Synthetic Ice is an artificial ice product that has gained popularity in recent years as an alternative to real ice for people who cannot get to the rink or who want to skate outdoors year round.
Most of the reviews you will find online are for people using synthetic ice for hockey practice so today I wanted to share with you my experience and picks for the best synthetic ice for figure skating.
I’ve been using my own synthetic ice tiles since March 2020 and have lots of experience using it as an alternative to heading to a regular ice rink.
In this post I’ll give you my honest synthetic ice reviews and what I think you need to know before buying this product.
Note that I use synthetic ice as a figure skater/recreational skater and not as a hockey player so my synthetic ice reviews are based on my and my kids own skating experience.
If you are looking for synthetic ice for practicing hockey, this review still stands as most of the information you need to know will be the same.
In fact, as hockey players do not need to practice jumps and spins, you will probably find that artificial ice is much easier for you to use than for a figure skater.
Note that this article only covers synthetic ice tiles that you can use with skates on your feet. When you search on Amazon for synthetic ice tiles, you will also find stick handling pads that look the same but are not suitable for skating.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Affiliate Disclosure for more information
What Is Synthetic Ice?
Synthetic ice is a synthetic material that you can use to create a skating surface. It is made of a high-density polyethylene and is durable, safe, and easy to use.
Back when plastics first became popular, people would skate on plastic rinks but nowadays the materials are much better and easier to skate on. If you haven’t ever skated on artificial ice or its been a long time, you are in for a treat.
Synthetic ice is great for anyone who wants to skate, regardless of skating experience.
You can install artificial ice indoors or outdoors and it is perfect for hockey, figure skating, or recreational skating. Cruise lines and hotels often use synthetic ice for their rinks so that there are no concerns with keeping the temperature stable.
Is Synthetic Ice Any Good?
Is synthetic ice any good? That is a question that many people have asked, especially since the product has been on the market for a few years now.
There are a lot of pros and cons to synthetic ice, but the bottom line is that it depends on what you are looking for in an ice rink.
Synthetic ice is definitely cheaper than traditional ice rinks, and it can be installed in almost any location. However, synthetic ice is not as smooth as traditional ice, so it can be more difficult to skate on.
In my opinion, a synthetic ice rink will not completely replace the need to train on a regular ice rink however, it is a great alternative if you cannot get to the ice or need to be able to train more than your ice time will allow.
Pros & Cons of Synthetic Ice Rinks
Synthetic ice products have some benefits, but they also have some drawbacks.
Before you purchase a synthetic rink for your home or business, it’s important to understand the potential pros and cons.
Benefits of synthetic ice
Perhaps the most positive feature of using synthetic ice is the flexibility.
With artificial ice, you can skate whenever and where ever you like—this can make it easier to practice ice skating at home and in the off season.
This may seem like a strange advantage of synthetic ice but they can actually help with your strength and jump height on the ice. This is because your muscles will have to do a lot of the work in propelling yourself forward on artificial ice as your skates will not slip naturally like they do on real ice.
Great For Beginners
As your skates won’t automatically slide when you step onto synthetic ice (you can walk on it with shoes on with no issues), it is great for beginners who are nervous about falling. Even if you do fall, it is more like falling on a regular floor than on an ice rink.
While the initial investment for synthetic ice is not cheap (you are looking at around $1000 to cover an area that is really suitable for figure skaters to practice on), there are no maintenance costs at all. There is also no impact on your electricity bill either.
One and done is the best way to describe a synthetic ice rink. Unlike a backyard rink that requires constant maintenance, patching and flooding, synthetic ice is almost entirely upkeep free.
The only thing you need to do with a synthetic ice rink is cover it in a lubricating liquid every few weeks to maintain the gliding factor.
Easy To Install
Most synthetic ice rinks come in tiles that you can easily click together to create the shape and size of the rink that you want in minutes.
You can build your ice rink literally anywhere that you want. We have ours in the basement but you could install it in the backyard, living room or even in the garage. The tiles are easy to move too so you could put the rink in your backyard in the summer then move it indoors in the winter months with ease.
Drawbacks of Synthetic ice
Using a synthetic ice rink isn’t without potential downsides. Here are the ones I think are important to know.
Skating On Synthetic Ice Is Different
It is important to realize that even the most expensive synthetic ice is not going to be exactly like skating on real ice.
Unlike a frozen ice rink, for example, you might feel that you can’t do all the skating moves you can normally do. Jumps and backward skating take a bit of getting used to on synthetic ice.
That being said, for recreational skaters and less advanced figure skaters, a synthetic ice rink is perfect once you get used to it.
And I should mention that taking the time to get used to the artificial is key. Your first few minutes will not feel great and you may think that it isn’t going to work for you.
Give yourself time to get used to the different feel of gliding and skating before it becomes second nature.
Your Skates Will Need To Be Sharpened More Frequently
Initial Outlay Is Expensive
Although you won’t need to pay much money once your rink is up and running (other than the glide lubricant which is not expensive), the cost of buying your tiles can get pricey.
We ended up spending about $1000 on our synthetic ice tiles in order to get a large enough area for two kids to skate on easily.
If you are only planning on using your synthetic ice for hockey goal shooting practice, you can probably get away with fewer tiles which will cost a lot less money.
Best Synthetic Ice For Figure Skating
Now you know the pros and cons of using synthetic ice, let’s look at the best options available now and what you should be looking for when buying synthetic ice tiles for yourself.
How To Choose The Best Synthetic Ice
Consider the following factors when reviewing the best ice for your needs:
This is far and above the most important factor to consider when looking at synthetic ice. The top quality synthetic ice can now almost replicate the feeling of gliding on the ice while poor versions will feel nothing like it and will make it almost impossible to actually practice figure skating.
Even with the brands that get the best synthetic ice reviews, remember that you will be doing a lot of the gliding as opposed to on real ice when your blades naturally slide on the ice.
Single vs Double-sided Tiles
It goes without saying but if you want to double the longevity of your synthetic ice, consider getting double-sided tiles.
These will essentially allow you to have a completely new rink once your tiles are too worn on one side.
Below you can see a close up of what my tiles look like 2 years into use.
Tiles v Synthetic Ice Sheet
The best synthetic ice for figure skating is more than likely going to be tiles.
The sheets are much smaller and are best for hockey players who want to practice puck shooting and handling.
Tiles will allow you to change out battered squares for fresh ones and also make your ice rink as large as your space (and budget) will allow.
Ease of Interlocking
One of the most important things to consider when choosing synthetic ice tiles is how easy they are to fit together.
As the tiles are made of hard plastic, it can be a bit tricky to get them locked together so you want to make sure you buy quality tiles that make building your rink easy.
You see below how the tiles interlock together in my basement. In fact you can barely see the edges of each individual tile within the rink.
Note that I put soft foam tiles around my rink to allow skaters to take their skates on and off easily without stepping on the hardwood.
Obviously this will depend on your budget but prices for synthetic ice tiles vary considerably.
Make sure to check the size of the tiles that are included in your packages as the prices can be deceptive.
To build my rink, I ended up using 3 packs of tiles.
The great thing about using tiles is that you can gradually make your rink bigger as finances permit.
My Top Picks For The Best Synthetic Ice For Figure Skaters
The Best Synthetic Ice: Overall Winner
The ice tiles from Skate Anytime are marketed as hockey tiles but they are great for figure skaters too. You can use them on any hard surface, inside or outdoors.
They work great in backyards, garages, basements, decks, driveways and can even be skated on in the rain.
What You Need To Know:
- The patented interlocking system will allow you to connect unlimited panels together to make the rink area larger. You can also form multiple pattern layouts.
- No glide solution needed
- The 3 lb panels are 10mm or 3/8″ thick
Synthetic Ice Reviews For Skate Anytime
There are over 200 great reviews on Amazon for the Skate Anytime tiles.
Here are some of the key points that people bring up:
“I have figure skates, but have to be careful not to gouge the panels with my bottom pick.”
“We choose this ice for its durability and quality. Not only does my son skate on it, but rollerblades, or just practices shooting.”
“The ice makes turns super smooth, and is easy to skate on.”
” I can drive my SUV right over top of it without any problem as the tiles are sturdy.”
Another great option for synthetic ice tiles are the ones from USA company, Sniper’s Edge.
Snipers Edge Artificial Ice tiles are premium grade polymer plastic tiles that self-lubricate.
What You Need To Know
- Users report that the tiles sometimes move when they skate and you may need to tape them to the floor
- Figure skaters report that they are good for skating on
- Bear in mind that like all synthetic ice tiles, you will need to vacuum shavings of plastic after every few skates.
Synthetic Ice Reviews For Snipers Edge
There are not a ton of reviews for these tiles on Amazon but most of the ones that are there are very good, you can check them out here.
This is the kind of synthetic ice tiles that I use and while I highly recommend them, I did not put them in the top spot as they are not as easy to get as some of the other brands.
This Canadian based synthetic ice tiles are great for anyone who wants to create an ice rink at home.
Here are my thoughts on 4ever ice:
- Very easy to install in minutes
- Great for figure skaters and hockey players
- Durable and easy to maintain
Synthetic Ice Reviews: FAQS
Does Synthetic Ice Ruin Blades?
In the figure skating community, there is a big debate over whether or not synthetic ice ruins blades. Some skaters believe that the plastic-like surface of the synthetic ice causes blades to wear down more quickly, while others say that it does not make a difference.
The newest types of synthetic ice are definitely better than the old school artificial ice rinks and are designed to limit blade dulling as much as possible.
In my experience, synthetic ice affects blade longevity minimally, especially if your skates are high quality.
I will say, however, that you will notice a difference if you keep switching back and forth from real ice to synthetic ice so I recommend you buy a cheap pair of skates specifically for your synthetic ice rink
Is Synthetic Ice Good For Skates?
I would not go as far as saying synthetic ice is good for skates but if you buy a high quality, modern tile, they are not necessarily bad for skates either.
Remember that you will need to get your skates sharpened much more frequently, however.
How Long Does Synthetic Ice Last?
When you’re looking for a skating surface, there are a lot of options to choose from.
One popular option is synthetic ice, as you can use it both indoors and outdoors.
But how long does synthetic ice last? And what factors affect its lifespan?
We’ve been using our synthetic ice tiles for over two years now and they are in great condition.
We’ve had to buy a few more bottles of the glide liquid that makes the tiles slippery but other than that the rink is completely low maintenance.
The one thing to remember is that with many brands, the tiles are good on both sides so if you have a lot of wear and tear on your synthetic ice tiles, you can turn them over for a completely new rink in minutes.
What Figure Skating Moves Can I Do On Synthetic Ice?
In theory, you can practice all your figure skating moves on your synthetic ice rink. Jumps, twizzles and spins are all doable. The only factor that will really limit you is the amount of space you have in your rink.
How Do I Maintain My Synthetic Ice Rink?
Make sure to check the instruction manual for your specific ice tiles for information on what you need to do.
I also recommend reading the synthetic ice reviews on Amazon to see what other people are saying.
In general, you will need to vacuum shavings from your rink and re-apply the lubricating solution every few weeks.
Synthetic Ice Alternatives
If you want to practice skating outside of the rink, synthetic ice is a great option. It is cost-effective and easy to use in almost any location.
However, if you are looking for other ways to practice your skating off-ice, make sure to check out these posts:
How To Practice Ice Skating At Home
Off-Ice Training For Figure Skaters