We asked Wasson to share his thoughts on building the rink and a supply list for those of you who wish to do the same. Here's the contribution from Brian Wasson:
My thoughts on the rink from Winter 2013
Remember that really cold week here in late January 2013 where the temp for 7 straight days barely made it above 20 degrees F? Where it dropped into single digits at night with a wind chill that made it feel near zero?
We do...because we made a backyard ice rink to celebrate the weather occasion. Making a backyard rink on Long Island is really hard to do because, well, it's not Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan here you know. We practically need a freak cold spell to have some prolonged chance for freezing a solid 2"-6" ice base.
The back story for this rink: One Friday after Christmas, we decided to take the family ice skating at The Rinx outdoor rink in Port Jefferson. Don't get me wrong, we love going there and skating near the harbor is fantastic. However, with coupons and two of the five of us having skates, it still cost our family $48 to walk in and skate for a little more than an hour.
I came home frustrated and grumpy that day and immediately started to look up backyard rinks. A few back and forths with my wife ("No you can't" -- "Yes, I can." -- "It won't work." -- "Yes, it will." -- "You are crazy." -- "Yes, I am."), a trip to the local big box building supply store, Lowe's this time, for some lumber and hardware and we had the makings of our very own, Canadien-like, backyard rink. The frame was setup in the freezing rain on New Year's Day in about 2 hours. Ordered the trap from TarpAFlex (here) and it arrived about 10 days later. The tarp is 6mil, white, and designed for ice rinks. It held up real nice with all the skating we did the first weekend (about 15 hours in total).
The rink is roughly 18'x26' and between 2-3" thick on one side and heads towards 5" on the other side. I failed to accurately account for the slope of the yard. It did not appear to be that sloped, but apparently it is. I also rushed to fill it all up in one shot right before the cold spell started. Normally (i.e., next year) you would fill it up a inch or so, let it freeze, add an inch, let it freeze, etc. until you get a solid surface. I was figuring it was going to be so cold so quick that it should freeze. It did. Dad-1 Weather-0.
The $170-ish investment was well worth it. Even if we only get the one time on it this season. We had to skim out the leaves, acorns, twigs and other natural junk after a really windy storm rolled in. Dad-1 Weather-1. It is currently re-freezing and if daytime temps stay near and below freezing with some cloudy skies, we might get another shot on it soon. Here's hoping for a late February cold spell.
Supplies for my rink size 18'x26'
- 6 mil or up liner 20'x30' min (white) Ordered 20'x30' white from TarpAFlex for $73 shipped - tarp should overlap the side by several feet
- Wood stakes to hold boards up and prevent the rink from bowing out - one stake every 5 feet for a rink my size
- (4) L brackets for the corners (here)
- 8 tie-plates to connect boards (here)
- (8) 2"x6"x8' and (2) 2"x6"x10' PT deck boards for ground contact (here) (Would recommend getting boards wider than 6" though, maybe 10" and up. Account for that in the size of the trap because the tarp has to go up and over both sides and have extra overlap.)
- box of 1 1/2" galvanized screws for metal straps and brackets
- outdoor lights are helpful - small landscape lights (I had these already and we had easy access to outdoor outlets to plug in new lights this year)
- 1" pipe insulation to place over edge of board (total length of 88' so 15 6' pieces needed) (here)