Synthetic Ice Information

I receive many questions about synthetic ice and have created this FAQ page to provide more information. If you have questions or need additional synthetic ice information please let me know.

1. What is the coefficient of friction?

Most synthetic ice tiles are designed with a special beaded surface, which, when new, mimics a surface that has been seasoned from skating, thus reducing friction to the blades.

The beading ensures skating is as pleasant and easy on day one as it is in year ten.

As the tiles are used, the beading is worn away and replaced with superficial scratches and scarring of the surface that enhances skating speed. The more the synthetic floor is used, the faster it will skate.

2. How long does synthetic ice last?

The lifespan of most synthetic tiles is indefinite, under normal and expected use. The tiles are nearly indestructible under even the worst of normal use conditions.

Some manufacturers provide written warranties with each floor, usually from 3 years to 10 years. However, some floors have been used for 15 years, during which time the manufacturer received no warranty claims. In addition, the tiles can be turned over and used for another 10+years.

"Normal use conditions" includes the regular use of glide enhancers, which reduce the wear and tear to the synthetic surface and to your skates.

3. Do we have to sharpen the skates using a special method?

No, you take care of your blades as normal. On synthetic surfaces, skates do need to be sharpened roughly twice as often, on average. Glide enhancers reduce the wear on the blades, somewhat reducing the amount of sharpening required.

4. Are there any special application or floor preparation requirements?

Tiles can be installed on any sturdy, flat, level and firm surface. Many floors have been installed in basements, parking lots, driveways, theatres, malls on floats and simple treated lumber decking.

Any imperfections or dips in your subfloor may be leveled with sand, pea gravel or concrete. Concrete, asphalt, and decks are commonly used as subfloors.

5. What is the cost per square foot?

This varies dramatically between suppliers, but is typically $9 - $15/sq. ft. Ultra-dense, oil-embedded polymers might empty your wallet at the rate of $21+/square foot.

The nature of your project might dictate which supplier to use. Let me know the details of your project so I can give you exact price breakdowns and additional synthetic ice information and requirements.

6. Does the synthetic ice surface stand up to practice skating such as braking, turning, pivoting etc.?

Yes, at least as regards to hockey. Any stops, drills, maneuvers, and turns that can be done on natural or refrigerated ice can be done on synthetic ice.

Synthetic ice allows for ice skating as well, but to get the BEST use of synthetic ice for figure skating requires an ultra-dense surface with the lowest coefficient of friction available - 10% or less.

This is because speed is required in order to build momentum for the jumps and lifts. The best would be the polymers engineered with embedded beads of oil which give sufficient natural glide and speed. Note also that the picks can damage a lesser-quality synthetic surface.

7. What about glide enhancers?

Glide enhancers should be water soluble, environmentally friendly, safe, non-toxic and EPA approved. Most synthetic ice surfaces still require enhancers, if they are not oil-embedded polymers.

Avoid oil-based silicone or glycerin products, as these can seal in the dirt, can stain and discolor. As they dry, the skate blades tend to create shavings of dried enhancer, further making a mess on synthetic ice surface.

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