"Being a good dad starts with presence not presents"
The smell of paint, the whiz of a drill and a sprinkling of sawdust can only mean one thing. Our back yard climbing wall project is going full tilt, and it's excitement all round. As an avid climber and having worked as a climbing instructor for many years obviously I love it that my kids are into climbing to. So this weekend we decided to upgrade a small climbing wall in the back yard to a cool double wall. I though it would be awesome to write this post in case anyone out there was thinking the same and needed a little inspiration or guidance. I also threw in a few money saving tips because who doesn't like a deal.
Step 1: Getting Materials is the first step to any project. We are using two sheets of outdoor plywood, paint, bag of 100 3/8 t-nuts, climbing holds (or things to stick on the wall), screws (to put the wall up), bolts (sized to t-nuts)
Next the tools. In this project I used a tape measure, sharpie, drill, 1/2 inch wood drill bit, small roller, paint spreader, hex key set and a hammer
Step 2: We used a a primer first then a stone effect paint/paste to cover our climbing wall just to give it some extra grip and also Sheena wanted it to look nice in the back yard almost like a architectural design piece in the corner.
Money saving tip: If you don't want to buy a stone effect paint you can use outdoor paint and mix in sand. Usually it's good to add in a cup of sand at a time to avoid the paint mixture getting to thick.
Step 3: After the your paint is dry its time to mark out where your holes will be. We put our wall on a fence that has a gap every 9 inches so ended up measuring our a grid of holes 5 rows high a 9 rows wide that would line up with the gaps on the fence.
Technical Tip: If you drill your holes in a grid pattern with more holes than you need, it leaves you open to change the position of hold anytime you feel like it. This can keep it fresh and fun plus adds to the ongoing excitement.
Step 4: When drilling the holes I usually go from front to back to avoid damaging the coating on the front. once they are all drilled flip over the sheet and hammer in your t-nuts.
Technical Tip: T-nut that fix the hold on are usually 3/8 inch and if you use a 1/2 inch drill bit the thread part goes in perfectly. If you find they are coming out I sometimes use glue to fix them to the back of the wall.
Step 5: Putting the climbing wall up can be done in loads of different ways. Depending on what you're fixing it to really instigates how it's done. For us, it's to the fence, so we don't have to worry about clearance when the bolts for holds are to long. If you're fixing it to a flat will you will need to use batons to give you the same clearance.
Money Saving Tip: Starting your wall 1-1.5 ft above the ground gives you more height and you will spend less on materials. These first 12-18 inches are rarely used by kids anyway.
Step 6: The best part of the whole project. Picking which hold goes where! You can either throw them all on randomly or use the colours to make routes to climb up. Our kids love picking out the hold from our box and making routes to climb. The more they are involve in this part the more they want to climb on it.
Money Saving Tip: We have climbing holds that you can get online or from an outdoor store but our first wall only had very few of these and lots of fun around the house part. We used door knobs, handles, hockey pucks, bits of wood and just screwed them or bolted them on. Its a cheap way of filling up your wall with hold and extremely fun to climb on.
So if you've been thinking of build a little adventure into your back yard, why not give it a go. Its endless fun and can be done in a weekend and last for years. If you are thinking of something indoors or more advanced then Metolious Climbing do a how to guide for more styles of climbing wall (click the link for the PDF) which is pretty comprehensive. As always if you have any question either head to the comments or shoot me an email. Good luck and happy climbing!