Picture of Make a cheap backyard ice-skating rink
For 3 years now my family has been putting up a homemade ice rink in our backyard. The method was a very simple one only requiring a flat area, some PVC, a large plastic tarp, along with some extra tools, and of course water. This method is better then allot of the wooden ones for several reasons: wooden one are hard to put up and the wood will rot, aren't really portable, isn't really cheap for a vast area, and takes a bit more water (meaning more time it takes to freeze).
As far as I know, the Idea for the PVC ice rink came from my father, who was looking at building an ice rink. In his quest he found several professional ice rinks, that sold for allot of money (up to $600 dollars!), money that he didn't have. So then the Idea of the homemade PVC ice rink emerged!

Here are the instructions...

Step 1: Materials and Pricing

Picture of Materials and Pricing
For materials you will need....

36 - 4" schedule 20 PVC sewer pipe = around $5-$8dollars* (we will be using 10ft pipes)
4 - 4" PVC corners = around $3*
1 - 40' x 100' 6 mil polyethylene plastic liner = around $100* **

Total cost = around $300
Total use = around 3-5 winters

These are the basic materials for building your average sized ice rink, but it all comes done to the tarp size and how much PVC you have. Also be prepared for strange looks at the home builder's store if you try this, we wiped out most of their supply of PVC and over heard many comments that we must be building a really big septic system!

*these prices were from about 4 years ago, and we bought are materials in Maine, so basically prices subject to change.

** All depends on what the size is, ours was actually double what we needed, but was worth it.

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ewilhelm6 years ago
This is a cool Instructable, and I will be glad to feature it once you correct the spelling of "rink."
instructors (author)  ewilhelm6 years ago
Thanks for pointing that out, once I think A word is spelled a certain way, I forget how to spell it correctly : )
Sorry, one other nit in your most excellent Instructable; "allot" is not a word. It is two words, "a lot". Keep up the good work, I really enjoyed reading this!
I like that there is constructive criticism here, instead of flaming for mistakes. Very nice, I am actually reading the posts! Anyone have any ideas for a rink made in just the snow? Have a very level back yard, about 5 inches of snow. And it is Manitoba, so it will be in the very negative numbers for some time yet. Have a 4 year old and don't want to waste any money, just our effort, in case she has no interest. I loved skating, would be fun to try it again!
instructors (author)  bearaquila6 years ago
It would be possible to create a rink from snow. The one thing you would need to do is either pack down the snow really well, or wait for it to ice over. It would probably take allot of trial and error though.
Hi. Just curious did this ever work with just the snow?
Hi. Just curious did this ever work with just the snow?
how long did this step take you? How long do you think it will talk 9 teens and 2 adults?

What do you do if your rink is more than 40 feet wide which is the widest tarp?

so how does step numbah 3 work, i don't get it at all, great idea, i am gonna try it with some scrap wood i have laying around so i don't hafta buy pvc, i am kinda poor:(. nice instructable though.
instructors (author)  PyroMaster0076 years ago
In step three, all thats happening is that were cutting some of the pvc so we can use them as caps to hold down the PVC. you can see the end result in pic, its can of hard to explain in an instructable, but ill see if I can add anything to make it more understandable.

Can you elaborate?? Do you cut down the middle going the whole length of the pipe? And then what...spread it enough to snap on the outside of the existing pipe with the plastic draped and secure in the middle??

ptrobrn8 months ago
A suggestion for water... some villages will let you rent a hose and meter for the fire hydrant. The meter rate for the hydrant is often much lower than the water from your house and considerably faster.
lcs50009 months ago
Is there a way to "chill" the ice
I live in Georgia it only gets cold in the night
jordosc lcs50009 months ago

With about $25k you can get an at home refrigeration system! You'd need to use it a lot to get your money's worth in that case. Better stick to a local indoor rink.

Gretajenn1 year ago
I wish I'd found this before I built my rink. How do I smooth out bumpy, chunky ice? I've tried everything; hot water, cold water, spreading water out with a push broom. Still....chunky ice!

I tried the email address and it bounced back. :-(
kmfegley Gretajenn10 months ago

The best way to keep out bumps is to fill the rink in stages not all at once put down 55 gallons at a time until you have full coverage it will be smooth as silk

If you have an iron with no holes in it, you could try that to smooth down the chunky sections.
I'm hoping Mother Nature fixed it for me. We had rain which melted my chunky ice, then freezing rain, and now the high tomorrow is supposed to be 0. If this dang rink doesn't freeze up nicely tonight and tomorrow I'm not sure if anything will help it. I'll throw down plywood and buy the boys rollerblades!

even after one of the worst winters of my life I still think it would be cool to have my own flat sheet of ice to try skating or curling on... I guess if next winter is anywhere near as cold as this past one was ill build one and try doing something else than sit inside!

ruggster3 years ago
I checked this out and think it is cool but what advantage is there to using PVC over wood? For less than the price of the PVC you could buy PT and never have to replace those materials. I would think the set up and dissassembly would be easier with a simple circular saw and wood screws. Also, wood is much more forgiving than PVC.
jaypeak3 years ago
I've been making my rink following your instructions; so far so good. Did you end up making anything to go over the top of the corners? You mentioned maybe doing a wood triangle piece. I'm worried about skates cutting the plastic there. Thanks.
epiphanyMD3 years ago
Rink Size: 36 feet x 46 feet
2x10x8feet SPF Dimension Lumber [home depot]
20 pieces x $7/piece = $140

36 x 4" schedule 20 PVC sewer pipe [ home depot $20 with tax!].
= $720 for the PVC pipes.
Note: The layer that protects the plastic liner costs $720/3 = $360.

Whereas the 32x100ft 6mil poly liner only costs $200/2 = $100. [home depot]

Wood Total = $240
PVC =$820.

jfdestazio3 years ago
How do you compensate for ground that is not level? Our area drops about 6 to 8 inches.
xZCodmaNZx6 years ago
you spelled rink rong
you spelled wrong wrong.lol
 and bump, and "I". :) But we know what he meent.  :P
nolte9196 years ago
Have you ever tried using hot water to maintain your rink? If I remember from an episode of Monster Garage where they made a Zamboni, they used hot water. I think it bonds better with the ice or something.

Also, some people prefer to list their email like "zktech at aol dot com" so automatic webcrawlers don't find their email address as easily and add it to every list known to man. Although if I was writing the webcrawling software I'd look for that pattern too. Others include their email as a picture like this guy. That latter method probably works better.
instructors (author)  nolte9196 years ago
Hot water is a great Idea because it freezes faster (i don't get it either), the reason is because I don't get hot water from the hose connected to my house, and plus its usually below freezing most of the time at my house. Also thanks for the warning Ill be sure to change it!
the point of hot water is to melt a very thin surface of the ice to fill in the marks put by ice skated, i worked at an icerink
The hot water freeze faster because of evaporation. The process of evaporation substract heat this is why if you get wet with alcohol it feel fresh even at room temperature. Because alcohol is very volatile I hope you get the idea, sorry for my poor English
nolte919 lookas6 years ago
This would explain why the hotter water cools faster but at some point the hot water would be the same temperature as the cool-starting water. So why, at that point, would it continue to evaporate faster? I've heard of this phenomenon before, did a quick Google search, and found this excellent page. It does mention evaporation as one of five possible explanations, all of which could have an effect. This phenomenon has been observed with closed containers so factors other than evaporation must also be at work.

According to this site, hockey arena ice maker, Bruce Tharaldson, states why hot water is used: "The heated water, according to Tharaldson, is about 140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (60-63 centigrade); "the hotter the water," he says, "the more even a surface you'll get -- it melts that top layer when you cut across (the ice)."
 Hot water costs more money and is bad for the planet. use cold water and a large squeegee to put a thin smooth coat while cleaning the loose chaff at the same time. Try to reuse the liner for gardening or packaging, covering firewood, moisture proofing the basement, making a root cellar.
Facebook lists your email address as a picture on your profile page for just that reason
kalland5 years ago
I Have a problem!! I made a rink and it came out great BUT the january thaw came, made it into a pond and then refroze. The Problem is that when it refroze there are a ton of air pockets under a thin layer of ice.  Because it cracks when you walk on it it is ruined! What do i do? Shovel out the broken ice or flood it again?  There is not much room for more water.
pattyaitch5 years ago
'spelled rink rong???' Anyway I love it, and do thank you for this. I don't care about misspelled words, though good for a chuckle,. We've been planning to make a rink for a Granddaughter who is a figure skater. it's a trip of 50-70 miles to take her to practice. She could spend that travel time practicing on her own ice. Thanks again.
lava.tomato5 years ago
the hobo?
Nice project. Does it damage the grass? An easier way would be to clear the yard and flood it. :)
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