Synthetic Ice Tiles vs Panels: What's The Difference?
So you're finally ready to take your ice skating to the next level and have decided on purchasing synthetic ice tiles.....or so you thought.
While doing your research you find yourself asking yourself;
"Do I want synthetic ice tiles or panels?"
Well, There are many reasons why people purchase synthetic ice.
Maybe your kids are eager to get in more reps to prepare for the new hockey season.
Perhaps you've got a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, and you're going to make some money with a huge rink.
Whatever the reason, you're probably thinking about synthetic ice.
Synthetic ice is a great way to enjoy skating without natural ice.
A common question we're asked is the difference between our synthetic ice tiles and pro-glide panels.
Each product has its pros and cons.
To get the most out of your purchase, we're going to outline the key differences, uses, and important facts you need to know.
Understanding Synthetic Ice
Before we go further, let's touch a bit on the concept of synthetic ice.
Synthetic ice is made of a durable polyethylene material that's specially designed for skating.
That means you can use your metal figure skates or hockey skates on the tiles or panels.
In the past, it was crazy to think about skating on something that was not real ice.
Today, technology has allowed us to create these interlocking tiles or panels that feel close to the real thing.
Synthetic ice is durable and makes skating accessible to thousands of people.
If you want to learn more about synthetic ice and its uses, read our Expectations vs. Reality blog for a deep dive into the world of synthetics.
Option 1: Tiles
When you head over to our site, you'll have the option of Home Ice Tiles or Pro-Glide Panels.
Home Ice Tiles are our popular product and got a bit of notoriety thanks to our appearance on Shark Tank.
When you order a kit, you receive four equally sized tiles in a convenient box.
The tiles are about 1/4 inch thick and cover 32 square feet when assembled.
This is our lightweight entry product (each weighs about 10 lbs) and can easily be shipped almost anywhere in the world.
Keep in mind that there are several lightweight tile products on the market that have a hollow back and can be only skated on one side.
When reaching out to manufacturers be sure to ask, "Can your synthetic ice tiles be skated on both sides?"
People who opt for our home ice tiles love them for several reasons:
Tiles Are Great For Skills And Drills.
With 32 square feet of tiles per box, you basically get a mini rink with each order.
That's fine because home ice tiles are perfect for skills and drills.
For example, you can set up a space for hockey players to practice slap shots or stickhandling techniques.
If you're a figure skater, you can practice beginner to advanced spins on your tiles.
If you want a space where you can put in countless hours practicing specific skills, this is for you.
With a mallet and just a few minutes, you can have your home ice tiles in a designated space of choice.
With the same speed you put them together, you can take them apart.
Choose this product if you're setting up in a multi-use indoor space like a garage, basement or living room.
We've even seen mini-rinks set up in kitchens!
When you're done, you can store them away until it's time to skate the next day.
You Can Customize Them For Almost Any Space
Do you just have a long corridor to work with?
Are you setting up your rink in a playroom or den?
You can place your panels in a straight line, square or rectanglar shape.
If you purchase multiple boxes of synthetic ice tiles, you have even more flexibility that will allow you to get the most out of almost any space.
They're Easy To Maintain
Large, natural ice rinks require a lot of maintenance.
You'll have to clean and resurface the ice, protect it from rain (if it's outdoors), and buy several different maintenance products.
If you're looking for a hassle-free way to skate, you can go for these tiles.
Even large at-home rinks need minimal maintenance compared to natural ice rinks.
You'll only need mild PH neutral soap mixed with water to clean your panels (with a cloth or dedicated mop).
We also formulated our slip surface conditioner to help maintain a slick surface.
They're Durable Yet Scalable
With just a few clicks, you can add multiple boxes to your order.
As the number increases, you double your square footage.
That makes tiles scalable at an affordable cost.
Remember, these are lightweight, interlocking tiles that are easily movable, customizable, and long-lasting.
On average, our synthetic ice tiles last eight years or more.
If you're planning a larger rink project to install in a dedicated space, your next option is pro-glide panel.
Option 2: Pro-Glide Panels
For the serious ice skater, home ice tiles may not be enough.
And for a space to accommodate lots of skaters, you'll need something much more durable over time.
In this case, our pro-glide panels are the preferred option.
Pro-glide panels are twice as thick as our synthetic ice tiles, and each panel is almost twice as large, meaning fewer interlocking seams.
One panel can weigh between 40 and 80 lbs and must be freight shipped to your location. Keep this in mind when ordering your panels.
PolyGlide synthetic ice tiles and Pro-glide panels come infused with a special lubricant that helps it sustain its performance.
However, you can grab an additional surface conditioner for maintenance purposes.
As you can tell, the clear difference lies in the size, weight, and shipping options.
So why choose pro-glide panels?
You're Looking For A Durable Rink For Hardcore Use.
Some customers want tiles for recreational use or for their kids to practice on the weekends.
Others are hardcore, professional skaters that need the space and durability for training and practice sessions.
These pros need the performance of a professional-grade rink without the hassle of maintaining natural ice.
Furthermore, if you plan to have large groups skating at your home rink (for instance, teammates coming over to practice), you should invest in a more durable option.
You Have Lots Of Space To Play With
Professional grade panels are best if you have a large backyard or space, deck, garage, or barn that you'll be turning into a rink.
The large panels mean fewer interlocking tiles and more seamless surface.
It also means you spend less time installing your rink.
The only caveat is that you'll need more help to construct your rink due to the weight and size of the panels.
Your Budget Is A Bit More Flexible
If you have the space and a larger budget, professional-grade panels are a better choice.
Compared to home ice tiles, you'll get a greater return on your investment over time.
For heavy use, pro panels have the least amount of surface wear and do less damage to your blades.
The larger rink could even start paying you back if you're a coach or influencer.
It's Great For Commercial Spaces
As it starts to get colder, the thoughts of ice skating heat up.
Every year, businesses wishing to capitalize on that interest install large refrigerated rinks leaving small to medium-sized companies behind.
With professional-grade panels, you too can add some value to your business with a large rink.
These panels are great for heavy traffic during the holidays or any special event throughout the year.
Also, unlike outsourcing a company to install and maintain your rink every year, the panels are yours.
That means you can properly care for them and store them, then whip them out every winter.
Plan Your Purchase With These Questions
One thing's for sure; you know you wanted a durable, natural ice replacement for your home or business.
Now you also see the difference between tiles and panels.
With this info, now ask yourself these questions to make an easier decision:
- What am I going to use the rink for?
- How many people need access to the rink?
- Do I have enough space?
- How often would I/they be skating?
- What's my budget?
- Is it going to be a long-term rink or a temporary setup? Where will I store it when it's not in use?
Our product has made leaps and bounds over the years and can now support skaters in different scenarios.
It would be unfortunate if you purchased the wrong type of tile/panel for your space and needs.
Take your time and make the choice that's right for you.
It's a common misconception to hear the term 'synthetic ice' and think they're all created equal.
Remember, when we talk about synthetic ice tiles, think about a lighter, more customizable product that's easy to get to you.
When we use the term 'panel,' we're thinking heavy-duty, large panels that must be freighted to you.
Even with a clear understanding of the difference and what you want, you may still need some help in terms of measurement, accessories, and so on.
If that's the case, feel free to reach out to us, and we'll be happy to help.
What are you going to do with your synthetic ice tiles or panels?....Let us know!
Take a look at some of our most popular rink packages!
PolyGlide Ice - Home Ice Tiles
PolyGlide Ice - Pro-Glide Panels
Keep on Skating!
Jim Loughran, PolyGlide Ice