Building Our Own Tire Climber…

title“You can’t fall if you don’t climb, but there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.”  ~Author Unknown (although some sources will try to tell you it was Dr. Seuss)

Today we are continuing on in our outdoor play space improvements. But this project, though it looks fabulous, is NOT for the faint of heart. Oh boy. Just thinking of the work that went into this makes me want to take a nap! But before you are completely discouraged, please remember that I was on my own without proper tools or extra muscles for bolting tires together. I’m sure this project would go together lickety-split if you can recruit some helpers!

It all started when I saw some really cute tire planters somewhere on Pinterest. That’s right. It’s all Pinterest’s fault. The tires were painted bright colours and had flowers growing out of them and I thought, hey that’s a really cute idea. But you all know me well enough by now to know that I can’t leave a simple idea as a simple idea and get on with my day.


I had to make it bigger.

And so began the hunt for free, used up tires. I started with 4 really big ones which were given to me by a really great family I know. loadingupThe 4 tires grew into 8 tires when I realized our local Canadian Tire shop will let a person take what they want from the old tire pile outside their building.

Now for the paint. I had NO idea what kind of paint to use and whether or not it would stick, but I did have some luck. I used cans of RustOleum Ultra Cover 2x along with the clear coat of the same brand. If you think you want to skip the clear coat, don’t…we missed one side of one tire when clear-coating and that side is all chipped off already. I needed about 1 can/tire depending on the size of the tire.

My teenagers were happy to oblige when it came to the painting of the old tires…spraypaintingI set the tires on pallets out in the back alley and they went to work…spraypainting2Stopping occasionally when we were running out of paint…runningoutOnce the tires were dry, we clear coated them and let them cure overnight.

In the morning, we stacked up the tires in the design my oldest son had created…clearcoatedandreadySo far, this had all come together quite easily.

But now comes the hard work. I had to secure the tires to each other. Using only a drill, a hammer, and my own strength and determination, I got to work. I used 1/4 inch bolts that were long enough to go through 2 tires but not stick out too far, with a really wide washer and a nylon lined nut for each joint. I’d give you a better idea of what length of bolts to use, but it is determined by the size of the tires you’re using, and whether you are going through side walls or tread. All together, I had 14 joints. Here is a rough diagram of where I attached each tire…14boltsI did NOT attach the 3 base tires to each other, as the whole structure is filled with sand, making them solid and immoveable. The sand also keeps small children from falling into cracks, or pinching legs or arms. You may wonder about that big yellow tire at the top of the structure and what might be holding it up? Well, it is attached to the fence now with a nylon rope so it won’t swivel or tip.

I marked the joints with chalk, drilled out a hole for each bolt, pushed and hammered and cried the bolts in, attached a washer and a nut, and then tightened each nut and bolt with a ratchet. And when I say I cried, I mean it quite literally. I was really discouraged at many different times in the “attaching” process! I’m sure there is a better way to do this, in fact I stumbled upon this AMAZING resource when I was actually finished our little climber! He goes through every detail of building any kind of play space with tires that you could ever imagine. allfinishedWe love our little tire climber. My kids especially like to gain a different perspective of our backyard by standing up on the tippy top tire. The smalls dig around with shovel and bare toes and just enjoy the textures and the climbing.

I especially love it because I didn’t give up. I may have said a few choice words, gained a few bruises, and let a few tears fall, but I didn’t stop until it was finished. I learned a lot about myself during the construction of this colourful play area, that’s for sure. Did I mention it rained through most of the bolting?

If you have any questions about the process of building this climber, don’t hesitate to ask! I will try my best to explain myself and the instructions a little better for you!

Thanks for stopping by!

~Arlee, Small Potatoes


43 thoughts on “Building Our Own Tire Climber…

  1. Hh my, they look lovely! and I’m pretty sure your kids enjoy their new play area. How I wish we had a yard or something so we could make one like this. Sometimes it sucks to live right smack in the middle of the city 😦

  2. Oh holy cow. I so sorry. When I clicked the link someone gave me it took me right to the finished product picture and I thought that was the top of the page. 🙂

  3. this is awesome! I have been looking for a climbing option for our smalls at my dayhome. Any comments on how insurance and licensing reacted? I would so love to tie this into our sandbox, and any info about what they said would be wonderful. Your ideas totally inspire me!

  4. This is so super cool! I wish my licensing specialist was as kind as yours so I could do something like this! I live in Colorado, and we have to have six feet of fall zone around anything over two feet high. I’ll just keep admiring :).

  5. Love The Tire Climber! We Made One For Our Daycare Last Week. I Love All Of Your Ideas And Things You Do With The Kids. I Have 9 Kids In my Care Ranging From 1 Yr To 6 Yrs Old. I Am Having A Hard Time Keeping My 3 6Yr Old Boys Occupied This Summer, Any Ideas?

  6. “You can’t fall if you don’t climb, but there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.” ~Author Unknown (although some sources will try to tell you it was Dr. Seuss) THIS IS SOOOOO true.

  7. Pingback: 20 Genius Ways to Repurpose Old Tires Into Something New And Exciting - DIY & Crafts

  8. Pingback: 6 Outdoor DIY Projects for Kids Play Spaces! - How Wee Learn

  9. That is so cool! I think my three little boys would love to have something like that to climb on because they are always climbing on everything!!! Great idea.

  10. Hi Arlee. Now that it’s been a year since you built this a few questions for you – is it still holding up? was it worth all the work? and most importantly, do the children still enjoy it?

  11. Pingback: Gift-Giving for Less :: Get Crafty and Creative with VarageSale Finds | Columbia SC Moms Blog

  12. Pingback: 25 Ideas To Make Outdoor Play Fun - Kids Activities Blog

  13. We’ve been working on one of our own but can’t keep them free of standing water after it rains. How do you keep the water out?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s