How to Build an Ice Rink at Your Cabin This Winter

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family skating on ice rink

Hunkering down inside with a crackling fire and a cup of hot cocoa is far from the only way to enjoy your cabin once the cold season hits. As long as you bundle up, the cold weather offers plenty of opportunities for fun outdoor activities, including ice skating!

If you live in a cool climate, you don't need to head to your local rink to enjoy a skate; you can build one right in your backyard. And it's actually a lot easier than you might think. All you need are a few tools, supplies, and a free afternoon, and you and your family can start enjoying all the fun an outdoor rink has to offer in no time.

Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Backyard Ice Rink

Important note: Any backyard rink should be a minimum of three inches deep to be effective, so plan for yours to be at least this deep (though it can be deeper).

Tools & Materials

  • Shovel

  • Hammer

  • Tape measure

  • String line level

  • Drill

  • Staple gun

  • Concrete form stakes

  • Galvanized brackets and lag screws

  • Lumber, plywood, or hockey rink boards

  • Plastic sheet


building an ice rink with friends ice skating

1. Choose and Prepare the Location

The first thing you need to do is choose a great location for your rink. First and foremost, the spot should be level to ensure the ice hardens flatly and evenly for a smooth skate session. Once you choose your location, think about how big you want it to be, then clear the entire area of any snow and debris.

2. Add Stakes and String

After identifying the rink location and clearing it of debris, mark off the perimeter with a concrete stake at each corner. Then run landscaping string around each stake at the height you want the frame of the rink to be, noting that the rink needs to be at least three inches deep. Use a string line level to help you keep the string at an even height. 

3. Attach the Frame

Next, lay out the lumber or plywood you're using for the frame and use lag screws and galvanized brackets to attach the wood from end to end, making the sides of the rink.

4. Level the Frame

Take some time to ensure the frame is level, then secure it in place by screwing it through the concrete stakes you installed in step two. If you notice any gaps, use scrap wood to fill them.

5.  Lay the Plastic

Now that your frame is secured in place, loosely hang a plastic sheet inside the frame. The sheet should be big enough to hang over your frame by at least one foot. Use a staple gun to staple the plastic onto the outside of the frame.

6. Fill the Rink

Finally, grab your garden hose and fill the rink, taking care not to fill it higher than the perimeter. The time it'll take for the rink to fully freeze over depends on your weather conditions and how deep your rink is, but generally, it takes about three days below freezing before it'll be skateable. 

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