How to Build a Climbing Frame

Updated July 19, 2017

An indoor climbing wall can be an ideal way to train for rock climbing during the winter without having to spend lots of money at a climbing gym. Climbing walls can be constructed in a basement, a garage and even outdoors and offer budding climbers an excellent way to maintain strength and develop technique.

Plan the wall thoroughly before construction. Define your training goals (strength, endurance) and tailor the wall thoroughly for that goal. For strength, a sharply overhanging wall, up to 45 degrees, is best, while, for endurance, a vertical or gently overhung wall, is best. Decide whether you will use existing parts of your home to help support the wall or build a freestanding structure. If using a part of your home, make sure it is strong enough to withstand a wall. Freestanding structures are more versatile, however, as they can be taken with you when you move.

Create the frame. Use 2-by-6s or 2-by-8s to do this. If you are building a freestanding structure, you will want to build a cave, using vertical posts that are 4 meters in height to give enough space to climb on, and then more posts to help brace the structure horizontally. When assembling the support structure with the 2-by-6s or 2-by-8s, make sure the structure is sound when freestanding and won't tip over. The cave should have one overhanging side, the ceiling and two sidewalls. Some climbers use the backside of stairs in their basement to get a wall started and then expand the wall out to the side walls for more endurance training.

Drill holes in the plywood for the climbing holds. Place the plywood on the saw horses and drill holes in a geometric pattern, spacing them eight inches apart. If your wall uses standard 4-by-8 sheets of plywood, you can then install the T-nuts, putting a little glue into the holes and inserting the T-nuts. If not, first cut the plywood sheets to the needed size with a power saw, then install the T-nuts.

Check the framework of the structure. First hang off it to make sure it is secure, then put the plywood sheets on the frame structure and secure them with bolts.

Plug the T-nut holes and paint the wall. Many climbers prefer to use sand-textured paint, which will give the plywood surface a rough feel similar to natural rock, enabling the climber to use their feet on the wall as well as the climbing holds. After the paint has dried, remove the T-nut plugs and screw the various climbing holds into the wall.


Use a mixture of 10/1 paint to sand to create the sand-textured paint.


If you decide to use your home for the wall instead of building a freestanding structure, you may need to get building permits. Check with your local government agency.

Things You'll Need

  • Plywood sheets
  • 2-by-6s or 2-by-8s
  • Drill with multiple bits
  • Bolts
  • T-nuts
  • Glue
  • Work table or two saw horses
  • Paint
  • Ladder
  • Climbing holds
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About the Author

Candace Horgan has worked as a freelance journalist for more than 12 years. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Denver Post" and "Mix." Horgan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and history.