Building a Backyard Hockey Rink
Written By: Connie Adair
Friday, September 18, 2020
Homeowners are looking for ways to keep fit and keep their kids busy this winter, so its not surprising that thoughts are already turning to the backyard hockey rink.
The nice thing is that there are options regardless of budget, from the handyman lumber frame rink, to easy-to-assemble kits, to full-blown NHL-size rinks and synthetic ice rinks.
Twelve years ago, two dads were talking about backyard rinks, and before long they decided to manufacture a product that would make building a rink easy. They were pleasantly surprised when hundreds of people bought their rink kit.
Business has grown significantly since. But this year, Guelph, Ont.-based RinkMaster www.RinkMaster.com is busier than ever, earlier in the year than ever before, says president Chas Birkett. He says he expects sales to double compared to last year. People are focussing on their backyards for recreation with COVID issues, including limited minor hockey this year.
Ice time is limited and hockey parents want to ensure their kids keep skating despite COVID. Other parents just want to keep their kids busy this winter.
RinkMasters kit is an easy way to do that. It includes everything you need. A 15x26-foot kit can be assembled in 30 minutes by an adult and child, Birkett says.
We advise people to set up the rink and fill it with water only when they see a cold spell of at least a few days, with nighttime temperatures well below -5 C and daytime highs at freezing or below, he says.
The bulk of RinkMasters business is liners regardless of the type of rink, you need a new liner every year. They sell thousands each year. The liners, which are six mil thick durable yet not too heavy for shipping come in 100 sizes.
Other products include a 12-inch-high pond hockey net made of one piece of welded steel. Its a beautiful thing, Birkett says, because they encourage players not to shoot pucks high.
To create a smooth ice surface, the company developed FloodMaster, an aluminium tool with a cloth spreader.
Kits are available in 17 sizes, starting at 250. RinkMaster, which sells across Canada and the U.S., can usually ship in a day or two, he says.
Those with bigger budgets may want to extend the skating season by purchasing a rink with a refrigeration unit.
Custom Ice www.customicerinks.com in Burlington, Ont. offers a 24x50-foot portable DIY rink that comes with a refrigeration unit, a wood frame, a liner and cooler pipe for about 30,000 says Glenn Winder, vice president, sales and marketing.
The company manufactures portable and permanent concrete rinks.
An NHL-size concrete rink will set you back about 1 million. Custom Ice also has combination tennis court/rinks, as well as full sports courts that offer a variety of action-packed uses year-round.
The newest product is a combination ice rink/splash pad with a computer-controlled spray jet. Its popular with people who want a water feature but not a pool, Winder says.
For those with backyard space issues, a flat level structure can be built on top of an inground pool, and a portable rink placed on top.
But if you have a permanent spot, 350,000 will buy you a concrete package with a 50x120-foot rink with refrigeration pipes embedded in concrete. In summer, a sports floor can be added on top.
Concrete rinks require site preparation. Keep in mind that concrete work stops with the first frost, so for this year, youre looking at planning/design now and work to begin in spring.
Winder says its important to make sure you have enough power to run a chiller in the backyard. The system is hard-wired and requires 100 amps.
The cost to operate a 24x50-foot rink is about 35 to 55 cents per square foot per month. Rinks are thermostat controlled, so when the weather is cold, the system doesnt run and theres no cost.
When he arrives at a home, Winder says dads are usually on board and excited about a backyard rink. Usually, moms not so much. Winder tells them, In the spring youll thank me. The kids will have been outside, active, off the computer and healthier for it.
In spring, he says moms call and tell him, Youre right. Its the best thing.
Another option is a synthetic ice rink, which can be used inside and out.nbsp;
Many people use the surface in their basements in winter then move it to the deck in summer so kids can get some fresh air. Others set them up permanently in an extra garage bay, says Synthetic Ice Solutions of Canada www.syntheticicesolutions.com owner Wayman Harten.
The Brampton, Ont. company recently shipped one of the largest residential synthetic ice rinks 55.5 by 111 feet to be installed on top of a tennis court in Nashville, Tenn.
After erecting arena panels around the inside perimeter of the tennis court, the owner and friends installed the click-in-place surface in five days. For more typical residential basement projects, the polyethylene arena panels are mounted over drywall, then the half-inch-thick synthetic surface is clicked into place on the floor. The nice thing is that Harten designed his product so that its easy to add to. You can increase the rinks size as children grow.
Harten has been in the plastics industry for 35 years and developed his own brand of synthetic ice, which is not available anywhere else. The half-inch-thick sheets weigh about 75 to 80 pounds and are double-sided. They last between 10 to 15 years per side.
Maintenance includes damp mopping and sweeping.
The systems are not designed to be placed on soft surfaces such as lawns, but are ideal for regular deck systems, patios or a bed of pea gravel thats level and doesnt allow water to pool on top or underneath.
A 12x16 rink costs 1,900 plus HST. It takes four to five business days to create the surface and rinks are shipped worldwide.
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