So, you are thinking of building your own climbing frame?
That’s great but you need to make sure you have done all your homework and have got all your materials in advance.
There’s nothing worse than starting a project and finding out halfway through you don’t have the right materials!
Having an awkward shaped garden can prove to be difficult when trying to find a pre-made climbing frame. If you are looking for a pre-made one, you we have written a guide on the best climbing frames for toddlers.
Before you start
Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail
If you fail to plan out your climbing frame you are almost guaranteed to fail. There are certain things you need to make sure you think about before you start and these include:
Checking which kind of wood is best for building a climbing frame. There are woods that are best for building climbing frames and they are treated in a certain way. Be sure you check before you buy any old wood.
The ‘Floor Plan’
Before you even think about buying any materials, map out the area of your climbing frame and measure. After you measure, measure again and then remeasure.
Be sure to account for the swing, swinging, and the length of the slide if you are going to include one.
Be sure that the ground is suitable for foundation posts and that those posts can go deep enough into the ground.
Over time your unit will take a considerable battering from children and even the occasional adult so making sure it’s secure is paramount.
When you are designing your climbing frame you need to address a number of issues.
Impact on your neighbours – Although you don’t need planning permission for a climbing frame, having something too tall and obstructing your neighbour’s view can cause a foul environment and in some cases result in a fine.
Safety – Being sure to address all the safety elements of a climbing frame such as height off of the ground and the type of ground under the frame itself. All these things will affect the price and time of build.
Space – You need to also work with the space you have available, and as a general rule of thumb you should also allow at least a 2 meter space around the frame as a precaution.
Designing your own frame can lead to much happier children as the possibilities are endless.
Think To The Future
You should also think about the future when it comes to building your own climbing frame so ask yourself: Will it be suitable in 5 years.
Your climbing frame should last at least 10 years so building for your 3-year-old now, will end up being boring for them when they are 10 years old.
Small children will have more fun on a larger frame (under supervision of course) so go big and it will be worth it in 5-10 years.
How to Build a Climbing Frame
Step 1: Map out your area, measure and remeasure. Then decide what you are going to put on your climbing frame and draw some mockups.
Step 2: Choose what type of timber you want to use to build your frame. There are 2 main types: Pinewood/Whitewood or 100% Natural Douglas Wood.
Step 3: Once you are happy with your design and have ordered all your materials (it’s important to do this advance) it’s time to fix your main poles into the ground.
Its not essential that you do this step and can use ground anchors once you have built your frame but for added safety its wise to follow this step.
Step 4: Secure the frame together and start to build the climbing frame using the correct screws and lengths. Ensure that the frame is level by using a spirit level as this can cause issues over time.
Step 5: Lay the ground with whatever you are using.
Step 6: Once your climbing frame is built you can varnish with wood oil or a water-based varnish/stain.
Step 7: Be sure to check and double-check the strength of all sections of your climbing frame and secure with ground anchors if not sunken in the first place.
Do you need to get planning permission?
There are some rules you’ll need to adhere too before planning your build to make sure you don’t need planning permission or getting it if you need it.
The best thing to do is to contact your local council or check the planning portal here:
In general the rules to keep to if you DON’T want to gain planning permission are:
- Keep it less than 2.5meter tall
- Make sure it isnt sighted between the dwelling and the main highway
- A Smaller Floor area than 30sq meters
- If its more than 20sq m it should be at least 1 meter from the boundary
- Don’t have a raised platform higher than 0.3 meters.
You might think that this makes for a very boring climbing frame. Assuming you adhere to the rules regarding neighbours and space, having a platform on your climbing frame should be fine due to it being a non-fixed building.