Last Modified: Jan 13, 2011
- Don't depend on snow for a border or a base, if you live in climates that often see mild temperatures. (Like where I live, Mt. Pearl, Newfoundland, Canada.) It will probably melt during one of those mild spells.
- Cut up a piece of cardboard into 1 inch squares to use when stapling your plastic to the wooden frame. The cardboard squares will help prevent easily tearing the plastic, if you put the cardboard on the plastic where you want to staple and then staple through the cardboard.
- Beware of wet slushy snow. On cold, snowy days it can be all too tempting to stay indoors, watching television or playing free bingo in the warm. However, it really is worth braving the cold and clearing this snow. If you leave it on your rink too long and the temperature drops, your rink could be ruined for the rest of the skating season.
- When resurfacing, try NOT using a spray nozzle. Instead let the water "flow" out of the end of the hose completely unrestricted as you move it from one side of your rink to the other.
Make sure the entire rink surface gets wet. I usually keep the end of the hose on the ice by picking up the hose about 3 to 4 feet from the end. I like the smooth surface this gives me and it is really helpfull when it is really cold. A spray nozzle can "rough up" areas previously sprayed that are partially frozen, resulting in a rough surface.
- If you decide to make your own plastic liner and you have to join the plastic together, I would recommend doing it inside. We have a local gymnasium that will allow people to do this. Also, when putting the plastic in place, choose a day that isn't windy.
- When joining plastic together to make a liner, I recommend using duct tape on both sides with a bead of Acoustic Sealant in the middle. I have however had success duct taping only one side of the plastic and not using Acoustic Sealant at all. To be safe however, I still recommend using Acoustic Sealant and taping both sides. If you can afford it, there is another type of tape called "Tuck" tape that is supposed to be awesome. It is really expensive though. About $17 Canadian a roll. A roll of duck tape and a tube of acoustic sealant is about $10 Canadian.
- Put adequate lighting in place for night time skating. I use a couple of 500 watt flood-lights for my main source of light.
- Try putting foam pipe wraps on top of low boards (frame) to help prevent possible injury from falling on them.
- Jay Labelle uses a very inventive method to get lines, dots and emblems on his rink. He uses tissue paper for dots and emblems, and party streamers for lines. He starts with a light application of water directly on the paper/streamer to get it to stick to the ice, and then goes back to normal flooding thereafter.
Note: I have read and been told that lines/dots are not a good idea. They draw the sun's rays late in the season and melt holes in your rink. This may or may not be important to you.
- This sounds obvious but sometimes it's the little things that escape us. When planning a rink, make sure your hose can reach the area where you are putting the rink.
- If you are making a base out of snow, use a sprinkler for long floodings to avoid standing around spraying, and freezing to death.
- Night time is the best time for applying water. It is almost always colder and almost always not as windy.
- Either drain your hose completely or bring it indoors when you are finished using it. Otherwise it will freeze up and won't be ready for the next time you need to use it for flooding.
- Chris Gagne sent in this alternative to bringing in your hose during flooding.
"Frequent flooding when first starting your rink can be a hassle when it comes to the hose. Instead of emptying or storing the hose, in between, try leaving the tap open slightly so that the water dribbles. As long as the water is flowing the tap and hose won't freeze up."
- Peter Jones has this tip for storing a hose:
"After use, my hose is short enough to coil up in a 5 gallon plastic bucket. I put the nozzle in first. This makes it easy to store inside, but even if I leave it outside, I just fill it up with hot water and within two minutes it's ready to use. This also gives me hot water to thaw the outside tap if necessary."
- Ross McLeod has found that using a Rubbermaid residential-size garbage can for flooding is great for a few reasons:
1) "You drop the end of the (running) hose inside the can and wait a few minutes for it to fill up. When it's full, dump it on the highest section. It fills the gaps and any run-off just goes to your lower sections." He floods like this everytime and it makes it easy and eventually helps to create a nice, even rink.
2) "It provides more "spare" time if your flooding for an hour or so, so that you can study the science of the ice, be proud of yourself and/or have a smoke."
- Use acoustic sealant and a plastic patch to repair rips in your liner. Apparently this will work even under water.
- Before resurfacing, clean the ice fairly well. You can use a deck broom after shovelling to get the ice super clean. The point is, if you leave too much snow on the surface, it will "bunch" up during the flood, freeze and then form bumps. I personally don't use a broom, I just use a push shovel. If I notice lumps of wet snow being formed, I apply extra water to those areas to melt the lumps.
- Jeff Lariviere passed along this tip: "I made a pair of "ice-shoes" to help create the perfect snow base and also to allow me to work on surface repairs without damaging any weak spots. The ice-shoes are simply 3/4 inch plywood jigsaw-cut into the shape of a small snow-shoe. I then mounted a cross-country ski binding, allowing me to slip on my cross-country boots and easily clip into the ice-shoes. Works like a charm, but can be a bit slippery on regular snow... They really let you compact the snow. I also use an industrial size squeegie (the kind used for oil spill clean-ups in garages) for smoothing the snow surface."
- It takes a minimum of 1 hour for a light flooding to completely freeze when the temperature is -14 degrees Celsius. That's at night, with no wind.
- Tom Jenkins uses warm water when resurfacing. He finds that makes a great difference. No edge ripples or slush bumps, just a nice even surface that reminds him of artificial ice. Also, I have read that hot water makes a stronger ice surface.
- Richard Grant describes his unique rink: "Basically I made a huge 'figure eight' for our 3 year old. Of couse, there are no boards but I made sure the sides where nice and high and as square as possible for her to hang on to. In the two domes of snow in the middle, I carved out little seats (complete with cupholders) that became hard with repeated fine sprays (so much so that they'll even hold MY weight) She gets a kick out of sitting in them and enjoying the view."
- Rick and Sean Fisk sent in some tips for using sprinklers: "I have successfully used sprinklers left on overnight to build a base. I use a pair of adjustable nozzle spinning head sprinklers and generally need to move them every 2-3 hours. I get alot more sleep that way! You need some insulation to keep the hose from melting down into the ice. Pipe insulation works well. The sprinkler should be metal construction so the 'heat' of the water flowing through is transferred and keeps ice from building on the outside surfaces of the sprinkler. I tried a plastic sprinkler and awoke to find a giant ice sculpture with water spraying and dripping everywhere as the water had frozen on the plastic. Plastic seems to insulate too well and allows the water to freeze on the outside surfaces."
- The perfect temperature range is between -10 and -15 degrees celsius (14 and 5 deg Fahrenheit) for ice to solidify smoothly. If the temperature is not cold enough, or if you overwater at a warm temp, a condition called "shell ice" could result. This is where the top layer of ice crumbles very easily. A rule of thumb: The warmer the temperature, the lighter the application of water. I have only found shell ice to be a problem when the temp is up around -1 C to -5 C. Any colder than -5 C and you would have to apply more than 0.5 cm of water to get shell ice. Once the temp gets below -10 C it is not really something to be concerned about.
- My friend and fellow rink maker, David Howley, found an effective way to get rid of "shell ice". He uses a sharp object, such as an 8" nail, to make holes in the thin layer of ice that forms on top. The next time you flood, water will fill up the empty space in under the thin layer, and if the temp is low enough, it will freeze to form solid ice. This is better than just destroying the "shell ice", as very few ice fragments are created this way, which means there is less chance of getting a rough surface when you flood.
- Ryan Doyle says: "If you are looking at plastic liners, one solution is bunk silo plastic. It is about an 8 mil plastic that is white on one side and black on the other. The size I have used comes in a roll that is 40'x150'. This stuff is incredibly strong and would have no problem withstanding multiple years of use. You should be able to get it at a local farm/agriculture store. It ain't cheap but it lasts. I use it for a 9x16 foot "drive-in" screen that is up all year and it has survived 2 winters with much wind and -30C temps."
- This tip also passed along by Ryan Doyle: "If you are using a home made ice-resurfacer, you can use a towel tied to the bottom of it to smooth the water and other slushy bumps." Ryan gets used ZamboniŽ cloth from his local arena.
- Jeffrey Edwards passes along tips for making a rink on a lake. Click here for info.
- K. Bell offers this tip to prevent a frozen garden hose - "Instead of bringing it in and out, I leave my hose outside. I disconnect it from the house and just leave it flat on the ground and take a portable air compressor; just use the fitting that blows air for blowing off equipment, etc. Insert the end of the air line in the end of the hose and blow the hose out. When you see an air mist out the other end the hose should be empty. No fuss or mess rolling it up."
- Rick Gonion offers this tip to prevent frozen water lines - "I went to my local hardware store and got fittings to convert the end of a garden hose to a bicycle tire valve (3 peices $2) I then hooked up this garden hose (5') to a shut off tee that I put between the winter shut off valve for my outside water in the basement and the outside water. Now I just 1. flood 2. turn off water 3 open air tee 4 blow water out hose (outside). I use a portable air tank but a mini compressor would also work. I never have frozen lines and it cost me $2 for parts $3 for a tee, and my time."
- Jim Pickard has a tip on making the liner:
"I ended up putting the liner down after a light snow, so I couldn't remove all of the snow off the grass, but got most of it. Laid down on half of the liner, stapled it in place and laid down the other half for the overlap. I used polyureathane sealant/caulk under the overlap and also used a heat gun on low to warm the plastic before squeezing the sealant down. We also used the heat gun to warm the plastic while duct taping the seam to get it to adhere to the plastic, as well as using the heat gun over the duct tape to heat up the adhesive and really get it to stick! Worked great, just be careful with the heat gun and keep it moving, otherwise you'll melt a hole in the plastic sheeting."
- Ed Rendell passes on his experiences:
"It took me 9 days to get to skating stage which was just tonite. I start with a snow base in the back yard 80' by 30'. First compressing the snow with my snowmobile, then with snowshoes. I like to leave it overnite and soak it down the next day. I pump water with a 2" Yamaha gas pump, pumping water right out of the river which runs by my place. For the next seven days (less if it's colder than the -10C we have been having) I pump water and start building up the low spots. The trick with the pump is, not too much water! just enough to cover, and never go over a spot you just sprayed, or you create slush by running fresh water into partly freezing water."
- In the theme of "don't overlook the obvious". Kevin Noble sends in this one:
"If possible, avoid building your rink near your dryer vent. The warm air will melt your ice."
- Chip Stickney sends this tip along: "When applying a patch to your liner maybe you can place a rock on top of it to keep it in
- Kyle Reynolds sends these tips along:
"I built a nice box to hold all of our rink's hockey sticks. I built the box out of 1/2' plywood. It's 2 feet by 4 feet in diameter and is 3 feet high. I placed wheels on the bottom so you can wheel it around when storing it for the summer. On the inside I placed 3" pvc pipe to just fit in the box. The pipes are cut to around 3 feet in length. I have room for around 30-40 sticks."
"Another couple of ideas my dad used when he was making our family rink when I was growing up are:
-paint your side boards "safety" yellow, it reflects the sunlight and doesn't cause heat damage from the sun on the sides of your rink. It also makes the rink look "NHL" quality.
-he used bendable mason board for our corners. This gave us a curved corner for the puck to follow."
- Ed Rendell sends in this resurfacing tip:
"A friend of mine who is an avid "Curler" showed me a tool they use to resurface the sheets of ice for a good game of curling. Basically all it is, is a 36" piece of 1/2" copper plumbing pipe with a tap on one end to connect to a garden hose, you can then regulate the flow of water with the tap right at your hand. At the outlet end of the length of pipe you solder in a 45 degree elbow with a short 4" inch piece, you can flatten the end down with a hammer to achieve a "flat" flow of water out the end. Now you can turn on the water, lay the end of the pipe, with the 45 flat on the ice and begin to resurface. This thing works GREAT! I start at one end working from one side to the other, almost like spray painting. If you keep moving at a nice comfortable pace, the first layer does not have time to freeze fully before the next pass, so what you end up with is very nice flat ice! NOTE: 36" is only a guide, you may need to make it longer or shorter depending on your height, comfort is the key here. Also when flattening the outlet, do not flatten enough to create a "spray", but rather a nice even flow."
- While it may be an expensive method these days, Jay Perrotte passes along this interesting tip from the past:
"I haven't tried it, but my grandfather told me several years ago that when he was a kid in Montreal (1920's) they would use milk to make the ice white, making it last longer."
- Mark Corker sends in these tips:
- Tip 1 - I coil the hose up after use and put it in a large garbage can. I put in my wife's blow dryer into the garbage can and let it run for about 5 minutes before use. This thaws out out the hose.
- Tip 2 - If the outside tap tap is frozen I heat it with my wife's blow dryer - this thaws the tap within a minute or so.
- Tip 3 - The surface must be completely clear of all snow and ice chips before flooding. I use a snow shovel followed by a leaf blower. This gives you a clean surface to flood.
- Tip 4 - Always pay close attention to the moon. Nothing beats a nightime skate under a full moon.
- Gerard Johnston passes on this very valid tip:
Give some thought to leveling your backyard in the summer so you will have an even ice surface for
- Steve Reding passes on these tips from his experiences:
1. To even out the ground underneath, we bought our spring mulch early (in bags) and flattened them out beneath the liner where the yard dips the worst. This was an emergency fix late one night when we were filling the rink for the first time and discovered that the weight of the water was pulling the liner down so much that we were running out of liner. So we quickly lifted the liner (half-filled with water) and laid out the bags of mulch underneath it to build up the ground level.
2. Try putting up some sort of temporary fence around your rink while it's freezing to keep any animals from walking in the "pool of water" and ripping it to shreds.
- Jon Bathmaker passes on this very important tip:
This is my second season of rink building and I have found a small truth:
You can fight the weather and you can fight the terrain (i.e. a rink that isn't level) but you can't fight both. So I would like to suggest that you LEVEL THE GROUND before the season starts. I.E. REALLY LEVEL. The
amount of work I have put in on making ice on the high side of my rink would have allowed me to level the
base twice over and I would still be way ahead. All my buddies with level rinks just re-surface after a thaw
cycle, I have to try and build slush on the high side and then smooth it out. What a heartbreaker.
This would be OK in Manitoba as you'd do it once and that would be that, but here in southern Ontario we've
already had 3 major thaws and I can't face it again.
- Kyle Reynolds passes on this helpful tip:
When cleaning off the ice nightly before you resurface, push the shovel with your ice skates on. My 85
x 35 rink takes 10 minutes to clear with skates on, as compared to 35 minutes wearing snow boots.
- Gordon Clair passes on this helpful tip:
To help hold the liner to the boards, he uses drywall tape (heavy paper) folded in half lengthwise.
The tape comes with a natural cease in it and is very inexpensive. All you have to do is
unroll, fold and staple as you go along the boards. It holds the liner firmly and doesn't
deteriorate with snow and water soakings. Good tip!!
- Darren Saulnier passes on this tip about liners:
For the last five years I have been using a one piece construction grade tarpaulin for my liner. Within the last two years I switched from a blue color tarp to a white color, thinking that the blue color may be drawing to much heat from the sun. It was unbelievable how much longer I held ice during the warmer sunny spells using the white tarp. Take the time to check around the different building supplies stores until you find a lighter color tarp.
It's definitely worth your effort.
- Ed Rendell passes on this helpful tip:
"During the month of March, if you are fortunate to still have ice to skate on, here is a helpful tip in prolonging ice for another day or 2:
If you get a light snow do not plan to clear the ice until evening when you plan to skate, otherwise the strong rays of the sun will surely start to work down your ice and will actually evaporate the water from the top leaving you with a mushy surface.
We had those very conditions today, I left the 1/2 inch of snow on since Saturday as we had not planned any skating til tonite. Even though water was running down the streets, and ice was melting everywhere, our rink was safe under the small blanket of snow. The sun will actually reflect off and not melt the ice."
- Bob Dirck passes on this helpful tip:
"When you get frozen snow slush on your ice you can get rid of it by using hot water in a 5 gallon bucket. My rink was 48'x36' it took about 5-6 buckets to put on one coat."
- Paul Bleiwas has a tip about frozen taps:
"To avoid problems with a frozen outdoor tap (and pipes!), I found that using my
laundry room tap with an appropriate hose adaptor was a great fix. The adaptor was about $1
at Home Depot and it also allows me to use hot water for flooding. I just open the window to
the laundry room a bit and feed the hose through to the backyard."
- Ed Rascati's tip about frames and liners:
"To easily frame out your rink (when using a liner) get gardening stakes. They are
hard plastic stakes, each with 2 adjustable sleeves that can hold a 2x6's. they can be
adjusted to a 90 degree angle for the corners and inline for long straight runs. You just
put them in the ground, drop in your 2x6's and you have a secure frame ready for your liner!
You can also get liners from greenhouse supply stores ranging in various widths and 100'
long. I just bought a clear 6 mil, 32' x 100' for $125 - since my rink isn't the largest
(25'x31') I'll get 3 years out of it."
- Tom Sorenson's tip about rink corners:
"Cut 45 degree angle boards for the corners of the square rink. It is a
quick, easy solution that keeps the puck from getting stuck in the corners."
- Jason Thistle's tip about preliminary work:
"Ya gotta know yer ground! It may look level ... until you cover it with 1000 square feet of water!."
- Alan and Katie Ladd's tip for a center ice logo:
Alan and Katie attempted to use a clear plexi-glass logo but found that it was subject to
heaving ..much like frost heaves...leaving a hump at center ice over the logo. So now they simply
cut out a large Oak Leaf from some medium green contruction paper. This works absolutely fine while
maintaining good visibility. The paper soaks up and saturates with water and actually
becomes ice itself...eliminating any heaving problems.
I have used this method as well and I simply find my
center ice position, pour some water from a jug, lay down my paper logo, pour more water from the jug on
top of the logo and then start a light flood from one corner of the rink. By the time I get to the logo
my logo is frozen in the ice and the flood covers it in. It usually takes two floods to completely seal
it from skaters.
Another method of making a small logo is to print your logo on 8.5" x 11" paper and get it laminated. Use
the above method to stick it to the ice and flood over it a couple of times and you have a cheap logo. Here is a
pic of the one I usually use.
- Ralph Sparkes' tip on leveling your backyard:
"I've been wondering for the past couple of years how I could raise the sloped end
of my backyard. It finally hit me. I purchased a dozen bags of softener salt and laid it out in the sloped
area. Then I laid the plastic over top of the bags of salt. Not only is it a good, solid way
to build up the sloped area, but at the end of the winter, it can be used in the water
- Martin's tip on snow banks for borders:
"When getting rink ready try and bank up as much snow so that drifting snow does
not get on rink."
- Ralph Sparkes' tip on cleaning his rink:
"I have found that after shovelling the snow from the rink, using a wide industrial
type broom is very effective for clearing the rink to make it very smooth. I especially do
this immediately before a flood. If there is a light snowfall during the day, I actually
prefer sweeping the rink with the broom as opposed to shovelling."
- Darryl Ryan's tip on cleaning/flooding his rink:
"When clearing your ice surface prior to flooding, ensure you remove any debris
such as leaves from the ice surface. I have found if left on the ice, they will absorb
heat from the sun and will melt through the ice."
- Glenn Whilsmith's tip on thawing a faucet:
"To free up a frozen faucet just bring out a rag in a margerine tub of hot water to
wrap around the faucet while you set up the hose or clear snow."
- Wayne Theriault's various tips:
"Here are some tips I have picked up over the years:"
- "Never make your rink over a septic field. A friend of mine had a great rink,then the
system backed up and a backhoe made short use of the rink."
- "After flooding a pond last year with my gas powered pump in preperation for some good
ole pond hockey, I had the bright idea to borrow my wife's food coloring and a spray bottle to
create a red centre and some lines. My water/colour ratio was way off and although the
lines looked great, it never froze and the ice looked like a slaughterhouse at the centre."
- "As my outdoor tap freezes easily, I have made a small wooden frame to go around it and
covered it with plastic and duct taped it to the house. I then ran a length of left over
dryer hose from the exhaust vent on my air exchanger to the plastic and as well one from
the dryer exhaust vent(in case of really cold temps). Would you beleive that the temp stays
at about +8 deg.cel in that plastic hut. Thank goodness we live in the sticks so no one can
see this E.T. looking device."
- If you need one, try building a net made from wood (2"x3"). It can be fairly cheap and durable.
It also will be just about the right weight...not too heavy to carry, and not too light for pucks.
Remember to use corner brackets to make it stable.
- Gary Elderman's ice flooder tip:
"I made an inexpensive ice flooder using copper pipe. The bottom section is full of small holes
to put the water on evenly. In addition it drags a heavy rubber mat to really squeeze the water in.
By the time I finish flooding the ice once, it is ready to recoat if the temp is -12 C or so."
- Jason Thistle's tips:
"I use bundled newspapers to hold the boards higher in the deeper sections.
Works great when you fill shopping bags with newspaper and lay board on them - heavy
and will stay put. Also make sure that your boards are level...by the bubble...not the eye."
- Dwight DeGiacomo's insurance tip:
"Check with your insurance company concerning your rink and how it affects your homeowners policy.
You wouldn't want to get any surprises if someone was to get hurt on your rink."
- Frank Adams' rink building tips:
Here in Toronto it is very mild in the winter. I have not used platic so far and
probaly I will next year. I have two tips. (Tip #62):
- In mild climates be patient, sprinklers
drill holes in soft ice. Be cautious with sprinklers or don't use them at all. Slowly but
surely once every 90 minutes or so, lay on a thin layer of water with your hose, repeat this
100 times (or until you get a smooth skating surface). This is much better than pouring gallons
of water that won't freeze properly--trust me be patient.
- If your ground is not level use snow in combination with your water it turns into a kind of
plaster like you would use on dry-wall. You can smooth it over using your snow shovel as a trowel.
It will harden and freeze and build up your low lying areas; again, be patient at first you can't skate
on this "frozen slush", but if you put on layer after layer of water on top of well-hardended slush it
will form into a smooth skating surface.
- Gary Elderman's rink board building tips:
"My Wife owns a craft table, the kind with a durable plastic top and foldout legs. By
laying it on its side and putting a big block of wood under the legs,it is rather easy to
mold snow into realistic boards. After a couple of sprinklings, they will be hard enough to
withstand sponge puck use."
- Robert More's rink flooding tip:
"When watering the rink I wear scuba neoprene gloves. They can also be purchased
from hunting and fishing suppliers for about $12."
- Kevin Kraemer's safety tip:
"I keep a large rubber mat in front of our skate-changing bench. This helps the
kids (and me) get a good footing before we step onto the ice."
- John Song's maintenance tip:
"Fluctuating temperatures are a real challenge, and often require several repair jobs
through the season, especially here in the "banana belt". One problem I've faced is "under melting".
If you don't have a waterproof liner, sometimes ice will melt under the surface, leaving large pockets of air.
I have found it difficult to fill these spaces with water, which will usually simply run out unless
it is extremely cold."
"So one thing I've had some success with is using bricks of ice to patch up these cavities, and
they don't need a lot of water to fuse together. I freeze them in plastic pails about 3
inches thick. I'm thinking this might be a good way to start the rink next year if there
isn't a lot of precipitation."
- Tony's resurfacing tip:
"We used to resurface a small pond that was about the size of a real hockey rink.
We would scrape the ice by hand after a game, and discovered the best way to put water down
was to use an industrial dust mop, 48" wide, and to simply attach the hose to the handle and
shoot a healthy stream of water in front of the mop while you skated. These are the things
janitors use in schools to dust the floors in gyms, halls, etc. It took about 15 minutes to
skate along behind this contraption to put down a PERFECT layer of ice. These things are
hinged at the base to make it easy to manuever around floors, corners, etc, and that made it
even better to use on the rink. Folks were amazed at the perfect ice we made nightly."
- Blake Bennett's tip:
"Living in the banana belt south of London, its tough to almost impossible to
get a rink to last even in January. Adding hot lime to the base of your rink will get you a
couple more weeks of skating. The lime gives you a white base exactly the same as your
local rink. P.S. The lime is also great for your lawn."
- Arnie Friesen's rink building tip:
"For packing snow, use a Lawn roller. Tape plastic
around it, fill with water and roll on the snow. Its fast and easy."
- Paul Atkinson's snow clearing tip:
"A few days after filling the liner and making ice, it snowed heavily. The ice was too weak
to walk upon to clear the rink. My 14-year-old son came up with a wonderful idea: Use the roof
rake (a 19-foot adjustable shovel which we use to clear the roof of snow and prevent ice
damns - available at Canadian Tire) to clear the rink! It worked great and we did not have to
set foot on the rink. It worked best by standing on the longer side of the rink. This way we were
able to keep the adjustable pole as short as possible which made it easier to handle the
- Lars Nylander's ice maintenance tip:
"I would like to pass on a little something that I had tried. I needed to make my ice as
white as possible because we have more sunny days than cold, snowy days. I put my rink on the
side of my house where it is mostly in the shade. After I flooded a thin base I mixed some old
water base latex paint in a 5 gallon bucket with water. I used only about 1/3 cup paint per 5
gallons water. This turned the water a milky white color. It is not NHL rink white by any
means but it sure helps keep the sun from eating away my rink."
- Mike Letorney's rink building tip:
"If possible, don't staple your liner in place until you have some water in your rink. This
will let you "nip & tuck" your liner while the weight of the water keeps it down."
- Skip's hose tip:
"First I made the mistake of buying 100 feet of hose when all I needed was another 50 foot one (first time rink guy).
100 Feet of hose can cause alot of problems when you re-surface yourself and a pain in the but to remove all the water...until
I tried this.
I found when you disconnect it from the tap, walk one end to the back of the yard, making sure you lift it over the clothesline.
The difference in height allows all the water to empty out of it. It has been -18C here and my hose hasn't needed to be put in
the tub once, since I learned this trick..NO TOOLS needed. And NO angry girlfriend from tracking in all the water.
I have wrapped my hose on the fence outside when I was done without any problems."
- Mark's ice maintenance tip:
"When we got some large bumps on the rink from snow falling from trees during the last freeze, we smoothed them out with an iron.
My wife was not too happy about using the iron for this purpose, and my neighbors probably thought I was crazy out ironing the
ice with a 50 ft extension cord, but it worked great removing the bumps on the ice. It was a little hard on the iron, so I will
probably buy a new one and keep the old one for this purpose."
- Jeff Leaf's liner tip:
"I purchased two sheets of 20'x100' rolls of 6mil plastic and fused them together with a common household iron (make
sure to use wax paper so it does not stick). It was a very quick process and is holding up very well."
- Al Duncan's rink location tip:
"BEWARE - BEWARE - Steer clear of any septic lines when considering where to place your rink. I thought having a front
yard rink would be great fun for our kids and provide hours of fun for relatively little funds. $12,000 later I now have a new
septic system and septic bed replacing the one that I ruined by saturating the ground with water. Once the spring thaw comes
any excessive water in the ground can move the tiles in a septic bed rendering your system useless. Frost is your enemy in
- John Rennie's rink building tip:
"For a red line I used red duct tape. After laying down the liner and prior to flooding the rink I took a role of red
duct tape and applied it directly onto the liner across the center of the rink to make the center red line. The tape is far
enough below the surface of the ice that the sun does not seem to cause ant problems with melting."
- Mike Sherwood's rink cleaning tip:
"I found when cleaning the ice of snow, using a 6'x4' sheet of plywood is much faster than a broom or shovel. This is for
a quick clearing between periods of skating but can be used first then a broom cleaning before flooding."
- Ed Rendell's rink construction tip:
"After many years of rink-making I have come to a conclusion that if you live in a cold climate such as we do in
Northern Ontario, a liner is not required, but, start making ice as close to the ground as possible. If you must do any
landscaping, it is well worth it come winter to have a nice flat/level area. For this years (and last years) rink, I
like to soak down the area as soon it the weather gets down to -10C to create a good solid base. I use my old
tractor ('49 Farmall Cub) to keep the area clear of snow, except maybe about an inch to give you some white color.
You will find that you have good solid ice right down to the ground and your ice will not likely crack. I've got a
full 120' X 45' this year to work with. Happy Rinkin' to all."
- Shane Dunphy's rink tips:
"I purchased an inexpensive laser level and it works great, especially at night. It was ideal to show me how
high the boards needed to be. It is also beneficial to help decide the best possible location and size for the skating rink.
Another tip is that sand bags can be used to help stop a leak."
- Mike Crawford's Rough surface tip:
"An easy way to get rid of bumpy ice surface is to use a high powered leaf blower. The air blows out warm and melts a thin
layer which refreezes smooth as glass and is quite quick compared to the alternatives."
- Dave DeNardis's Rough surface tip:
"I have found that using my garage floor rubber sqeegee works great when flooding my ice.
I taped the hose to the handle and let the water trickle down to the rubber blade. I push it
around the ice spreading the water out. Glass smooth!"
- Matt Tengi's rough surface tip:
"If you are having a hard time scraping down your rough spots, try using a roofing torch. It's easy to hook
up to your barbecue's propane tank and you can slide the tank around the ice while you melt down the rough spots.
Took me about 20 minutes to smooth out a 30x50 rink where slush had frozen into ridges. Even if they don't completely
disappear they are a lot smoother and can be easily skated over. It cost $15 to rent for a day and was a heck of a
lot easier than trying to scrape all that stuff down."
- Tom Arduini's construction tip:
"When constructing a board and liner type rink you can
keep your corners square by applying the measurements
3, 4 and 5. Starting from the corner, measure 3 feet
up one side of the rink and 4 feet up the other. The
distance between these two points should be 5 feet.
If not, adjust one or both sides until you measure 5
feet which will give you near perfect corners.
Expanding by a factor of five or ten will result in greater
accuracy. After striking a line down the long side of
the rink, I measure 15 feet up one side from the
corner and 20 feet up the other. I adjust the short
side until the distance between the two measures 25
feet. Checking all four corners this way keeps the
rink square and aligned perfectly."
Mark Kuhne's tap tip:
"Do you have to turn your water (going to the outside tap) on/off from the inside of your house
first everytime you need to flood/resurface your rink? My best purchase was an outdoor faucet that has a rather
long pipe connected to it so that when you shut the water off outside the water does not freeze (because the shut
off is inside the house in that pipe) and you don't EVER have to shut off the water from the inside again
in the wintertime. I purchased mine at Canadian Tire but any hardware store will have it. It's basically a
tap for the winter so that the water stops in the house and does not go outside to the tap where it can freeze
and burst. Make sure you install it so that the low spot is the tap at the outside of the house and the
other end is a touch higher in the house. This way any water left in that long pipe will pour out once you turn
off the tap. Now on really cold nights (-15 and colder), the handle might not turn so don't freak
out like I did. Just get a cup of hot water and pour it on the tap. Perhaps a few drips of water
froze in there. It will turn and away you go."
Zack Swider's maintenance tip:
"After a short skate on your rink or even after you shovel, use a floor squeegee to
completely clean off the ice surface. Whatever it doesn't completely sweep up, it fills
the cracks in the ice."
Mark K's maintenance tip:
"If you have ridges or large bumps you need to fix, fill a bucket with hot water and pour
it in a circular motion over the infected areas (you may need a couple of buckets full). Do this
before resurfacing your rink with the hose and cold water. You could also connect your hose to a
faucet in the house and resurface that area (or the entire rink) with hot water, however if I do
this I have to leave my door a smidgen open and for some reason my wife was not crazy about
that (not sure why, was only -18C that night!). Anyway, the bucket actually works really well
because you are pouring a large amount of water on the area within seconds which will melt
it down and level it off quickly. Skating on it the next day can only help more and you may
need to do it another couple of nights depending on how severe the ridges/bumps were. Also, make
sure temp. is at least -10C or colder the nights you are doing this to avoid shell ice."
Mike Huglen's maintenance tip:
"My boards are painted white on the outside, but that did not stop the sun from thawing my ice.
I bought some 2'x4' styrofoam panels to insulate from the sun's heat. For $25 my problem was fixed."
Craig Johnstone's construction tip:
"Don't throw out that old dome tent when the zipper rips. Keep the graphite "pop up" framing pieces that are strung together. Cut the strings. You now have 18 perfect supports for your frame/boards. Just push 'em in the ground, then hammer into the ground until they're level with the height of the frame/boards."
Rich's hose tip:
"To avoid freezing the hose and to avoid bringing it inside, I turn off the water, disconnect the hose, lift the end of the hose above my head (creating flow to the opposite end) and "walk" the hose to the end while holdng it high. This is a simple way to use gravity to drain the hose. When I get to the nozzle end, I "walk" it back to make sure there's no more water inside. I leave the hose outside, extended (not
bunched). There will be a light film that freezes on the inside of the hose, but not enough to cause a blockage. Just make sure to clean wet snow out of both ends before lying them down. Works every time."
Andre Sofair's hockey net tip:
"PVC pipe with cemented joints is a simple way to make the pipes for a hockey net. I use 90 degree joints for all of the corners and a T joint at the middle of the top bar with a piece of PVC pipe to connect a piece to the bottom back pipe for stability. It is light, strong and can be made to any size. You can use an old tennis net or purchased street hockey netting to finish it off. Mine is 5 years old and has never cracked but we never shoot slap shots."
Howard's liner tip:
"Buy a liner from NiceRink. I got one this year (2007-08) and boy was I pleasantly surprised. It's thick, strong and white. What a wonderful product."
Randy Gallant's flooding tip:
"I use the tripod that came with my halogen worklight, formed a cross out of some scrap material and
mounted it on top of the tripod, parallel to the ground. Then, I took a short section of hose (washing machine hose),
drilled 3 small holes in the hose, blocked one end, and mounted it with plastic zip-ties around the cross (holes pointing
down). I place 3 Rubbermaid containers under the holes, connect the short hose to my garden hose, and turn the water on a
slow but steady stream. When the containers fill I slip outside, tip them over in opposite directions, and go back in as they
fill again. The tripod holds the hose up so that as I am emptying the buckets, I don't have to worry about a stream melting a
hole in the ice and allows me to fill three buckets at once. I adjust the flow depending on the temperature so that the time
between fill ups allows for the previous flood to freeze. An extra help is to toss a kid's rubber ball (soccer ball sized)into
one of the buckets. When you look out the window and can see the ball (AKA float) approaching the top of the bucket you know it's
time to get your boots on and head outside. A very time efficient way to add many floods once you have a good base started. I have
even set my alarm clock to ring every couple of hours and used this method to put on several floods if we have a cold night, while
still getting a decent sleep. PS, if one hole flows too fast, try turning a wood screw part way into the hole to slow the flow."
Lyndon McFate's rink building tip:
"I have a NiceRink 20x40 starter kit in it's 3rd season. The kids really
enjoy it! I didn't want to put holes in the liner by stapling it to the 12"
high plywood boards, so once the liner was in place, and draped over
the boards, I used the standard white vinyl "J" channel used home vinyl
siding installations. It comes in 12 foot lengths and is relatively
inexpensive to buy at your local home center. It's perfect for keeping
the liner from blowing around in the wind, and helps protect it from
skate and stick tears, as the kids step in and out of the rink."
Feel free to pass along any tips you have to offer.