When you think of ice skating, you probably think of a winter landscape scene, a frozen pond or a lake and bundled-up skaters holding hands. Maybe you think about Rockefeller Center or another public plaza that installs an ice rink in winter, or your mind conjures images of a Zamboni coming out to surface the ice at the indoor rink before another figure skater appears or the team comes back out.
Whatever you’re imagining, when it comes to ice skating, you generally think of cold, and, well, ice. But that image is changing with the advent of synthetic ice.
Synthetic ice tiles are changing what it means to ice skate. No longer does the weather have to be cold enough to freeze water for you to enjoy ice skating.
At KwikRink, synthetic ice is our specialty. We invented a patented formula, and we have installed ice skating rinks in all sorts of fun places for ice skating enthusiasts to enjoy year-round. Check out our gallery to get inspired.
What Are Synthetic Ice Tiles?
Synthetic ice is made from high-density polyethylene or ultra high molecular weight polyethylene and other polymers. Today’s synthetic ice has built-in lubricants to improve glide and reduce friction. Most estimates give synthetic ice 90 percent of the glide factor of natural ice.
Synthetic ice comes in long sheets, consistently sized tiles, or custom-cut pieces, depending on your needs. The pieces interlock together, typically with a dovetail system, creating a synthetic ice rink in just the size you need.
What Size is Best for a Synthetic Ice Rink?
The size of your installation depends on your available space, budget, and how you will use your rink. If you have a budding ice skater or hockey player, a small synthetic ice installation of under 300 square feet will be perfect. Many garages are 12’ x 22’, which means a garage conversion can give you skater plenty of space to work on fundamentals.
If you need a place to get in a workout or practice, a smaller synthetic ice installation works well. You can work on starts, spins, and turns within this space.
Skating on your blades on synthetic ice is far better than attempting to practice on roller blades, which require a different technique and balance. Getting your time in the skates and building muscles is easily done with a smaller installation.
If you are or have a family member who is a future hockey star, a small installation is perfect for practicing fundamentals. Puck glide on synthetic ice is very similar to natural ice, so you can practice stick-handling and shooting easily. Set up a goal at one end, and also practice face-offs and defense as well as skating stamina.
USA Hockey endorses a small rink approach for mastering fundamentals such as strides, pivots, turns, passing, and shooting.
If you’re looking to put in a commercial synthetic ice rink for many people to use at once or to host team practices or games, you’ll need a larger (more than 300 sq. ft.) installation. Here are some places where you can install synthetic ice.
Some Good Places to Install Synthetic Ice Tiles
Your imagination is the only limit to where you can install synthetic ice. Here are some suggestions:
- Rooftop — Minneapolis and other cities have a lot of beautiful apartment, condo, and loft buildings, many of which have rooftop decks. Add a synthetic rink for community fun.
- Basements — Concrete slabs are perfect for synthetic ice tiles.
- Former warehouses or industrial spaces — Convert vacant retail or industrial spaces into a fun synthetic ice rink.
- Garages — Take out the boxes and vehicles and use the area for skating practice.
- Swimming pools — If you drain your pool in winter and have a single-depth, you can cover the pool bottom with synthetic ice for three seasons of alternative fun.
- Parking lots — Is the area flat and paved? It could be a synthetic ice rink.
- Gymnasiums — convert the gym into an ice rink, then pick up the tiles and play basketball later.
- Cafeterias or cafetoriums — does your school have a cafeteria? You can lay down synthetic ice tiles for an ice-skating extravaganza.
- Practice rooms — athletic facilities that have separate practice rooms or studios can convert one into an ice rink for hockey or figure skating drills.
- Dance studios — if you have a room used for dance or yoga, it can quickly become an ice rink using synthetic ice tiles.
Type and Size of Synthetic Ice Tiles
Synthetic ice tiles come in varying sizes and thicknesses. The kind you need depends on your budget, space, use, and plans to clean them. Thinner tiles are more budget-conscious and won’t last as long as thicker ones. However, you can get a good 3-5 years out of them and grow your rink later with higher quality tiles.
Budget-friendly tiles are a good choice if you have a new skater and aren’t sure if they will stick with it. Smaller synthetic ice tiles are also lighter weight and easier to install and remove for a multi-purpose space.
Larger tiles are better for larger installations since they reduce the number of seams you will have across the surface. You can also opt for tongue and groove seam connections instead of the dovetail design, for an even smoother surface that stays cleaner longer.
Thicker tiles are heavier and better for installations that are more or less permanent. They also last up to a decade or more.
Whatever the size of your planned ice rink, there are synthetic ice tiles to suit your needs and your budget.
Contact KwikRink to Get Started
KwikRink Synthetic Ice® is a Maple Grove, MN company. We have installed synthetic ice rinks in many locations in the Twin Cities area, but you can find KwikRink installations in five continents around the world.
As a pioneer in developing synthetic ice, we’ve been in the business since the mid-1990s. We’ve just introduced our fifth generation patented product, which provides unsurpassed glide and reduced drag.
Fill out our rink configuration form to get started or give us a call at (888) 275-2345 to speak with one of our friendly staff. Soon you’ll have a synthetic ice rink to hone your puck handling skills or help your child develop stronger skating technique.