My wife found a project a few months ago she wanted me to do, and I just never got around to writing it up. Like most of her ideas, it’s really quite fun. She wanted to build a climbing wall for our two year old to have. This meant I got to go to Home Depot. My wife knows me well!
The project really was straight forward. We wanted the building wall secured to the wall of the room, but didn’t want to put many holes in the wall. So we anchored a frame of 2×4’s on the wall, then attached a pre-finished sheet of plywood to this after drilling holes inserting and anchors. I adapted my plan from the company we bought our holds from – and you’ll love these awesome holds. Our boys love dinosaurs – and adding a few to the wall made it so fun for them. Atomik made the holds, and has a great DIY tutorial as well.
Buying a new tool is fun, too. I bought a chalk reel which wasn’t necessary, but was $11 and made my life easier when drilling the holes for the anchors. I staggered these by 4″ between columns, and 8″ between rows. There is a great picture of this here. So I quickly marked the measurements on the edges of the plywood, then got out my new chalk reel. I have to admit I really enjoyed snapping these lines. It made me feel all snappy. I then used a dry erase to mark where the holes needed to go on each line. Then it was time to get out the drill!
The anchors for the holds are 7/16″, so I needed a new speed bore / spade bit. This Bosch one I bought first and quickly stopped using it because the veneer on the plywood got splintered by it. Also, be sure you drill from the NICE side of the wood – because the back will blow-out.
Then you take the anchors and pound them in the BACK of the board with a hammer.
Then I measured the height and width of this section of wall my wife had chosen for this project. It fortunately was exactly 4 feet wide, so I only had to trim the height of the plywood. The picture is after the cut, but just shows my straight-edge; I used the speed square to make sure my straight-edge (yard stick, here) was perpendicular, and then cut with the circular saw. Remember to cut from the side that is showing (you can also prevent some blow-out by putting a few strips of painters tape along the cut line).
Next I built the 2×4 frame. It was pretty easy to pull the trim board from the wall, and there was a chair-rail line of trim I removed as well. This gave me two locations for attaching the frame that I won’t have to patch when we take this down (we are moving soon and are taking this with us)! I attached each horizontal board in two spots and the vertical boards by at three locations (the ceiling, the chair-rail, and the floor trim levels). I used some lag bolts I had laying around, but they were a bit short so I counter sunk them by drilling a bigger hole partway through the board. If you were buying new 4″ lag bolts I wouldn’t bother with this step.
Then all that was needed was some screws that attached the climbing wall to the frame. I put one about every 12″ around the entire perimeter. Be sure to predrill the holes or you’ll split the nice finish on the plywood. Then it’s a snap to just screw in the holds using the hex wrench the Atomik sent with their holds. Here’s a picture immediately after finishing that night.
We have since revised the big dinosaur climbing hold locations and obviously added more climbing holds, too. We decided to start only using half of the wall until he gets better at climbing. It’s really easy & quick to change the holds around. And a tip if your child isn’t climbing at first: place their favorite snack at the very top and watch them scramble up to get it!
Atomik has endless children climbing hold options from bugs, trucks, letters, seasonal…honestly just so many fun options! Let us know if you build one, we would LOVE to see it and share it on our blog!!!