A rock climber at Volcanic

Rock wall Climbing holds


Questions to Ask Before You Build

Where can you add a climbing wall?
A full-height wall anchored at bottom and top is prime real estate for a climbing wall. Climbing gyms typically feature tall walls, but a standard-height wall is perfectly suitable — just have fun navigating horizontally. Indoor walls in playrooms, bedrooms and basements are all popular climbing spots, as are exterior walls in backyards or near play areas. Architect Ian Wagner suggests thinking about the social aspect of where you put your climbing wall. Do you want to be able to close a door to the area with the climbing wall, or do you want it to be integrated with the rest of the house? Where are you most likely to use it?

Choose a wall that has open floor space around it for a fall zone. Jerad Wells, CEO of Eldorado Climbing Walls, recommends keeping an area free of furnishings at least 6 feet out from the climbing wall surface — whether the wall is vertical or angled outward. You might want to consider adding some kind of floor padding in this area as well.

When siting a climbing wall outside, think about climate and your home’s orientation. Wagner built his wood-framed climbing wall on a south-facing side of his house so that he can climb year-round in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, even in the snow. In hotter climates he suggests building an exterior climbing wall on the north side for shade and coolness.

Be sure the wall can support the load. For existing walls Wells suggests showing drawings of your house to an architect or engineer, who can determine whether you’ll need to add structural support. “Walls need to hold 10 to 50 pounds per square foot lateral load existing on the wall, depending on the product you select, ” he says. For new construction let your home builder know as soon as possible that you’d like to include a climbing wall, and he or she can include the necessary structural work in the wall’s construction.

Who are your climbers? Will children or adults be using the wall? How much supervision do you want to provide? How challenging do you want the climb to be? Just like you don’t need to invest in a restaurant-grade kitchen if you’re interested in cooking dinner only once in a while, you also don’t want to be stuck with something you won’t use.



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