Learning how to build a
ice rink can be an excellent project for the entire family. The time
and effort planning, and actually building the ice rink can create
fond memories that can last a lifetime. Learning how to build a
rink, when compared to other forms of
entertainment, is relatively inexpensive considering the potential
number of hours it could be used. Having an ice rink in your
backyard also provides a safer, more family friendly environment for
the children; you know where they are and who they are with.
Finally, in addition to all of these positive aspects of learning
how to build a backyard ice rink – it is a fun thing to do!
Backyard Ice Rink Equipment,
Supplies and Requirements
As you begin to plan for
the materials and equipment you’ll need to build your backyard ice rink,
it is important to realize
that you have options. There is more than one way to build an ice
rink in your backyard, although the basic concepts will remain the same. We have
compiled a potential list of equipment, materials, and requirements
to help you as you learn how to build and maintain a backyard ice rink.
1. Power Drill 2. Screwdriver 3. Hammer 4. Sledge Hammer 5. Tape
Measure 6. Rake 7. Snow Shovel 8. Broom. Material: 1. String
2. Boards 3. Stakes (metal or wood) 4. Screws 5. Nails 6. Tarp or
Polyethylene Plastic Rolls 7. Water Source
The first requirement
for building an ice rink in your backyard is to live in a climate where it stays cold
<0 to ~30 degrees Fahrenheit for several weeks at a time.
Based on the temperature alone, a large part of the world is not
conducive for building an outdoor ice rink. Assuming that the
temperatures are right, the next requirement to consider is the
surface. In order to build an ice rink, the surface you intend on
using must be near level. If the surface is not level, steps should
be taken to make it as level as possible.
How to Build a Backyard Ice Rink
Step by Step
1. Determine exactly
where your backyard ice rink will be built, and prepare the ground surface in
that area. Preparations may include raking, digging up rocks,
leveling small sink holes, and removing anything that could possible
puncture the ice rink liner.
2. Cordon off the area
you intend to use for the ice rink with string or any other simple
method to establish the dimensions of the ice rink. Take
measurements of the dimensions and develop a list of the specific
3. Once you’ve purchase
the material, start laying down the boards around perimeter. Once
the boards are in place, turn them up on their edge and fasten them
together. The boards should be at least 8” high, or higher to
compensate for leveling. You have options regarding how you fasten
them. One option is to use smaller boards, fastened to the outside
of the perimeter boards. On the corners, use nails or screws to hold
them in place. You will also drive a stake in the ground every few
feet around the entire perimeter to support the boards as they hold
back the water. Please note that once your backyard ice rink is in place,
these stakes should be leveled to the same height or lower than the
boards supporting the ice rink.
4. Once your perimeter
is built and the ground surface is level, and free from
obstructions, the next step is to lay down the tarp or plastic
liner. Do not lay your tarp or plastic down until you are ready to
start filling it with water. Make sure the liner is void of wrinkles
and extends a foot or two beyond the perimeter of your backyard ice rink. You
have options regarding how you fasten the liner. If it is a tarp,
you can use the grommets to fasten it down. If it is a plastic
liner, you can use a stapler or small nails. Either way, once the
liner is in place it should be secured. As you begin filling the ice
rink with water, keep an eye on the liner to make sure it stays in
place. If it pulls in, you may have to refasten it (this is why you
overlap a foot or two).
5. The last major step
is filling your backyard ice rink with water; here you have options as well.
You can run the water a few hours each day, or let it run
continually until it is full. Either way, as mentioned, make sure
the temperature is well below freezing, and will stay consistently
low for a period of time. Fill the ice rink up to at least two
inches of water or more if desired, but keep in mind that once the
water freezes it will expand upward to some degree. It may take two
or more days for the water to completely freeze depending on the
6. Lastly there are a
few other factors you might consider once your backyard ice rink is built.
First, if you know you are going to want to skate at night, some
lighting will be required. You will either need to install some
lights or build the ice rink near an area where lights already
exist. Second, if you want the ability to play hockey you’ll have to
purchase or build a hockey goal. If you include a hockey goal, you
may also want to consider installing some type of fence to help keep
the puck in the rink.
Backyard Ice Rink Maintenance
In order to
significantly extend the useful life of your backyard ice rink, and maintain
a quality surface, your ice rink will require some relatively minor
maintenance. Because your ice rink is outdoors in the elements, you
will require maintenance beyond re-smoothing the surface to fill in
any cracks or deep grooves caused by the ice skate’s blade. You may
also have to shovel off snow, leaves, and any other debris that
makes its way on to your backyard ice rink.
To maintain your backyard ice rink under normal conditions, you’ll need a snow
shovels, a broom, a trowel and a hot water source for re-flooding.
Resurfacing Backyard Ice
The ice rink will inevitably become chipped and have excessive
grooves left by the ice skate’s blade. In order to regain a smooth
skating surface, you will need to re-flood the rink, preferably with
hot water. We recommend re-flooding during the coldest time of the
day, and after all ice skating is finished for that day. If the ice
rink develops bumps you will need to use hot water and melt that
area, and re-level it with a metal trowel or similar tool. In
addition, you should shovel your backyard ice rink’s surface following an hour
or two of skating, depending on the number of skaters and the
condition of the ice.
How to Disassemble your
Once the temperature is
above freezing often enough to make it impossible to continue using
the ice rink, it is time to come down. As with most things, you have
options for removing the ice rink. We suggest you take a slow
approach. Create openings in the rink where the water can gradually
drain out. When the water is completely drained, disassemble the
structure in such a way that you can re-use the material again the
next year. The only exception will be the tarp or plastic liner.
Whatever type of liner you used will not be reusable and must be
discarded. Your backyard ice rink should be dissembled early enough in the
season to prevent damage to surface underneath. If you leave the
liner down for too long it can damage or destroy the grass beneath.