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    PolyGlide Blog, News & Updates

    How to Decide on what Synthetic Ice Rink to Buy

    How to Decide on what Synthetic Ice Rink to Buy

    ChecklistSo you've finally decided you like the idea of investing in a synthetic ice rink for your hockey player or figure skater so they can enjoy ice skating at home. Then as you start to do your research you quickly become overwhelmed and wonder which way to turn after trying to educate yourself on what is truly the "Best" synthetic ice product available at a reasonable price. 

    When things start to get a little cray it's always best to take a step back and evaluate the reasons why you started your search in the first place. This can help you access what makes the most sense moving forward BEFORE buying your synthetic ice rink.

    your research and take pen to paper to consider these four basic questions that you need to ask yourself before beginning your Home Rink project:

    (Checkout this brief description: What is Synthetic Ice? )

    Who is the Rink for?

    This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself once you begin the process. How would you classify your skater?:

    1. Beginner
    2. Advanced Skater

      Beginner: If your synthetic ice rink is intended for a beginner that wants to learn how to skate, Beginnertrust me when I say you do not need much more than 100 square feet to achieve this goal. The nice thing is there are many options available today that can help you create either a "skating lane" or runway for forward and backward strides or mini-rink shape for cross-overs and turns. The age and/or size of the skater will help you decide on the overall size of your start-up rink

      Advanced SkaterAdvanced Skater: If the rink project is for an advanced skater that you know has already committed a lot of time to work on their skills then you may feel more comfortable investing in a larger rink knowing it will be put to good use. Keep in mind that an advanced skater can also can make great use out of a smaller space

      What is the Purpose of your Rink?

      There are so many applications and reasons to install an artificial ice rink but simply put lets classify them as:

      Recreational Use: If you simply want the easiest skating experience that feels theRecreational most natural when compared to real ice then purchasing an infused surface would be your ideal choice. An infused or “self-lubricating” synthetic ice surface is manufactured with a slip agent additive during the manufacturing process that makes it extra slick and reduces surface friction.

      TrainingTraining: If your skater is focused on trying to become a stronger skater then resistance is a good thing (as many trainers will tell you) and you don't necessarily have to find the product with the lowest coefficient of friction to achieve your goals. You can save yourself a considerable amount of money by going with a non-infused surface and adding a light application of silicone spray that will greatly “speed-up” the surface and reduce friction.

      What Size Should Your Rink Be?

      In today’s Day in age there really is no limit to how big or small you can make your synthetic ice rink project. People looking for a simple gift for a friend or young one can purchase just a few lightweight panels and call it a day. Other folks may be avid skaters and want to go “all-in” with a scaled-down professional looking rink complete with Dasher Boards, Players Benches and Penalty box with scoreboard.

      As with any backyard or home rink project there is literally no end to what you can create with a little bit of know-how and ingenuity! To help you work through this process let’s classify it simply as Small and Large:

      Small (under 300 SF): Considering an average 1-car garage measures around Small12ft x 22 ft. a standard 12’ X 20’ rink layout would maximize this space. If you rink is for a young skater to learn the basic skills of ice skating and hockey this is Plenty of space. USA Hockey has trumpeted the Small Games approach for many years now as a great way to repeat the fundamentals in a small confined space. Stride, crossover, turn, pivot and shoot!.....repeat!….repeat!….repeat!!

      With figure skaters this is enough space to work on jumps and spins, two of the most important fundamentals of any routine! You DON’T need a lot of space to exercise the fundamentals of either of these sports!

      When choosing a panel size for a small rink layout you have many options to consider for indoor rink projects. Thinner, smaller synthetic ice tiles are lightweight and portable and can be easily stored away. If your small rink is outdoors then a heavier ½” thick panel would be recommended in regions with large temperature swings from night to day.

      Large RinkLarge (Over 300 SF): If you've allocated a large dedicated space for your rink (over 300 SF) you may want to opt for larger panels with less seams over your rink layout. If you’re planning a larger budget for a dedicated space then it makes no sense to use a small skating tile that will “pepper” your rink with seams that will accumulate dirt and be a challenge to keep clean.

      Connection Types and Panel Sizes:

       If you prefer a quicker connection method then the "dovetail" profile will help Dovetailmake your project a quicker one. If your space is for multi-purpose use and not just dedicated for the rink then it would be wise to choose a lighter, more portable panel for easy set-up and breakdown so the space can be quickly utilized for other things when not in use.

      Tongue and GrooveWIth a dedicated space you would want to consider a larger panel that will have less connections and overall seams on your synthetic ice surface. If you're not pressed for time with the installation of your rink you could entertain a spline or "tongue and groove" connection method that takes a little longer and involves multiple parts.

      What is Your Budget?

      No doubt, this one is the overall Bottom Line! Be sure to limit yourself to what you can afford BEFORE getting your synthetic ice project started. This is the ultimate reality check in deciding what truly makes sense and will address all your needs without making you broke.BudgetThe good news is that there are now lightweight panels available on the market that can help you “Grow your Rink” along with your budget. If your rink project is for a young “learn to Skate” beginner you can simply set-up a small space for them to start taking Baby Steps that will soon turn into strides!


      For additional information or to request a quote simply Click Here

      By Jim Loughran, PolyGlide Ice

      Where Can Synthetic Ice Be Installed?

      Where Can Synthetic Ice Be Installed?

      Synthetic ice surfaces are no different than any other flooring products with the exception that you can ice skate on it. With this I mean that in order to install any typical flooring products such as ceramic tiles, hardwood flooring, flooring laminates or linoleum you must have a firm and flat sub-floor. This will help insure that your synthetic ice panels lay flat and the connections are virtually seamless.

      Be sure to thoroughly clean your sub-surface area free of debris before installing your synthetic ice panels. If you plan on installing your ice on concrete flooring be sure to check for flatness first with a straight edge. Remember that concrete is not a manufactured sub-surface and any sudden dip or deviation can cause your panels to lift or “bounce”.

      Should you have any issues with your concrete one easy solution is to lay down aDriCore plywood underlayment to even out the sloping before installing your synthetic ice. First test out the area by installing a few panels to check for flatness. If you are installing a larger outdoor surface that will be exposed to the elements a polymer tarp or underlayment can help with expansion and prevent any raised panels or edges.

      Expansion Provisions

      Much the same way flooring laminates require a gap around the perimeter synthetic ice must also be treated in the same a "floating floor" that is allowed to expand and contract with temperature changes. To do this a slight gap must be made around the perimeter or outside edge of your rink. Mechanical fasteners are NOT to be used to secure your ice in place as this will prevent expansion and contraction and stress out your surface. Making these provisions will help lessen stress on the surface especially on outdoor rinks in cold climate areas with large temperature "swings" between the night and day.

      Dasher BoardsIf you plan to install a Dasher Board System with your new rink it is advised not to install it on top of your surface as this could also restrict expansion. Over the lifetime of the rink you may develop stress fractures by using this method. There are many ways to create an expansion gap below the perimeter kickplate that creates a space for expansion and is virtually invisible.

      Taking the time to “Pre-Plan” before beginning your rink project will pay off in the long term and help avoid unnecessary issues that otherwise may occur. Be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions and ask questions if you’re not sure what is the best way to install your rink.

      Preventive Maintenance

      As with any outdoor backyard product preventive maintenace plays an importanant role in the longevity and upkeep of your synthteic ice rink. Sometimes season care is required for outdoor rinks depending on where you live and your surroundings.

      Extreme Weather

      One of the biggest enemies of synthetic ice is REAL ICE. During extreme cold weather freezing of the surface from ice build-up must be prevented. A frozen rink will not be able to expand when temperatures rise which can stress-out the surface and can cause stress cracks over time if provisions are not made.

      If the weather report calls for a heavy ice or snow storm when you know you willstormy weather not be using your outdoor rink, it would be wise to cover or tarp your surface. Maintaining your rink over the long term, keeping it clean and allowing it to “breath” will insure it will maintain optimal glide and performance for many years to come.


      falling leavesIf you live in a region that is seasonal and have a rink that will be exposed to falling leaves this is the ideal time to keep your surface covered when not in use. Also, areas that may be exposed to sand or dust storms during different times of the year. A common sense approach with preventive maintenance will go a long way to keeping your rink in top shape while in use.

      Tarp Options

      When selected a tarp to cover your outdoor rink be sure to get one that is Poly Tarpprotected from the UV sunlight. Also, you will want to opt for a light color or white tarp to help reflect the sun. Dark colored tarps will attract sunlight and heat-up your surface that could present issues for your connections.

      Quick Outdoor Solutions

      Synthetic ice rinks can be installed virtually anywhere, anyplace at anytime and because of the cost of refrigerated natural ice, it truly is the ultimate Green product substitute and the next best thing. That being said, we included a quick few ideas here on how you can prep any outdoor space for your ice. Here’s a few quick outdoor solutions that will provide an adequate sub-floor for your rink project or event:

      Shed Deck (wood)

      Shed Deck - If you are considering installing your synthetic ice rink on grass or a slightly uneven surface you will need to install a sub-floor FIRST to make sure the subsurface is flat enough to support your rink. A simple way to achieve this is by shed deckconstructing a "shed deck" by using exterior grade plywood on top of pressure-treated stringers. Using manufactured pressure-treated sheeting or similar flat materials will provide a good base for your rink surface.

      FastDeck Temporary Flooring (Polymer Plastic)

      FastDeck There are many different types of snap-together temporary eventFastDeck flooring. FastDeck temporary flooring has many applications, is strong yet still lightweight and easy to store. These polymer panels easily snap together with no need for tools or trained labor of any kind and can quickly be dissembled.

      Staging (Metal)

      Staging – In areas where extra provisions may need to be made ( for example: Portable Stagingover a swimming pool or open space) an aluminum or steel frame staging structure may the best solution. Of the three options this is clearly the most costly but may certainly makes sense if your rink project will be for an extended period of time not short term.

      Cleaning Options

      Synthetic ice rink maintenance is really no different than many types of hardwood surfaces. The main difference is the surface is white and dirt becomes more apparent over a shorter period of time. Here’s three basic cleaning methods and applications you may want to consider:

      Hose Spray

      hose sprayWhen you start to see your panel connections (dovetail or tongue and groove) become more visible or pronounced, it’s probably time to hose it down. Don’t wait too long because it will only make the job that much more difficult. It won’t be long to your able ascertain how frequently you’ll need to clean.

      PH Neutral Soap

      With an indoor rink you are limited to the amount of water you can use to clean Simple Greenyour surface. To break-up the dirt apply a PH Neutral soap applied with a spray mist. Wipe clean with a flat micro-fiber mop until dry and repeat until the surface is clean.


      power washerIf you're guilty of neglecting your outdoor rink for a prolonged period of time and are in need of some immediate help, then power-washing is a perfectly fine option. Using a power washer is a great way to clean-up your rink "grout lines" at the connections and make your surface look new again. It's always a good idea to scrub-down your rink first to loosten the dirt before you start to powere-wash.

      Plan for Success

      A little pre-installation planning will help make your rink project a successful one. Take out the time to consider all the costs and factors to make sure you limit the amount of potential issues that may arise before getting started. The main thing is to be sure not to rush your installation, just follow these few simple guidelines and you’ll be happy you went the extra mile once you see your rink up and running!

      Pass the Ice and Turn Up the Heat

      cold weather hockey

      With the recent arctic cold snap needless to say there were a lot of cautious parents  out there worried about their kids getting frostbite after spending 15 minutes in the sub-arctic temperature. Though the conditions may have been ideal for ice-making skin exposure became a real issue for even the most purest of hockey players. With temperatures reaching dangerous levels needless to say staying indoors quickly became a priority. You know it's really getting crazy when northern Florida starts getting snow flurries and driving conditions throughout the USA became a total mess from coast to coast.

      Turn up the heat

      Creating a home ice skating rink indoors was never much of an option In the old days but
      not anymore. Today's modern day synthetic ice offers a viable solution to those who prefer to leave the wind chill where it belongs…. Outside! It's also a great way to keep the sniffles away by working out in a controlled environment. Hockey players and figure skaters have been taking advantage of this new-age product more more with each passing season as the quality has improved dramatically over the years. 

      Car Time Share

      Garage synthetic ice rinks have been popping up throughout the US as an ideal space that can be utilized for an indoor rink. A typical single garage area measures roughly 12' x 20' and allows plenty of room for skaters to pivot and turn and work on their inside and outside edges. For figure skaters it's a great place to work on their spins and skating routine. Hockey players have enough space to hone their deking and stick-handling skills along with strengthening their stride.

      Put the hose Away

      The thought of not having to worry about your hose freezing up for once is one of the
      many advantages to owning your own synthetic ice rink. Those who reside in warm climate areas can have a little bit of Canada in their backyard which will only continue to help grow the game of hockey in areas where it's not quite as popular. Figure skaters could take lessons at home on their own time without having to run back-and-forth to the rink.

      Practical Ice Solutions

      I think if we could all paint the perfect picture we would all own a natural ice rink in our backyard under ideal weather conditions year-round but it ain't gonna happen. The fact is there are now other options that make perfect sense and can achieve the same results in the comfort of your own home. We no longer have to be prisoners of the ice arena in deciding when or where our next ice session will be. The fact is It's easier now more than ever to bring the rink home!

      The 7 Ways a Synthetic Ice Rink Can Save You Money

      The 7 Ways a Synthetic Ice Rink Can Save You Money

      It’s important to weigh the cost factors when contemplating the purchase of a synthetic ice rink. Most importantly are the cost savings you may be affording yourself depending on the purpose of your rink or who it’s for.

      We put together a list of seven items that you may want to incorporate into your checklist when trying to access the true value of your new rink. It’s easy to just compare price tags of certain products when shopping but buyers need to be aware of those that come with a cost savings……synthetic ice is one of those products.

      1 – Travel

      travel to the ice rink

      There’s no doubt that the number one reason people consider purchasing a synthetic ice rink is to save on travel. We all know the typical costs associated with travel including fuel, tolls, bus, train, maintenance and repairs that all add-up with each mile traveled.

      We found out recently that the “typical” drive to the rink for most parents was not quite what we had originally expected. To try to get an idea of just how much the average hockey player and skater family travels to the rink weekly, monthly and annually, we posed the following question to our facebook followers:

      How Far Do You Travel Back-And-Forth to the Rink Every Week, Month and Year on the Average?

      Here’s a few Responses that do a Good Job at Summing it up:

      • Dana C.: We have three (not so) local rinks; one is 36 minutes to the East, one is 40 minutes West, and the third is 44 minutes West. At least that's what map-quest will tell you. But like Sammy Hagar, I can't drive 55. (but I do now because I got a ticket last week). I've got 2 boys, 5 teams, practices and clinics. Average 5/6 days a week driving to at least one rink. Saturdays can be all three. Since Star Trek transporters aren't available, PolyGlide could be a real help to our fuel economy as well as the boys' game.
      • Jennifer C.: Two kids. Two different rinks, sometimes on the same day 40 mins apart. So, drop one off, drop the other off, go back and pick up 1, then get two. Those days, probably 70 miles. The other days, 30 miles roundtrip for practice, 80-120 miles roundtrip for games. Average 5-7 days at the rinks. I *use* to get the low mileage discount on my insurance lol
      • Andrea R.: 220 to 420 miles a week depending on which team (my daughter plays on all girls league and the co-ed team). For an 8-month season it's between 880-1680 miles a month, 7,040-13,440 miles a season of travel. During the summer months we do dry land on rollerblades since our town only have ice Oct thru May.

      Cost Assessment

      empty pocket budget

      So now ask yourself the same question and see if you can estimate how many miles you plan on traveling to the rink between now and next year. At the time of this writing, the one-year cost estimator for a gallon of gas is $2.89 USD.

      So, in estimating our three responses above using 8 months per season and 20 mpg as the average, the breakdown would show that Dana C. would take home the Gold Medal for stops at the gas pump:

      • Dana C, 800 gallons $2,984
      • Jennifer C., 592 gallons $2,208
      • Andrea R., 512 gallons $1,910

      Once you’re able to see how much you’ve been spending on travel you can get a better idea on how you can trim it back by creating your own home training rink.

      2 – Time

      wasted time spent traveling to the rink

      How do you value your time? Unlike materialistic things, time is something we never get back though we sure know how to throw it away. It is something we cherish, and it passes WAY too fast. Though travel may be the most popular reason people consider purchasing a synthetic ice rink, it’s the travel time that can wear us down and is lost forever.

      Players and Skaters

      For players and skaters, by training at home they can eliminate some of that extra travel and afford themselves more time for other things. More time for homework, chores, games and just plain fun with that time usually spent on the road traveling to the rink. Maybe even more time for an early family dinner and getting to bed at a decent hour and a good night’s sleep.


      Walter Gretzky, Father of the “Great One” Wayne Gretzky once said:

      Everyone wonders why I made the rink in the backyard. I used to go to the outdoor rinks when winters were a lot colder years ago. Everybody had an outdoor rink, the Parks and everybody. I used to sit in the car while Wayne was skating. I remember one night I came home to my wife and said, “This is so stupid, I go to these outdoor rinks and freeze to death night after night…you know what I’m going to do?.…I’ll make a rink in the backyard he’ll go when he wants as long as he wants….I’ll be in the house where it’s nice and warm.” …It truly, truly was self-preservation but it worked-out pretty good!

      For parents, not having to rush home to get your child to practice can allow yourself more time to be productive at work or with your own business which itself can translate into additional revenue. Having just a few extra hours each week to address your business or personal needs adds up and helps make life a little easier even if it’s just to kick back, relax and stay warm.

      Analyze your schedule and see how you can trim back your trips to the rink by having your player or skater train at home. Attached a value to your time per hour saved and challenge yourself to come up with an annual plan. You will be astonished when you find out just how much time you have been wasting and how much you can start to save.

      3 – Lessons

      coaches whistle

      Let’s face it, everyone wants to be the next “Great One” or “Alina Zagitova” and will take endless lessons and training to try to get there. The need to build a solid foundation by learning the fundamentals are critical for any player or skater’s development and taking lessons from an accomplished Coach will lead them on the right path.  Just as important is the child’s need to develop on their own to keep it fun and enjoyable enough to want to get better.

      By allowing a child more time to develop and love the sport they follow on their own will only nurture their desire to want to get better. As mentioned previously, the worlds most accomplished Ice Hockey Player of all time started learning the game on his own backyard rink. Give your child the time and space to try out new moves or jumps on their own without being on a clock, watched or judged. When training in their own home environment you will quickly see how dedicated they are to their sport.

      The overall need for additional lessons once the skill sets have been taught will become fewer and fewer as the athlete progresses. Some Coaches may offer home lessons if they know you have your own home rink and may actually charge you less as they don’t have to pay an additional fee to the rink for the ice time. Any cost savings associated with self-teaching at home will put more money in the pocket of the parent that utilizes home training to their child’s advantage.

      4 – Camps & Clinics

      camps and clinics

      As with lessons, Camps and Clinics are organized group lessons that can be both a huge help and at the same time a detriment if not implemented properly. Sad to say, some facilities will run camps and clinics just to fill the open ice to bring in additional revenue for the rink so be sure to make sure it’s an established program with a history. There is a Social element that comes with attending camps as sometimes a child may want to attend for recreation, team building or because a friend may be going which is understandable.

      The price tag for some camps and clinics can be quite costly and would provide a huge savings to anyone owning their own home rink. For the purpose of player development, it always will be the amount of time they practice on a weekly basis that will beat out any short-term camp or clinic. Many portable home rink packages can be purchased for the same price as sleep-away summer camp and will provide a year-round “endless summer” of ice for any skating athlete.

      5 – Off-Ice Training

      hockey gear for off ice training

      Another great thing about owning your own synthetic ice rink is that it can be utilized as a multi-purpose surface unlike natural ice. If a player or skater wants to just come home and work on their shot or spins without lacing-up it’s an added luxury to have with a synthetic ice surface. They can create their own personal off-ice training program to address their specific needs.

      Off-Ice training has grown tremendously in popularity in recent years with the advancement of synthetic ice surfaces as facilities continue to pop-up throughout the USA and Canada. Having your own home training center is like having your own “ice gym” that you can utilize anytime you want without relying on group workout schedules or ice time.

      By creating your own “Home Ice Gym you are just one step ahead of the competition when it comes to strength and conditioning. It does not require a lot of space to get in your edgework and drills. Think of your new synthetic ice rink as your own private training center less the annual membership fee.

      6 – Value

      price and value of synthetic ice

      One thing that many customers don’t realize is that synthetic ice is a unique product that retains its value over the lifetime of the surface and can easily be resold as “Used” if maintained properly. In fact, many rink surfaces are re-sold at more than 50% the original cost allowing customers to recoup a good part of their original investment without losing much value.

      When combined with many of the other cost-saving characteristics synthetic ice offers, depending on the overall size of the rink, the surface may well eventually pay for itself. Be sure to properly maintain and keep your rink in good shape in case one day down the road you decide to cash-in on your investment. Save the receipts from your original purchase along with warranty information.

      7 – Long Lasting


      Synthetic ice is a Green” product in every sense of the word. As opposed to traditional ice facilities that burn hundreds of thousands of dollars on electricity for refrigeration systems and compressors, synthetic ice burns zero fossil fuels. You will never have to worry about your electric bill after purchasing a synthetic ice rink. Because of the durability of the polymer plastic it has quite a long-life expectancy outside of just surface scratches from ice skating.

      It is also portable and re-usable year after year without the need for liners or leveling. No special boards, accessories or pins are required for the PolyGlide Synthetic Ice one-piece interlocking system that can be assembled and disassembled in a short period of time. There’s also a lot less labor involved as compared to traditional rink systems and natural ice rink liner systems that depend on additional accessories, leveling and Mother Nature for ice.

      Start Saving

      As you can see with synthetic ice there are many ways you can efficiently reap the rewards from your investment. Consider all the ways you can utilize a home synthetic ice rink to improve as a player and skater in the comfort of your own home without relying on your local rink for ice time.

      Look at the big picture and soon you’ll understand there’s no reason why you can’t better your skill sets and save money at the same time. When you lay out just where you’ve been spending your time and money it starts to make sense that purchasing a synthetic ice rink for the home can be a great overall investment and asset.

      DIY Backyard Ice Rink Project

      DIY Backyard Ice Rink Project


      Do it yourself backyard rink AWhat kid wouldn't want a little bit of Canada in their backyard in the shape of their own personal Backyard rink? This is the ultimate backyard DIY project for any parent that can be shared by the whole family and enjoyed by all. It will also automatically put you on the list for "Parent of the Year" along with "Parent of the Neighborhood" for years to come along with "Super Cool Parent" status. If these acknowledgements are way too much to pass up there are things you need to consider before pulling the trigger.

      Climate Factors

      If you live North of the USbackyard rink cost border you actually have a shot at an opportunity for some thick ice for a few months out of the year should mother nature decide to smile on your rink building dreams. Heading South into the States the ice time duration starts to melt depending on which way the wind blows from January through February. As you head South of Route 80 synthetic ice starts to become a primary consideration as the actual duration of substained ice seriously starts to dwindle. The rink building project itself may take longer than the lifespan of the rink which you may wind up branding as a one-day "Winter Classic". Traveling further South becomes a polymer paradise for Artificial Ice as the only option unless your prefer to mortgage the house for an ice compressor, piping and brine along with 100 hours of labor (forget it).

      Staying under Budget

      After confriming your geographical location and referencing the Farmers Almanac start to price-out what the costs are associated with starting your rink project. Ask yourself the following questions before beginning your project:

      • 1 - Consider the size, age and sport of your skater(s) as smaller skaters just starting out really only need enough space to perform a figure eight to work both their inside and outside skate edes. Consider going a little bigger for more than one skater or to allow for stickhandling for hockey players or jumps for figure skaters.
      • 2 - Assess how much dedicated space (SF) you have for your outdoor (or indoor for synthetic ice) rink. Using the total dimensions draft a list of materials you'll need (heavy mill plastic liner, wood framework and supports for natural) to complete your rink project. If synthteic ice is your best or only option you may want to choose a solid core panel that will withstand the outdoor temperatures over time.
      • 3 - Consider starting small and growing your rink as your skater grows and continues to show an interest in their sport which will help keep your start-up cost to a minimum.

      Make it a Team Rink Project

      family team rink projectThink about making your backyard rink a team project  and enlist the help of family members and friends as volunteers that would surely enjoy lacing-up and skating on your rink. If your constructions costs exceed your budget perhaps other team mates and their families would help you raise the necessary funds to complete your rink project if all will benefit. The skating community be it hockey or figure skating are dedicated to their related sports and can be quite creative when it comes to fundraising ideas to make any rink build project a reality!



      By Jim Loughran, PolyGlide Ice



      How do I know what synthetic ice panel to buy?