If you have ever watched a college or NHL hockey game, it’s hard not to notice how incredibly vibrant the painted lines and logos are on the ice, especially when the Zamboni hits the ice between each period and returns it to a shiny, smooth surface that brilliantly reflects the light from the painted surface.
Have you ever wondered how exactly they’re able paint the ice to endure throughout every puck pass and Zamboni circle?
Here’s the trick: the paint is actually sandwiched between layers of ice.
After pouring a thin layer of water onto the rink and allowing it to freeze, the painting process can begin. Three to four thin coats of white water-based paint is put down and allowed to dry between each coat. This gives the ice a shiny white background from which the bright colors of the lines and logos can “pop”.
After the white paint has fully dried, another layer of water is added to the rink and allowed to set until it hardens. The lines and logo design can be painted on this next layer of ice. The reason for the separation of these paint layers is to avoid any bleeding of the details into the white background as the ice melts. The last step in the process is to add another layer or two of water, so there’s plenty of ice above the final coats of paint.
As with all other paints, there are multiple types of paint you can use for painting ice. For backyard or outdoor ice rinks it’s best to use the water-based paint (as outlined in the steps above) because the paint will be easy to wash away as soon as the ice melts in the spring. Indoor rinks generally use a water-based paint as well, but there are other options on the market like the Ultra Pure Ice Paints, for example.
Which ice rinks have your favorite paint designs? Would you ever try this for an at-home rink? Why or why not?