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How to build a commercial grade bouldering wall. Part Five.

If you have ever wondered how commercial climbing gym facilities build and design Climbing and Bouldering walls, look no further! This is part two of our blog series about how we built the wall here at Skyhook, click here for part one, click here for part two, click here for part three, and click here for part four if you missed it.

Here is where we left you with our last post, we had a little more bondo work to do, but we were still playing on the climbing wall!

Well, its time for paint! All the holds had to come down, one last final round of bondo and touch ups happened, and then we cleaned the wall a million times.

Ready for primer. Dont look at the bottom left side of the wall. We still haven't fixed that.

Hey finally a picture with me in it! Normally I was the one taking pictures, but someone got me in this one! Notice the hanging cube I am putting up. This was based off of a picture I had seen of something similar in Germany, so I decided I had to make one! Here I am hanging it up using ladders and the scissor lift.

Primer on! It made the wall look very pretty to be honest. We used American safety technologies WP100 water based primer. I called the Seattle Bouldering Project and asked what kind of paint they used and this was the answer!

Kris was the wonderful gentleman who helped me paint it. Since we were using such exotic paint, even though I had sprayed the walls of the gym I was to scared to paint the climbing wall. The actual paint (not the primer) has a suspended grit texture, and I couldn't spray it on using the sprayer I had borrowed. Kris just ended up using a roller.

In this photo you can see him with my designer, Anthony. I am terrible with colors, and while I had chosen the colors and designs I wanted for the gym based off of a pair of shorts I have, I knew I could not design the color scheme for the wall. Anthony sent me some variations, I chose one, then he used thread and thumb tacks to mark out the design on the climbing wall itself.

If you zoom in on this picture you can see the string.

Taping the lines. Whoa, one wall is yellow!

Getting the grey done! The paint we used was again at the recommendation of the awesome head routesetter of the Seattle Bouldering Project. We used a product called American Safety Technologies AS175. It is a two part epoxy that is used on ships in the navy as a non slip surface. My only complaint about it is how expensive it was, and how sharp it is! It took it a good four months to wear down to the point where it didn't cut you for just touching it!

You can also see some of our fun obstacles in the foreground, such as the slackladder, and our lache bars.


Coming to life
Coming to life

The design was starting to come together! its one thing seeing a mock up of it on a computer screen, and another to see it in real life. The angle changes of the Bouldering wall really made it look incredible.

painting the orange
Low napp roller for the epoxy

Kris painting the orange. He used a very low napp roller, and then used a cut in brush to finish the rest by hand.

slow and steady
Inch by inch


Paint on the cube as well.
Getting closer and closer

Dark grey and the Cube!

Climbing wall Volumes

The volumes (movable sections of climbing wall) are also painted at this point. They look so good! Oh, a very Important part of this process I forgot to mention! We installed the T-Nuts, and then we painted, so how did that work?! The answer is 3500 Ear plugs. Roll up the ear plug, insert it into the T-nut, and then take it out after painting. It was only slightly less monotonous then installing the T-Nuts themselves. *shudder*

almost there
Just a couple more coats on orange

Almost there!

Finally done
Its important to give it time to fully cure before putting any climbing holds up!

Done! We waited a couple of weeks and then started to put up some fresh holds!

New pads
New pads

You can see the new pads for the climbing wall are also coming along at this point! We were quoted 100K by Asana and other pad manufacturers to pad the underside of the climbing wall, so we took matters into our own hands. We reverse engineered some pads we got our hands on, ordered 10k worth of foam from Califoam, and then made them ourselves. They actually feel better to fall on then Asana pads do!

Before and after of the climbing wall with paint and without
Before and after of the climbing wall with paint and without

Before and after! The Climbing wall and crash pads are finally done!

Before and after of the other areas of the gym
Wow look at the difference

Before and after of some of the other stuff at our gym!

 One of our members training at Skyhook Ninja Fitness, with the finished wall in the background.
One of our members training at Skyhook Ninja Fitness, with the finished wall in the background.

One of our members training at Skyhook Ninja Fitness, with the finished wall in the background.

Climbing the route set for our Competition
Climbing the route set for our Competition

Climbing the wall as it was set up for a Competition. It looks so good!

the challenge!
the challenge!

In order to double and triple check that our wall was good enough, we had EPUSA a climbing wall manufacturing company located in Bend, Or, come inspect our wall. It felt really good to hear them say it was the best "home made" wall they had ever seen. They told me they would have charged between 75 and 90k to build this wall for us!

So all told between the climbing wall and pads, we would have spent between 150k to 190k to have this made for us. We spent approximately 20k on materials, labor, and paint. Sweat equity for the win! While the wall is not perfect, the fact that I made it definitely adds to how I feel about it!

Coach Joe at the competition
Coach Joe at the competition

Thanks for reading! If you are local to Portland Oregon, you can come to Skyhook to check out the climbing wall as well as all the other cool stuff we have! We are 12000 sqft, with Ninja obstacles, Parkour, Gymnastics, traditional fitness equipment, a full Ninja Warrior obstacle rig, Trampolines into an airbag, as well as (of course), a bouldering wall.

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