When building an ice rink outdoors, the main concern is whether or not the grass is going to survive the winter underneath all that plastic and ice. The key to a successful ice rink build that does not damage your grass is using the right ice rink liner.
What Plastic Sheeting Should I Use as a Hockey or Ice Rink Liner?
The best liners to use for ice rinks should have a long life, and not become brittle in extremely cold weather conditions, considering it will be resting between the frozen ground and multiple layers of ice in the freezing cold. Durability is another feature that is important to withstand the weight of the ice on top of a surface that may contain little twigs and rocks. Last, but not least, the best ice rink liners should be. White reflects sunlight, keeping the ice rink free from forming pockets of melted ice. There are durable options also available with white and black sides, but they should be installed with the white side up.
Ideally, your ice rink liner should be at least 6 mils thick. A thicker liner is better for rough ground, while a thinner liner is appropriate for grass. NHL hockey rinks have used Americover’s 6 mil White Dura-Skrim® Reinforced Plastic Sheeting material, but you can shop here to find a solution better suited for your needs.
Related Article: What is Plastic Sheeting Mil Thickness?
Some Considerations When Building an Ice Rink
Once you’ve secured the right plastic sheeting for your hockey rink or ice rink, there are other considerations to process before you can begin building your rink.
The beginning of winter is the best time to build an ice rink. This gives your rink time to freeze thoroughly and means that you can use it for as many weeks out of the year as possible. As winter comes to a close, you’ll be able to disassemble the rink and prepare it to be reassembled at the beginning of the following winter.
Field and Grass
The space where you build the ice rink should be level and flat. Because the ice of the rink will only be a few inches high, it is crucial that there not be any spots with jutting land or rocks. You can build the rink over grass, but any snow should be shoveled away.
Some might wonder whether an ice rink will ruin the grass. If you time the build of your rink correctly, you are less likely to damage your grass. This is because once the temperature is consistently below 50°F, grass goes dormant and can withstand darkness until the Spring.
There aren’t any restrictions on how big or small your ice rink can be. The standard NHL rink is 200 feet long by 85 feet wide. For reference, that is larger than a standard NBA court (91.86 feet long and 49.21 feet wide) and smaller than the standard NFL field (360 feet long and 160 feet wide). It is practical for a backyard hockey rink to be smaller than the standard hockey rink size.
How to Build an Ice Rink
Build the Perimeter
The first step is deciding what to build the perimeter of your ice rink with. You may choose wooden boards, PVC pipe, or lightly packed snow. Using boards may result in a more consistent rink size and shape and helps the rink retain water while being filled.
Unfold the Ice Rink Liner
When you unfold the ice rink liner, keep in mind you won’t be sealing it to the perimeter until after you’ve completely filled the rink to prevent unwanted ripping. Also, try to avoid piercing the liner with nails while you are sealing it to your perimeter. If you would like to add painted lines to your rink, paint PVC or wooden boards, and place them at the bottom of your liner before filling it with water.
Fill the Rink
There are several ways to pack the rink with ice. The two methods that involve natural ice and don’t involve refrigeration are the traditional and liner methods. The traditional method involves packing the snow and then spraying it with water. Packing the snow can be done with your feet or, for a more even pack, with a snow roller. The rink should be filled one or two inches at a time to allow the layers to freeze.
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