Backyard Ice Rinks ‘Tips & Tricks’

This post was written by ghoj on December 30, 2013
Posted Under: Uncategorized

Tis’ the Season for setting up your own Backyard Ice Rink for friends and family.  With ice time at the local rink at a premium Backyard rinks are becoming more and more popular.  It is perfect for training, practice, family fun, friendly games, and much more.  When you have your own backyard ice rink there is no pressure to fit everything in during your you brief ice time slot at the rink.  When you have a backyard ice rink, ice time is any time.  Here is a quick ‘How to’ for setting one up followed by some pro tips to make your back yard ice rink the best on the block.


1. Where to Build the Rink. Find the most level area of your yard with relatively dry and solid soil. This space will be your workable area for building a rink. Rinks that have over 18” of water are very challenging to build and more expensive due to requiring additional bracing, more lumber for the rink frame, and increased water required for filling. It is advisable to try to avoid highly sloped areas when building a rink and also to be close to a water source.
2. How Big. Determine the desired size of the ice rink. Keep in mind that it must fit on the workable area that was determined in the step above. The size of your rink will be very important when purchasing a liner. A liner should be at least 4-5 feet longer and 4-5 feet wider than your rink frame.
3. Survey. Precisely determine and document the grade/pitch of your rink outline using a line level or a laser level. The grade will be your guide for spacing the Iron Sleek™ Brackets. It will also guide you on setting your board heights.
4. Layout and Build. Build your frame using the Iron Sleek™ Rink System. Typically, the brackets are spaced 4 feet apart and all corners are secured with Iron Sleek™ Corner Brackets. We strongly recommend using lumber versus plywood. Plywood is not durable and is flexible. For rinks that require higher board heights due to excessive land grade, you should use the Iron Sleek™ Extender Bracket to add extra boards. The major benefit of the Extender Bracket is that it CAN be an afterthought. If your rink is already built and you have an “oh no” moment, you can easily install the Extender Bracket WITHOUT disassembling any component of your rink!
5. Inspect Boards. After the frame is completely built, closely inspect the inside of the rink boards for protrusions or anything that could puncture the liner. Remove all protrusions and sharp ends. Also, be sure the frame is solid.
6. Fill Gaps. Inspect the bottom of the boards for air gaps. If you can slip your fingers between the bottom of the rink frame and the grass, you should back fill the inside of the rink with dirt to fill that gap. Air gaps can allow for liner “bladders” to get under the boards and possibly puncture the liner. A frozen “bladder” may expand to lift or loosen the rink frame. FILL THE AIR GAPS! Do not use snow to fill the air gaps. Snow will melt from the fill water. Use dirt, preferably top soil.
7. Inspect Playing Area. Closely inspect the grass area within your rink frame for anything that can puncture the liner. Also, clear all snow from the rink skating area.
8. Layout the Liner. Carefully stretch your liner inside of the rink frame. Be sure to leave plenty of slack in the corners and to tuck the liner down to the bottom of the boards. Drape the excess liner over the rink frame and the Iron Sleek™ Hardware. This will keep the brackets dryer through a thaw and will keep the boards from absorbing heat on sunny days.
9. The Pour. Fill the rink with water! When you have completed the water fill, the lowest part of your rink should have at least 4” of water. DO NOT LET THE WATER SPILL OVER THE RINK FRAME! If you are close to spilling over, turn off the water and add a “2nd story” of lumber to the high water end using the Iron Sleek™ Extender Bracket.
10. Secure the Liner. After the rink is full of water, you can staple the excess liner to the outside of the rink frame. A flapping liner can end up in the water possibly causing it to escape over the top of the liner.
11. Time to skate. You will need a solid 3” of ice to skate. We recommend you walk and inspect the rink after 3 or 4 days of temperatures under 20°F before skating. A skate that breaks through the ice can tear the bottom of the liner. Do not let this happen! Exercise patience before taking to the ice with skates.


Everyone that makes their own Backyard Ice Rink has their own little things that they do to improve the quality of the experience.  We are going to go over something’s that will help anyone create a top quality Backyard Ice Rink at low cost.

  • One tip to help give your rink a more authentic look is to add lines (red lines and blue lines).  One way to do this is with Eco-Friendly paint.  Ice Rink Makers have been known to both paint the tarp directly (depending on the depth of the ice) or fill halfway and let it freeze, paint the ice and fill the rest of the way and let freeze over paint.
  • Another way to create lines would be again to use Eco-Friendly paint but in a different way.  Some Pros will paint Ply Wood (cut in strips), old deck boards, or anything that will lay flat and can be frozen into the rink. Just make sure whatever you use will be flat enough not to protrude through the ice.
  • No one likes to miss the net but we all know that occasionally it does happen.  We suggest using netting or a mesh tarp strung between two fence posts mounted 20’ to 30’ apart.  There are many other techniques to do this but this seems to be the most popular and cost effective.

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