The location and cost of ice rinks is often a limiting factor for families interested in recreational skating. Fortunately, several low-cost options are available for both ice hockey and figure skaters.
Starting at less than $100, it is possible to purchase various types of hockey shooting pads. These are plastic boards which can be used for practicing puck handling techniques, but not skating. These boards, approximately 2 to 4 feet wide and 4 to 8 feet long, are available from a variety of manufacturers and stores.
HDPE, US Plastic Corporation
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) is an affordable plastic which can be purchased directly from a manufacturing company, starting at only $2 to $3 per square foot. As a low-glide surface, it is suitable for ice hockey practice and some basic figure skating. A demonstration video available on YouTube shows the use of two HDPE sheets, each 4 x 8 feet and 3/16 inches thick, from US Plastics Corporation. In February 2014, these two sheets cost only $140, plus a $140 freight shipping charge! Placed side by side, these two sheets make a rink 8 feet by 8 feet.
UHDPE, Direct Import from China
The next best surface is Ultra-High Density Polyethylene (UHDPE), which is commonly used at commercial synthetic ice rinks. These are available from various companies in the USA and abroad, but the best value can be imported direct from China. According to a February 2015 estimate, an Olympic-sized synthetic ice rink (100 ft x 200 ft UHDPE) with sideboards is available for only $22,000, including shipping to East Coast USA! (Import tax and transportation from seaport were not included in this estimate.)
Recycled Plastic, Budget Ice from Canada
One of the lowest-cost synthetic rinks in North America is a recycled plastic surface available from Canada. A small sample is available for only $208 plus tax and shipping, according to an estimate in October 2015.
One of the highest-quality synthetic ice consists of sinter-pressed materials, which are reported not to flake or scratch like other brands. This surface is available from Canada, as well as some US warehouse locations.
Ice rinks can range from a recreation-room or basement model (e.g., 8' x 8') to a full Olympic sized rink. Although outdoor rinks offer a lower cost and the ambiance of outdoors, indoor rinks have many additional benefits. For instance, indoor rinks allow for more flexibility of use, such as skating at night and during bad weather, as well as protection from leaves and organic matter. Some of the most common buildings used for ice rinks include tension fabric structures, steel structures, and pole barns. These options are available at ultra low-cost from China, with prices as low as $3 per square foot, compared to US models from $9 per square foot or more! Some companies also offer free installation options.