Yesterday I wrote about everything that led up to us creating our Epic Library LEGO Wall – check out the post here. Today is going to be more of a how-to. I’ve had many, many people ask me how to build a LEGO wall, and while there’s tons of great information out there, I’m going to put my own spin on things, so here goes.
Our plywood mounted and ready for the LEGO wall
The supplies will vary depending on what size of a LEGO wall you want to build. I decided to go all out and make a giant 80″ x 80″ LEGO wall so that it could be the centerpiece of our library Makerspace. Of course, any size LEGO wall that works in your space is awesome.
Here’s what I used:
- 80″ x 80″ sheet of plywood (note: 80.5 would have been better. Can use MDF also. You’ll want 10 inches for every baseplates, with about 1/16 inch between each one)
- Concrete screws
- 3 10oz tubes of Liquid Nails or similar glue (I actually used a different brand, but can’t find the name now. Ask the people who work at Home Depot or Lowes for advice.)
- Caulking gun
- 64 10″ x 10″ LEGO Baseplates/Building plates
Cost: The plywood and screws were free for me as the district provided them, but plywood is pretty inexpensive anyhow. The glue was $15, caulking gun was $6. The baseplates currently sell at two for $12 at Kaplan, costing a total of $384, which we raised through DonorsChoose. So a LEGO wall of this size runs about $400 total.
Caulking guns are fun
I highly recommend using a caulking gun as it makes it SO much easier to evenly distribute your glue. Plus, it makes you look really cool. Don’t get too close to the edges of the baseplate, or glue will bleed through, and it’s a pain to clean up. Glue all four sides of the baseplate, then add an x in the middle and a few dots of glue in between. That’ll hold it really well.
Use caulking gun to put glue on the baseplates around the edges and in the center. NOTE: Use more glue than I did. Some plates aren’t holding well.
The first plate you glue down will be the most important one, as it will affect the layout of all other plates. Take your time and make sure that you align it perfectly. You may even want to use a level. As you glue the baseplate on, take into consideration the direction of the text on the studs – if you look closely, you will see the word LEGO written on every stud. Most people will probably never notice or care, but if it bothers you (or you know if will bother your students) make sure that LEGO is always going in the right direction. Or don’t. It doesn’t affect functionality at all.
It’s recommended that you tape down your first baseplate with duct tape to secure it. I didn’t, but my glue was holding pretty well. If you find it slipping, tape it down.
First baseplate glued on.
After you get the first plate down, start working in rows to add more plates. As you add each plate, attach it to surrounding plates with LEGO bricks. This will keep every aligned well so that you’ll be able to build seamlessly, and it will help to anchor the baseplates as the glue dries. This will leave a 1mm gap between each plate, which should be taken into account when you decide how large your plywood will be. Since this gap shows, you might want to paint your plywood if wood showing through is a concern for you. I didn’t see the need to, and I think it looks fine.
Gluing down more baseplates
Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account that 1 mm gap between each plate when I got my plywood, so when I got to the last plate, I had about a 1/2 inch overhang. To fix this, I cut off two rows of studs on my baseplates. It’s surprisingly easy to do. I placed LEGO bricks across what I wanted to cut to give me a perfect line that would still allow building. Then I scored it several time with a box cutter. After a few passes, the remaining portion broke right off. I placed the raw edge to the inside so that the original edge is still on the outside.
This solution worked for me, but if you can avoid having to cut the baseplates, it’s better. Try to not be like me and start off with the right size of plywood.
Stylish band-aid from cutting myself on a tape dispenser, not with the box cutter.
Once everything is up on the wall and secured comes the hardest part – waiting. Put up some cute and clever signs, barricade it with caution tape, just do what you have to do to keep the kids from messing with it. The glue needs 24 hours to completely cure, and it would be horrible for all your hard work to go to waste.
Putting on the last brick. Then comes the waiting.
After 24 hours, let the kids loose and watch the magic happen. I couldn’t resist adding some LEGO works on my own, adding pixel art versions of Mario and Link, as well as the Epic LEGO Wall words.
LEGO Wall art from the first day
I would love to see every school build a LEGO wall – they’re so much fun. My students love it, and it’s a great opportunity for them to exercise creativity, spatial thinking, fine motor skills, math, etc. Plus, it’s just fun and stress relieving.
Are you building a LEGO wall in your school? Please share and let me know! I love seeing all the awesomeness :)