Mountain Project Logo

Bolting holds directly to plaster wall

Original Post
JP S · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0

I'd like to put some climbing holds up in my kids' room , and want to bolt them directly to the wall somehow.  My kids are 4 and 2, and their room is already painted a really cool mountain landscape, so I didn't want to cover half of it with a wood frame.  It's just going to be 5-10 playground style holds, so not meant for training or creating limitless route options.  I believe the playground holds still use 5/8 bolts, so the wall anchors would need to be pretty big.  Has anyone found a way to bolt these to a plaster wall?  I was thinking concrete expansion bolt, but was worried that could blow out the plaster.  I think it's brick behind the plaster, as its an interior wall along the outside of the house.

Sawyer W · · Van · Joined May 2018 · Points: 0
JP S wrote: I'd like to put some climbing holds up in my kids' room , and want to bolt them directly to the wall somehow.  My kids are 4 and 2, and their room is already painted a really cool mountain landscape, so I didn't want to cover half of it with a wood frame.  It's just going to be 5-10 playground style holds, so not meant for training or creating limitless route options.  I believe the playground holds still use 5/8 bolts, so the wall anchors would need to be pretty big.  Has anyone found a way to bolt these to a plaster wall?  I was thinking concrete expansion bolt, but was worried that could blow out the plaster.  I think it's brick behind the plaster, as its an interior wall along the outside of the house.

Just screw the holds into the plaster. Teach your kids to test for choss at a young age.

Nkane 1 · · Berkeley, CA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 108

Are there studs or is it lath-and-plaster? If there are studs, you could just drill holes and screw directly into the studs. Or find some larger screw-on holds: atomikclimbingholds.com/kid…;

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 883

There are many ways to attach things securely to almost any wall. But it’s much easier to do if you know exactly what you are attaching to. You might be able to take an outlet cover off and peek in next to it to see what’s really behind the surface.

Sunny-D · · SLC, Utah · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 700

Is your wall plaster directly applied to brick or is it framed and sheet rocked. Very different options depending on the construction behind the wall.
Plaster directly applied to a brick or stone wall-  blue tape where you want holds then carefully drill holes and use expansion bolts in sub-straight.
Sheet rock and studs (unless house is really old probably this) I wouldn’t mount any hold to just sheet rock, it’s just not that strong.  Your kids will pull off the holds.  An option would be to use a stud finder and with lag bolts, bolt directly to the studs.  Studs are normally on 16” or 24” spacing so your holds would be that far apart.   

Jonathan Brown · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Mar 2019 · Points: 0

You may consider making a few volumes.  You could mount them to two studs to fill in an area without having to completely cover the wall.

David Appelhans · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 410
Jonathan Brown wrote: You may consider making a few volumes.  You could mount them to two studs to fill in an area without having to completely cover the wall.

Or even just a sheet of plywood. Mount the holds to the sheet of plywood. Mount the plywood to the wall with wood screws at stud locations or into the brick with blue tapcon screws.

You can dress up the plywood by painting or staining it.
Sam Skovgaard · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 87
Jonathan Brown wrote: You may consider making a few volumes.  You could mount them to two studs to fill in an area without having to completely cover the wall.

Climbing holds attached to plaster with those wall anchor type fasteners will not work, not strong enough.

This idea of volumes screwed securely to studs is a really good idea, though maybe more expensive than you're hoping for, because you would have to do a bunch of volumes.

Plywood securely screwed to studs, then T fasteners to attach the holds to the plywood is the most cost-effective way I can think of.  You will also need some sort of spacer between the plywood and the drywall/plaster, lest the hold bolts mar the wall.
Todd Jumpbuilder · · west chester, pa · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0
Sam Skovgaard wrote:

Climbing holds attached to plaster with those wall anchor type fasteners will not work, not strong enough.

This idea of volumes screwed securely to studs is a really good idea, though maybe more expensive than you're hoping for, because you would have to do a bunch of volumes.

Plywood securely screwed to studs, then T fasteners to attach the holds to the plywood is the most cost-effective way I can think of.  You will also need some sort of spacer between the plywood and the drywall/plaster, lest the hold bolts mar the wall.

T nuts first into plywood then mount plywood. 

Larry S · · Easton, PA · Joined May 2010 · Points: 841

Is it lath and plaster, plaster over masonry, or drywall over frame?  The only one I would consider mounting directly over is plaster over masonry.  The plaster and lath might take some light loads, but if it blows you're going to get chunks of heavy plaster falling.  Plaster over masonry could work with the right masonry anchors.  Drywall won't take any loads.

JP S · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0
Larry S wrote: Is it lath and plaster, plaster over masonry, or drywall over frame?  The only one I would consider mounting directly over is plaster over masonry.  The plaster and lath might take some light loads, but if it blows you're going to get chunks of heavy plaster falling.  Plaster over masonry could work with the right masonry anchors.  Drywall won't take any loads.

It's over masonry.  Thanks everyone for the advice.  The plywood/t-nut route was my first option, but was hoping to do something a little simpler. I like the idea of big screw on's directly into studs, as the spacing of studs should work with their reach.  

JP S · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0

Just found these, might do a test and see if it works. Says it's for concrete or masonry...

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Red-Head-3-8-in-x-1-7-8-in-Hex-Sleeve-Anchor-25-Pack-11279/204402234​​​

Ira O · · Hardwick, VT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 97

Even putting expansion bolts into bricks can be problematic,  I've had them bust the bricks. Bricks are pretty brittle, depending in where in each brick the hole went it may crack or break the brick. Maybe 75% fail in my experience as a builder. And drilling blind it will be hard to see what it is you are screwing. (Like an orgy in a dark room) Concrete block is fine. Plaster itself has no strength at all. It would be a bummer to drill a bunch of holds and have them bust up and ultimately make a mess of your house. But kids are light and will fall on pads in assuming so if you dont mind messing up your walls then go for it. You'll be able to tell if the brick splits or no when you are tightening the bolt. 

petzl logic · · Montreal, QC · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 0
Ira O wrote: Even putting expansion bolts into bricks can be problematic,  I've had them bust the bricks. Bricks are pretty brittle, depending in where in each brick the hole went it may crack or break the brick. Maybe 75% fail in my experience as a builder. And drilling blind it will be hard to see what it is you are screwing. (Like an orgy in a dark room) Concrete block is fine. Plaster itself has no strength at all. It would be a bummer to drill a bunch of holds and have them bust up and ultimately make a mess of your house. But kids are light and will fall on pads in assuming so if you dont mind messing up your walls then go for it. You'll be able to tell if the brick splits or no when you are tightening the bolt. 

they make lead anchors for bricks and mortar,  but honestly,  if you find yourself posting this kind of stuff on a forum it is probably better to have someone that knows come and take a look. 

David Appelhans · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 410

Blue tapcons (like plastic screws) into bricks will be much easier to patch one day and will stress the bricks less with a smaller hole. You aren't trying to lead bolt the wall.

JP S · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 0
David Appelhans wrote: Blue tapcons (like plastic screws) into bricks will be much easier to patch one day and will stress the bricks less with a smaller hole. You aren't trying to lead bolt the wall.

Probably gonna go this route.  The playground style holds I'm gonna use have two holes per hold, and tapcon makes 3/8'' screws, so they should be solid.  Thanks everyone!

Roots · · Redmond. OR · Joined Dec 2010 · Points: 20

You are better off with plywood mounted to your wall. Installing all those plastic anchors is just going to make big holes and will come loose overtime. Think about the stress they will be under with all the pulling. Plus it will protect your wall from all the shimmying feet slapping at the wall. Seriously why ruin your plaster walls....?

Greg D · · Here · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 883
Roots wrote: Installing all those plastic anchors is just going to make big holes and will come loose overtime. 
There is no plastic in a tapcon.
Think about the stress they will be under with all the pulling. Plus it will protect your wall from all the shimmying feet slapping at the wall. 
His kids are going to climb this wall maybe 10 times, then get bored of it.

Seriously why ruin your plaster walls....?


Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
Post a Reply to "Bolting holds directly to plaster wall"

Log In to Reply