Vertical Climbing Wall

 Design and Instructions

Complete Vertical Wall

The Vertical Climbing Wall is about as simple as it gets, using a full 4x8 sheet of plywood to create a climbing platform built right up against your wall.

This design package is intended to be put together like a Lego set. All you need to do is obtain the specified materials, cut them to the prescribed shapes, and drill the required holes. Then it's just a matter of screwing them all together. We are going to assume you have basic carpentry skills, and access to the Home Depot, Amazon, and this website.

Make sure you have selected a location, measured your wall, and confirmed that it will fit a 48x96” climbing surface. This design requires a drywall over stud or a masonry wall. See previous article “Building a Climbing Wall” under “What kind of wall do I have?” to determine this.

And as always, BE SAFE! Wear your safety goggles, hearing protection, gloves, etc.

Step 1: Assemble Tools

You will need the following:

Cordless Drill / Driver (DeWalt has never let me down)

7/16” Drill Bit (We recommend a Spade Bit)

⅛” Standard Drill Bit

Measuring Tape

Level

Straight edge (48” preferred)

Pencil

Random Orbital Hand Sander (or just sandpaper)

Clamps/weights (optional, but useful)

Step 2: Purchase Materials

Order the T-nuts you prefer on Amazon (see links on the shopping list below, for more detail check out our article "Building a Climbing Wall"), then take a trip down to your local HD. Bring this list, and feel free to ask one of their associates to help you hunt it all down. You can also pre-order most if not all of it online and have it ready to pick up for you. They will not have T-nuts, unless they've become even more cool since this article was written. 

Before you leave: HD has an awesome service available where they will cut any wood product you purchase there to size for you. This will save you a lot of time and necessary tools. The cut list is provided below the shopping list. The total cost for this list is around $140, but please note that this does not include any paint, climbing holds, or climbing mats.

Shopping List:

Quantity

Product

Price/Unit

Link

1

0.68 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. CMPC A/C Plywood

38.98

homedepot.com

6

(7 if mounting horizontally)

2 in. x 4 in. x 96 in. Prime Whitewood Stud

5.48

homedepot.com

1

2 in. x 3 in. 96 in. Premium Kiln Dried Heat Treated Whitewood Stud

3.25

homedepot.com

1

#10 x 3 in. T-Star Plus Flat Head Interior/Exterior HCR-X Screw (67-Box)

11.58

homedepot.com

1

#10 x 2 in. T-Star Flat Head Interior / Exterior HCR-X Screw (99 per Box)

11.58

homedepot.com

2

⅜-16” T-nuts, 50 Pack

15.00

25.00

Pronged

Screw In

Notes:

  1. If mounting to a masonry wall (not drywall over lumber), you will need 3” x 3/16” Tapcon Masonry Screws. See previous article “Building a Climbing Wall” under “Mounting a Climbing Wall to Concrete or Masonry”.
  2. You may consider purchasing paint, stain, varnish, etc. See previous article “Building a Climbing Wall” under “Finishing Your Climbing Wall Surface”. 
  3. You may also consider using Liquid Nails construction adhesive to eliminate potential squeaks and add additional solidity to your wall (see Step 7).

Cut List:

Quantity

Product

Length

Notes

2

2 in. x 4 in. x 96 in. Prime Whitewood Stud

96”

No Cut

5

2 in. x 4 in. x 96 in. Prime Whitewood Stud

45”

2

2 in. x 4 in. x 96 in. Prime Whitewood Stud

44”

92” if mounting horizontally

2

2 in. x 3 in. 96 in. Premium Kiln Dried Heat Treated Whitewood Stud

45”

1

0.68 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. CMPC A/C Plywood

N/A

No Cut (can be cut into two 48x48 sheets to fit in car)

 

You should now have all the components you see below cut to size. Holes will be drilled in the next step.

Cut Parts

 

Step 3: Pre-Drill Holes in Plywood

Here we will be marking the points that need to be pre-drilled on the plywood sheet for the structural screws and T-nuts. Lay out your plywood with the side you want to face the climber pointed down. 

Using your ruler and straightedge mark the locations of each screw hole. They are the blue locations on the schematic below. Mark these holes to differentiate them. Now proceed to mark the locations of all the T-nut holes, the green marks on the schematic. Don't be overwhelmed by the schematic, just take some time to orient yourself and it becomes very simple. Please note that the entire layout is symmetrical vertically and horizontally.

Find a piece of backing material. This is preferably a large piece of plywood that you don't mind putting a few holes in, but can be any scrap piece(s) of wood. Place them under your marked plywood sheet. Ensure the backer material is behind each mark before you drill the hole. Clamp the plywood in place, with your weight or an actual clamp. Using your ⅛” standard drill bit, drill each of the specially marked screw hole locations in a slow, pecking motion to prevent blowout.

Switch to the 7/16” spade bit and proceed to drill out all the t-nut holes using the same methodical pecking motion.

If you want an extra finished appearance, especially if you are using high grade plywood and leaving it unfinished, flip the plywood over and countersink (using a countersink bit) each of the screw holes. This might be overkill for most walls, but it is the “proper” way to do it.

Step 4: Install T-Nuts

With the plywood facing climbing side down, install the T-nuts in each of their holes. Pronged T-nuts will need to be hammered in. We recommend having the plywood laid out flat on concrete (with a thin protective barrier) to act as a solid "anvil". It will bounce all over the place on a flimsy table. If they are screw ons, simply screw each one in place.

Step 5: Pre-Drill Holes in Studs

Lay out the two 96” 2x4’s. Following the same process outlined above, drill ⅛” pilot holes in each of the locations marked in blue on the schematic below. These pieces are symmetrical horizontally but not vertically.

 

Step 6: Sand all the Edges

Use the random orbital hand sander to sand smooth all the corners, edges, and any splintering sections of the lumber and plywood. This is not absolutely necessary, but will dramatically improve the finished appearance and reduce the likelihood of splinters.

Step 7: Assemble Frame

Find the two 44” (or 92” if mounting horizontally) 2x4’s and set them aside. We will refer to these later as stringers.

Lay out the remaining pieces of lumber on a large flat surface as shown below, ensuring all the predrilled holes line up with stud ends.

Light Green - 45" 2x4's

Light Blue - 96" 2x4's

White - 45" 2x3's

Exploded Frame

Collapsed Frame

Proceed to screw the frame together using the 3” screws. It is helpful here to clamp each connection in place before screwing to ensure they remain properly aligned.

Step 8: Screw Plywood to the Frame

Flip the frame over as shown below. Confirm that the short (green) 2x4's are now flush with the top of the long (blue) 2x4's. If you elected to use liquid nails, apply a ¼” bead along every surface on the frame that will contact the plywood. 

Panel Assy

Place the plywood carefully on top of the frame, with the side you wish to face the climber facing up. Ensure proper alignment, and clamp in place. Proceed to screw the plywood to the frame using a 2” screw at each predrilled hole, starting with the four corners, excluding the 8 holes over the 2x3's (white), unless mounting horizontally. These hole positions will be used to mount the wall assembly to the stringers.

Step 9: Surface Finish

It is usually easier to finish, coat, or paint your wall assembly before it is mounted on the wall, unless you wish to make a multi section mural or something along those lines.

Using the sander or sandpaper, go over any last spots that may be sharp or splinter prone.

Proceed to finish as desired. See previous article “Building a Climbing Wall” under “Finishing Your Climbing Wall Surface” for more detail on this.

Step 10: Mount to Wall

Find the two 44” 2x4’s (stringers) and mount them to the wall where you want to mount the climbing wall, centered behind the desired position. They should be level, and placed 1.5” below the top of the wall, and 1.75” above the bottom of the wall as shown below. Confirm that from the top of the top stringer to the bottom of the bottom stringer is 92.75" and that they are aligned vertically. Two 3” screws should be used to connect the stringer to each stud it intersects with, which should be at least 2, preferably 3 studs. See previous article “Building a Climbing Wall” for more detail on this process.

Stringers

Hang the climbing wall assembly on the stringers. Using 3” screws, screw the climbing wall assembly to the stringers. Touch up screw heads with paint if desired.

Complete!

Now that you have a wall, be sure you have proper protection. Always climb with a pad. We offer our own climbing pads, which have been specifically designed to give you the most bang for your buck in an indoor home bouldering pad. Check them out here: 

Megalith Home Bouldering Pad

It's also time to start collecting some sweet holds! We offer an awesome range, with holds designed for kids and beginners all the way to pros:

Megalith Climbing Holds: Entire Collection

 

Megalith Climbing Holds: Easy Holds