How to Build a Home Rock Climbing Wall

woman climbing wall with protruding surfaces
  • 10-30 hours
  • Advanced
  • 30-40/square-foot
What You'll Need
Basic construction tools
Lumber (including 8 diameter posts)
3/4 Inch Plywood
Post-hold digger
Concrete (and wheel-barrow, if not pre-mixed)
Galvanized screws and bolts
Wire plaster lath
Rock climbing holds

Thinking of adding a home rock climbing wall to your backyard? A climbing wall doesn’t have to be complicated. Below are instructions on how to build a basic rock climbing wall, as well as ideas to keep it interesting.

Step 1 - Dig Your Post Holes

post hole

Measure out the length and width of the area that you plan to have your wall cover. Dig holes for your posts on either end, and throughout the middle if you have an exceptionally long wall plan. You can use a handheld digger, but since these holes need to be at least 3½ to 4 feet deep, you should probably rent a mechanical post hole digger. Ensure that the holes are wide enough to accommodate your 8-inch poles with extra space for concrete.

Step 2 - Place Poles

mounting posts in cement in dirt

Before putting your poles in the hole, you may want to put a small layer of sand or gravel in the bottom of the holes to help keep the pole level. Have your concrete mixed and prepared. Place the posts in your holes and fill with concrete. Allow at least a couple days to dry (or however long the concrete instructions dictate).

Step 3 - Add Crossbeams and Plywood

large beam lumber 4x6 or square

Bolt 4x6 crossbeams horizontally across your poles using galvanized bolts, no more than 2½ to 3 feet apart from each other. Screw your plywood onto the crossbeams. Paint your new wall however you like (textured paint is popular for rock climbing walls).

Step 4 - Add Rock Climbing Holds

climbing wall with hand holds

Either before or after painting, drill holes for your rock climbing holds to be bolted into. Don’t be afraid to drill more than you need; you can always remove some to make your wall more difficult, or swap your climbing holds between open holes to keep your wall new and interesting.

Step 5 - Consider Adding Things for More Difficulty and Fun

woman climbing challenging wall with outcroppings

Consider using poles that are longer than what you actually need—later on, you may decide you want to make your rock climbing wall taller for more difficulty. Poles can also be added later for height, though this may be slightly more difficult. Also, you can always build more sections horizontally, or even wrap your wall around to form a triangle or a square with itself. Just remember to leave some sort of easy access to the inside to swap out any rusting bolts, or to move your climbing holds around.

Something else you can do for fun climbing angles is to use holes from your holds to attach a wire lath to your wall. Using this as a base, apply plaster, paint, and attach your holds. You now have protrusions from your walls, simulating odd cliff faces for you to climb around.

As you can see, building your own rock climbing wall doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Now you can enjoy the fun of rock climbing right from your own backyard.