The synthetic ice rink blog is dedicated to providing useful information to anyone considering a synthetic ice rink. The content is full of posts for hockey parents, hockey players, figure skaters, event planners, those interested in community recreation options, or those thinking about operating a synthetic ice training facility.
Looking to Rent Synthetic Ice for a Special Event?
Renting synthetic ice – especially in the winter – has become both a popular and attractive option for company, community and special events. Synthetic ice surfaces can generally be laid down quickly, don’t require much in the way of special tools, and don’t cause large disruptions to the existing area under consideration. Renting a synthetic ice rink can offer great ‘bang for the buck’ because of this, especially the larger installations that have higher capacities.
If you’re interested in seeing some final results of temporary ice rink installations, please see the following links for a gallery (and breakdown of costs) regarding SmartRink‘s installation of synthetic ice rinks in Palm Coast, Florida, the Donalda Club in Ontario, and The Venetian, in Las Vegas. These projects all had unique challenges but were ultimately very successful.
Synthetic Ice Rental Considerations
There are a few things that one should understand prior to selecting a company for renting synthetic ice. For starters, let’s consider if the surface will be inside or outside; if outside, then what weather factors you are likely to be facing? If the surface is to be outside during the winter in a cold and snowy environment then you will want to select a synthetic ice product with a stronger joint connection system. Most connection systems use a dovetail joint which is potentially weak vertically. When there is a good chance of rain, followed by freezing temperatures then this can result in a situation where water freezes and builds up under the panels and pops the dovetail joint upwards and separates it. This is not only annoying to the operator, it’s very unsafe to the unwary skaters. SmartRink for example has multiple heavy duty joint connection systems that will easily deal with these kinds of harsh conditions.
When renting synthetic ice it is also important to understand the size of the surface you are considering relative to the number of expected skaters – or rink capacity. There are different rules of thumb, but we use approximately 40 square feet per skater. So, for example, if you want to rent a 3200 square foot surface then you can max the skaters out at 80 people. The general rule is that the lower the ability of the skating group, the larger the area that each individual skater safely requires.
Synthetic Ice Rental Maintenance
All types of synthetic ice requires maintenance. The main consideration is keeping the surface clean from dirt and also periodically removing any plastic residue caused from skating. If the rink is outside then cleaning is a relatively simple process of pressure washing and then removing access water using a squeegee. For products requiring spray on glide enhancer then that will need to be re-applied after washing. As for the plastic residue, that can be swept off or vacuumed off at regular intervals. Skating on certain brands of products creates much more plastic shavings than other products. Its good to understand that before the rental to know what to expect. Sinter pressed synthetic ice sheets have less residue as this material typically has a much better abrasion resistance than an extruded product would have.
How Much Does it Cost to Rent a Synthetic Ice Rink?
The cost to rent a synthetic ice surface can vary greatly. Some of the variables include the size of the surface, duration of the rental term, staffing hours, skate rentals, sharpening services, maintenance, location, perimeter barrier systems, and so on. Cost of the rental be easily be offset however through sales or rink advertising and of course through the rental of skating time. In the right location a good weekend of skate rentals can bring in between $3,500 – $5,000 top line revenue – even more.
Synthetic Ice Rental – The Bottom Line
Renting a synthetic ice rink, whether for a short term event or a longer term revenue generating operation, can make sense for a lot of reasons compared to a traditional refrigerated ice surface. It’s best to fully understand your objectives and then see what the best solution is that can deliver on that. Any reputable synthetic ice company can answer basic questions about your unique application requirements. Talk to a few companies, get references, and take the time to plan. You’ll be very glad you did.
You can reach out to us at SmartRink via our contact form here.
There is no doubt that the majority of requests we receive inevitably are about product pricing. What I would like to do is walk you through the type of information that can affect synthetic ice pricing so you can make more informed decisions. After all, if you are going to spend a good chunk of your hard earned dollars then you need to be properly informed on synthetic ice. Understanding factors that go into synthetic ice pricing will help you make a better decision.
Synthetic Ice Material
First you have to understand that not all material is the same. There are several categories of materials used and they typically differ by the molecular weight and also by the way its actually manufactured. Molecular weight categories can be LDPe (low density polyethylene), HDPe (high density polyethylene), HMWPe (high molecular weight polyethylene), VHMWPe (very high molecular weight polyethylene) and UHMWPe (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene). Puck board or arena board is typically LDPe for example.
Molecular Weight of Synthetic Ice Sheets (VHMW)
Generally speaking the synthetic ice pricing will be greater per panel where the material is VHMWPe or UHMWPe (Very High and Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene). The vast majority of products we have come across on the market are HDPe grade material. The reason we know this, is because the vast majority of panels produced are extruded sheet material. Extruded sheets are going to be LDPe or HDPe (Low Density or High Density Polyethylene). Molecular weight is typically measure in grams/mole.
Extruded VS Sinter Pressed Synthetic Ice Material
Extruded sheets can also be problematic in terms of stresses due to expansion and contraction forces. Extruded sheets are not de-stressed to the degree that sinter pressed sheets are simply because of how they are manufactured. During the sintering process the sheets are heated under enormous pressure, then cooled, then heated again. This takes stress out of the material and the result is a sintered sheet will not only be machined more accurately but it will lay flat whereas an extruded sheet can curl up on the edges and react poorly to temperature variables such as warping or coming apart at the joint connections. The process of sintering the material is more capital intensive and typically will affect the synthetic ice pricing. The result however is a much superior wearing and higher performance material. That means better quality skating over the long term.
Synthetic Ice Pricing…what effects the price?
So to summarize the effect on synthetic ice pricing, the two main drivers are the manufacturing process itself and the raw material resin or more specifically the molecular weight of the resin. The higher the molecular weight of the resin the more expensive it will be as the main cost input when determining the synthetic ice pricing.
How Would a Consumer Compare Synthetic Ice Pricing?
Admittedly, it can be difficult for a consumer to determine these things on their own. Unfortunately this industry does a poor job in communicating these topics in a way that consumers understand enough to compare products. Personally, I believe consumers need to get to the heart of the matter when it comes to synthetic ice pricing. Intuitively consumers are smart enough to know that every company can’t be the best, the fastest, and the cheapest. Sorry life doesn’t work that way. We understand the dilemma and so we have taken steps for consumers to test our product before they ever have to buy it. We have essentially removed any buying risk from the purchase. Obviously we have to be competitive price wise and so our approach is that we offer multiple products and different price points and we explain the differences then based on the consumers budget they select the best product for their budget.
Synthetic ice is usually not a “spur of the moment” purchase decision. Generally buyers do their research and consider various options such as material, connection systems, application, supplier location, pricing, and customer service. Just be careful of the marketing hype and boastful claims from a lot of companies. Make sure you call and talk to a representative. Ask for references and testimonials, and call them or email them to see what their experience has been.
Synthetic Ice Peace of Mind
So, it’s the moment of truth and you want to feel good about dropping thousands of dollars on the right product. If you still are not really sure and 2 or 3 suppliers seem like the right fit, then consider going with the company that offers a free trial: which we do! You can use the product before making a decision – and if you like it you keep it, if you don’t you send it back. Before you know it your kids will be skating around at home and having a ball. Make a smart decision, with SmartRink synthetic ice.
Looking for ways to intelligently compare synthetic ice products? Admittedly it can be difficult. Here are some things to consider to help you figure out what synthetic ice product is best for you!
Finding the Right Synthetic Ice Product for You
When something is difficult to compare, consumers default to price. The problem is that price almost never tells the full story about a product. To make a more informed synthetic ice comparison, we need to step back and ask ourselves some questions.
Here are some basic things to consider:
- What are you hoping to be able to do (hockey drills, figure skating training)?
- What are your performance expectations?
- How much space do you have?
- Do you place importance on quality, value, or price?
Synthetic Ice for Shooting Pucks
If all you hope to do is simply take shots with skates on and do some basic movements, such as stepping into a shot, then chances are then you could do with more of a cheap synthetic ice product – likely an extruded material. If you follow the link above, you should be able to source something for under $9.00 psf.
Synthetic Ice for High Performance Skating
If your expectations are higher in terms of quality and durability then you will likely want to consider a sinter pressed / compression molded product. These materials are much more durable simply because the raw materials in this process can be a much higher molecular weight. In our lab testing we have demonstrated that the force required to move a weighted skate blade is as much as 40% less than with an extruded material. That directly translates into our products offering a superior glide that feels like the real deal. Read a more detailed description about our synthetic ice price.
Synthetic Ice Panels for Basement & Outdoor Rinks
When it comes to the size of the surface, we generally tell people the larger the surface the more thought you should give to buying a premium material. With smaller surfaces (100-200 sf) you will never truly appreciate the better glide or speed because you will never get up to full stride. For a small space we might recommend a mid range sinter pressed material or even our value priced extruded option.
But, if you’re looking at building a synthetic ice rink with plenty of space to skate on, you should consider our premium synthetic ice products. You can try a free at home trial of our products by clicking on the link here, filling out your contact information, and ticking the box that says ‘Tell Me More’. Depending on where you live there may be some shipping charges to get the free trial product to your home. But once the product is there it’s yours to use at home. If you decide that you like it enough to buy it then you just let us know!
Still Not Sure What Synthetic Ice Product is Best For You?
Reach out to us here and we will discuss your synthetic ice application and recommend the right product to reach your hockey training goals within your budget.
How to Skate on Synthetic Ice
Skating on synthetic ice has it’s advantages. Sure there are folks out there who love it and there are those who don’t – like anything. What I will write about here is my own experiences with my kids – both who I (and more importantly all their coaches) always considered excellent skaters.
First I will say this: if a hockey player or figure skater can do something on real ice then they can do it on a high quality synthetic hockey ice surface. And don’t just take my opinion for it, here’s a quote from a customer of ours (who’s a brilliant figure skater) regarding our products:
“I am pleased with how well my blades maintain edges on my infused panels. I believe they are a tad softer than others I sampled (my blades cut in more). But they skate the best. That is paramount.”
– R. Strong, Synthetic Ice Figure Skater in Florida
You can read the full review here. For a figure skater, having a reliable surface is even more important because of the high risk maneuvers they perform.
Synthetic Ice “Negatives”
There are some industry “negatives” I often hear from people who either haven’t skated on the best synthetic ice surfaces, or simply aren’t familiar with current synthetic ice technology:
- “you can’t skate backwards on synthetic ice”
- “goalies can’t do lateral slides”
- “there is too much resistance to skate properly”
- “skating on synthetic ice negatively impacts your stride”
There is no doubt that skating on synthetic ice can be radically different than real ice – if the product is either of low quality or not well maintained. There are some products that are so bad that it is difficult to even skate backwards – heck with some products it’s hard enough to skate forwards!
What motivated me to get into this business was my own experience with low quality products. It amazed me that a business owner selling the synthetic ice would install a poor quality product but, that was my first experience with it. It was OK for shooting pucks but that was about it.
Since then, I’ve had my own SmartRink Synthetic Ice products installed at home, and here are some of things my own kids have worked on:
- stride mechanics (relationship of hip, knee, ankle, toe)
- posture (head up, back position, butt)
- stride starting position to recovery
- explosiveness (those first three quick strides)
- edge control (leaving your comfort zone on both edges)
- quick direction change
- agility, footwork, quick feet
And really this is just the tip of the iceberg. But, these are some basic fundamentals that all aspiring young hockey players need to pursue to get better. If a hockey player doesn’t learn these things they will struggle. Period.
Skating Development with Synthetic Ice
We’ve all seen that kid with the quirky stride. We used to call that “skating on railroad tracks” where they have that real choppy short stride. With proper instruction and consistent practice, skating on synthetic ice can absolutely fix that. A player might be filling the back of the net, but if they skate poorly they won’t get very far in hockey.
Free at Home Trial for Synthetic Ice
A high quality synthetic ice product is a great investment for your any aspiring figure skater or hockey player. Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do certain things on synthetic ice. They had a bad experience or knew someone else who did. At SmartRink we believe in our product and are confident once you test out our synthetic ice tiles, you’ll be a believer.
You can try a free at home trial of our products by clicking on the link here, filling out your contact information, and ticking the box that says ‘Tell Me More’. Depending on where you live there may be some shipping charges to get the free trial product to your home. But once the product is there it’s yours to use at home. If you decide that you like it enough to buy it then you just let us know!
Do all the dryland training you want – there is no substitute for being on your skates to get better. For more ideas and tips on how to train and skate on synthetic ice, check out these passing hockey drills and shooting hockey drills that are fantastic for those with a home synthetic ice rink.
Why should you consider synthetic ice panels?
An ice rink ice is a great way to hone your ice hockey skills, practice ice skating, or spend time enjoying the rink with friends and family. But did you know that not all ice skating rinks are made of mechanically refrigerated or natural ice? A synthetic ice skating rink is made from engineered plastic interlocking panels, not real ice!
Want to see for yourself? You can view our synthetic ice catalogue here.
Ice Skating Rink Cheap Alternative: Synthetic Ice Panels
If you’re looking for an ice hockey ice rink alternative for your organization or even your own home, a plastic ice skating rink may be the perfect solution. There’s less mess and minimal maintenance when you choose synthetic ice. Plastic panels can be combined to create a custom synthetic ice rink of any size, and you can even choose between an outdoor rink, or an indoor rink.
Fake ice is suitable for all ice skating sports and activities. If it calls for ice, synthetic ice is the logical answer. Installing and maintaining a real ice hockey rink can be astronomically expensive and cumbersome. Hockey rink ice must be regularly smoothed and maintained to provide a smooth skating surface. But with a synthetic ice rink, hockey players can skate all day without reconditioning the ice surface. Water is all that is needed to clean your synthetic ice rink.
Backyard Ice Skating Rinks made from Synthetic Ice Panels
Every hockey player dreams of having a hockey ice rink in their home, or even a small patch of goalie ice for added practice sessions away from the rink. Backyard synthetic rinks of any size are now affordable and practical with synthetic ice panels. Your backyard rink can be custom ordered to suit your available space constructs, and we can deliver artificial ice panels to make year-round skating at home a reality.
An outdoor ice rink is just what you need to practice your ice hockey at home when you can’t get to the commercial ice rink. Outdoor ice hockey rinks provide all the space you need to give you the competitive edge at your next hockey game.
If you’re serious about hockey, rinks (ice and plastic, both) are where you spend your free time. Wouldn’t it be great to have an ice rink for backyard parties, weekends, and late-night practices? Even a small rink can provide countless opportunities for hockey practice sessions. Outdoor ice rinks are very popular, but an outside ice rink isn’t always convenient. When you need an indoor practice session, a basement synthetic ice rink provides the space and privacy you need to practice at any hour, day or night.
If you have an ice skating rink idea, or need to find out what your options are for creating a custom ice hockey rink, give us a call today. SmartRink offers the absolute best prices on synthetic ice panels. In fact, if you find a better price on a similar-quality synthetic ice product, we’ll match it. You’ll get SmartRink’s superior customer service and installation at the lowest prices available- guaranteed.
Contact us to find out more about synthetic ice panels or to get a free quote on your custom synthetic ice project.
Hockey boards for synthetic ice rinks
We get asked a lot about boards for home synthetic ice hockey rinks and commercial synthetic ice rinks. The commercial rinks frankly are easier because there are some great companies out there making high quality perimeter arena board systems. They range from molded plastic to high end NHL style pro systems with various upper containment options. But when it comes to a safe, durable, good looking system for inside or outside home applications – frankly the industry has come up short – until now.
Installing durable hockey boards on a backyard rink
Recently we installed a 48 ft x 30 ft synthetic ice backyard rink on a raised wooden platform. The area was very uneven and it was more cost effective for the owner to build a platform than to put in retaining walls and pour concrete. So we had very little margin for error in this job and we wanted to be able to maximize the usable space. So we challenged a fabricator to come up with a super strong but lighter duty board system that would stand up to 20 years of backyard hockey abuse.
What they came up with was the ProLite hockey board system. The frame on this system is incredibly only 1.5 inches thick but its welded aluminum and is very strong. Its cladded with a 1/2 inch TPO material which is especially great for outside installations as it has minimal expansion and contraction due to weather variances.
For lateral stability ProLite recommended using a dipped galvanized steel stabilizer that connected to each eight foot section and was easily bolted together with stainless steel hardware.
There was a total of four gates in this rink. The owner’s plan was to use two for player bench doors and then one at the end for snow blower access and then a general access door opposite the players benches. Each door was 36″ wide and was attached using heavy stainless hardware mounted to the aluminum frames.
Finally we placed netting around the rink so that the neighbours would be safe from flying pucks!
All in all this is an impressive “light-duty” system that will last decades in reality and should easily withstand any family or community rink application – indoors or out.
How to Clean Synthetic Ice
No different than any flooring surface, synthetic ice gets dirty and should be regularly cleaned. The dirt comes from a variety of sources. Most of it is simply airborne dust that settles on the surface. Since most products are either white or light blue it tends to show up and can become unsightly if not taken care of.
Cleaning your synthetic ice surface does not have to be difficult, but that being said, the longer you postpone the job, the tougher it will become. Larger synthetic ice rink surfaces are clearly more work – unless you are fortunate enough to have a mechanical floor cleaning machine at your disposal. Over the years I have experimented with a variety of methods.
Synthetic Ice Maintenance at Home
For smaller surfaces used at home probably the most common form of cleaning your synthetic ice is the old mop and bucket method. A good wet mop will loosen up the dirt. Put a liberal amount of water on the surface and then wring out the mop and use it again to remove the dirty water. Repeat as required until you achieve the desired result. If you have really stubborn ground-in dirt, then I have found that a stiff deck brush and a little elbow grease works wonders on puck marks and stick tape marks. If nothing else it’s a good rigorous workout!
I am one of those people who happens to have a small mechanical floor cleaner which works great for synthetic ice. These devices have a scrubbing cylinder in front with a stiff brush. Water sprays out of the unit onto the ice surface and the scrubber works it into the surface and cleans it. The nice part is that it also sucks the dirty water back up into the unit’s holding tank. It usually takes me a few passes to get it looking nice again.
The Most Effective Way to Clean Your Hockey Tiles
By far the most effective method has to be pressure washing. A number of my customers own a pressure washer and they do an outstanding job on even the dirtiest synthetic ice surface. Some pressure washer models even have a covered hood on the front of the machine with two rotating spray heads that really do an excellent job in removing stubborn dirt.
Finally, many people wonder – is a detergent or degreaser recommended? What we usually advise is if the surface becomes clean using only warm water then don’t worry about a cleaner. If you find water is not working well enough then use a neutral (low or non foaming) cleaner. What you don’t want to do is leave behind a foam or cleaner residue. Although this won’t harm the product, it could leave an unwanted residue behind. If you do use a cleaner then just make sure that it is rinsed off really well.
I hope this short article answered your questions regarding synthetic ice maintenance. If done regularly you should be able to maintain a nice clean looking surface for the life of the product. Ensuring that your surface is clean will make for a better skating experience on your synthetic ice rink.
Looking for more information?
There’s Never Been a Better Time to Invest in a Synthetic Ice Rink Business.
As devastating as covid has been on so many businesses – it has also created opportunities.
The general public are looking for fun and safe things to do. Many sports teams, athletes and skating events have been directly impacted by the new social distancing and operating requirements.
Rinks are now required to have lower numbers and shorter hours, which affects the amount of practices, games and leisure skates available. Supply is just not meeting demand, which provides a great business opportunity in the right situation.
Consider this, a commercial synthetic ice rink that not only brings opportunities to local families for scheduled skates, but could also close the gap for much needed practices and training for hockey players, goalies and figure skaters, who are lacking ice time! You determine the surface size to fit your specific needs.
Additionally, there is a glut of commercial real estate as so many businesses have shut down due to covid, and a lot of prime locations are now available. There are new government incentives available (providing backing for bank loans as one example) to assist the economy to grow and develop once again.
Whether it be an indoor or an all season outdoor rink, the environmental sustainability of synthetic ice is the most cost efficient and environmentally responsible option. Say goodbye to the massive capital costs and huge ongoing operating costs of a mechanically refrigerated ice rink – not to mention the environmental footprint over the life cycle of the rink.
There are lots of variables to consider when planning a commercial synthetic ice skating rink. For example, what is the business plan? How many skaters can we safely allow on the rink? Should the rink be inside or outside? Will it be permanent or seasonal? What will the rink be used for? What permits and insurance is required? What is the best product for commercial use that will be durable and long lasting?
These are all important considerations to make and are frequently asked questions we hear from clients all the time; rest assured we are here to help!
We have a history dating back to 1980. Being one of the first and most knowledgeable companies in our industry, our team at SmartRink can help with your project from start to finish!
We have managed and helped install small and large scale commercial rinks and training centres all over the world and helping you succeed and reach your goal is what we do best!
Contact our business development team today to discuss how your Commercial Synthetic Ice Rink Project Could Become your Next Business Investment!
There’s no doubt about it, SmartRink synthetic ice is an eco-friendly solution to real ice.
Synthetic ice rinks do not require water (other than for cleaning purposes) and without the use of refrigeration, high electricity expenses and heavy equipment it is an environmentally focused cost effective alternative that is rapidly becoming a widely accepted skating platform worldwide.
Not only is it capital / operating cost effective and eco-friendly, the accessibility benefits open up all kinds of new opportunities that are just not practical with real ice.
Imagine skating all summer long outdoors
Imagine training virtually anywhere because home rinks are becoming a safer option during the pandemic.
We have clients in warmer climates throughout the world who are enjoying this sport outdoors all year long, some even for the first time!
At SmartRink, we believe in being aware of our environmental footprint and responsibilities. Worldwide corporations and governments are continually implementing laws to limit carbon emissions.
We stand behind the durability of our German manufactured panels, some that offer even a lifetime use warranty, but we also take pride in knowing we use materials that can be recycled even after many years of use.
We challenge you to partner with us!
That’s the SmartRink difference.
To say this was a challenging, strange, stressful year would be an understatement.
Families, businesses and sports have had a challenging time navigating this new normal that has affected us all.
The last time SmartRink was able to travel outside of Atlantic Canada was March 20, 2020. We built a beautiful new training center rink in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Since then, like a lot of companies, we have had to adapt and adjust how we do business.
Regardless of these new challenges, business continued and communities around the world in various stages of lock down were determined to continue to train.
We utilized technology to help us with communication and this even allowed us to provide animated assembly instructions to support our distributors worldwide.
We are super proud of all the SmartRink clients who never gave up and continued to train!
We have been privileged to be able to help and support so many families, communities and sports teams as they found creative and strategic ways to continue training, developing skill and working hard!
It has been a heartwarming and humbling experience to share in your stories and challenges as you faced this new normal and the many struggles that accompanied it.
SmartRink salutes you all!
They kept training in Canada
They kept training in USA
They kept training in Finland
They kept training in China
They kept training in Switzerland
Around the world they kept skating, working on their skills, getting better, faster, and more determined.
It has been a pleasure to work with all of you. Our clients vary from families to training centres, worldwide distributors, sports teams and schools all over the globe.
We value each and every one of you and wish you a safe and prosperous 2021!
Congratulations to you all! Keep up the great work!