Pour Tips to Freeze Times: Understanding Backyard Ice Rinks

Puering water on ice rink

Building a backyard ice rink is easy as long as you do adequate research, prepare all the materials on time, and follow some guidelines creating one. Since ice rinks are complex projects, you’ll naturally have many questions to make yours perfect.

The best time to fill in your rink is before the temperatures start dropping. If you’re using a liner on your rink, we suggest that you fill your rink all at once to ensure that you’ve covered all possible wrinkles on the liner. The freezing time will be determined depending on your location and weather, but the best temperature is 32°F and below.

In this article, we will answer the common questions you’ll have in terms of setting up your ice rink, when you should set it up, when the best time to fill it is, how thick the ice has to be before you skate, and more.


How Cold Does It Have to Be Before You Set Up Your Ice Rink?

The best time to set up your ice rink is when the temperature drops to 32°F. However, remember that once you’ve filled up the rink, it isn’t ready to skate on yet. There are several factors that you need to consider before you can skate on your ice rink, such as the:

  1. Weather

Make sure to monitor the weather days before lining and filling up your backyard ice rink. The best time to know if your ice is good enough for any activity is when the daytime temperatures remain below 36°F and the nighttime temperatures fall between 18°F to 23°F. If these conditions last, you can skate on your ice rink in about three to five days.

Additionally, you want to skate on it in the morning to ensure that it has enough ice thickness. The key to having a strong backyard ice rink is the cold nights since the temperatures are normally below freezing, which can allow the rink to increase its ice thickness. Daytime temperatures are typically higher, which tends to melt the ice.

Normally, an ice thickness of around 3-4 inches is enough to hold average-size adults and kids.

  1. Boards

To prevent heat absorption during the day, we suggest that you use a white or light-colored liner outside of your boards.

  1. Liner

Like the cover on your boards, we suggest that you use a white-colored liner to prevent heat absorption. Make sure that the deep end of your ice rink is more than 10 inches deep.


How Thick Does the Ice Have to Be to Skate On?

The ice should at least be 4 inches thick before you skate on it. Although, you still have to determine the deepest slope of your rink to ensure that you have stable ice. For example, if you have an 8-inch slope on your ice rink, you’ll have deep water of around 12 inches. Make sure the ice on the deepest part of your rink reaches 4 inches for a good, solid run.


When Should You Set Up Your Ice Rink?

The best time to set up your ice rink is weeks before the temperatures drop to freezing. There are two reasons for this.

  • It’s easier

You want to work on installing the stakes on the ground in your backyard when it’s not yet frozen and when the temperatures revolve around 50°F.

  • Be ready

Once you have everything in place for your ice rink, it will be easier to fill in the necessary water right before the water freezes.

Additionally, you can start with the other preparations you’ll need to complete your rink, such as:

  1. Finding the right spot

The perfect spot to build a backyard ice rink is when the space has adequate lighting, is near an outdoor water source, and away from your drain or septic field.

  1. Check for slope

Even if you think you found a flat area, there’s a big chance that it has a slope. Always check if there’s a slope in your ice rink spot to ensure that you can put additional filling if necessary.

  1. Bracing

One of the most crucial parts of building a backyard ice rink is bracing. If you don’t want to experience accidental flooding in your area, make sure to install the bracing securely and tightly.


When Should You Fill Your Ice Rink?

When to fill your ice rink depends on your location and local weather. Installing brackets and sideboards weeks before the temperatures start dropping continuously is ideal to ensure that the grass stays dormant. After this, you would want to lay out the liner so that the boards would “freeze in.”

Once your brackets and sideboards are intact and ready for colder nights, it’s best to monitor the temperatures and weather forecast days before the temperatures drop to 32°F to ensure that the ice is set up and thick enough for you to skate on it, as mentioned earlier.


Does Your Yard Have to Be Leveled for an Ice Rink?

No, your yard doesn’t have to be leveled for you to build an ice rink. You’ll never find a perfectly flat yard, which is why you’ll have to prepare a few things first to ensure that you can get a flat ice rink. One of the things you’ll have to do is measure the slope of your yard. This process is crucial as it will determine the boards, liners, and amount of water you’ll need.


Should You Fill the Rink All at Once or Per Ice Layer?

You can do it both ways. However, you should consider the item that you’re using to build your rink before you actually do it.

  1. Fill up your rink at once

You should fill up your ice rink all at once if you used a liner to ensure that it doesn’t have any wrinkles in the middle. Since liners are never perfectly flat on the sides and bottom, filling up the rink and letting all the water turn into ice will ensure that everything is set in properly.

  1. Filling the rink ice layer by ice layer

This method is not advised if you used a liner on your ice rink. However, if you didn’t, this could work in your ice rink. The idea is to first fill it 2” of water and let it rest until it is completely frozen. You can keep applying the same process until your rink is fully filled up.

The downside to this method is that your first build-up of ice will float once you do the second round of filling. When that occurs, the wrinkles at the bottom and side areas of your ice rink will end up as tears and holes, which could be potentially dangerous once you skate on it.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen on your ice rink, break the outer area of your ice from the boards (12-18” in size) to make the ice free-floating in the center. Once you’ve completely removed the outer area of the ice, fill it in with water to ensure that all the wrinkles on the sideboards are filled up. Once everything freezes and the temperature is maintained at 32°F, you can skate on your ice rink.



Making sure that you have the best weather conditions for filling up your ice rink is crucial to ensure that you have solid ice. If you’re using a liner on your rink, you must fill it up all at once to avoid any tears and holes. When you see that the temperatures start dropping to 32°F, you can wait for a couple of days, so that the ice can settle before you start skating on your ice rink.

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