Ice rink? It’s just a tarp away

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Are you a fan of winter sports? Do you enjoy skating or skiing and do you get excited at the sight of the first snowflakes in the air? And does the prospect of being able to walk out in your backyard, put on your ice skates and just skate away or play some hockey fill you with awe? 

If so, why not make your own ice rink this winter, instead of spending time in traffic with your kids, trying to get to a nearby community ice rink? You’ll be the neighborhood’s sensation, your kids will love it and so will all their friends. It’s relatively simple, requires few materials, is less costly than all that gas you’ll spend on driving back and forth, and can be reused over a number of years.

DIY Backyard Ice Rink

The materials which you need for your own DIY backyard ice rink are only a few and easy to find. Depending on the size of your rink, you’ll need various amounts of:

  • Lumber or PVC for the border of the rink
  • Plywood (optional) to be used as boards, for creating a more solid barrier and an authentic look
  • Ice Rink Tarps to put on the ground
  • Shovels and brushes for removing snow and leveling the rink

Allocating space 

Before you proceed with creating the rink you need to make sure you have both enough space and that it is fairly level. You’ll have to measure it and determine whether there is a slope and how big a difference there is between one corner and another. You could, for example, take wooden stakes, place them in each corner, run strings from one stake to the next or diagonally and see how high off the ground one string is compared to the other. That way you’ll know where and how much you need to compensate for the slope with a thicker layer of ice. Alternatively, you can build reinforcements to make up for the slope of the yard.

Creating the border

Next thing on the list is to create a border for the rink, using PVC pipes or lumber. Pipes are better because they can be reused longer (though they break more easily), while wood tends to rot. Basically, you could already stop here and simply put down the tarp and fill the rink with water. But both for added security, as well as aesthetics, you can further create a plywood barrier around the rink. You might need some additional braces or rebar in order to secure the plywood and PVC, so that it can carry the weight of the rink, once the water is down and freezes.

Laying down the tarp

The above part of building the rink is the hardest, so when you’re done with that, you’re not far from the goal. What you need to do now is install the liner or tarp you’ve bought for the occasion. Just spread it out across the rink, even out any major folds and voilà – you can carry on to the next step (you’ll staple and secure it after you’ve filled it with water).

Flooding the rink 

Next you have to fill the rink. It is advisable to first sprinkle it a few times, so as to create a light base before proceeding with the actual filling. Once you’ve sprinkled you flood the rink, but make sure not to flood it all at once. Instead, fill it in stages. Take a hose and start going across the rink, distributing hot water evenly across the surface. Cover the whole rink and then wait for it to freeze. Continue filling and creating layer after layer until you’ve reached the desired thickness of ice (also taking into account the slope of the rink).

All that is left now is to attach and secure the tarp to the boards and continue maintaining the rink throughout the season. It is advisable not to leave equipment on the ice whenever it is not being used, as well as to even out any rifts that may have appeared due to exploitation. Once spring knocks on the door, make sure to speed up the thawing process so as not to cause unwanted damage to the lawn below. Store all the materials away for the warm months and next winter you can be back, shooting pucks and making sharp turns.

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