Build vs Buy
This article is a part of a series titled “The Home Climbing Wall”, designed to guide you through the process of selecting, installing, or building a climbing wall at home. Follow the links at the end of this article to continue learning!
You've given it some serious thought, weighed out what you want in a wall, and explored some different styles. Now it's time to take a look at what it's gonna take to make this happen. A very helpful question to ask is "should I build it myself, or should I buy something premade?"
This article is a starting point to give you a rough idea of what those options look like. We will look at different wall styles and what it would take to build or buy each one. This is by no means comprehensive but will get you on the right track.
Vertical Wall (4' x 8', 32 ft^2)
Cost - $150 to $300.
Time - 10 to 20+ hours.
Skills - Basic Carpentry
A vertical wall is the simplest home wall you can build. If you enjoy a good DIY project and have the time, you can save a couple of hundred bucks and just build your own.
Cost - $600+
Time - 1 hour
Skills - Stud location, driving a screw
Options: Tree Frog Climbing Walls
If you want to save a few Saturdays, avoid a few headaches, and make sure you end up with a solid, beautiful wall, these easy to install panels are a great option.
Campus Board (4' x 6', 24 ft^2)
Cost - $250 to $500.
Time - 15 to 25+ hours.
Skills - Intermediate Carpentry
A little more complex than a vertical wall, these are still feasible for the confident DIY'er. It will require a good amount of research and design work, but you can save a good chunk of money by doing it yourself.
Cost - $750 to $1,500
Time - 1 hour
Skills - Stud location, driving a screw, or none at all.
Options: Walltopia, custom-built.
Most options here are custom builds. They can be pricey, but save you a lot of work.
System/Spray Wall (8' x 12', 96 ft^2)
Cost - $500 to $1000.
Time - 20 to 30+ hours.
Skills - Intermediate Carpentry
This is getting to be a bigger project. If you have the time and skills, more power to you. Make sure you do your research to get a design that fits your needs.
Cost - $2,000 to $9,000
Time - 2 to 5 hours
Skills - Stud location, driving a screw, using a wrench
Lots of great options out there. Many companies have spent significant resources developing systems around their boards, and they are worth looking into. Pricey.
Custom Wall (20' x 12', 240 ft^2)
Cost - $750 to $1500.
Time - 30 to 60+ hours.
Skills - Advanced Carpentry
These can be simple or as complex as you want to make them. We have seen many solid DIY jobs that turned out beautifully. These are a significant investment in time to design and execute.
Cost - $5,000 to $15,000
Time - 5 hours
Skills - Talking on the phone, visualizing what you want
These are expensive, no way around that. If you value your time over money and just want the wall, not the experience, there are some superb companies out there that will make your vision a reality.
Whether you build or buy, you will need to acquire mats and holds for your wall. The cost of these items will vary widely depending on how large your wall is, how densely you pack your holds on it, how big the holds you like are, and how much ground you need to cover with your mats.
$100 to $1,000
This depends on you, and we won't get into detail here. Most home walls have at least 1 hold per square foot, and the average cost for a hold is about $5-10. There is a huge amount of variation in those numbers. For more info on climbing holds check out our article "Different Types of Climbing Holds for Your Home Wall".
$100 to $1,000
You should ALWAYS climb with protection, and on your home wall, that means padding. When most people think of a bouldering mat they envision the super stiff multi-sectional folding mats with backpack straps on them. These are specifically designed for the rigors of outdoor use, including special weather resistant materials, extra stiff padding to compensate for uneven ground, and various straps for packing it in for miles. These are great for outdoor bouldering, but you pay extra for these features.
For your indoor wall, you don't need any of these things. What you do need depends on what kind of wall you have.
If your wall is a very short (<8ft) kids wall or warmup wall and there is little risk of inversion (falling upside down), you may be able to get away with a simple tumbling mat. These are relatively inexpensive and easy to find on Amazon or elsewhere.
If it's between 8 to 12 feet high, you are going to need a little more protection. We recommend a thicker pad with higher density foam, at least 4" of it. Megalith offers a pad designed specifically for this purpose, and it has other little features like Velcro flaps allowing you to connect them that make it perfect for most home walls. Check it out here: Megalith Bouldering Pad.
For walls higher than 12 feet or if you plan on taking hard falls, you are going to need even more. You can double up on the smaller pads, or you can invest in some more heavy-duty professional pads. Asana makes some great ones. They are a bit pricey, but high quality. You'll find them in gyms all over. Check them out here: Asana Climbing.
You may be interested in:
Keep learning about home climbing walls with the rest of the series!
Taking a step back to make sure you know what you need to know to start on the right foot.
An exploration of different types of home climbing walls and where they shine.
Detailed information on how to build a climbing wall that is rock solid. Methods, materials, and wisdom from the esoteric world of home rock wall building.
A collection of ready to go design packages for home bouldering walls/home rock climbing walls/home training walls. We include schematics, shopping lists, and detailed build instructions to make building a rock climbing wall go as smoothly as possible.
A look at some available options for purchasing home rock climbing wall products, and reasons one may be better for you than another.