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How to Build Your Own Indoor Climbing Wall!

Updated on January 8, 2011
How cool is this?
How cool is this?

Why Not Build Your Own Bouldering Wall?

I love climbing but live in the city so I tend to be an indoor climber mostly. After seeing climbing holds on sale I realized that I could have my very own climbing wall in my living room! How amazing would that be?! Guests would be blown away by the fact that they could literally climb the walls. When my husband annoys me I can say literally, Im climbing the walls he is being so annoying!

With my head spinning I attempted to think practically about this. The first thing to think about is the fact that I rent. I do hate my landlord feircly, I know we will never see our deposit as she is a very greedy lady who fixes nothing round here when it falls apart. I have no moral feeling for preserving this flat, my worry is that the walls just are not solid enough. I could see hanging from a hold and it ripping off the wall taking a chunk of wall with it.

The solution hubby came up with was to have a freestanding wall, we could even take it with us when/if we move. We have even found a few selling on ebay, tho out of our price range. To be honest for us this is a long term project as our flat is to small and money is tight, we are buying the holds in stages based on what we can afford, and we have plans on moving asap. Feel free to buy some below, you could even offer to buy em for me! :D

If you are like me and rent you may still have more options. You can always build your climbing wall in a shed in the back garden or if you have one your garage. With this in mind I shall assume that you are in a position to actually build yourself a personal climbing wall. You lucky so and so :P.

Crash Pads Keep You Safe Bouldering Indoors and Out

A few bits to get you started!

Metolius Foundation Holds - 105 Pack Holds & boards
Metolius Foundation Holds - 105 Pack Holds & boards

These holds work out at $1.89 with the current listed price


A Quick List of The Steps To Build Your Climbing Wall

  1. Plan where you want to build your climbing wall
  2. Create a Model so that you have a good idea of how much you are going to need. A 1' to 1" ratio will work well.
  3. Construct and mount your frame, assuming you are mounting to an already existing structure.
  4. Prepare your plywood to be mounted to the frame, measure and cut to fit the plywood exactly so it fits the frame well.
  5. Space out and drill holes for your t-nuts
  6. Then add your t-nuts (this will prevent you from damaging the t-nut or your tools when cutting.
  7. Get a friend to help you mount your plywood to the frame.
  8. Start adding holds and climb! You will start to develop your skill at setting routs.

The Nuts and Bolts to Build Your Climbing Wall

The first step to this is in the planning. The first step is why you are building a climbing wall? It may be that you are eager for the exercise, you wish to improve your climbing strength, maybe you have kids and feel it would be a great family activity (this would be so much cooler then buying a trampoline).

The next thing you need to think about once you have decided you really would love your own climbing/bouldering wall is to find a good location. Depending on how large/wide you wish your wall to be, if you want overhangs and want to practice bridging (a corner bit) or practice aerate climbing (going around a corner, kinda the opposite of bridging, corner sticking out) you will want to think about where you have access to the kind of space you will need. You may wish to turn a back garden shed into your climbing wall, with that you can have wicked hard overhangs! A garden shed would be great as you can lay the bottom with crash pads and climb both along the horizontal as well as the vertical.

So you have the perfect spot chosen, now you need to take your measurements. Get the height the length and the width available to you. A great tip is to build a scale model from poster board or construction paper. This is much better as drawing a hoped for design lacks the 3 dimensional detail and can be misleading when deciding how much plywood you will need. Whatever scale you use, be it imperial measurements or metric it doesn't matter as long as the model size is easy to work on and visualize.

If you decide to attach your climbing wall to an existing structure you will eliminate the need for some support braces and will be easier to plan and build but will lock you into that location, the other option is a freestanding wall, this will cost more and will prove more difficult to design. If you decide to go for this challenge you must consider balance, you don't want it to tip over!

When you have decided on your design and have bought your supplies you are ready to start building. As with any other building project you really should, measure twice and cut once! Maintaining accuracy in your cuts will allow your pieces of wood to fit together perfectly and anything less is not worth thinking about!

If you have no construction experience I would highly recommend you get a friend or family member to give you a hand. You may even want to take a course at a local community college and use this project as your project for the class. You may already realize this but your frame is load bearing and anything load bearing should be bolted not screwed or nailed. Nails can come loose with vibration and screws tend to snap.

As your frame is load bearing you want to construct it so that it will distribute the weight and strains of a climber (or a few). This is not a difficult thing to do and comes down to good spacing, not to much!

Your Frame Is Like The Bones Of Your Project

After you have constructed your frame its time to prepare the plywood for attaching to the wall. You will want to drill the holes that will be for the hand and foot holds before mounting it to the frame of your wall. I would suggest that you use a regular pattern of one t-nut every 8 inches in both directions. You want to mount the plywood before before actually putting the t-nuts in.

When mounting your plywood you will want help, at least 2 people are required for this as the sheets of wood will weigh a lot. A good rule of thumb is 1 screw every 8 inches. For pieces that need to be cut into special shapes be sure to carefully measure your lengths and angles before cutting, there is nothing worse then losing money and the hard work of drilling and hammering t-nuts because you gut a piece to short!

Now that your plywood has its t-nuts and has been mounted to its frame you are ready to put your hand holds in! There is no set way to do this. You may decide you want to move the holds around as you climb on your new wall, route setting is like an art. This really is the best part of having your own climbing wall!


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    • word55 profile image

      Al Wordlaw 

      3 years ago from Chicago

      Interesting, I enjoyed the read. Keep the ideas coming.

    • Besarien profile image


      3 years ago

      We did one part of a wall of my son's room. He has always been into fitness. The ceiling isn't very high since it is also the attic but there is a little alcove up there at the top with a window. He likes to read up there. We also installed a climbing rope, a pull up bar, and a basketball hoop.

    • brennawelker profile image


      7 years ago

      hahaha LOL, sounds interesting. Love it.

    • kirstenblog profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from London UK

      Mike - Cool! Glad to have inspired you, if you have kids you wont ever get them to stop climbing your walls LOL.

    • Mike's Corner profile image

      Mike's Corner 

      7 years ago from Maryland

      Wow, very cool hub . . . I think I'm gonna go to Home Depot tomorrow!

    • twentyfive profile image


      7 years ago

      Sounds thrilling :)

    • kirstenblog profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from London UK

      Jenny - Your little climber is SO lucky to have you building a climbing/bouldering wall for him! He is going to have a lot of friends wanting to come round LOL.

      As for attaching your frame to an existing wall I want to be 100% confident in its safty and solid construction (would not want anything to go wrong). This means that I would recommend bolting the frame together (as you could already see from your post) and the frame bolted to the wall. I hope you are not renting for this (or have a cool landlord who is happy to give permission!) as you will need to drill holes for the bolts in your existing wall, measure twice of course. I put the frame against the wall the way I wanted and marked where I needed the holes then measured from ground to marks to make sure that the distances are equal for each mark to take a bolt in the wall. A good sturdy set of anchor bolts should fix your frame to your wall solidly.

      I hope this has helped to clarify how to make sure your climbing wall is safe and not going to go anywhere. It is a bit tricky to convey through text exactly how to anchor the frame and anchor the frame to the wall. If you have an indoor climbing wall near to you it is always possible that you could ask for a more visual example of how it looks and works, I imagine they would be delighted to show you how a wall is mounted and bolted hands on. I personally find a visual guide easier to understand then text and if you are in any way unsure after reading 'how to's' it is probably a good idea to see a working example in a commercial indoor climbing wall facility, the staff in those places are in my experience always happy to help!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Awesome! I've been thinking/dreaming about building a bouldering wall for my little climber (he's 4 now, but has shown an interest since around 3). I have drawn up plans, but it occurred to me that I should see what others have already done to see if I am on the right track. I love the information you have shared here, thanks! I have one question... can you tell me how you attached your frame to an existing wall? When you mention bolting the frame, do you mean the frame pieces should be bolted together (which I can see how they should) AND the frame should be bolted to the wall, or is it just that the frame pieces should be bolted together? And if the frame should be bolted to the wall, how did you accomplish that using an existing wall? Thanks so much!

    • kirstenblog profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from London UK

      NCBier - I am still working on getting a house to build it in! LOL. Hubby keeps finding bolt-on's on ebay for cheep but need to be collected, and then it's too far away but the fact that we do find them from time to time says we should be able to find some good cheep ones for when we get a place to use em :D

      I am not overly fond of ebay, but if you are careful about who you buy from and keep an eye on how close the cost is getting to store cost (seen em go for more then store cost) you can sometimes find real bargains (we recently saw a portable already build climbing wall made of clear plastic! to much for me, would get bad vertigo with a clear wall!)

    • NCBIer profile image


      8 years ago

      Great hub! As you wrote this a while ago, I was wondering if you've built your climbing wall yet. If so, any particular details worth noting? I'm about to embark on this myself and want to make the most of my time and money, as well as get the best effect possible. Thank you!

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      9 years ago

      I was very green and new to hubpages (still am) when you said you saw my participation on a political "forum". You said you "like the "cut of my jib" what ever a jib is". A jib is a sail of course and I only know that from doing crosswords. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate you being my first fan and you were mine. I didn't know if I wanted to continue with hubpages. Through you I went to other writings and became a fan often and found fans.

      Thanks, Micky Dee---I found a way!

    • Pearldiver profile image

      Rob Welsh 

      9 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

      Nice One Kirsten... Great Idea and a great hub. I have a 2 Storey commercial building that crys out for a climbing wall, in a town where the youth would really enjoy it. Very interested in studying more about this idea. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • kirstenblog profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London UK

      "I wasn't allowed to climb trees when I was a kid :(" That kinda makes me sad, climbing trees is like a staple of childhood to me. I still enjoy climbing trees today!

    • jenblacksheep profile image


      9 years ago from England

      What a great idea! I think I'll suggest this to my boyfriend when we get a place. I love climbing but I never get a chance to do it. I wasn't allowed to climb trees when I was a kid :(

    • kirstenblog profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London UK

      Climberjames, Thanks for the comment! I am imagining your new place with a bouldering wall already! I am glad that this article has been helpful to you and maybe even been responsible for giving you the confidence to build your own bouldering wall, that thought has given me a smile and laugh.

    • climberjames profile image


      9 years ago from Steel City

      Really great post! Very impressed with the level of detail you go in to - certainly know your stuff!! Unfortunaley I live in a 3rd floor apartment and cant touch the walls without being fined by my landlord. Hopefully next year I will be moving into my own place and the home improvements (in the form of a bouldering wall) can begin!

    • kirstenblog profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London UK

      Juneaukid there is one more point you have reminded me of, planning permission. In some parts of the world there are strict rules about when, where and how you can build.

      That aside you are welcome to come build a climbing wall on my property! :D

    • juneaukid profile image

      Richard Francis Fleck 

      9 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      A very intriguing idea you have to build a climbing wall on one's own property!

    • kirstenblog profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from London UK

      Awww Thanks guys! I really wanted to make this one easy to understand. I have read other instructions on this and found it very confusing for someone who does not know the jargon and such. Glad to see that I have succeeded on this! :D

    • dohn121 profile image


      9 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      What an awesome hub, Kristen! How suitable is this for Number 50? Great job.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      9 years ago from US

      this is nice,congrats by the way! aside form very informative the article is easy read..

    • Helen Cater profile image

      Helen Cater 

      9 years ago from UK

      What a fab hub on climbing walls. You certainly know your stuff.


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