Introduction: Easy and Inexpensive Ice Rink

Picture of Easy and Inexpensive Ice Rink

I was going to build the PVC rink, but that stuff is pretty expensive, so I came up with wood design that is cheap and easy, and can even be used with a yard with a slight slope. It can be built in a few hours for under $50

Step 1: Materials and Layout

Picture of Materials and Layout

You will need:

A drill, saw, razor knife
Small box of 1.5 inch wood screws
Small box of 2.5 inch wood screws
Ten 8 foot 2x4 studs
Ten 8 foot 1x2 pine strips (4 cut in half)
20x25 foot piece of 6 mil plastic

This will build a 24 foot by 16 foot rink. Not huge, but fun for some 1/2 court hockey! It has been a great spot to teach my kids how to skate.

Unroll the plastic in the most level area of the yard
Layout the 2x4 studs three on the sides and 2 on the ends

Step 2: Screw Together

Picture of Screw Together

Screw each corner together with two 2.5 inch wood screws, and each seam also with two 2.5 inch wood screws.

Step 3: Wrap and Secure

Picture of Wrap and Secure

Wrap the plastic over the outside toward the middle of the rink and stagger the 1x2's over the top of the studs and secure with the 1.5 inch wood screws at each seam and every 16 inches or so.

Don't pull the plastic too tight... a little bit of slack (2 inches or so) on the bottom will help raise the rink to level it in the next step.

Start in the corner with the 4 foot piece first to stagger the seams to give it some more strength.

Step 4: Fill and Level

Picture of Fill and Level

Cut the excess plastic that is wrapped over the top, leaving 4 inches extra into the rink. Be careful not to cut the lining plastic!

Fill with water. If there is a slope you will notice it beginning to fill up quicker on one side faster than the other. Place scrap lumber under the plastic under the perimeter stud every 2 feet or so to raise the perimeter up to allow the rink to be level. Keep raising it as it fills. Mine was at least 10 inches thick in one of the corners. I filled it to be at least 2-3 inches thick at the low end.

The Perimeter begins to act like one of those inflatable 10 foot kids pools where the top ring rises, as it fills. I was very surprised how strong it was.

I watched the weather and built it on a day that was 40 degrees with the weather turning to 20 that night and lasting for a week. This made it comfortable to build outside, and I only had to wait 2 days for the ice to harden.

It has thawed and frozen twice this season, and each time I add a thin layer of water when it is a little above freezing to smooth the surface.

The rink can be made bigger if your yard allows. Just buy a couple more studs and a bigger piece of plastic.

Step 5: Recycle

Picture of Recycle

At the end of the season I will store and reuse the 1x2's, cut up the 2x4's for outside firewood, and cut up and recycle the plastic.

We purchased a bunch of skates at the play-it-again sports store for $15-$30 each. Have fun!


led wiz (author)2011-11-07

The last few years I have been making the perimeter with 2x6's and 2x10's finding the slope of the yard with a laser to make a bigger rink. I have purchased from craigslist a 44x60' piece of 6mil, built caps for the top of the 2x6's out of 1x2's to protect it from getting in and out with skates on, and also triangle side supports out of 1x2's to keep the boards straight when it gets temporarily warm mid-season. I have built one of the pvc water zamboni's. I leave the wood stacked behind the garden, and this will be my third year reusing it. This year i hope to add 12" plywood inserts on the inside of the ice to stop the puck from getting lost in the snow. GOOD LUCK!

led wiz (author)2010-10-17

There is a great forum/group that has lots of info and pictures of Back Yard Rinks from around the globe. It is a must visit!

thomaspeck99 (author)2015-01-16

How do you keep the boards vertical without them falling down if you know what I mean by that? Also any tips on how to flood the plastic?

mselha made it! (author)2015-01-06

Be careful with the corners. I cut too much plastic off and had to do some leak repair.

Sporty_Navy (author)2014-11-13

this is my first year of making one. I used the old wood we had in the barn and is held up with little Schmidt blocks different sizes one side is up against a building and now all i need is plastic and something to hold it down with!!

danny182 (author)2014-01-19

this is a couple years old but i think ill put an instructional up of mine. i live in manitoba and weathers -20 to - 40 celcius all winter. so its pretty easy to maintain. but for my perimeter i used trees i cut down. just cleaned them up nice taking all the branches off. and by christmas i have enough snow from shovelling it off to build 3-4 foot "walls". my rinks 40 feet by 30 feet.

Kristipoo86 (author)danny1822014-02-22

Do you have any pictures? We're in Winnipeg and are making plans to build a backyard rink next year!

danny182 (author)Kristipoo862014-02-26

hi. i dont have any pictures of how i built it. i have current pics. but this spring ill take some pics of how i did it. i can show u some current pics if youd like. im not sure how to send pics on here tho lol.

Kristipoo86 (author)danny1822014-02-28

That'd be great - thanks! I can PM you my email

danny182 (author)Kristipoo862014-02-28

ya forsure pm it. ill take some new pics this weekend. have to shovel it.. again... lol

tiffanylynn444 (author)2011-11-06

Thanks for the great instructions! My husband went out to pick up the materials today but found the plastic sheeting to be super expensive! Where did you purchase yours to keep this project cost under $50?

led wiz (author)tiffanylynn4442011-11-07

Home depot has 20x50' 3mil (a little thinner) plastic for under $30

led wiz (author)tiffanylynn4442011-11-07

3 mil 20x50' sheet at the home depot is under $30

mrdudej (author)2011-10-11

how thick is the ice

led wiz (author)mrdudej2011-11-07

go at least 3" everywhere... thicker if you can

boomrlargo (author)2011-01-02

How thick would you say your ice sheet was on average?

led wiz (author)boomrlargo2011-01-03

Between 3 inches and 8 inches... any thinner and if it gets too warm... the ice slab will float a bit, it can crack, and the skates can slice the plastic causing leak spots... and leaking from the bottom is a rink killer

duck_tape_ (author)2010-01-23

Should you remove snow from the ground under it, or build it on top of the snow.

wberpunk (author)duck_tape_2010-01-24

My brother puts one up every year.  He begins prepping for it in at the latest mid-november.  depending on where you are, you most likely won't have snow.

duck_tape_ (author)wberpunk2010-01-24

thanks =)

led wiz (author)duck_tape_2010-01-26

Definately remove the snow... it makes the low areas fill better...its time well spent

bassclarinet23 (author)2009-09-30

Or, you could just flood the yard. Nice project.

imboox2 (author)bassclarinet232010-01-25

 Hard to do just flooding the yard unless you live in an extremely cold area. My soil was gravel and even in the winter it would drink water. 

In town a friend did a rink every year flooding a purposely raised and bermed area in their extra side lot. They had a layer of very clay rich soil brought in and spread that around about 4" thick  and made about an 8" high berm around the edge using the clay. A bunch of friends took turns hand tamping it with tampers (not their hands). They had a small low area on one side in the berm for the warmer weather so the yard did not flood when it rained. In winter they'd dam the drain area and flood the yard. Saturate the soil first and let that freeze and then finish it off with a couple more floods. Oh yeah, they had 2 " or more of top soil on the clay and grass grew great there each year.

bassclarinet23 (author)imboox22010-01-26

Yeah,  I know. I was just kidding.

PyroMaster007 (author)2008-12-31

my mom thinks it'll kill the grass and ultimatley do damage tothe yard so she woun't let me set mine up. any ideas to convince her?

wenpherd (author)PyroMaster0072009-07-21

try, wouldent the snow do just as much damege to the yard

led wiz (author)PyroMaster0072008-12-31

I'm pretty sure if you get it up before it hits spring (or at least before it hits 40 regularly...and can't use it should not hurt the grass.) I know I don't want to re-seed! Plus as a bonus, when you drain it, it waters the lawn before it comes out of dormancy! Win-win. Good luck!

PyroMaster007 (author)led wiz2008-12-31

thanks. she thinks it will tear up the yard...

instructors (author)2008-12-19

Cool to see an instructable for a wooden one, could I post a link of your instructable on mine, just to show them an alternative for the PVC?

led wiz (author)instructors2008-12-20

Sure! Yours is great.

About This Instructable




Add instructable to: