Thinking of building a backyard ice rink? After building these things from scratch for the past 30 something years, I’m convinced buying a kit is the way to go. Now, with the way 2020 went, if lumber prices stay where they’re at, building one yourself won’t actually be any cheaper (as compared to something like an EZ Rink).
My reasoning for using a kit to build your backyard ice rink is fairly simple. If kids can keep the puck in play, and the ice quality is better, they’ll use your backyard rink more often.
Wait, what does an ice rink kit have to do with making the ice quality better? I’ll get to that. But for now, yes, the best backyard ice rink kits actually make the quality of your ice better.
So with all that being said, building a backyard ice rink is actually pretty simple. You’ve got to set up boards, install a liner (no, you do not need one but it will make your life way easier) and add water. Oh, and it has to be cold out. For the sake of ease, we do recommend getting your rink ready to go before everything is totally frozen solid, as it will make your life a lot easier.
At the end of this guide, we’ll show you how to build a backyard ice rink step by step.
In this article, we’re taking a look at several backyard rink kits. There are plenty of other options on the market, but I won’t write about them, as I haven’t used them. If you’re new here, let us be crystal clear on one things. We write about things we know, things we’ve personally used. Fortunately, Goalie Coaches is one of the largest goalie training companies in the world, so we get the chance to test things out. I think that gives us an unfair advantage when it comes to deep dive product knowledge style content.
Anyhow, enough of my mumbling.
Here are my favorite backyard ice rink kits that you can buy for this winter.
- EZ Rink (easiest to set up and install)
- Ice N Go (most affordable)
- Iron Sleek Rink Kit (strongest and most durable)
Here are our favorite backyard ice rink kits on the internet
Before we jump into this, a quick disclaimer. When we write about things here at Goalie Coaches, we don’t just write about stuff we kind of know about. We certainly don’t write about things that we have no ideas about. So for these ice rink kits, we’ve either used them or know somebody personally who has. When we tell you to buy something, we understand and take great pride in the fact that we’re putting our names on it. I mentioned this above.
That said, your trust isn’t just important to me. It’s everything. If we cannot deliver on this, we cease to exist.
So, with that being said, these truly are the best of the best ice rink kits for backyard hockey. You can absolutely build a rink without a kit, we’ll cover that below. But, for those of you, like me, who would rather just set the kit up flood it and forget it.. here you go. Enjoy!
EZ Rink (easiest to set up and install)
The EZ Rink is the single best backyard ice rink kit on the market right now. It’s also the most expensive, so consider the investment before you buy.
The EZ Rink system comes in a variety of sizes:
There are a few big advantages to the EZ Rink system, the first of which has nothing to do with the actual skating surface itself. The biggest reason you should consider buying one of these for your backyard is the ease of storage. The EZ Rink system is far and away the easiest to setup, takedown, and store. The last thing you want to do is go out and buy new boards every season, just because you’re not interested in storing them.
If you’re looking to save some serious dollars, the Ice N Go kit is 1/5th the price, but you’ve got to buy your own boards and make sure they’re ripped to size.
If you’re the type that likes being sold by a cheesy product video.. here you go. Actually though, skip to 10 seconds in and they show how easy this is to set up. You get what you pay for when it comes to these things and the EZ Rink kit is easily one of the best money can buy.
Ice N Go (most affordable)
I love the Ice N Go kit for one reason, and one reason only.
It saves you money. Lots of money.
BUT – before you buy, it does not come with the 2×4 and plywood sheet sideboards.
Now, if lumber prices are skyrocketing out of control, this kit may not actually save you tons.
If you’re buying anything other than the EZ Rink, for that matter, make sure that a liner is included with the kit and there is clear instructions for set up. The last thing you want to do, despite the fact that these backyard ice rinks are pretty self explanatory, is to spend your entire weekend trying to figure out how to set one of these up when you could be flooding the rink.
Iron Sleek (strongest and most durable)
The Iron Sleek system is much like the Ice N Go, but you use 2×12 10 foot boards for the walls instead of 3/8″ plywood.
In terms of durability, the Iron Sleek wins this competition if you use the right boards for the walls. It’s not necessarily because of the build, it’s because of the boards you use for the walls. Remember that.
Benefits of the Iron Sleek Rink Kit
- Easier to set up (if you have the material) than the EZ Rink.
- Most durable by far, this kit will last years
Backyard Ice Rink FAQs
Building an awesome ice rink for your kids to enjoy is an art form, don’t let anybody tell you differently. The best part is, if you live in a cold climate where the temperature stays relatively chilly (as in, doesn’t get above freezing for extended periods of time during the winter), building one of these rinks is simple.
Can you build a backyard ice rink in a day?
You can build your own backyard rink using one of these kits, or by adding water to frozen ground, in under a day if the weather is cold enough. If you use a liner, you can skate on your backyard rink within hours.
I’ve done it before, on numerous occasions. Living in Minnesota, it’s not that hard. The first time the weather is forecasted to stay below 10 degrees for the week, I head outside and flood. Many of my friends will simply let their hose run into their rink with a liner and as soon as they’ve got 2-3 inches of water, turn the hose off and let it freeze. Skating on your backyard ice sheet is just as good as going to the rink, if not better!
What are the best boards for backyard rinks?
2″ thick by 12″ tall by 10′ long are the best outer boards for a backyard rink setup. These boards last the longest, especially if you get green treated wood and paint it white.
It’s worth checking your kit, if you’re using one, just because it may use something like 3/8″ or 1/2″ plywood.
Do I need a liner for my backyard ice rink?
The use of a liner conserves the most water, provides the most even skating surface, and allows you to use your ice 10 times faster than without one.
We absolutely recommend using a liner for ice rinks in the backyard, simply because it saves water. Aside from the obvious, it’s by far the quickest way to get solid ice as it self levels. If you’re not using a hand held Zamboni for your backyard rink, an unlevel surface can last the entire year. Just get a liner, you won’t regret it.
If I use a liner, do I need to use boards?
While you do not HAVE to use boards, liners work much easier when paired with boards. This is because the outer rink boards hold the water inside the liner, forming a pool which quickly turns to ice.
Liners also make your ice stronger when used with boards. This is because you’ll be able to get thicker ice much faster. If you flood a liner without outer boards, you’re asking for weeks of frustration in trying to flood the ice without cracking it.
What should I put on my backyard rink during the summertime?
A growing trend is the use of synthetic ice. While it’s nowhere near the same thing as regular ice, it’s becoming more and more affordable and thus popular in backyard rinks around the world.
Building A Backyard Ice Rink
In it’s most basic form, building a backyard ice rink involves simply watering your lawn with below freezing temperatures. Of course, there are plenty of ways to drastically improve the backyard rink, but not all are necessary. We’re going to take you through the process of building your own backyard rink this winter.
How you can build your own backyard ice rink
- Prepare the area in which your rink will be located
- Stage your rink for ice, set up boards, lights, and liner surface
- Flood the rink when temperatures are below freezing
- Maintain your ice surface
Preparing the area for your backyard ice rink
By far the easiest way to make your backyard ice rink experience easier is to pre stage the entire area. We’ll get into setting up boards, materials to use, and lighting, so for now just select the area and make sure it’s graded appropriately. Any major slopes will make it tougher to flood and create an even skating surface come winter time.
If you’re using a liner for your rink, we recommend setting that up a few weeks prior to the first anticipated deep freeze. While building a rink without a liner is absolutely doable, having a liner does come with it’s advantages. One of the big advantages to using a rink liner is that it will allow you to use the rink earlier. One of the disadvantages is that if the ice is not maintained properly, it can crack easily and degrade.
Ideally, the site you select for your backyard rink will be free from falling leaves and as out of the sun as possible. If you’re not using a liner, mowing your grass short is a great idea. Long grass in the area of your rink will make way to rotten boils under your skating surface come spring time. Either way, the whole point of a backyard rink is supposed to be convenience, so if you’re doing this for the first time just keep that it mind. Anything goes, really.
Staging the rink
If you’re choosing to buy a kit for your rink, it’s far easier to set that up before the ground freezes. Not only is pounding stakes into a frozen landscape more challenging, it’s a whole lot less fun when you’re freezing cold the entire time.
Regardless of how overboard you decide to get with your boards and liner, including lighting in your rink is a great idea. Building your own light poles that are at least 8 feet or taller will allow you to use the rink once the short winter sun sets for the evenings. Adding lights to your rink is easy and a must do. Setting these up ahead of time is a great way to kill a few hours during the fall.
Flooding your rink
Flooding a backyard rink is as easy as it sounds. When first starting out, simply soak the ground with water when temperatures are well below freezing, and repeat until you’ve got a skatable surface. You’re going to have a lot of bumps when flooding the ground for your rink, so keep going until the surface is almost flat. Once you’ve got a 1″ base, the ice should be smooth enough to skate on.
Maintaining a backyard rink
Rink maintenance once you’ve built the surface is incredibly easy. Simply shovel the ground up ice off the surface and re flood the rink as neccesary. There are tools, which we’ll get into, like a homemade backyard rink Zamboni, that make your life (and skating surface) much better.
How to improve your backyard rink experience
Backyard rink ideas