Close up of figure skates on an indoor ice rink.\


Ice rinks are marvellous structures that bring joy to ice skaters and hockey enthusiasts alike. Beneath their smooth surfaces lies a critical component that ensures their stability and longevity — concrete. Placing and finishing concrete in ice rink pours requires precision and expertise to create a smooth and durable surface.


The significance of concrete placement and finishing cannot be overstated in ice rink construction. The slab is pivotal for performance and durability, impacting aesthetics, functionality, and safety.


Precise placement and finishing are essential to avoid uneven surfaces and compromised integrity. A smooth concrete surface marks the success of the ice rink, enhancing skater experience and safety, and facilitating ice adhesion. In today’s blog post, we will explore a deeper understanding of concrete in ice rink construction, preparation, placement techniques, and curing strategies, providing you with valuable insights and best practices to ensure both structural integrity and heightened performance of the ice rink.


At BNE, we are trusted experts in concrete finishing. We have the knowledge, equipment, and skills to properly install concrete for any type of project. We use industry-leading technology and expertise to provide the client with a concrete structure that will last. We are proud owners of four Golden Trowel Awards for placing and finishing ice rink slabs. Do not hesitate to reach out to us for your next ice rink construction project. We are just one phone call or email away!



Understanding Concrete in Ice Rink Construction

Concrete serves as the fundamental building block of any ice rink construction project. It acts as a reliable support system that bears the weight of the ice surface, spectators, and infrastructure.


Beyond its load-bearing capabilities, concrete also plays a crucial role in maintaining the overall stability of the ice rink. By distributing loads evenly and providing a solid foundation, ensures that the ice surface remains level and free from structural issues. The concrete base sets the stage for the rest of the construction process, impacting factors such as ice quality, safety, and long-term durability.


Importance of Selecting the Right Concrete Mix

Choosing the appropriate concrete mix is a pivotal decision in ice rink construction. The mix's composition, including the ratio of cement, aggregates, water, and additives, directly influences the concrete's strength, durability, and performance. When crafting the mix for an ice rink project, considerations extend beyond the conventional requirements of strength and durability. Factors like freeze-thaw resistance, workability, and compatibility with the ice surface are equally vital. Selecting the right mix ensures that the concrete not only withstands the demanding conditions of ice rink environments but also contributes positively to the overall ice rink experience.


Challenges Specific to Concrete in Cold Environments

Cold environments pose specific challenges to concrete placement and curing due to lower temperatures affecting setting time and curing. These challenges, including potential cracking and compromised strength, demand specialized techniques and careful planning to ensure the success of ice rink construction in cold conditions.



Preparing for Concrete Placement


Shovel moving gravel off of concrete foundation.


Site Preparation and Excavation Considerations

Before concrete pouring, meticulous site preparation is crucial, involving:

  • Proper excavation and levelling of the foundation to prevent inconsistencies
  • Removal of debris, rocks, and organic materials to maintain concrete integrity
  • Grading for efficient water drainage, avoiding pooling and damage
  • Creating a level and well-prepared site as the base for successful concrete placement


Importance of Proper Formwork and Reinforcement Installation

Formwork serves as the mold that shapes the concrete into the desired structure. Accurate formwork installation ensures that the concrete is poured to the intended dimensions and contours.


Formwork plays a pivotal role by:

  • Molding concrete to the desired shape
  • Ensuring accurate dimensions and contours
  • Providing support to prevent uncontrolled flow
  • Reinforcement (like steel bars or mesh) adds strength
  • Proper reinforcement placement counters tensile forces
  • Neglecting these steps risks uneven surfaces, structural weaknesses, and safety issues


Addressing Weather Factors and Temperature Control During Placement

Weather has a notable impact on concrete placement, especially in cold climates where freezing can disrupt setting and curing. Preventive steps like using heated materials, insulating blankets, and tent structures are crucial to maintain optimal curing conditions. Similarly, in hot weather, managing concrete temperature is vital to prevent rapid drying and cracking, ensuring consistent, durable, and high-quality concrete.



Placing Concrete for Ice Rinks


Techniques for Efficient and Uniform Concrete Pouring

When it comes to placing concrete for ice rinks, efficiency and uniformity are key. Pouring techniques can significantly impact the quality of the finished surface. Using controlled and consistent pouring methods ensures that the concrete is evenly distributed, preventing variations in thickness that could lead to structural issues or uneven ice surfaces. Techniques such as properly calibrated lasers and transits help achieve a level and flat slab, ensuring a solid foundation for the ice rink.


Managing Concrete Flow and Avoiding Air Pockets

Maintaining a consistent and smooth concrete flow is vital to prevent surface defects and weaknesses, with techniques such as proper pouring height, steady pouring rate, and precise equipment placement reducing the risk of air pockets that compromise strength and longevity, ultimately ensuring the ice rink's foundation quality and integrity.


Special Considerations Ice Rink Pours

Concrete placement for ice rink projects necessitates meticulous planning, a well-coordinated team, and precise timing to ensure consistency among sections, avoid cold joints, and prevent visible seams, highlighting the amplified significance of coordination and timing for successful outcomes in larger endeavours.



Finishing Techniques for a Smooth Surface

The art of achieving a smooth and flawless concrete surface involves an array of specialized tools and equipment.


Man smoothing concrete surface with trowel.


Finishing tools, such as floats, and trowels, play a crucial role in refining the concrete's texture and appearance. Each tool serves a unique purpose in the finishing process, contributing to the overall quality and aesthetics of the ice rink surface.


Step-by-Step Guide to Screeding and Leveling the Concrete Surface


Screeding as the initial finishing step:

  • Uses a laser screed to level fresh concrete
  • Achieves a flat and uniform concrete surface
  • Demands a steady hand and attention to detail
  • Creates an even and consistent foundation for further finishing


Power Troweling and Its Impact on Surface Quality

Power troweling is a critical phase in achieving a smooth concrete surface. A power trowel is a machine equipped with rotating blades that mechanically smooth and polish the concrete. This process not only enhances the surface's smoothness but also helps close the surface pores, improving its resistance to moisture penetration and wear.




Proper curing is a critical phase that significantly impacts the strength, durability, and long-term performance of the concrete surface in ice rink construction.


Curing involves maintaining adequate moisture and temperature conditions to facilitate the optimal hydration of the cement particles. This process ensures that the concrete achieves its intended strength and develops the necessary resistance to cracking and wear over time.



Enhancing Ice Adhesion and Performance

In ice rink construction, the quality of the concrete surface directly influences ice adhesion.


View of indoor ice rink from center red line.


A well-prepared and finished concrete foundation fosters uniform ice bonding, enhancing skater safety and ice quality by promoting improved glide, better edge control, and overall enhanced performance on the ice.


Using Additives and Surface Treatments

To optimize ice adhesion and overall ice rink performance, additives and surface treatments can be employed.


  • Chemical additives, such as bonding agents and admixtures, enhance the bond between the ice and the concrete surface. These additives can improve both initial ice formation and long-term adhesion, contributing to a stable and resilient ice layer.
  • Surface treatments, like texturing or profiling, provide the desired balance between smoothness and grip, influencing how skaters interact with the ice while ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.


Achieving a Balance Between Smoothness and Grip

Achieving a harmonious equilibrium between a smooth concrete surface and the necessary grip for skaters is a delicate task in ice rink construction. While a smooth surface aids speed, excessive smoothness can diminish grip and skater control. By introducing subtle textures or profiles into the concrete, a balanced grip can be achieved without compromising the desired smoothness, requiring a thoughtful approach that bridges technical ice adhesion requirements with the experiential needs of skaters.



Preventing Cracking and Ensuring Longevity

Preventing cracks and ensuring the long-lasting quality of an ice rink involves understanding common crack causes, such as temperature changes and shrinkage, and countering them with proactive measures.


Using proper construction practices like controlled curing and reinforcement methods such as steel bars or mesh significantly reduces the likelihood of cracks. Properly executed expansion joints accommodate movement. Maintaining the concrete surface through regular inspections, addressing minor issues promptly, and applying protective coatings ensures the ice rink's structural integrity over time.



Final Thoughts

Ice rinks' concrete placement and finishing are pivotal for stability and longevity, with proper preparation, accurate formwork, and reinforcement installation essential for a solid foundation.


At BNE, we are trusted experts in concrete finishing. We have the knowledge, equipment, and skills to properly install concrete for any type of project. We use industry-leading technology and expertise to provide the client with a concrete structure that will last. We are proud owners of four Golden Trowel Awards for placing and finishing ice rink slabs. Do not hesitate to reach out to us for your next ice rink construction project. We are just one phone call or email away!