I've been working on designing a home climbing wall and have found this guide by Metolius quite useful. However, I've been having trouble deciding how to attach the vertical joists to the header I intend to fasten to the ceiling joists.

The options shown by Metolius are in the below picture, stolen from another question:

One option would be to assemble the framework on the ground with screws going down from the ceiling header into the vertical pieces, similar to the wall on the right in the image. The framework would then be lifted into place (sitting on a kickboard) and screwed into the ceiling joists.

The other option would be to attach the ceiling header to the joists first, then use joist hangers (?) to attach the vertical pieces one by one.

Would one method result in a substantially more secure ceiling connection than the other, or are they effectively interchangeable in terms of effectiveness?

Alternatively, is there another method which is even better than the options shown in that image?

For reference, the current planned specs for the wall are:

  • 8'x8' climbing area (50+ lbs for holds)
  • 3/4" ACX plywood for surface (~120 lbs for the plywood)
  • 2x6 studs for the climbing wall frame with 16" spacing (so 7 vertical pieces, ~120 lbs)
  • 2x8 for the header connecting to the ceiling joists
  • Self-drilling deck screws with various sizes/lengths for attaching pieces to each other

So ~300 lbs total (or more if I get more holds), plus potential dynamic force from the climber ("several times the weight of the climber", according to Metolius).

All this is intended to sit on a kickboard with some stacked 2x4 "pillars" transmitting vertical force to the floor, instead of attaching only to the wall like in the Metolius image.

  • If those are supposed to be joist hangars holding the top of the joists into the ceiling header, you'd best be using screws. The force on nails would be to pull them straight out along their driven axis. That would be the weakest joint for a nail.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 27, 2022 at 22:31
  • @FreeMan Yep, I'm 100% using screws for every connection in this project. Now that you mention it as well, I think those top connections are in fact just joist hangers. Their orientation just threw me off really badly; I thought they were some other connection entirely
    – awksp
    Feb 27, 2022 at 23:06


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