Is an underlay for my new synthetic ice rink necessary? Well, this depends on a lot of variables. It is very important that the synthetic ice panels be laid on top of a hard and flat surface. In this article, we will dive into three categories that all sub-floors fall into when it comes to the necessity of having a synthetic ice underlay; no underlay, simple underlay, and advanced underlay.

No Synthetic Ice Underlay

When no underlay is needed for a synthetic ice rink, it tends to be in an inside space with a very flat and hard sub-floor. We also see this outside on sport courts that were done correctly by the contractor. These are any floors with no flaws.

  • Indoor rooms/basements
  • Sport courts
  • Tennis courts
  • Leveled decks

Simple Synthetic Ice Underlay

A “simple underlay” is needed when the sub-floor has some flaws, but is mostly hard and flat. Undulation in the sub-floor is the biggest reason for a simple underlay – most of these surfaces are still hard (concrete,asphalt, wood, etc.). This can require something as simple as using 3/4″ OSB tongue and groove plywood. The plywood is very flat, and will provide extra forgiveness in a flawed sub-floor. Rubber matting can also be used as an underlay for your synthetic ice panels in these type of scenarios.

    • driveways
    • parking lots
    • streets
    • on pavers

Advanced Synthetic Ice Underlay

An advanced synthetic ice underlay is necessary when hardness of the sub-floor is not up to par and/or the sub-floor is very un-level. These tend to be a little more work, as these have the worst sub-floors to place synthetic ice panels on. The best ways to remedy this is to pour a concrete slab (like a sport court) or build a raised wooden deck. The deck platform does not have to be very high off of the ground, but does need to be made level.

  • grassy areas
  • some parking lots
  • turf
  • carpet

Synthetic ice rinks are possible anywhere with the right sub-floor. It is important to assess to which degree a synthetic ice underlay is necessary for optimal performance of the skating surface. Often times, no underlay is needed at all. Don’t fall for these added costs from other suppliers…We will help you determine the best underlay treatment for your synthetic ice rink!



The Hockey Headquarters synthetic ice rink built by KwikRink

You can find a beautiful synthetic ice facility in Sioux Falls, SD. The Hockey Headquarters did not hold anything back with their 76′ x 32′ size training rink. In front of the building is a full-on hockey store, selling the latest and greatest skates and twigs to hit the market. The rink is located in the back and is fully equipped with NHL style boards and glass.

1. The Synthetic Ice arrives at The Hockey Headquarters

Synthetic ice panels from KwikRink

Roughly 75 panels weighing 80 lbs each arrive on the work-site. The panels are 8′ x 4′ in size, with some other custom cut pieces. Ideally, having a forklift will save a lot of time during the unloading process. 

Luckily, we had several high school hockey players on-site to unload the heavy panels from the semi-truck to the rink site. It took a couple of hours to unload each panel by hand, one by one.

When you have the synthetic ice budding up to a wall or boards, there is quite a bit of strategy that goes into how it is laid out. It is crucial to allow for the expansion and contraction of the synthetic ice surface during hot and cold temperatures. We prefer the boards to be installed first, which is what took place here. The boards are actually lifted slightly to allow the ice to slide underneath them.

2. Installation begins

installing KwikRink synthetic ice panels

We decided first to put the crease together and then build around it. The crease has a few more parts and takes a little more time than laying down the basic panel. But it sure looks incredible in the rink. The crease is then essentially a floating slab of many pieces that we have to move to a perfect center.

From here, we can build forward and get going on the installation. It is essential to start on a sidewall and build it vertically before going side to side. We set everyone loose on pounding the 8′ x 4′ panels home. This application was beginning to take the form of an ice rink.

3. The Tricky Parts

Curved edges of The Hockey Headquarters synthetic ice rink

After we had most of the rink completed, besides the far end and entire last row of panels on the right side, we ran into a few tricky parts. As you can imagine, with the boards in place, the custom dimensions need to be exact. We connected about eight panels vertically (64′ x 4′) on the rink’s right side. With a lot of manpower and good timing, we slid this one long piece under the board slot and into place on the right side.

Lastly, we had to do some custom cutting on each end where the boards circle. This custom cutting was implemented to create that authentic roundabout look. Because there were no pieces to spare, precision cutting was used here.

4. Finished project

The Hockey Headquarters' synthetic ice rink by KwikRink

The rink turned out to be an absolute beauty and is a site that both KwikRink and The Hockey Headquarters are proud of. Many items have to fall into place to complete such a perfect installation. When installing synthetic ice, you are always “last on site.” By this, we mean, if the previous work in the building is off (crooked walls/incorrect board dimensions), you have to be able to adjust. 

The naked eye won’t notice a slight misstep on the boards’ installation, but it can completely change your approach with the ice surface. We worked with top-notch professionals on every step of the install, and the below picture shows the outcome.

If your facility is ready for a synthetic ice rink of its own like the one at The Hockey Headquarters, contact us! We’d love to install a custom artificial ice rink at your training facility.