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DIY Backyard Climbing Rock Wall

Get all of our tips for how to build a DIY climbing wall for you children. Ours absolutely love this DIY outdoor project!

boy in superhero sweatshirt climbing wooden rock wall with colorful rock wall holds.

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.

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy.

Factors To Consider When Designing Wall

  • 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?
Boy climbing DIY climbing rock wall with rope on a diy playset.

Recommended Supplies

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.

Other Rock Holds With Longer Anchors

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!

red button with arrows pointing to buy rock holds with rope.

Cons To Rock Holds

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. He secretly wants to have his own rock wall and these are too small for his hands.

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.

Adding angled 2 x 4 for DIY climbing wall base on DIY playground structure.

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.

Step-by-Step Tutorial

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.

Rock wall holds with man adding diy climbing wall base on kid's playground with bucket of screws in view.

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.

Circular saw cutting 2 x 4's for rock wall

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 Holds

Attach rock wall holds to DIY wall

 

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.

Add A Safety Rail At 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.

Child climbing DIY rock wall

Indoor Rock Climbing Wall Idea

If you are looking to build an indoor rock wall for adults, go ahead and check out this blog post from Home Depot. Here they use different materials such as smoother plywood with a crash pad to help create a place for avid climbers.

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.

How-To FAQs

How much did this wall project cost to build?

Because we had all of the tools needed to build this rock wall we were able to build it as part of our outdoor play set for under $100.

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.

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DIY outdoor climbing walls truly can add fun to your backyard!

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Clara

Thursday 23rd of April 2020

Looks like such great fun for the kids.

Erin

Thursday 23rd of April 2020

Thanks, Clara. Our children absolutely love this DIY climbing rock wall. We are so lucky to have this in our backyard!

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