After looking into costs and types of rinks, we settled on building a wooden frame and lining it with a plastic liner. Dad estimated the cost of materials at around $300 and we had a garage sale to raise the funds.
So....Just to clarify - this will NOT be a post on how to build a rink. Why? Because between last winter and this winter, we have just about made every mistake in the book, and we are still very much "ice rink rookies". If you google, you will find a LOT of great websites, most of them way up in Canada somewhere, that will give you step by step directions for building a rink, or even sell you a kit to do so easily!
Instead, this is a post talking about the memories that we have built so far with our backyard rink.
Last winter we had the mildest winter that our area has seen in many, many years. We had little snow, and less "freezing" days. Well, in order to have fun on a backyard rink, you HAVE to have freezing temps! Otherwise, you might as well turn it into a little backyard pond where you could sail remote control boats! So we definitely did not get as much use last year as we could have....but we are hoping and praying this winter will be more ice-rink friendly.
But even without an abundance of skating days, we have been able to use our rink to build some family memories, first by raising the money together.
Next, there is the "rink building day".
|Laying out the framework.|
|Screwing the boards together.|
|Thanking the Lord for power tools!|
Then there is the night maintenance crew! There's nothing like hauling buckets of hot water on a freezing night to build family ties!
I can share some mistakes we have made and a few lessons learned along the way, just in case it helps! First big mistake was having too much water in the liner before the temperatures dropped. We got the rink and liner set up but then received a lot of rain. Since that was our first attempt, we didn't know to pump some of the water out, and we ended up with too much water, which had a hard time freezing all the way through, and delayed our skating opportunities until the ice was finally thick enough.
Another lesson learned.....don't step out on the ice to test the thickness! Yes, this is one of our favorite stories - and it involved some very cold feet on the way to church!
Hot water spread in thin layers gives the best and smoothest skating surface.
Don't use a sprinkler, even though a few sites tell you to spread the water this way. It gives a very pitted and uneven surface, especially if the temps are really cold.
Don't leave a hose running across the surface of the ice! The running water melts a big hole in the ice, and the hose also can melt a rut big enough to sink into....and then freeze!
Great Stuff makes a great filler if you get a tear in your lining!
Keep snow shoveled off the surface but be careful walking out on the lining. If you can avoid walking on it, and can shovel (or carefully pull the snow off with a snow rake) from the edges, than you should just do all your snow removal from the edges.
Ice skating at night in your own backyard is VERY cool! If you live in a climate that is conducive to building a backyard ice rink, I hope one day that you will make the attempt to do so. Our family has had some great fun together because of our rink, and we are looking forward to many other fond memories in days to come!