Now that you’ve followed my Backyard Ice Rink Buying Guide and picked yourself up all the right essentials and tools, I will take you through the easy steps of actually putting your new personal home ice rink together.
This guide will help whether you’ve decided to buy one of our all-in-one Backyard Ice Rink Kits, if you have bought all the parts separately for a custom backyard rink, or are even building your own ice rink from scratch! The essentials and steps are the same for any Backyard Ice Rink build.
Measuring out the ice rink perimeter
The first step is to measure and mark out the perimeter of where you want your ice rink (this step should also have been done before buying the materials for your ice rink, so there are hopefully no surprises!). Doing this first will let you see what space you have to work with, where you may have any obstructions, and where you have uneven spots in your yard. It will also be your guide for where you will be securing the brackets and sideboards. Making sure your markings are straight will ensure that the walls of your ice rink will also be straight and even.
Measure the backyard slope
Measure your yard’s slope and get an idea of how tall the water will be at the deep end of the ice rink. To do this, start at the highest point in your yard, stack four hockey pucks and place a laser leveler on top of them. These pucks will give you the minimum recommended depth of four inches. Point the laser in the direction of the lowest part of your yard. Once there, use a sideboard with a known height so that you can easily calculate the depth at that point. This lower area is where you would use extra support spikes in your brackets and maybe even a taller wall (depending on how deep the calculated depth actually is).
If you have an uneven yard, don’t panic! Areas of the yard that have minor hills or dips will be evened out when the water fills them. Just make sure that you never go under the recommended depth of four inches.
Installing the ice rink brackets
Now that the perimeter of your ice rink is marked off on your yard, you can start staking down the brackets. Following the instructions for the spacing, make sure that all your brackets are evenly spaced – this will ensure that the strain of the weight is evenly distributed and no weak points exist along the perimeter.
Another way to make sure that your ice rink brackets are installed where they need to be is to lay out all of your sideboards on the ground on the perimeter and use them as a reference. For the area where the ice will be deeper, it’s highly recommended that you use extra support spikes to secure the brackets into position. These spikes can be purchased separately.
Installing the ice rink sideboards
This step is as simple as just popping the sideboards into the brackets and securing them together! For the areas that may exceed 14 inches of ice, use a taller wall and that extra support spike. For those that have purchased the NiceRink sideboards, you will not only will be able to lock the sideboards together, but will also have an extra support feature that allows you to add in an optional support board for those areas with taller ice.
Installing the ice rink liner
Once the main body of your backyard ice rink is complete and the area where the liner will come into contact with the ground is clear of any potential puncture hazards, you are able to install the liner. Since most liners come folded and rolled up, make sure you follow the unrolling directions that come with your liner. Most often than not, the liner will need to be rolled out length-wise. To do so, place one end of the roll over one of your walls and unroll to the other end of the ice rink. Ensure that both sides of the roll drape over the walls evenly. Once unrolled and centered, unfold the sides and carefully drape them across all walls of the perimeter of the ice rink. Carefully pat the liner down to where it meets the wall and the ground.
Adding the ice rink water
Your ice rink is officially ready to be filled! That being said, unless you want a backyard pond instead of a backyard ice rink, make sure that you are getting into a part of the season where the weather will consistently be below freezing. If you are planning on using the rink to play hockey fill it a bit over halfway and let it freeze. Once solid, you can either lay some painter’s tape or spray paint the ice with some stripes. Once dry, continue filling the ice rink and let it freeze.
The water will take a long time to freeze solid, so patience is key. This will help you avoid breaking the ice and then having it freeze unevenly. Make sure to also fish out any leaves or twigs that fall into the water before the water has completely frozen – these will likely get in the way of safe skating.
Ice Hockey Nets
For those that will be playing hockey, make sure you are aware of the installation setup for your hockey nets. Some ice rink hockey nets may require extra steps during the filling and freezing process, so make sure you don’t overlook anything.
Ice Rink Maintenance
Make sure the ice in your backyard ice rink is always clear of snowfall and is smooth and safe. To do so, plan a routine cleaning and resurfacing schedule even if the rink isn’t getting constant use. For rinks that get heavy use, this may have to be done much more frequently.
Time to skate!
You are all set! You have gone through all the checks and have made sure that you have a structurally secure personal home ice rink. You have let the water freeze thoroughly and if you have followed these steps you should now have a skate-ready backyard ice rink for this winter season, and many more to come.
Congratulations! Now, just make sure to grab your warmest hat and have the hot cocoa waiting!