Tips for building a Kids Climbing Wall

Photo: Beth Rodden

The greatest thing about climbing is that you're never too old or too young to do it. Ever since I started climbing two decades ago, I've had some kind of home climbing wall to play on and train on.

Recently, I Googled "kid climbing walls" and found a lot of overbuilt and elaborate contraptions, from dinosaur heads to moving apparatuses straight out of a theme park. I've always found that the best climbing walls are the simplest ones. I wasn't sure if kids would share that same preference for simplicity, however, and when Randy and I were talking about what kind of wall to build for Theo, we went back and forth on the design. I wanted to just screw some plywood onto a blank section in our climbing shed. Randy wanted some kind of angle.

In the end, I think we came up with a pretty nifty design. This adjustable wall is slabby for now, while Theo is young, and we can make it more vertical when he gets older and stronger. And when we want to permanently attach it to the main wall, we can reuse the materials. Theo has been loving it, and as an added bonus, it's been great for rehabbing a certain injured finger of mine. :)

Materials:
1 - 4' x 8' sheet 3/4" Plywood - finished on one side
5 - 8' 2 x 4s (plus additional as needed to attach the wall to your support structure)
2" decking screws for attaching plywood
3" decking screws for assembling frame
128 - 3/8" T-nuts

Photo: Beth Rodden

Assemble the 2 x 4s in a conventional wall frame (studs on 16" centers with a top and bottom plate), using 3" screws. Next, screw the sheet of plywood onto the frame using 2" screws spaced about 6" apart all the way around the frame and along each stud.

Using a 1/2" bit, drill T-nut holes on 6" spacing, blocking out over the framing boards. Tap the T-nuts in from the backside making sure to keep them straight.

Now your wall is finished and you have to decide how to attach it to your support structure, whether that's the wall of your garage or basement, in a shed, an existing climbing wall or whatever. The variations are infinite so I can't tell you how to attach your wall. However, you must be absolutely certain that it solid and safe. Consult a licensed contractor if you aren't sure.

We hinged our wall at the top, tilted the bottom out to make a slab and braced it securely in place. As Theo grows, we can slide the bottom in and reattach the bracing to make it steeper.

I hope this simple design helps inspire you to build a climbing wall for your own little one. Check out this link for more detailed information on home wall building: http://www.metoliusclimbing.com/pdf/How-to-Build-a-Home-Climbing-Wall.pdf

When you build your own wall, please share your pictures here. Also, let me know if you have any great tips for climbing indoors with your kiddos.

Enjoy!

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