Friday, May 11, 2012

How to Make a Dartboard Backboard: Three Designs

Our first house came with a partially finished basement:  one room was finished with a green/white checkerboard laminate floor and decorative (?) cedar wall installation.  We purchased an electronic dart board that used soft-tip darts and played a lot of darts in that room - both on our own and with friends.  And so it went for two years.  The wall became riddled with many, many holes.  We planned to complete the entire basement and remove the wall on which the dartboard hung, so we never cared if the drywall got holes in it or not.

Once we finished the basement, however, we were a bit more invested in the walls.  So, a backer or backboard, used to surround the dartboard and protect the walls became a priority. We've tried three different backboard methods over the years.  This post details each design and provides details on how to create each one.

Backboard One:  Acoustic Ceiling Tiles covered in Felt

For our first backboard, we chose to use left-over acoustic tiles from the basement ceiling installation.  This was cost-effective and, once covered with felt fabric, worked pretty well.  Below are the instructions for how we created the backboard using acoustic ceiling tiles:

  • Two-three acoustic ceiling tiles - 2 ft by 4 ft
  • Peg board to use as a back surface
  • Fabric to cover finished board  (we chose felt for the look and price).
  • Glue gun
  • Drywall screws
  • Anchors - if not securing to wall studs
  • Construction adhesive
  • Screwdriver, drill
  • Measuring tape, level, scissors, etc
How To:
  1. Determine placement of dartboard backboard on the wall  and cut peg board to size.
    *Our finished backboard was about 4ft by 6 ft.
    *We used peg board because it was rigid and really inexpensive.
  2. Apply construction adhesive to secure ceiling tiles to peg board. 
  3. Trim felt fabric to size and wrap it around the backboard.  Secure the fabric using a glue gun.  
  4. Mark the wall and backboard for install.
    *Cut a slit in the felt before you drill the hole in the backboard so you do not ruin the fabric as you drill. 
  5. Drill your holes in the wall.
    *If you are securing into wall studs, drill pilot holes in covered backboard and into the studs.
    *If you are securing into drywall, drill pilot holes in covered backboard.  then, drill and install anchors into drywall.
  6. Screw the board into the wall.
  7. Install the dartboard onto the backboard according to manufacturer's instructions.
This backboard solution served us well for a long time.  Then we had babies.  And the babies became toddlers, whose large, plastic toys invaded the basement and obstructed our aim of the dartboard and provided a means of climbing up and pulling at the felt material, reaching for darts/cords, and otherwise causing us to abandon any thought of throwing darts until after their bedtime.  By the time we moved out of this house, the dartboard spent more time covered up than used.   
We left the backboard with the house, but brought the dartboard with us to the new house (on the coast of GA), where we lived for five years.  We used it in the garage as we had no basement and, ultimately, the humidity destroyed it.

Backboard Two: License Plates

Last year, we moved back inland, to a house with a basement, and treated ourselves to a new dartboard.  Our new dartboard uses both metal and soft tips, is battery operated and comes in its own case.
So, for our second attempt at a backboard, we opted to hang old license plates around the existing case.  It was a quick fix and served us well.  Following are details on how we created the backboard using license plates:

  • Old license plates
  • Small finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape, level, pencil, etc.
  1. Attach dartboard to the wall according to manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Determine placement of the license plates and mark wall with a pencil.
  3. Use a hammer and small finishing nails to tack the plates to the wall.

This project couldn't have been easier to complete, and we enjoyed the "collected over time" feel the old license plates provided.  Until the kids, now older, and their friends decided to 'learn darts.'  Their throws created a lot of holes in the drywall, on the case, and even the plastic board itself.  Time for a new solution - one that offered more protection for the walls.   And, a new location - one less likely to draw curious non-adult enthusiasts.

Backboard Three:  Cork Flooring Planks

For the third and (final?) backboard, we considered many materials, but kept coming back to cork - mostly for its streamlined, clean look.  We debated using rolled cork or cork tiles.  Maybe we could modify bulletin boards?  After visiting numerous stores, cork seemed too thin to protect the wall and too likely to crumble over time (due to curiosity).  Also, the general method of attaching it (adhesive squares) seemed flimsy.  We wanted something that looked good, was sturdy, and would last.
Then we came upon cork flooring planks.  Why not apply them to the wall?  They are sold pre-finished, come in standard three-foot lengths, and are more than thick enough to do the job.  This turned out to be the solution we chose.  And, we could not be happier.  Below are details on how we created our Cork flooring backboard:

  • Cork flooring planks- we used four of six planks that came in a standard box
  • Drywall screws
  • Anchors - if not securing to wall studs
  • Wood or composite case molding - thick enough to cover holes created when attaching boards to wall.
  • Miter saw
  • Wood filler, caulk
  • Paint and paint supplies
  • Finishing nails
  • Screwdriver, drill, hammer
  • Measuring tape, pencil, etc.
How To:
  1. Determine placement of the backboard on the wall and purchase enough planks for the job
    *Our finished backboard is 4ft by 3 ft, so we needed four 1x3 planks.
    *We got a good price on the planks by purchasing an open box at a flooring outlet.
  2. Measure and mark wall for the first plank. Drill pilot holes in the plank and in the wall.
    * We placed the holes as close to the edge of the plank as possible and concealed them with the molding.
  3. Secure plank to the wall.
  4. Continue the process for the remaining planks.
    * The flooring planks are designed to lock together, providing a near seamless final appearance.
  5. Once planks are all attached, create the frame:  measure and cut molding on 45 degree angles using a miter saw.
    * Dry fit if desired.  Measure twice, cut once!
  6. Prime and paint molding.
  7. Secure molding to backboard using finishing nails and fill the holes/adjust corners with caulk, wood filler, or spackle as necessary
  8. Touch up the paint job.
  9. Install dartboard according to manufacturer's instructions.

Of the three backboards we've created over the years, this is, by far, our favorite.  The cork planks hide the inevitable holes with its varied finish and it has a clean, streamlined look.

The location of this board is the best of those we've used before as well.  We placed it next to a storage room, so most foot traffic bypasses the area all together.
For us, the third time truly is a charm!


  1. Does the Cork flooring boards damage the darts at all?

  2. We play darts fairly often and have had great luck with this dart board backer - no damage to the darts at all.

  3. I purchased some sample cork flooring boards over the weekend, but they don't hold the darts. What brand or type of flooring did you use?

  4. Hi Mike:
    To be honest, I do not remember. I do know we purchased it from the local flooring outlet (Floor & Decor). As for holding the darts, maybe I throw hard - when a steel-tip dart I throw misses the bulls-eye and hits the backboard, it definitely stays in the backboard. Soft-tip darts mostly bounce off and fall to the carpeted floor. Overall, the backboard definitely protects the wall :) Any other readers try this out and have some additional feedback?

  5. what was the cost of the flooring planks? I'm looking around and seeing about $83, which is a tad bit steep for my first attempt at board backer. Also how thick are the planks?