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    Synthetic Ice Installation & Maintenance — synthetic ice sheets

    5 Synthetic Ice Installation Tips to Consider

    5 Synthetic Ice Installation Tips to Consider

    Synthetic ice surfaces are no different than any other flooring products with the exception that you can ice skate on it after you've completed your synthteic ice installation. 

    With this I mean that in order to install any typical flooring product 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 a DriCore 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.

    This will also help prevent any buckling or raised edges on your surface by implementing this step before starting your synthetic ice installation.


    Synthetic Ice Installation


    1. Surface 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 synthetic ice installation:

    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 constructing 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.




    Temporary Flooring (Plastic)

    FastDeck – There are many different types of snap-together temporary event surfaces you can consider.

    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.


    Metal Staging


    Staging (Metal)

    Staging – In areas where extra provisions may need to be made (for example: Portable Staging over 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.


    Expansion and Contraction


    2. Expansion and Contraction 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 Boards

    If 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 and should be avoided when planning your synthetic ice installation.

    here 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

    3. 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 will 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.




    4. Exposure

    If 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 Tarp protected 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 create a greenhouse effect underneath the cover by raising the surface temperature.

    This will expand your surface and could present issues for your connections or harbor a safe environment for mold to grow.


    Cleaning Options


    5. Cleaning Options

    Synthetic ice rink maintenance is really no different than many types of flooring or 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

    When 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 before you're able to ascertain how frequently you’ll need to clean your rink depending on the usage or traffic.

    PH Neutral Soap

    With an indoor rink you are limited to the amount of water you can use to clean your surface. 

    To break-up the dirt apply a PH Neutral soap applied with a fine spray mist. 

    Wipe clean with a flat micro-fiber mop until dry and repeat until the surface is clean.


    If 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.


    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!

    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


    Synthetic Ice Rink Pre-Installation Checklist

    Synthetic Ice Rink Pre-Installation Checklist

    In the early days, synthetic ice rink installations were originally used for commercial applications..

    Over the years, the ice moved from only available in large malls and public spaces to homes with custom panels.

    Anyone can now have a synthetic ice rink delivered to their homes for a personal skating experience. 

    This has brought a rise in the installation of synthetic ice rinks throughout residential communities.

    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.


    Polymer Technology


    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, abrasive resistant polymer. 

    There are several synthetic ice manufacturers on the market, but PolyGlide Ice offers both infused High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and/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.


    Perfect Place


    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.


    Installation Tools


    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.


    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!

    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