We have had synthetic ice in my garage for the better part of 10 years. When synthetic ice is in a well used garage then it’s almost impossible to keep foot traffic off the surface from time to time. This also included bike traffic, car tires, and dirty dog paws, not to mention airborne dirt, dust and lawnmower activity. So as much as I hated watching the synthetic ice get dirty, eventually just got used to it. Sort of like when you buy a new car and overtime you relax as it gets a scratch, a bump, a dent, some rust and so on – you don’t like it – but you live with it.
There were many times when just 15 minutes before one of my kids would leave for the rink they would be out in the garage in their sneakers taking pre-game shots. They had their routines. Maybe take 50 quick shots to warm up and focus on what they wanted to do in the game. As a hockey dad you tend to relax pretty quick about the sneakers on the synthetic if it meant they were out there using it with their upcoming game in mind. I thought it was great! You will too.
Once in a while I’d take the whole thing apart and power wash it out in the driveway and then we’d have a nice clean surface again. It sure beats trying to do a flood every night in weather you wouldn’t send your dog out in.
Beyond the small home size rink however there are lots of circumstances where wearing shoes on synthetic may still make sense. Amusement or event applications are examples where shoes make sense. The client wants the feeling of the ice experience without the skates. Maybe its just target shooting or a fun amusement game.
We have even sold larger rinks where the operator wanted to offer it as a multi use surface for other things such as ball hockey, in line hockey, lacrosse, and even ice soccer. If the idea is to also use that same surface for skating, then the operator has to be meticulous with cleaning after every time there is shoe traffic on the surface. Accumulated dirt will dull skates quickly.
So shoes no problem. One caution however is that synthetic ice is extremely slippery when new if never skated on and especially in combination with moisture or snow! Extremely slippery. So use your best judgement and you will be fine.