Ice Rink DIY projects
I’ve been building an Outdoor Skating Rink in the backyard for about 5 years now! I love watching the kids get out and skate, or play a little hockey. Wondering how to build a real outdoor ice rink? Here are a couple of the ice rinks I have made in the past.
This Outdoor Skating Rink I actually purchased, and they have been discontinued since. For good reason too. They look okay in the pictures, but they were awful to keep up. It’s easy to fall for the simple solution like this when building a backyard rink but you’re stuck with it, so I recommend doing it right. Spend a bit of time and money so you can get a lot of use out of your DIY ice Rink. These ones were a huge flop!!!
The product is called “Rink In A Bag”, and basically it’s a giant bag you fill with the hose and cut open once the water has frozen. In theory, it’s a great idea, however, unless your yard is perfectly flat, and well below freezing all the time, you will have problems. My yard is pretty flat already, but there are some low spots that caused the bag to bulge out. Even laying the bag flat in the first place was harder than it should be. As you can see, I have 2 of these 10X20 “Rink in a bag” ice rinks. One came out better than the other, but neither was great. This product on the other hand is fantastic. Built by a company called NiceRink.
Flooding the skating rink to make the surface smooth was also challenging as there was no way to contain the water on the surface, it would run off into the snowbanks.
For fun, I added some LED rope lights underneath one of the bags before filling it with water. It looks so fun at night. Maybe for the next rink, I’ll make Center and Blue Lines with LED lights.
NiceRink Rink-in-a-box DIY Ice Rink Kit
These Nice Rink DIK skating rink kits are
Backyard Ice Hockey Rink – The Outdoor Arena
This backyard hockey rink is portable. I got 4 seasons out of it, and it held up awesome. I actually sold the complete kit and it’s still being used. This backyard rink was on uneven ground with about a 6″ difference between the shallow and deep ends.
For an outdoor hockey rink liner, Amazon has 20×40 10mil tarps on sale that are the perfect size for a decent backyard rink. There are lots of options for a backyard hockey rink liner, including plastic or vinyl. Also, check out Ice Rink Tarps, they have pretty much anything you’ll need for a more professional backyard rink build.Windscreen4less 20′ x 40′ Heavy Duty 10 Mil Waterproof White Poly Tarp
This Ice Rink Kit I built using 2X12 lumber and a large heavy-duty tarp. Lots of skating and hockey were played on this backyard rink. From a size perspective, it’s 20 feet wide and 40 feet long, it’s big enough for 4-6 to skate around. Hockey games were limited to 3 on 3’s with a goalie, or 2 on 2 without.
How to Build a Real Outdoor Ice Rink
When planning this rink out, I started looking for the best price I could find on a big tarp. That determined the size I was going to build.
This season I built another 20’X40′ Ice rink in the backyard (which is more like 18’x38′ of ice area). I’ve framed it out in 2″x8″x10′ dimensional lumber, and trimmed 24″ off the length and width to allow the tarp to wrap around the frame. The frame is staked into the ground with scrap 2″x2″ lumber, then somewhat leveled, and attached to the stakes. The frame is raised just enough to ensure the highest point will hold a minimum 3″ to 4″ of water.
To attach all the boards together I used these binding plates and corner brackets, along with the scrap I cut from the frame boards.
I waited until it got darker to level off the frame, so I could see my laser line. As you can see there is quite a slope. This meant I had to lift up the frame at the deep end and use some extra lumber to fill in the gap. I used some 2×10’s inside the 2×8 frame to fill in the gap, then screwed them together. The deepest end is 18″ when filled, leaving only 3″ on the shallow side. Not ideal, so next year I’ll be sure to find a flatter spot for it.
rinks can be a lot of work, and if you’re unsure if you can take it on, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Joe Proulx’s book Backyard Ice Rinks. Joe is a professional rink builder, and we have referenced a few articles from his site. He knows his stuff.
The weather finally cooperated and I was able to fill up the rink. It took about 4 hours with the hose to get to this point, and with temperatures below the freezing point, it will freeze nicely.
2 days later, here is the final product, and its awesome!! Max the dog loves it, and the kids are now able to dust off the skates and play hockey again 🙂
Ice Rink Essentials
Ice rink maintenance isn’t a huge deal, but there are a few things that make it easier. A good wide shovel makes it easy to remove snow without leaving much behind, and also gives you an idea of how smooth the ice surface is. Flooding can be accomplished with a hose, or a few large buckets of warm water, after removing the snow, or with a sprayer filled with hot water, and a floor squeegee. I prefer ones with curved ends. Lastly, A set of mini nets is perfect for playing hockey. For 1 on 1’s, we lay them down with the bottom facing out. this encourages everyone to keep the puck on the ice. Similar to the backyard nets they sell for much more. Here are a few ideas from Amazon to maintain and play on your rink with.
Once you have the right tools (and they’re nothing fancy) caring for your backyard ice rink is pretty straightforward. Here it right from the expert here in this great interview with NHL’s Winnipeg Jets Director of ice operations.
Everyone needs dream backyard skating rink goals.
This Winklerstructures built outdoor arena is basically a large rink with boards inside a giant tent.
Here is a great video of an Ice Rink DIY project. Have a look at how the corner boards are built. I should have done this. It provides better support and allows you to make round corners on the rink, like the real ones 🙂
If you have little ones, you may not need a giant rink just to get them on the ice. Have a look at this budget DIY backyard ice rink solution from thespruce.com
Here in Canada, hockey is a mainstay, just ask Washiiyeh Jeannotte, whos perfected the “Michigan goal” on his outdoor rink
How much does a backyard ice rink DIY cost?
Ice Rink Kits start around $700 and go way up from there. A DIY rink can cost as little as nothing if you use scrap material. On average a 20 x 40 backyard rink costs around $200-$300 in materials.
Does backyard ice rink ruin your grass?
A backyard rink can ruin your grass if its left in place when the weather gets too warm and the grass starts growing again. But if its taken done and setup when the grass is dormant your lawn will be fine.
How deep should a backyard rink be?
A backyard rink should be at least 4 inches deep in the shallowest spot. 6 inches or more is ideal for a strong surface that will withstand a little melting and still stay frozen as well.
How do you build an Ice Rink in your backyard?
A typical backyard rink construction started with a rectangular wooden frame anchored to the ground, with a large waterproof tarp draped over the frame. Then structure is filled with water and left to freeze.
Why is it called an ice rink?
Rink is Scottish for course (common in curling) so “Ice Course” Here’s the wikipedia link
What's the best way to fill a backyard rink when uneven?
Once the temperature is well below freezing, you can use hay to build up the low spots. Soak it with water so it freezes solid, then lay your liner overtop.
Check out these inspiring backyard builds for your skating rink project.
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