Backyard Ice Rink Installation Guides

Erecting your backyard ice rink for the first time should be a fun and straight forward process; however there are a few key factors which you must consider to ensure your ice rink endures the season. To help you on your way, we have created a step-by-step installation guide which should make your build that little bit simpler

1. Ice Rink Location

Think carefully about where you would like you ice rink to be located. To make your life easier, it is advisable to find a workable area that is as level as possible and solid soil/ground. Try to avoid highly sloped areas which may require more than 18" of water to fill; ice rinks of such design are very challenging to build and often more expensive due to requiring additional lumber for the frame and increased amounts bracing for security. It is also worthwhile to find a location which is close to a water source.

2. Ice Rink Design

How big do you require your finished rink to be? Bear in mind that it needs to fit your desired workable area that you have already chosen. Determining the size of your finished rink is imperative when purchasing the liner tarp. Your liner should be at least 5ft longer and 5ft wider than the rink frame, this also depends on what size boards you are using. The longer the boards, add extra liner.
Survey the chosen area and precisely document the pitch/gradient of your rink outline using a line level or laser level. This will be your guide when setting your board heights and your bracket spacing's.

3. Construction

3. Construction

Layout your framework before securing the brackets in place to ensure correct spacing. Typically, brackets are spaced at 4 feet intervals and all corners should be secured with corner brackets for additional strength at this key stress point. It is advisable to use lumber as opposed to plywood, as plywood is flexible and not very durable and may cause some poignant issues later in the season when the temperature begins to drop.
After your framework is constructed and secure, thoroughly inspect the boards for any protrusions that may puncture the ice rink liner and remove them.
Also look for gaps between your framework and the ground it is sitting on. If you can fit your fingers in the gap, you will need to back fill the inside of the rink framework using a soft dirt, preferably top soil or sand. This step is one of the most important - if you do not fill the gaps, your liner may slip under your frame causing a 'bladder' effect and frozen bladders may expand resulting in your frame lifting or loosening. DO NOT back fill your air gaps with snow as snow will melt once you fill with water; the consequence of doing so will be the bladder effect.
Finally, inspect the area within your frame that your liner will be sitting on. Clear away any snow within this play area and remove any debris that may puncture your liner.

4. Laying the Ice Rink Tarp / Liner

Cautiously, lay your tarp over your frame making sure you do not drag the liner over the boards as this may cause rips and tears. Tuck the liner securely down to the very bottom of the boards leaving plenty of slack in the corners. Carefully drape the excess liner over the top of the rink frame and brackets; this will stop your boards from absorbing heat on sunny days and will also protect your hardware during a thaw.

5. Filling with Water

5. Filling with Water

Here comes the fun part. When you are happy that your liner is secure, you can fill your rink with water. Do not, under any circumstances, allow the water to spill over the rink frame! If you are close to spilling, yet you do not have the desired fill amount, turn off the water and add a second layer of lumber using an extender bracket. It is also recommended you fill you rink in 1 fill. The result will be a better quality ice that will not crack or have bubbles in the ice, also less likely to rip/tear or chaff the liner.

Once you have completed the fill, the lowest area of your ice rink should have a minimum of 4" of water.
Now that your rink is full of water, you may staple the excess liner to the outside of the rink frame. Do not leave the liner loose as a flapping liner can end up in the water causing water to spill over the frame.

6. Grab the skates and have FUN!!

You will need a solid 3"+ of ice to skate - be patient. Accidents will occur if you take to the ice before it is thoroughly frozen; skates that break through the ice may also tear the liner causing leaks which will prematurely end any winter fun you had planned. Walk over the ice and inspect the rink after 3-4 days of sub 20°F temperatures. If you are happy with the condition of the ice - grab your family, friends and enjoy.