Build a home climbing wall in your backyard
Again, we are safe at home and trying to come up with ways to keep our sanity and have our children continue to be healthy and thriving. If you have been following some of our DIY projects, you know we have been doing a lot of DIY outdoor projects.
As soon as we knew we would not be able to even go to a public playground, we knew we needed to build our outdoor playset with a DIY climbing wall.
Factors to consider for the design of your own climbing wall
First, we had to consider a few things for this DIY project.
- How high up would our rock wall go?
- Should it be just vertical? Or have a slant?
- What types of holds should we buy?
- Make sure to factor in safety measures for your space (whether an outdoor or indoor climbing wall)
- What materials are good for outdoor use?
How much did this wall project cost to build?
We needed the following supplies to build our DIY rock climbing wall that is attached to our children’s playset. We were able to build the rock wall part of the outdoor play set for under $100.
Note: We did not use the standard sized anchors that came with these rock holds because they were not long enough. They were 1.25” long and a 2×4 is plus the rock hold is too thick for that. We attached these climbing rock wall holds with screws.
Here is a different brand with longer anchors that appears to work with 2x4s and we wish we would have tried instead.
Purchasing rock climbing holds
We chose these children’s rock wall holds because they could be shipped right away, were highly rated and were pretty inexpensive. We figured we could try them out and always return them if they did not work well. Not to mention, this kit came with a pretty sturdy climbing rope that we attached to the playset.
These rock wall holds were also very easy to install. My husband was able to add them to his rock wall structure within 30 minutes. We love when DIY projects don’t end up taking a long time!
The 2 biggest cons to these rock wall holds, are their size and that we had to use our own screws to attach them to the 2 x 4s. My husband wishes they were a little larger, but our children seem to be able to easily use them. (I think secretly it is just because they are too small for him to use to climb the wall…
But this is not an adult wall!
Indoor rock-climbing wall idea
If you are looking to build an indoor rock wall for adults, go ahead and check out this REI article. Here they use different materials such as smoother plywood with a crash pad to help create a place for avid climbers.
How to Build a DIY Climbing Rock Wall For Kids
As we have stated, our rock wall is attached to our playset. Depending on where you are putting your rock wall, you may need to build more of a structure to support your DIY rock wall.
At first, my husband was just going to make ours a completely vertical wall. Luckily, he realized young kids would need an angle to be able to fully get up the wall. The wall angle made it so much easier for our children to climb up.
Could you create a free-standing wall?
Yes, instead of attaching to the playground base, you could build triangle support as a great way to have your own climbing wall without being on a playset.
1. Our first “landing” is 5’ above the ground. If you want to figure out your climbing angle, use the good old Pythagorean Theorem (a to help you decide the distance your base is away from the side. You should draw a triangle and do the math to determine the climbing angle you want.
2. Cut two 2 x 4 boards at the size you decided to be the hypotenuse or angled part that will be climbed on.
3. We placed our diagonal hypotenuse boards 42” apart so that our DIY climbing rock wall would be 42” wide.
4. Cut 2 x 4 boards to the desired width (again, ours was 42” apart). The number of 2 x 4s that you use will depend on how much space you want in between the board.
5. Cut more 2 x 4s to create your climbing rock wall for your children. Our small gaps between boards are about 1.5 inches to 2 inches apart.
If you space the rock wall holds further apart, it will act more like a ladder it will be (in addition to the rock wall handholds). If you only want the rock wall, then try to get the boards as close together as possible.
6. Attach all cut rock wall 2 x 4s boards to the two angled 2 x 4s using screws.
7. Draw a grid on the boards and put one rock hand hole every 10 inches to 12 inches somewhere in the grid.
8. Pre drill holes where you plan to attach holds. Drill and attach rock holds in desired spaces. We used a grid pattern to help use space out the climbing holds.
How to space out climbing rock wall holds
As you can see in this picture, we measured across to put the rock wall holds on. We figured these distances would work for two children to climb up at a time if they wanted. Our wall holds are about 10-12″ apart and have worked well for even our youngest child.
Added safety measures
First, we are not liable for our or your playset design. Please read your local guidelines when creating a DIY playset for your children. We just love to share what we do for educational purposes only. We knew we needed to add some safety measures to make sure our children were safe.
Our rock wall is 5 feet off the ground because that was how high the slide we ordered could go. Now, when I went to the link, our 5-foot slide was not an option, so I have linked it to the 4 ft. version of what we have.
We did make one error when planning our rock wall. We put the slide, rock wall, and ladder all on one side. This caused a little bit of a safety dilemma that we solved by adding a pressure-treated 2 x 4 across the top.
We had safety rails everywhere else and we knew we needed something to keep kids on the top of the platform. The bar is high enough that the kids still can duck under. We may end up adding one more right under after we see how our children use the playset safely.
If we were to design this differently, we would probably have the ladder, climbing wall and slide on all different sides so that we could have more full railings with smaller openings.
Here are some of our related posts about outdoor living spaces
Other Kid Climbing Rock Wall Options
If after all of this DIY talk, you are more interested in just purchasing climbing items for your DIY playground or outdoor space, here are a few we considered before building our own DIY climbing rock wall.
Inflatable Rock Wall/Water slide: I want to get this to play with! Not just for the kids!