you consider all possibilities can save you a future headache.
2. Use a Suitable Subsurface for your Rink
Synthetic panels work best on a hard, flat surface like concrete, wooden decks, or hardwood floors. Choosing a soft, uneven surface can create a poor skating experience. Avoid grassy areas, carpeting or gravel floors. If that’s the only available space, then there’s a solution. Invest in plywood boards as a sub-flooring for your rink, to give you a nice even floor. A severley sloped surface may need more boards, soil, or a filler before installing the synthetic panels.
3. Measure the Space before Ordering
As the saying goes, ‘measure twice, cut once.’ Once you’ve locked down your space, it’s time to measure the dimensions for the rink. It’s vital to get the right dimensions so you can purchase the right size and number of panels. Get measuring tape long enough to cover a large area and markers to record the measurements. You can waste valuable time and money by ordering too many or too few panels. The same goes for the plywood if you need it. Check your hardware store for plywood cut to your needs.
4. Order the Right Type of Tiles
Whether home or commercial use, you must ask a critical question: What will the rink be used for? If the rink is solely for figure skating practice, consider a Spin Station, infused for the best skating experience. These self-infused panels are perfect for professional ice skating, with a solid core. Ice hockey, on the other hand, can benefit from infused (skating) or non-infused panels (shooting gallery) depending on the purpose of your rink.
Commercial rinks may require a higher molecular weight, durable panel for heavy use. Choosing the wrong type of synthetic ice can reduce the lifespan and even skating experience.
5. Use the Right Tools for Installation
You may think you don’t need tools to install a synthetic ice rink. After all, the panels are interlocking and made-to-measure. But some tools can help.
Taps from a soft mallet are enough to connect the panels for a rink without any borders. The mallet ensures the panels stay locked in place. Hands alone may not suffice. If a plywood subsurface or dasher boards are required, make sure to get additional material. This may include wood framing, screws or nails to secure the plywood or dashers in place.
6. Account for Temperature Changes
When installing your rink, you may have rink walls and toppers installed for safety. However, one common mistake is not accounting for temperature changes. Polyethylene panels tend to expand and contract with changes in the temperature. This may damage the outside of the panels if there is not enough space to account for the expansion. Expanding tiles can also disconnect from the interlocking grooves. Leave a couple of inches on the outside of the rink to compensate for any swelling.
7. Ask for Help!
Synthetic panel installations are quick and easy, but that does not mean you should do it alone! Getting a friend, family member, or DIY expert can help speed things up. This is especially the case if you’re building a large skating space that includes walls. That person may also see something that you’ve missed. When you have others pitch in, the fun starts much sooner.
Now it’s Your Turn
Ready to install your synthetic ice rink? It’s a great way to practice ice skating, hockey training, or other ice sports all year round. Make sure to follow these easy tips. A simple step, such as choosing and measuring the correct space, can cost you time and money through extra panels. With rinks for commercial use, make sure to recruit some help and put safety measures in place. When done the right way, you can get your synthetic ice rink up and running in a couple of hours.
If you need help choosing the right synthetic ice panels for your needs, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can also request a quote so you can start planning your installation. We can’t wait to see your rink!
What do you do when it’s the middle of summer in Los Angeles, and you want to ice skate? Popular Fortnite streamer and YouTuber, Frazier - aka Faze Kay - and his brother Jarvis, missed the cold weather and ice sports in their native England.
Kay’s solution; to have some ice shipped to the Faze Clan mansion so he can ice skate around the pool.After calling Antarctica for a batch of fresh ice, which of course, would melt in the LA sun, he was running out of ideas. Faze Nikan had a suggestion: get a lubricated synthetic material that works anywhere in any weather.
That’s when we received a call from Kay! We were happy to help out the clan and sent some of our synthetic ice panels to the Faze Clan mansion.
Who are the Faze Clan?
For over ten years, the Faze Clan has been one of the premier eSports organizations in the world. The company competes in several tournaments around the globe, including Fortnite, FIF, Valorant, Call of Duty, and many others. The company’s growth over the years has been fueled by investment from celebrities, entrepreneurs, and athletes like Pitbull, Jimmy Iovine, Offset, and Ben Simmons.
The Faze Clan soon evolved into content creation with several personalities on their roster creating Twitch and YouTube content. Famous faces include Faze Kay and Faze Jarvis, who rack up tens of millions of views on their channels each month.
The content creators recently moved into an LA mansion called the Faze house, where they spend time improving their craft while creating YouTube and Twitch content.
What are Synthetic ice panels?
Synthetic ice panels are interlocking sheets made of a strong polyethylene compound. The panels are infused with a compound that mirrors the feel of real ice skating. The durable material works with real metal skates and has minimal friction when compared to real ice. If you’re thinking that metal skates will damage the tiles, it’s actually the opposite. The grooves formed by metal skates improve the skating experience over time.
You can connect the panels to create an ice rink or space for hockey, ice skating, figure skating, or even games like curling. Seeing and feeling those panels were too good to be true. When Kay slapped on his skates and stepped on one of the sheets, he was convinced that this was just what he was looking for.
Setting things up
What we did not expect was the brothers to have their own Winter Olympics in the back yard! To start, Nikan set up the rink around the pool. Since the synthetic ice panels need a hard flat surface, the guys also bought plywood to use as a base.
Nikan then came up with three challenges for Kay and Jarvis. The winner receives a special mystery box. Since these two had no experience ice skating, this would be a fun way to get accustomed to skates while having some friendly sibling rivalry.
Our synthetic ice is great for sports like ice hockey and figure skating. But there are some fun activities and challenges you can do too. Here’s what happened at the Faze mansion and how you can have your own challenges.
Game 1: The Time Trial
With helmets on for safety, the guys jumped into their first challenge; a simple time trial. The brothers had 3 rounds to skate around half of the swimming pool as quickly as possible. The fastest time would be the winner of the round, with the best 2 out of 3 the winner.
Kay easily took the first round but destroyed his time in the second and third rounds. Kay was able to cut his time down to 9.67 seconds. Jarvis got swept 3-0 as he took some time to find his balance in the skates. Even trying to sabotage Kay’s second run was not enough to lose this one.
How You Can Do It At Home
Time trials are a great way to improve your speed, balance, and control on the ice. It’s also a great way to get your competitive juices flowing. For safety, it’s best not to set the ice panels next to a swimming pool. However, you can set the panels in a line in the backyard, garage, or driveway.
Have someone keep time, while each person takes turns skating from one end to the other. A group of kids or adults can even turn it into a relay event, where the fastest team wins. Try a time trial event before hockey practice, ice skating practice, or when you have a group of friends over to the house.
Game 2: The Jump Style Contest
For the second game, Nikan wanted to increase the difficulty. The panels were set up in a straight line that fell off a ledge about one foot high. The goal of the game is to jump off the ledge and land cleanly.
Nikan would judge Kay and Jarvis on the style of each jump out of 10. Falling after the jump or leaving the ice after the jump would be an automatic disqualification. The brothers were up to the challenge.This time, Jarvis stepped up. After Jarvis scored only 1 point on his first attempt, Kay fell on his first attempt, giving him a 0. Kay came roaring back with a 5 on his second attempt to Jarvis’ score of 4.
With the scores tied, it was down to the last jump. Jarvis scored a 5, but Kay’s unimpressive jump landed him a 4!In the end, Jarvis won the game by two points. With the games tied, there was just one more game left to crown an overall champion!
Time for Your Jump Style Game
Figure skaters are known for their impressive jumps and practice different jumping techniques off the ice. But there could be a little friendly competition on the ice! You and a figure skating friend can practice simple jumps on your synthetic ice rink and get a friend to give you a score out of 10.
If you’re not into jumping, you can try a gliding competition. Set your panels up in a straight line. Take turns gliding the length of the panels on two feet then on one foot. The person to reach the furthest point wins the competition.
Game 3: The Lego High Jump Challenge
Do you think you can perform a jump on the ice? In the toughest challenge yet, the guys set up the panels on the grass, using the plywood boards as a base. In the middle of the ice strip was a wall of two rows of legos. The brothers had to start from one end, skate to the middle, jump over the lego wall, and skate to the end.
The first person to fail the jump, while the other succeed, would lose the game. But there was a catch. After every round, Nikan would add two more levels to the lego wall. With the competition at its peak, the brothers cleared the first three rounds with ease.
At 8 layers high, Jarvis and Kay cleared their jumps. To decide a winner, the wall was set to 10 layers high. Unfortunately, Jarvis crashed into the lego wall, leaving Kay to clear the legos and win the game.
In the end, Sweedish gamer (and very athletic) Faze Teeqo stole the show, jumping over the 12 rows of the blocks with ease. The guys were so impressed, they gave the prize to Teeqo!
Ready For Your High Jump Challenge?
Do you have legos at home? Set up your own high jump challenge to compete against your family or friends. Jumping improves your strength, balance, and power. You can set a wall of legos like the Faze house and take turns jumping over. If you don’t have legos, a small box will do.
If you want to take it up a notch, set up an obstacle course! Use cones, hockey sticks, pool noodles, or anything you can find. Take turns going through the obstacle course. The course could be a timed event, or must be completed without touching the obstacles.
We were so happy that the guys at the Faze mansion were able to experience ice skating during the LA heat. We made these synthetic ice panels out of a love for skating and hockey. However, you can use it to have some fun challenges too!
With everyone still under some kind of quarantine, setting up some panels are a great way to learn skating, challenge your friends, and beat the boredom. At the same time, these fun games increase your confidence on the ice.
You’ll also see an improvement in your speed, strength, and balance. When you’re ready to skate against others or hit a large skating rink, your competition will not know what hit them.
These are just some of the challenges you can do on any of our synthetic ice rink packages. If you’ve completed a challenge or made up some of your own, we’d love to see. Tag us on our Instagram page.
If you’re a lover of ice sports, you’re not alone. According to Statista, there are over 15 million skiers and 3 million hockey players in the country. More than 4.5 billion dollars get spent on hockey alone. Ice sports are here to stay.
Unfortunately, some sports are seasonal, and others may be hard to access. To solve that problem, inventors created substitutes like synthetic ice. However, these artificial ice panels have practical uses beyond skating for fun or practice.
What is Synthetic Ice?
Artificial ice or synthetic ice are panels made of a robust and stable polymer that’s used for skating. The panels are made in the form of interlocking tiles that can cover most surfaces. Skaters can then use their metal skates to enjoy their favorite “ice” sports.
The panels often come infused with a compound that reduces friction, perfect for ice skating. Non-infused panels also exist and are quite common on the market. These panels often need a liquid gliding agent applied from time to time. Artificial ice panels are durable, easy to clean and get better the more you skate on them.
Setting Up Your Synthetic Ice Panels
These panels can be set up in almost any space; the only limit is your imagination. You can create a skating strip in your driveway. Or you can make a complete ice rink in your garage or spare room. Set up takes less than an hour, depending on the size of the space. If the ground is uneven, a flat plywood base works best. Grab a friend if needed, and enjoy creating a remarkable ice space. You may be thinking of using the artificial ice space solely for ice skating or ice hockey for your family. Yet, there are a few additional uses that are both fun and practical. Here are 5 to consider.
1. Staying In Shape
You may be skating to enjoy your favorite ice sport. However, you can use your synthteic ice to work out! In 2020 with persons having limited access to the gym, persons are looking for helpful ways to say in shape. Skating is a low-impact form of exercise, giving great aerobic and anaerobic benefits. Over time, you’ll have a stronger core, quads, calf muscles, and better balance. With the added friction that naturally comes with synthetic ice, you’ll get stronger, faster.
Five Helpful Ice Skating Exercises:
- Hops: Jumping in ice skates can be challenging. Practice small hops, either laterally, straight in the air, or front to back. Hops strengthen core, calf muscles, and improves balance.
- Pistol Squats: Bend down balancing on one skate, extending the other leg out. Pistol squats work glutes, core, ankle strength, and overall lower body power.
- Shoot The Duck: How about taking those squats to the next level? Build up a little speed, then crouch as low as possible. Stick one leg out while you glide on the other leg. You get all the benefits of the pistol squat while building endurance.
- Ice Skating Lunge: Get low with a lunge while skating to strengthen the legs and glutes. Lunges on-ice look different from lunges in the gym. The back leg extends instead of bends. Leave the blade off the floor and the toes pointing away from you. Make sure to keep your upper body nice and tall.
- Sprints: How fast can you go in 30 seconds? Improve your endurance, strength, and conditioning with some quick sprints. Set two markers a few feet apart. Then start from one end and sprint to the other. Stop, turn, and sprint back to the starting position. Keep the intensity for 30 seconds, taking 60 seconds rest. Repeat the exercise for 4-5 rounds.
Add skating at least once a week into your workout routine. According to the Harvard Medical School, 30 minutes of ice skating or ice hockey can burn over 300 calories. Maintain the same pace on the artificial ice. Soon, you can increase the speed and complexity of your skating. It’s a great way to relieve stress and manage weight. Don’t forget to cool down!
2. A Creative Source Of Income
If there’s one thing that 2020 taught us is that we can’t rely on one stream of income. Just in case something happens to our jobs, we have something to fall back on. If you already have a synthetic ice rink in your home, why not leverage that space for a little extra cash?
Teach Skating Classes
Are you a skillful skater? If you have the ability or hockey experience, teach a paid beginner class. You can have a couple of adults come over to your space to learn some skating basics. Or you can teach kids some hockey basics. If the distance is an issue, try using a video conferencing program like Zoom.
Hold Skating Meetups
If you have a big enough ice rink in your back yard, you can even create a game night with sports like curling. Let a small group come in and pay a cover. We’re all looking for ways to have fun while being safe. Over time, the rink pays for itself and gives you a handy side hustle income.
Start a Skating Blog or YouTube Channel.
Blogging and YouTube are two popular income-generating activities. These platforms are a great way to teach, at scale. Create some content around skating and ice hockey. Talk about your artificial ice journey, teach skating drills, and give tips and tricks. Don’t overthink this. Start with a phone camera or a simple blogging platform like WordPress or Medium. Over time, you can monetize the content through adds or affiliate links. This is not only a great income stream but a passive income stream as well.
3. Creating Your Own Amateur Curling Team
Speaking of curling, how about starting your own team? Curling seems to be the sport that uninitiated pokes fun at around the Winter Olympics. But the game has existed for hundreds of years and is very popular. Curling takes endurance, teamwork, and a sharp mind. There are even synthetic ice curling rinks that you can install in your home. Curling is an excellent opportunity to get your friends or family involved, and over time, you can even find some amateur tournaments to participate shortly.
4. Trying An Unknown Ice Sport
There’s more to ice sports than ice skating, curling, and hockey. With your artificial ice rink, you can explore sports you never heard before.
Try Your Hand at Ringette
Have you ever heard of Ringette? Ringette is a sport made in Canada in the 1960s. It’s similar to hockey in that it has six players and same protective equipment. However, ringette players use a specially designed straight stick and rubber ring.
The sport encourages minimal contact, and players have a 30-second shot clock. The game consists of zones with the offensive zone, which is played three on 3. While popular in Canda and mainly a girl sport, anyone can pick it up and enjoy it. Try Ringette with your kids or invite a few friends over to give it a shot.
Broomball combines hockey with a little soccer for a fun game anyone can enjoy. Six players compete with a stick that has a broom-shaped head and a rubber ball. The goal is to outscore your opponent! A big difference is that broomball players have special shoes with a rubber sole to help with traction. Full broomball games take defense and attack strategies into consideration, like hockey and soccer.
Broomball can get a bit physical like ice hockey and has similar equipment - like helmets and shin pads - for protection. It’s a great way to get friends to use your artificial ice without investing in skates or other expensive equipment.
5. A Homeschooling Tool For Kids
What do homeschooling and artificial ice have in common? It can be a great teaching tool. Homeschooling has picked up some traction over the last decade, with over 2.2 million homeschooled kids today. Expect that number to skyrocket during and after the pandemic.
Homeschooling helps parents incorporate a nice mix of learning styles. This allows kids to outperform others in tests like SATs. Ice hockey or skating could be a great addition to physical education. Invite other homeschooled kids in the area to build relationships and teamwork. This can help your kids develop critical thinking skills, leadership skills, and mental sharpness that can translate to the real world.
Try Some Cool uses for Your Synthetic ice.
If you have a synthetic ice rink, these are some ways you can keep it fresh and exciting. If you’re thinking about artificial ice, know that there are several other uses besides ice hockey and skating. Try it as a way to stay in shape or make some extra cash. The health and financial benefits make it an investment rather than a form of leisure. More importantly, it can be used to bring family and friends together. If you need help choosing, maintaining, or setting up your artificial ice tiles, contact us today.
"So what was it like to appear on shark tank?"...The question I'm asked most often can be answered in one simple word....Incredible! From the day I submitted my email entry to the Shark Tank executive producers until my scheduled air date had to be...no doubt.... one of the shortest and longest years of my life. Longest because throughout the process I couldn't tell anybody and shortest because so much took place during that year it's all a blur but I can tell you it was truly a great experience! After submitting my December, 2015 email and not having heard back from anyone for over four months I honestly forgot all about it. Then the call this entreprenuer's been waiting for came in April, 2016 asking, "So tell me about your synthetic ice panels" and that's when it all began.
Video Submission Deadline
The phone interview lasted all of about fifteen minutes and at the end of the conversation I was told "congratulations you made it to the video submission round." This next step involved producing a five-minute video submission explaining my product in an effort to wow the producers with my story. I had only a few short minutes to tell how PolyGlide Ice became a manufacturer of the best artificial ice on the market. I had only two weeks to complete the production as there were deadlines they were facing on their end. After submitting my video a week later I got another call with saying "Congratulations the producers loved your video and you're being considered for the show" however nothing's ever guaranteed in the television world.
Ice Skating Into "The Tank"
After continuing through with the process I was lucky enough to get my break and get a chance to pitch to the sharks. Once I was assigned a producer I had to create the draft of my first pitch which I thought I nailed until I read it to my shark tank producer. Lets just say my opening sentence was great but it was back to the drawing board for the remainder of the pitch until I got it right. It was obvious the synthetic ice panels were going to provide the visual attraction and having youth hockey players skating into the tank only added to the visual.
Time to Pitch to The Sharks
Fast forward to to August and final preparations are underway involving all the final details right down to the set design and travel arrangements. At this point it's finaly official.....I'm going to pitch to the SHARKS!! (or am I?). The simple fact is even though your given the opportunity to pitch only 40-50% of all Shark Tank pitches ever make it on air. In fact contestants have to wait until just a few weeks before their "air date" to even confirm if they have an air date ...and throughout the process you can tell NO ONE!
Shark Tank Season 8 , Episode 11
My pitch date was set for September 20th, 2016 (season 8, episode 11) and after going through the whole process trust me when I say I was beyond ready. The common question is always "Were you nervous?" and I can honestly say I was much more excited than nervous. As it turned out because of the large synthetic ice set design I was to be the first pitch of the day and the Sharks were wide awake waiting for their first "taste of the day". Once the countdown began there was no turning back 3, 2, 1.....ACTION! All in all the entire pitch lasted about 45 minutes from which was trimmed down to 8-1/2 minutes of non-stop air time. WIth the average 30 second prime commercial costing around $400,000.00 that would put me about 6.8 Million dollars ahead of the game......Deal or no Deal.
Let the Pitch Begin
After my opening pitch things started at a rapid fire pace with the Sharks often talking over each other with their questions. My engineer who traveled with me was in the green room and said it looked like I was watching a tennis match as my head spun on a swivel snapping back and forth addressing the fast pace of the questions. There were many comical moments and smiles that were edited out from the pitch which took on a more serious tone in the final cut but the feedback from the Sharks along with retaining 100% of my company and valuable exposure was much more than I could ever ask for.
In the end I can tell you if you're an entrepreneur that is ready to take the next step and put it all out there.... try out for Shark Tank. Even though I didn't get a deal the experience can be life-changing and can help take your business to the next level. If by chance you don't make it on the show then I recommend you pitch your company to both your friends and strangers whenever you can get the chance. Their feedback will help steer you in the right direction and help you better understand your customers and make the best decisions for your company and product.
By Jim Loughran, PolyGlide Ice
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