Synthetic ice tiles are a great way to bring the "ice" to your garage, deck, driveway, or backyard.
Nothing feels better than putting on a pair of skates and hitting the ice whenever you want to.
Just ask any figure skater, budding hockey player, or professional athlete if they would like to have their own home rink.... I think you know what the answer would be.
Skating enthusiasts look forward to heading to the local ice arena or outdoor rinks each season.
Based on the blogs and YouTube videos around, it's easy to build up some ideas around skating on a different surface.
We're here to address some of those expectations and give you the reality.
But before we do...
What are synthetic ice tiles?
Known simply as “synthetic ice”, these tiles are a special polymer that can be set up to create your own synthetic ice surface.
They are infused with a slip agent that provides maximum glide and lowers the surface coefficient of friction.
Some persons use the tiles to cover a strip or just a few square feet.
As we said during our pitch on ABC's Shark Tank:
"You don't need a lot of space to train at home, maybe 100 square feet..." - Jim Loughran, PolyGlide Ice
Others create a rink for some serious skating action.
The tiles easily interlock to cover a small or large surface area.
This gives your mites a place to practice, or, if you feel like taking up a new hobby, now's your chance.
Here are some common expectations that come with these artificial tiles.
1. Expectation: Synthetic Ice Tiles are Expensive
We get it, synthetic ice tiles can bring a bit of sticker shock.
Setting up a large space or your own rink can add up.
Like any type of flooring worth its mustard, synthetic ice tiles are manufactured using a high-quality polymer material.
They can even be customized to fit any size dimension depending on your needs.
However, that could still leave you with some reservations.
Reality: An amazing Return On Investment (ROI) in more ways than one.
You won't have to get ready, jump in the car, and drive for an hour to the nearest rink just to practice and hone your skills.
You can jump on your home rink and start skating immediately.
Say goodbye to rink fees by playing and practicing at home.
And in a potentially rocky economy, you can also save on coaching classes and lessons or go virtual with your instructor.
Practicing on natural ice is great, however, you, your family or even hockey teams can still get the extra practice year all season long with synthteic ice tiles.
During these uncertain times, a synthetic ice surface allows you or your family to skate without the risk of your rink being closed....for whatever reason.
You can still get the best experience while staying safely inside or in your driveway.
2. Expectation: It's Hard to Install
When someone hears the comparison between artificial ice panels and laminate flooring - at least in terms of installation - some concerns come to mind.
Most of us would leave that to the professionals.
Since the synthetic tiles need to be “installed” it's easy to expect that you'll special tools and skills to get everything ready.
The costs may even rack up more by calling in a pro to help.
Reality: Synthetic ice tiles are a smooth setup
These panels are about as easy to put together like a kid's puzzle.
All you need are two capable pairs of hands and a bit of imagination.
The imagination part comes in when you decide where to set up your artificial ice surface.
It could be a driveway, deck, spare room, basement, garage, or backyard.
Some persons even decide on a full-scale rink in their quest for the perfect surface.
After your imagination has run wild, installing is as easy as measuring your space and linking the tiles together across the entire surface.
If the floor that you're using is uneven, a subflooring made of plywood will help create the ideal flat surface.
It does not have to be a perfectly level surface....the key here is "flatness".
You can set up a smaller surface in minutes and is quite and easy DIT project.
A larger synthetic ice skating surface could take up to a couple of hours depending on the size of the overall space.
Of course, there's no one stopping you from getting some help for a big project.
But where's the fun in that?
3. Expectation: It's just for kids
For most, synthetic ice panels sound like a backyard activity for kids.
Kids will get the most use and fun out of them playing hockey or practicing ice-skating routines.
The expectation is that there will be little use for adults or even professionals in ice disciplines.
They will need the real thing!
Reality: The tiles are for any level
While most persons who buy panels get them for kids, anyone can benefit from synthetic ice.
Yes, a synthetic ice rink surface helps kids at all hockey and ice skating levels.
But adults at all levels can also enjoy at-home skating.
In fact, professional athletes rely on synthetic ice panels in their homes to practice in the offseason.
Synthetic tiles are not only a way for kids to have fun.
They are a powerful training tool in the absence of real ice.
4. Expectation: It's just skating on plastic
If you've never skated on an artificial surface before, it's easy to think that it will be a low-quality experience.
You may be managing your expectations, believing you'll be underwhelmed and it just won't be the same.
If you or your family have skated on a synthetic surface before, you may compare that experience to all surfaces.
Reality: You get an amazing skating experience
Not all synthetic ice tiles are created the same and shouldn't be evaluated by cost per square foot.
Some artificial surfaces are created with skaters of all disciplines in mind.
For instance, our tiles are made of a synthetic polymer that's perfect for different intensity levels and longterm use.
Both materials have a smooth feel when skating, with a 10% attenuation compared to ice.
That "positive friction" can even be a good thing, as it can make you a stronger, faster skater.
Our PolyGlide Ice Home tiles are actually self-lubricating which reduces the surface coefficient of friction
Of course, you need to take into consideration the type of skating.
Figure staking will require a heavier, thicker panel to perform spins and jumps.
We will be the first to agree that nothing beats the feeling of skating on ice.
But with continued advancements in synthetic ice technology, that gap is getting smaller.
5. Expectation: It won't last long.
Looking at the pictures online, it's natural to assume these “plastic” panels will end up in the trash before long.
You may even believe that sharp skate blades will cut and damage the panels.
Light surface shavings are expected but a reputable tile will allow minimal damage and infused technology provides an ice-like surface with a natural ice feel.
Reality: The tiles are built to last
Synthetic Ice tiles are made to stand up to intense skating for years to come.
Technology has not only improved the skating experience but the durability as well.
There are large synthetic ice rinks that handle hundreds of users each month, and they perform in year five just as well as they did in year one.
It's important to choose high-quality tiles than can stand up to skating with minimal shavings.
Tiles do need maintenance like their natural ice counterparts but with a lot less effort.
A soft brush with some soap or simple washcloth can go a long way to keeping your rink clean.
6. Expectation: It's fun to skate on
You decided to invest in artificial tiles to have a great time after all! Whether you'll be learning to skate, practicing your moves, or watching your squirts build your skills, it's for everyone to enjoy.
The longterm expectation is that you'll be happy to just get some skating in, whenever you want.
Reality: You have no idea!
Ice skating, in its different forms, brings out a rush unlike any other. So there will benothing better than putting on your skates and heading outside to your own space.
It never gets old.
You and your friends or family will enjoy competing, training, making up games, and setting up drills.
An artificial space can bring neighbors closer together.
Anyone with synthetic ice tiles will agree, it’s an amazing experience.
Just remember to take a break!
7. Expectation: You Can't Stop the Same as Natural Ice
This is most definitely the biggest misnomer of all those those out there who are unfamiliar with synthetic ice.
The belief is that you can't stop the same as natural ice and most people say:
"Won't you just dig into the plastic or fall over?"
People also wonder "How do you do a Hockey Stop?"
Reality: Easier than You Think!
The fact is that synthetic ice plastic is made of a high scratch-resistant polymer plastic combined with an infused slip agent that gives it the glide.
When a skater builds up momentum they simply "skim" across the surface when skating into a stop much the same way a snow boarder slides along a glide rail.
Choosing your synthetic ice panels opens up a host of questions.
These questions can also create some expectations before and after the buying process.
The reality is, an artificial space or rink to skate has wonderful benefits:
- You get a product that simulates the skating experience.
- Skating that gets better with time.
- A long-lasting durable polymer, that's easy to maintain.
- Synthetic ice saves skaters both time and money.
It's the reason why high-performance athletes rely on synthetic ice tiles to train all year.
So if you're looking for a new home project, choosing skating as a new hobby, or just need a way to keep up your kids' training regimen during the off-season, synthetic ice tiles are an excellent choice.