DIY Simple backyard ice rink plans and photos

November 25, 2007 by  
Filed under Backyard Ice Rink, DIY Projects, Family Activities

Thanksgiving weekend has become ice rink building weekend at our house. We’re getting good at it and can now have the boards assembled and liner in place in about an hour. This year I took photos of the whole process to share with everyone.


dscf5656.jpgI keep the rink simple and relatively small since my boys are only 5 and 3. I use 10 2 x 8s to make a rink 16′ x 24′. This is my third year with these boards. Notice I left the bracing attached to all the boards. This saves time. My braces are 2 x 8s cut to 1 foot lengths. I used 10 braces total (6 on sides, 4 on corners). I have a closeup of the bracing below.

I used 3″ primeguard screws to put everything together. The primeguard screws are more expensive, but they won’t corrode with the new ACQ treated lumber. I cannibalized the screws from last year in another project so I needed new ones for this years assembly.

dscf5661.jpgMy liner is a 20′ x 30′ tarp. Very heavy duty and also very dirty because I used it to cover post holes most of the summer as I started our new deck. The entire rink was made of last years parts or leftovers of other projects. Gotta love FREE.

Make sure you get the right length screws. A 2×8 is NOT 2 inches thick (it’s 1 1/2). I used 3 inch screws and made sure not to countersink them much. Last thing you want to do is put holes in your liner because your screws are sticking out the other side.


dscf5658.jpgOnce I have my pieces all together I lay them out and get the rink squared and ready to screw. Notice my pile of leaves. I raked out the area a bit to get rid of any branches that might put a hole in my liner. This happened my first year as I was filling the liner. Bit of a scare, but nothing duct tape can’t fix.

I leave a pile in the middle to use as filler for any small gaps under the boards.

dscf5662.jpg Here is a picture of my bracing. I overlap each board with my 12 inch brace and use 4 screws on each side. The ice will push out on the boards as it freezes so I wanted to make sure my braces holds up.
dscf5665.jpg For the corners I use a brace to overlap and strengthen the joint.

My yard is far from flat so I ended up with gaps like the one below. For the smaller ones I just use leaves from my pile to fill it up. This helps prevent your liner from pushing under your boards and tearing as the ice expands.

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Last summer I added topsoil to level the area some more. Unfortunately some areas settled more than others and I had a very large gap under one corner. The ideal fix would be adding more topsoil and making the ground level. I’m on a budget this year so instead I screwed some scrap lumber onto my boards to close the gap.

dscf5669.jpg dscf5670.jpg


dscf5672.jpgWith the assembly done I add my liner. I simply tuck the sides of the tarp under the boards. Make sure you leave enough loose liner inside the rink because the water will really pull on it and stretch it out once you fill the rink. At the same time, don’t leave so much liner that get folds of liner floating in the water.

Also don’t let the liner ‘tent’ along the sides and corners. Push it all the way down. The weight of the water could cause the liner to tear if you don’t leave enough material.

Update 11/27Darn…my tarp did not survive the summer very well.  It wasn’t holding water so I grabbed the duct tape and went hunting for the leak.  Turns out the whole thing is pretty porous from the plastic material wearing off.  Going to look for a cheap replacement. Probably going to go with a 1 season plastic liner.


That’s it! Pretty simple and cheap. This year was free since I reused everything, but my first year startup costs were under $100. Ten 2x8s, a box of screws, and a large tarp.

I was hoping to get one more picture of the rink filling, but I made a rookie mistake and left our hose outside and it froze. Never leave the hose outside because it is a pain to thaw. Instead I use an old rubbermaid to store the hose and bring it inside. I’ll cart it in and out all winter to do my ice surfacing.

Feel free to send me any questions or suggestions. I’ve only been doing this a few years and am always looking for ways to improve the rink. Next year I’m considering an upgrade to taller boards (2×10 or 2×12) and making the rink itself larger as well (24 x 30 if it will fit).

Check back this winter to see how our rink is progressing. I’m hoping to have it frozen filled and frozen by the weekend if mother nature cooperates. I’m also considering adding corner seats and building a rebounder (a piece of elastic to bounce the puck back to you).

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