As the kids get ready to go back to school and cool air starts to settle in, it's time to start thinking about winter recreation ideas. If you live in an area that doesn't offer winter attractions like public skating rinks, you can create one in your backyard. If you do opt to build a rink, one of the things you need to know is how to resurface the ice. Resurfacing is the best way to keep a small, backyard rink safe to skate on. Here's a look at what you need to know about the process.
Basics of Resurfacing
If you're going to resurface the rink, it's best to do at night. The air will be at its coldest, and there won't be any interference from the sun. Choose a night that's not windy, and make sure it isn't snowing. The still air will ensure a smooth surface.
Sweep the surface of the rink with a stiff push broom. This clears off any snow, ice shavings and debris from the rink. It's important that you don't skip this step, because anything like this left on the rink is likely to create ridges and bumps in the finished surface.
Methods for Resurfacing
There are two ways to resurface a backyard ice rink effectively. The easiest option will depend on your access to a hose and the size of the rink.
- Rink Flooding – Flooding the skating rink is often the fastest and most effective way to resurface the rink. In order to do it effectively, though, you need to have several very large buckets so that you can dump the water on it all at once. The goal is to pour a large volume of water over the top of the rink at one time so that it can all distribute evenly over the surface. By dumping them all at once, you don't have to worry about one bucket full of water freezing unevenly while you're pouring the others.
- Gradual Watering – If you have a garden hose, you've got a handy, easy method for resurfacing your rink. Start at one end of the rink with the hose turned on to a moderate water flow. Move the hose back and forth across the water's surface in a slow, even and methodical manner. Keep the end of the hose in contact with the ice at all times so that you don't create any splashing. Stand behind the area where you're applying the water so that your feet are on the ice, not in the water. Depending on the temperature outside, you can even get a glass-smooth finish if you use hot water for this. You'll want the water temperature to be a little warmer than 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you decide to use this method, though, you're going to need to keep the hose moving constantly. If you leave hot water pouring from the hose for more than a couple of seconds, you're going to melt the ice beneath. This creates a hole in the foundation of the rink, which will need to be fixed before you can use the rink again.
As you can see, there's no reason why you can't have a backyard ice rink at your house this winter. With the tips presented here, you can keep the surface as smooth and clear as possible, making your home the go-to destination for everyone who's looking for ice hockey games, figure skating practice and fun in the cold winter weather. Follow these steps to ensure that you keep that finish even, and you'll reduce the risk of anyone suffering an injury or accident from bumps or burrs in the ice.