Ice skating is an active family activity that can provide hours of fun through the cold winter months.  Rather than going to a public skating rink, you can go to websites and build your very own skating rink in just 3 simple steps, which are to:

  • choose the type of rink
  • make your base and perimeter
  • fill with water and let it freeze

After completing these 3 steps, you will be able to have your own backyard skating rink that the entire family can enjoy!

Choosing Your Rink Type

There are 3 different types of ice skating rinks to choose from.  In order to determine which one is right for you, you will need to learn about the specific details of each.

Old Fashioned Method

In summary, this option will require you to pack snow to make a base for your rink, flood with water a little at a time, and let each layer of water freeze before adding more water to the top.  You should choose this type of rink if you:

  • want the cheapest rink option
  • have consistent cold weather conditions
  • don't mind the extra labor throughout the winter season

Liner Method

This method requires less labor to make and maintain the rink because it uses a plastic tarp or liner for the base instead of packed snow.  Also, instead of adding water slowly, you will be able to fill the rink much quicker than the traditional method because the rink will have a perimeter.  This rink type is a little more expensive than the traditional method because of the tarp and boards you will need to purchase.

Refrigerated Method

Unless you are experienced in ice rink pipe systems, you will most likely need a professional to install this type of rink.  You should choose this method if you:

  • want a rink that is the most professional looking
  • want to be able to skate and play hokey on the rink throughout cold and warm temperatures
  • do not mind the extra expenses you will need to spend on an ice skating rink
  • have a climate with inconsistent temperatures

With this type of rink, pipes under the rink use a chiller system which carries a refrigerant (usually salt water) under the rink's surface to keep the rink frozen despite the changing temperatures (note: if you choose this method, you will not need to complete the other two steps in this procedure).

Making Your Base And Perimeter

Now that you have chosen your method, the next step is to create your base (old fashioned and liner method) and perimeter (only for liner method).  Depending on the method that you choose, the base will be different (snow for the old fashioned method and a plastic liner or tarp for the liner method).

Old Fashioned Snow Base

To pack the snow properly for your base, you will need to make sure that the snow is just below melting point (you do not want the snow to be too moist or too dry) and that the weather is at least -10 degrees Celsius.  Then, follow these instructions to properly pack the snow:

  1. Wearing snow boots, stomp down on the entire area that you want to build your rink.
  2. Pack more snow in areas that are lower so that your entire area is level.
  3. Using a lawn roller, go over the area a couple of times until there are no holes or ridges and you have a completely flat surface that is about 3"-5" thick.

Liner Base and Perimeter

Before creating your base, you will need to first set up your perimeter.  To build your own rink boards (for the perimeter of your rink), you can either construct them yourself, or if you are not experienced in carpentry, you can purchase them.  Once your boards are up and in place, take your plastic liner and place it directly on ground within your perimeter and pull it up and over the boards so that it extends a couple of inches on the ground outside of the rink.

Flood With Water And Let Freeze

The last and final step is to flood your rink with water.  In the old fashioned method, because there is no perimeter, you will need to:

  • choose to start flooding your area with water during 3-4 consecutive nights that have consistent weather of between 2-10 degrees Celsius
  • flood your area with 1/2-1 inches of water at a time
  • be sure that the water is completely frozen before adding another layer
  • start creating your ice base at the beginning of winter so that you have a thick base built up while the weather is the coldest (usually between November-December)
  • be patient and add water slowly

For the liner method, the process is much more simple because you can add the water all at once.  Once your perimeter and liner are in place, and the temperature is below 10 degrees and will remain that temperature for at least 3 days, flood the entire area with water and let it freeze.  Now that you know the steps to creating your very own ice skating rink, you will be able to have a place to skate and enjoy the cool weather right in your very own backyard!