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Do you need a liner for your outdoor ice rink?

Building outdoor rinks is a family affair – for us it is generational. Beginning with my grandfather, my parents, and now this is a tradition I can share with my kids, nieces and nephews. We learned how to make rinks without a tarp or a liner, and in our opinion, this is the best way to build an outdoor ice rink. 

In the past, when temperatures would get really cold, our local pond would freeze over, and we would skate on that surface. At Rink Wizard, we wanted to share our love for easy, old-fashioned winter fun, in a safe way - right in your own yard! 

Instead of using a liner, we use snow and a little bit of water to create a hard icy base. If you’re lucky enough to have a lot of snow to start, you will want to use your snow shovel to pack down the snow before adding water to create your base level of ice. This takes a bit of time, but it is worth it to start your ice with a solid foundation. We made this a family affair, and include anyone who is around to help us pack the snow!  

The smoother this layer the better, although it does not have to be perfect. Even if your yard has a grade, by installing the Rink Wizard boards properly, and packing the snow down, you will create a solid base. Once you start your flood, gravity will do its job and ensure your ice is flat and even. 

As an added bonus, having the layer of snow under your ice will act as an insulation for your lawn, and protect your grass so it will come back nice and green in the springtime. When your rink naturally starts to melt as the temperature rises, the melt will soak right into your ground – you won’t have to fuss with a liner and worry where to drain the mess of water in your yard. 

It is important you let this base layer of snow and water to freeze before you start your flood – use a mist setting on your hose so it does not apply too much pressure on your snowy surface. Once your base has frozen and you can walk on it, you can start flooding your rink - our recommendation is the base ‘crust’ should be approximately 1/2” thick. 

When starting your flood, we add an inch of water at a time and letting it freeze. We do not recommend starting with less than 2-3 inches. As the season progresses and you maintain your ice with the Magic Ice Resurfacer, your ice will thicken over time. It is also important to pay attention to the 14-day forecast – naturally the colder the temperature the faster the freeze. 

Often times, the most tedious part of ice rink installation is fussing with the liner, and making sure the ground surface under is level, and clear of debris. Many liners and tarps, although durable, experience tears in them, and rink builders have to replace them year after year, which can be costly. Repeated impact from pucks, and the blades on skates can cause punctures and tears, which can lead to leaks, and repeated replacement. 

When taking down your rink in the spring, if you do not remove your liner in a timely manner, it can toast your grass. A liner will have to be cleaned and dried out before storing it in the summer, to avoid mold, and you need a lot space to do that without ruining your lawn. There is also the repeated issue of how to dispose of your worn liner. 

Although many outdoor rink kits come with one, you do not need a liner for a great ice rink. As a family company, we are thrilled to share this kit, and our love of building outdoor ice rinks with you! Share your experience building your own rink in the comments below! 


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