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The game of hockey is played on one of the most difficult playing surfaces to properly build and maintain in all of sports. You cannot simply flood a rink, turn down the temperature, and let it freeze. It is a highly scientific process that has been researched and adapted over the years in an effort to create a perfect surface for both skaters and pucks to glide across. Some teams paint everything you see on the ice, while other teams use textile fabric logos which can be used over and over. The methods for building and maintaining an ice rink can vary between leagues and even between NHL teams. Here is a quick visual of the ice building process. After that, we will break down the details that go in to each step.

Preparing the Slab
Preparing the Slab

The surface ice is kept at the required temperature by using a refrigeration system pumping a chemical called glycol through 10 miles of pipes embedded in the concrete slab below the skating surface. Crews will turn on these chillers and wait for the ice to be somewhere between 19°F and 24°F. 

Once the rink is at the desired temperature, it is time to add water. It takes between 45,000 to 57,000 liters of water to build a hockey rink. The ice itself will only be between an inch to an inch and a quarter thick. Using a sprayer, or flood cart, crews will lightly mist the chilled concrete with water, which freezes instantly upon contact. They will repeat this step a few times to create just enough ice to stick to the floor.

Painting the Ice
Painting the Ice

Now that there is a thin layer of ice to work with it is time to paint it white. NHL teams, and most professional rinks, use JetIce Super White 3000 paint. It comes in a powder and is mixed with water to basically make white water. Using a sprayer, or flood cart, the ice crew will circle the rink, making sure every inch of the ice is covered. This can take a few coats to give it that brilliant white look.


Once the entire rink is white, this layer is sealed in with a few more coats of a fine mist of water.

Paint the Hockey Markings

When it comes to adding the official hockey markings to the ice, there is no room for error. Each line, circle, and face-off dot must be carefully measured out before painting.

To make perfectly straight lines for the goals, neutral zones, and the center-line, yarn is stretched from one side of rink to the other and frozen to the ice.