A dartboard is a staple in any home games room. Playing darts at home is always fun, and a good competition for friends and family. However, a few bad throws – which we all do! – is liable to ruin your day if you hit your wall or floor, leaving behind a big puncture mark.
The most common thing to hit with your darts is the wall behind your dartboard, so in this article we have a few ideas of what to put behind your dartboard to protect your wall.
Why you Need to Protect your Wall
You may wonder why something between the wall and the dartboard is needed in the first place. For example, you might be playing in a room specifically used for darts, or playing in a garage or room that no one will see.
However, even if you might be okay with darts hitting your wall or floor, it is still for the best to protect them as much as possible. For one reason, filling a wall with holes is not good for its physical integrity, and those holes could let in cold air, water, or insects if they are left unattended.
On the other hand, if you have a wall that is hard and solid enough to not be damaged by the darts, then the opposite is true, and the darts will be damaged by the wall. You don’t want this to happen either, because darts are expensive if you have to keep buying them every week due to broken, bent, or dull dart tips.
One of the first items to consider when protecting the wall behind your dartboard is a dartboard cabinet. A dartboard cabinet is the option that looks best on your wall, because they are designed solely with the dartboard in mind.
There are many dartboards that you can purchase that come with a cabinet built around them. If you don’t have a dartboard yet, or are looking to get a new one. We recommend this as the best option.
That way you know what cabinet and darboard were built specifically to go together. These will be the best looking options as well as cheaper than buying both separately.
However, if you already have a dartboard you enjoy, there are multiple options for a cabinet to buy on its own to fit around the board. Check out our list of the best dartboard cabinets if you want to check them out!
Dartboard Cabinets look great in any games room, so we would highly recommend them. They are also great for protecting the wall immediately around the dartboard itself, which is the most common part hit.
They also protect the dartboard, because when you’re not playing darts you can close the cabinet and no dust or other objects can damage the board.
However, they are smaller than other options, and especially don’t protect much of the space above and below the board. Often the best setups use a dartboard cabinet that is placed on top of other protection, like a surround or backboard.
Dartboard Surrounds and Backboards
The second option you can choose to protect your dartboard is called a dartboard surround. Also known as a backboard, a surround is usually much larger than a cabinet and covers the wall behind the dartboard.
They are usually made of foam or particleboard materials that are light and easy to carry and set up. It is also not very dense or hard, in order that the darts don’t get bent or broken when they hit it.
However, surrounds are tough enough to withstand years of darts being thrown at them, as well as strong enough to support the dartboard in front of it.
Most surrounds give you at least an extra 6 inches to a foot of protection for your wall around the dartboard, which is where the vast majority of errant throws land.
As for thickness, we recommend getting a surround that is 1” thick at least. Some backboards are ½” thick, and this is too thin. If it’s too thin, the surround will not stop the dart from penetrating all the way through it and still damaging the wall behind it.
If you’re interested in learning more, check out our thoughts on the best dartboard surrounds and backboards. They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, so there will definitely be something that fits your games room!
Of course, you can always create your own backboards to put behind a dartboard. If none of the above ideas suit you, then here are some unique and creative ideas on how to protect your wall.
When setting up a homemade backboard for your dartboard, be sure to remember a few things:
- Thickness: Whatever you put behind your board should be thick enough that a dart cannot puncture all the way through it. Usually 1” thickness is all you need, anything less than this shouldn’t be considered.
- Weight: Because you have to hang this on your wall, it should be light enough to easily transport and lift, and also so that it doesn’t fall off the wall. Don’t forget you’ll be adding your dartboard’s weight as well, so combined they have to stay up.
- Softness: Your backboard should be soft enough that every dart thrown can stick to it fully. If it’s too hard, this could damage the dart, and also a dart might bounce off and damage something else around the dartboard.
- Moisture- Resistance: If your backboard retains moisture it could seep into the dartboard itself and damage it over time
Many dartboards themselves are made of cork, meaning it is a tried-and-true material that is capable of handling darts. If you can find a section of cork flooring or tiles, those could definitely work. Or, if you drink wine, save up your wine corks and glue them into a big circle to fit around the dartboard. You can even create nice patterns with them.
Styrofoam is a great option to create your own dartboard surround with. It is lightweight, very inexpensive, and easy to get a hold of. It is also thick and soft enough to catch all darts thrown its way and to protect anything placed behind it.
It is easy to dispose of and get more as necessary, so when you use one piece of styrofoam up you can simply replace it with a new one.
Similar to styrofoam, cardboard is a very inexpensive, lightweight, and widely-available option. It is usually less than 1” thick, so we would recommend glueing two or three sheets of cardboard on top of each other before using. Most people have lots of cardboard around their house, so this won’t be a problem.
Simply cut out a hole the size of the dartboard, and fit the cardboard around it. It will be necessary to replace it fairly frequently because it is easily damaged, especially if any water gets in it. However, it is cheap enough that even with the frequent replacements it won’t break the budget.
Another item that many people have around their house is rope. If the rope is about 1” thick or so, it would make a great homemade surround for a dartboard. Because it is so flexible, you can simply wrap it around the dartboard. Create concentric circles with it, and then glue it together so that it stays in place.
The rope will catch all the missed darts, but will not damage them. It also looks really unique and gives the dartboard a classy look.
Throwing away an old door, or changing it out for a new one? Well you might want to think about using it as a backboard. If it’s a wooden door, it would work great for darts.
This could be a really unique and interesting way to protect your wall. Doors are very thick, and have often been treated to repel moisture, so it would be a perfect idea. They also are very long, giving you lots of protection especially below the dartboard.
Wooden Pallets and Boards
Just like a wooden door, if you have spare wooden boards or pallets around, these would be a great idea for a dartboard wall protector. These are great for catching darts as well as not damaging the dart tips.
Additionally, wooden pallets and boards can be glued or nailed together to create really cool, classic designs, and any wood backboard looks great in a games room.
Insulation is another DIY idea that you might be able to find lying around your house. Whether it’s the blanket kind or the polystyrene kind, both should work perfectly well to protect your walls and darts. They would also be soft enough to keep the darts stuck in and prevent them from falling on the floor.
If you do use blanket insulation, make sure to cover it, as leaving it exposed can be potentially harmful over a long period of time.
If you’re just refitting a new games room, then you might have some extra carpet around. This works as a great backboard in itself, as long as it’s thick enough. However, the best purpose for carpet is to put it over another backboard, like a piece of plywood or cardboard.
This makes the dartboard surround better looking and less likely to hurt someone if they bump into it, and you can use it to make thinner material, like plywood, thicker.
Old Towels or Clothes
This DIY option is the one you are most likely to have immediate access to. If you have old towels or clothes you’re going to donate, then you can hang them around the dartboard to protect your wall. We would recommend that you use at least two layers of cloth down, as one layer might be thick enough.
However, this option should really only be used if you have nothing else around, or are waiting to buy a surround. Because towels and clothes are generally more bouncy, the darts might not stick to them as well. While this will protect your walls, the darts might bounce off the wall and damage the floors.
The wall behind the dartboard is the main surface that will get damaged if left unprotected. However, it is not the only surface. Darts can sometimes bounce off of the board or wall and fall to the floor, or one of the players could drop a dart as well.
It is imperative to also protect the floor around your dartboard in addition to the wall. One of the options is to lay down carpet or a rug. We would recommend buying something cheap or using a rug you wouldn’t mind replacing, because you most likely will have to replace the floor protection every once in a while.
Another option is buy a dart mat. A dart mat is great for multiple reasons. It is made of high-quality material, such as vinyl or rubber, that gives optimal protection for your floor. It is also non-slip, so you can walk down it to collect your darts and not worry about slipping off of it, or it slipping off of the floor.
Dart mats are also very useful because they often come with a toeline, or an oche, that is regulation distance from the dartboard. This will help you know exactly where to throw from every time.
Check out our recommendations for best dart mats if you are interested.
How do Different Types of Darts Affect Your Walls?
There are three main types of darts, depending on what kind of dartboard you have. If you have a regular bristle dartboard, made from sisal fibers, then you would use steel tip darts with that.
An electronic dartboard should only be played with soft tip darts. Lastly, a magnetic board comes with magnetic darts, which have a flat side at the end instead of a tip.
Of the three, magnetic darts are the least likely to puncture your wall or floor, or to damage them in any way. These darts don’t have a pointy tip, meaning if they do hit the wall, they’ll just bounce off them rather than sticking in.
Soft tip darts do have pointy tips, but they are rubber or plastic instead of metal. Therefore they might leave small holes, but won’t do a lot of visible damage around the dartboard. Many people prefer electronic dartboards for this reason. However, soft tip darts can still be broken or bent if they hit a hard enough surface.
Steel tip darts are the most likely to do considerable damage to your walls and floor. These have heavy metal tips that will likely stick all the way in if they are thrown at the wall, or if they bounce off of the board onto the floor. It is very important to have something behind your dartboard to protect your wall if you play with steel tip darts.
What NOT to Place Behind a Dartboard
If you noticed, there were a few items you can think of that we did not recommend as a way to protect your wall. This is for good reason, because while it is important to protect your wall, it is also important that you protect your darts.
Very hard materials like concrete, tiles, or hardwood flooring are not good to have behind your dartboard or on the floor around the playing area. For one thing, steel tip darts can still potentially puncture or chip these surfaces if they get hit in the right way.
However, the biggest problem is that it would damage the darts. Darts are not cheap, and they last a long time if you take care of them. But if you play a lot and the darts repeatedly hit these hard surfaces, you’ll have to replace them frequently. Plus they won’t throw well or stick in the board if they’re bent.
A Fence or Tree
If you’re playing darts outside, the most likely place you would hang your dartboard would be a fence or a tree. We would recommend placing something between the dartboard and the fence or tree, like a blanket, styrofoam, or cardboard. This protects the wood from puncture marks, which can then fill with bugs or water, and it also protects the darts from getting dirty and potentially rusting due to the moisture in the wood.
Wrap Up Thoughts
Darts is a really fun game to play with a lot of friends and family, and should be a major part in any rec room. However, in order to maximize your fun and to protect the walls and floor around your dartboard, as well as your darts, you should look at products that you can put behind the dartboard. This will enable you to play for much longer, and keep your home safe!