Breaking Down Your Rink

The end of outdoor rink season is always bittersweet. It means it’s time to usher spring and beautiful weather, but also means you have to break down the rink and pack it up for next winter. We have compiled a some helpful tips for the breakdown process, that will hopefully make it easy on you now and when it’s time to put it back up next winter.

Melting and Water Removal

I usually don’t mess with the ice. I just let nature do it’s thing and melt it. Once the melting is completed I pump out the rink. I put some back into my pool, where I took some when I did my initial fill for the season, and I also just pump some of it onto the lawn. Just keep in the front of your mind, where you are pumping so you don’t flood out your neighbors or ruin your lawn.  Flooding too much water on to the grass can damage the grass roots and can cause dead spots on your lawn.  Also, be mindful that repeated flooding can lower your ground’s grade.

If you don’t want to pump it out you can break down some of your boards on your high corner, if you have one. This will let all of the water flow out.  This is the fastest way to drain your rink.

A quick tip to help along the melting process is to consider placing a dark colored tarp on ice sections to attract the sun’s heat.

Breakdown and Storage

You want to make sure you get your liner up before the grass really starts growing as you do not want to suffocate your grass.

If you are not keeping your liner for next year then you need to dispose of it accordingly. Some liners are recyclable. Start of by cutting the liner into manageable strips. Keep it to manageable sizes for you and for your recycling disposable company. Remember if the liner is too difficult to dispose of, they will leave it behind and it will be your problem. So roll up the strips to sizes no longer then 4 feet.

Once you get your liner up next to break down your boards. Before you break the boards down, it’s important to know where you are going to store them. The best place is typically in a temperature and humidity controlled environment (i.e.. garage, basement, or shed).  If you must store your boards outside, make sure you put them in a place that is relatively flat and dry.  If you have to store them outside try to cut part of your liner as a cover, if you are disposing of it, and keep the boards under it.


Rink Boards

One of the most important parts of your outdoor rink build is the boards. In a sense they keep it all together. There are two main ways to go about your boards. You can use wood or you can go the pre-made route. They each have their pros and cons.

Wood boards allow you to customize how you see fit. Since you can cut the boards to any size you want to make your rink how you want. This is the more economical approach up front but over time you will have to replace your boards as they wear due to weather and what not. You can use certain wood boards with NiceRink brackets. NiceRink brackets allow you to use sheets of plywood with their bracket system. Your other option is to forgo buying pre-made brackets and build your own or use stakes.

Pre-made boards are a nice convenience. I haven’t personally used them but from what I have heard from others and read they seem sturdy and durable. NiceRInk make the most  popular and they are thermoformed plastic boards that come in 4 foot lengths and 18 inches high.

No matter which method you go with, if you have a slope in your yard and you are holding back more than 12 inches of water you should look towards plywood with extra bracing to hold back the water. You can always read our article about measuring slope to learn more about that.

NiceRink board
NiceRInk setup with plywood
NiceRInk setup with plywood

Resurfacing Your Rink


People use different words for resurfacing. Some call it flooding and others call it watering. In the end, the goal is to clean your ice and also build up your ice. Once you finish your resurface you should have a beautiful glass like surface. It is truly and ultimately a thing of beauty.

You should try to plan your resurfacing around the weather. It is best to resurface at night, when it’s not snowing and no or minimal wind. As far as temperature goes, you want to do it when its cold like in the teens, fahrenheit. Check out our article on Making Ice as these weather conditions tend to provide the best results and and produce ripple-free and shell-free ice. In addition to the right weather conditions, you should also remove all snow from the ice prior to your resurfacing, to help produce the best ice possible

You should resurface in small quantities. Over-watering or flooding when the temperature is not cold enough creates a shell of ice on top of the water. Ice that is only frozen on top is not suitable for skating, since the shell breaks when weight is applied on it. Check out our article, The Joys of Shell Ice to learn more about it.

You need to make sure the resurface layer you did is completely frozen before re-flooding your ice rink.

To preform your resurfacing, the best tool is what people call a homeboni also known as a rink rake. It helps you lay down a consistent layer while smoothing the ice as well. You can buy a homeboni or purchase one. We will cover this in another post in the future.

One final tip is to use pure rubber hoses, not your usual garden hose. The typical garden hose will freeze and not allow the water to flow.