Synthetic Ice Tiles: Expectations vs. Reality
Nothing feels better than putting on a pair of skates and hitting the ice. Just ask any figure skater, budding hockey player, or professional athlete. Skating enthusiasts look forward to heading to the local rink, or team practice every week. But with social distancing rules in effect, and some locations around the country yet to open, skaters need to find an alternative. Synthetic ice tiles are a great way to bring the “ice” to your garage, deck, driveway, or backyard.
If you’ve been thinking about getting synthetic ice tiles, you’ve probably done some research. 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 skating surface. Some persons use the tiles to cover a strip or just a few square feet. 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 during quarantine, now’s your chance.
Here are some common expectations that come with these artificial tiles.
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 use high-quality material. They can even be customized to your needs. Luckily, PolyGlide Ice has starter kits that are easy to set up and skate on in minutes. However, that could still leave you with some reservations.
Reality: An amazing Return On Investment (ROI) in more ways than one.
Without a doubt, Purchasing the tiles and additional setup equipment is a solid investment. Yet, the returns over time are substantial. First, think about the time-saving benefits. You won’t have to get ready, jump in the car, and drive for an hour to the nearest rink. Everyone can head to the dedicated space and start skating immediately.
Some rinks may have a cost attached that can be removed playing and practicing at home. And in a potentially rocky economy, you can save on coaching or classes by practicing at home. Practicing on ice is great. However, you or your family can still get the reps all year without breaking the bank.
Finally, you can’t put a price on safety. During these uncertain times, an artificial surface allows you or your family to skate without the pandemic risk. You can still get the best experience while staying safely inside or in your driveway.
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 things up. It could be a driveway, deck, spare room, basement, garage, or backyard. Some persons even decide on a full-scale rink!
After your imagination has run wild, installing is as easy as measuring your space and linking the tiles together. If the floor that you’re using is uneven, a subflooring made of plywood can easily make up for the bumps. Installation should take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours depending on the size of the space. Of course, there’s no one stopping you from getting some help for a big project. But where’s the fun in that?
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 space helps kids at all hockey and ice skating levels. But adults at all levels can 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.
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. 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 10-15% attenuation compared to ice. That friction can even be a good thing, as it can make you a stronger, faster skater.
Some tiles are actually self-lubricating, meaning that the skating experience gets better with use. 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 skates on ice. But with continued advancements in synthetic ice technology, that gap is getting smaller.
Expectation: It’s “plastic.” So 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 ice skates will cut and damage the panels. Shavings are expected but a reputable tile will allow minimal damage and infused technology to make skating feel natural and long-lasting.
Reality: The tiles are built to last
Synthetic Ice tiles are made to stand up to intense skating for years to come. In fact, some panels have a 15-year warranty and can last well beyond that timeframe.
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.
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 be nothing 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!
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 need a way to keep up your kids’ training regimen during the pandemic, synthetic ice panels are an excellent choice.
Don’t hesitate to speak with us so we can help you have a great at-home skating experience.