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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Climbing Walls

How much does a custom climbing wall cost?
Climbing walls built by a professional wall manufacturer average between $25 to $45 per square foot. The price depends on many factors including the size of wall, wall type, design (including the height and complexity of design), and the construction of your building, which impacts how the wall will be attached and supported.

How are climbing walls constructed?
Most climbing walls start with a custom steel (sometimes wood) superstructure to support the climbing walls. The structure is then covered with panels that become the climbing surface; these panels come in a variety of materials, colors and finishes. Each panel has a grid of t-nuts (threaded nuts) that allow you to bolt modular climbing holds to the wall.

Are there design standards for climbing walls?
Yes, the Climbing Wall Association has published Design and Engineering Specifications for indoor climbing walls in America.

There are also standards from the European Committee for Standardization: Artificial climbing structures – Part 1: Safety requirements and test methods for climbing walls with protection points (EN 12572-1:2007) and Artificial climbing structures – Part 2: Safety requirements and test methods for bouldering walls (EN 12572-2:2008)

What types of climbing walls are available?
While there are many different materials and designs available, most fall into four main types: Panelized, Seamless, Rock Realistic and Modular.

Panelized Wall sections are built and pre-finished at the factory with textured paint or epoxy and assembled on-site. Momentum Mill Creek. Wall by Walltopia.Bend Rock Gym. Walls by Entre Prises.
Seamless Walls are built on-site, then coated with a cementitious, epoxy or paint texture to create a uniform wall surface. centralrockwatertown-rockwerxThe Source. Wall by Eldorado.
Rock Realistic Custom made fiberglass or glass-fiber-reinforced-concrete (GFRC) panels are built at the factory, assembled on-site, and then coated with a concrete and fiberglass mixture to create a uniform rock façade. nicrosbsa-eldo
Modular Standardized fiberglass, glass-fiber-reinforced-concrete (GFRC) or wood panels are pre-manufactured and assembled on-site in a modular fashion.  Flagstaff YMCA. Wall by Eldorado.Nike Rec Center. Wall by Entre Prises.

Wall Type Pros Cons
Panelized Shorter install time
Lots of design options
High degree of routesetting flexibility
Easier to remodel
Texture wears off over time
Panels show more wear (scuffs and rubber streaks)
Seamless Historically, the industry standard
Very durable
Low maintenance
Lots of design options
Moderate degree of routesetting flexibility
Longer install time
Difficult to remodel
Coating prone to cracking
Rock Realistic Very durable
Can be installed outdoors
Aesthetically impressive
Most expensive
Longest install time
Low degree of routesetting flexibility
Heavy: requires adequate load-bearing structure
Difficult to remodel
Modular Least expensive
Can be installed outdoors
Shortest install time
Limited design options
Low degree of routesetting flexibility
Best for non-climber markets (rec centers, schools)
Last updated: January 23, 2018

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