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Painting Tips for a Backyard Rink 

Richie Sware

Painting your rink will really add to the enjoyment of your backyard ice surface! But it does take some time, luck with the weather, and a bit of planning to make it all you want it to be! Hopefully most of your questions will be answered with this information.

Last winter was the first time we had done a backyard rink. We got an early start as winter came in November and stayed until March.  I really wanted to paint it up and give it that pro look, but I wasn’t sure what supplies to use or where to go.  I asked at a curling supply store to see what they recommended. They had paint, but it was mostly used indoors and was only in huge containers.  I also thought spray painting might be the way to go, but the cans tend to freeze up at anything below 0 Celcius.  Then I thought childrens water based paints might work.  I bought Ross Craft Tempera Paint from good old Zellers, found in the craft section.  Each 225 ml container was about $2.00, so it wasn't very costly.  I also bought an assortment of cheap spounge paint brushes. Also a roll of string, a strait board, and a few good sharp nails are needed.

  • The perfect time to paint is on a cloudy morning with temperatires around -5 Celcius to -10 Celcius.
  • Your ice should be flooded the night before and with no snow on it for the best results.
  • Start by planning what you want to paint - i.e. Centre ice, red line, blue lines, goal crease, neutral zone area.
  • Measure out all your lines with a tape measure and use the string and nails to run a line across the rink. You can mark these points on your boards so you won't have to measure the next time you paint your rink.
  • Use a nail and the straight board and scrape a line across your rink using the string as your guide. If you use a piece of wood that is wide enough,  you can scrape both sides at the same time!
  • Find the centre of your rink and use your string to make a circle by tying a nail to one end, put it in the middle,  then tie another nail to as big a  piece of string as you want your centre ice to be. Two people are needed for this so you keep the string tight when you scrape your circle out.
  • Once you have done that, take your paint and use some warm water to dilute it a bit. Paint between the lines you made on the ice with the cheap sponge brushes, add whatever fun things you like! ( eg. RICH and MIKE'S BACKYARD STADIUM, painted around the inside of centre ice)
  • Take pictures before you let anyone on with skates, because it ain't gonna last once you play a bunch of shinny on it!  Some paint will stay in the ice throughout the year, but if the temperature starts to rise, the painted parts will melt the fastest.  Painting it a few times will help leave enough in the ice to easily see where they are.
Our first attempt went well last year, and we got a ton of press and T.V. interest from it.  The rink is featured on Howard's web site and on another web site called (in the photo gallery), and in a book called Canada Gold, put out by The Canadian Press (page 120).

The rink is located in Edmonton, in Mike Kuhnel's backyard.  Mike and I have been best buddies since we were 5 years old, and now we're both 36 years young.  We both still play hockey with the crew every Tuesday night, and whenever we can on the backyard rink!  

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at

Richie Sware 
December 2002

I would like to thank Richie for submitting this helpful information. I get many emails from visitors to my site asking about how and what to use when painting a rink. Check out Richie's 2002 rink here. - Howard


Last Updated on Dec 11, 2002