How Can I Build a Bowling Alley in My Basement?

vintage bowling image by de_martin from

Bowling is a popular recreational activity enjoyed by those ranging from very young children to the elderly. While many would assume that the luxury of a home bowling alley can only be enjoyed by those with the ability to spend substantial sums of money on a large basement to house the alley and its equipment, a home lane can be created in varying sizes to match any basement, bringing the fun of bowling into your home.

Position three 10-foot-long beams parallel to each other, with the outer edges of the outer beams 42 inches apart, and the third beam centred between them.

Place a 42-inch beam at both ends of the 10-foot long beams and secure in place with L-brackets and screws. The beams will now have formed a rectangle that is 10 feet 4 inches long and 42 inches wide, with a central beam splitting the rectangle in two equal halves.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to create a second portion of lane.

Connect the portion of lane from Steps 1 and 2 with the portion from Step 3 with the remaining three 10 foot long beams. As with the ends of the lane, one beam is positioned flush with one outer edge, a second is flush with the other outer edge, and the third is centred, with all beams held in place with screws and L-brackets.

Cut the sheets of plywood into 42-inch-wide pieces. Secure the plywood to the top of the frame with nails and a hammer, using nails through the plywood at any area that aligns over a two-by-four.

Apply Liquid Nails to the top of the plywood and lay the wood laminate down atop the plywood to surface your lane. Running a piece of scrap two-by-four over the surface will help it lie flat.

Place two 30-inch-long two-by-fours on their side 48 inches apart, and lay a 48-inch-long beam flat on the ground between them. Secure in place with screws through the outside of the 30-inch-long beams and into the sides of the 48-inch-long beams. As the beams on their side are 4 inches tall, and the beam laying flat only 2 inches tall, there will be approximately 2 inches of space on the 30-inch beams behind the 48-inch beam.

Repeat Step 7, being sure to secure the 48-inch beam flush with the edge of the 30-inch beams such that it mirrors the construction of Step 7. These will be the front and back of the pin guard, and it is important the open portions of two-by-fours face each other to allow the two to be combined in Step 9.

Connect the two pieces with the remaining 48-inch-long beams. Position the beams so that they rest against both the 48-inch-long and 30-inch-long beams from Steps 7 and 8, and secure in place with screws. The structure is now a box shape, 30 inches high, 48 wide and 48 inches long.

Cut two pieces of plywood, 52 inches long and 30 inches high. Attach the plywood pieces to the outside walls of the structure created in Step 9. The plywood will serve as a protective barrier to prevent pins or the ball from tumbling away from the lane.

Secure throw rugs to the back of the structure with nails. The rugs will stop rolled balls from getting away and potentially causing damage.

Position the structure over one end of the lane, with the mats facing the end of the lane, and the open end facing down the lane. Place pins inside the structure, and bowl from the other end to play.

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