Painting the Rink Again? Organizing for Large Projects

Every year at the rink we run, Lloyd Center Ice Rink, we have a rose show for a week. This year I enjoyed the roses for the fourteenth time since starting to work there in 1998. Where do the years go?

Many rink owners and operators wonder if painting the rink is too big to be accomplished in-house, or if outside contractors should be hired. Painting I've always done in-house, but there are times when it makes sense to hire outside contractors. Here's a few bullets of when a rink should hire a painting contractor:

  • You're a seasonal rink and you need to be up and running yesterday
  • You have a new management staff
  • The contractor is already in town and you don't have to pay the whole travel charge
  • When the contractor is cheaper than in-house labor

Most of the time those special conditions don't exist, so we wind up painting the rink ourselves. Such a large job can create organizational problems if left to the last minute. Here's a few ideas to help organize this job:

  • Buy ice paint early and have it on site a few weeks ahead of time so you can easily fix any shipping problems that might take extra time
  • Rent equipment, or check in house equipment early (including leak-checking the hoses!)
  • Make a list of tools and materials needed, check it twice and then make sure those items are at the rink prior to painting
  • If you paint yearly, keep painting tools in one spot away from rink team members who would tend to scrounge an item or two for some other project
  • Order Logos early - no matter if you use cloth, vinyl or paper stencils
  • Check with USA Hockey for markings they would like this year. Markings can change a lot
  • Always use natural rubber hoses so no marks are left on the ice
  • Always have garden hose rubber rings on hand so you can make sure the hoses don't drip
  • Co-ordinate with your building engineers, or your refrigeration company, to check your compressor system. Painting puts a lot of stress on the refrigeration
  • Don't use last year's paint unless there is a problem

With painting, haste truly does make waste.

To keep the staff motivated, we usually have pizzas ordered in for lunch and serve soda from our Snack Bar. The staff seem to like the food and everyone taking a break at the same time. Making painting a special event helps make sure everyone wants to do it the next year too. Sometimes a user group likes to come and paint. Check with liability experts to see if you can afford to accept their help.

A little knowledge can go a long way. Area rink manager organizations and ice paint companies sometimes have ice painting seminars. National organizations offer a four day seminar in ice painting too. These seminars help area personnel learn the ins and outs of ice painting leading to a much better experience when accomplishing this needed task in house.

This year, we had twenty three people painting. Such a large group is unmanageable by one person, so we split the group in two with one person overseeing each group. Things went smoothly and the paint went down quicker than ever. A usual paint crew should be no more than a dozen people. We were flooding before we even knew it.
Here is a picture of our rink, once painted. Curling makes for busy lines and a lot of detail work. It is nice to have this done for this year. As we put away our painting equipment, we took notes on what went well and what needed work to make sure we remember the good and the bad next year. We also took photos to help see exactly how everything went down.

Painting is over for this year. We are looking forward to a busy year of programming for all our customers and user groups. Nothing like the crisp, clean lines of fresh paint, or the satisfaction of accomplishing the job in-house.

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Joe wrote:
Looks great! Thanks for the great comments and tips about painting the ice. Have a fun, profitable year at Lloyd Center.

Thu, July 28, 2011 @ 1:36 PM

2. Don wrote:
Thanks Joe!

Thu, July 28, 2011 @ 2:37 PM

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