DIY scrap basketball backboard – step by step

The diy basketball backboard, gray with yellow lines, the hoop and the ball

For over a year i have been thinking about building a basketball hoop for the boys.As usual, we tried to reuse as much as possible.. I looked around for the parts needed:

  • a piece of rebar to form the hoop
  • a piece of steel to make the hoop bracket
  • a big piece of formwork plywood that was left after pouring some concrete

There hasn’t been much of a result, even though we used it for almost sa year. The hoop made of rebar wasn’t looking too nice and it also didn’t work great. That made us give up and not paint the panel, leaving it as it was: full of concrete leftovers and all kinds of holes in it.

This spring, being the birthday of one of the boys, we decided to buy a brand new basketball hoop and cut the panel to size and paint it to look as it should, like a real basketball backboard.

You can also watch a small video:

It was a great choice. The hoop came together with a net, and the neccesary screws. For something equivalent to 25 euros, the effort to obtain something similar was too much.

But the diy backboard has many advantages:

  • it’s a nice project you can do together with the kids
  • it’s much cheaper than a sports gear store bought one
  • you can choose the size to fit your needs (even though it would be best to try to stick to standard sizes)
  • it’s ready in just one day
  • you can paint it in any color you want (or any color you have)

So, these are the steps we took to make this great looking basketball backboard:

Deciding on the size of the backboard

Try to decide on a size based on the following factors: age (or height) of the players, the place where it will be put and your own personal preferences. You should try to keep as close as possible to standard sizes, which you can find by searching online.

We first wanted to make the backboard 180 cm wide by 105 cm high. We quickly realised it was too big for our needs and the space available. So, we chose the next widely available size, 120 cm wide by 90 cm high (many online shops offer this size). It’s large enough, trust me. After a few throws, we realised it’s perfect and that a larger size would have been completely useless.

Choosing the material for the backboard

We used a recycled plywood piece (the type used for concrete formwork). We used it for some pours in the past. If you have such a piece, it suits just right.

If you don’t have access to formwork or marine plywood, you can use a piece of simple plywood that you can find in any shop (but consider that it might get more damage from the elements). You can buy it ready cut to size. If you search google, you’ll find out that many of the comercial backboards are made out of plywood.

Preparing the plywood panel for painting

If you use a new panel, preparation doesn’t require too much sanding. But the reused panel has to be sanded, to remove all debris left and flatten the uneven parts (especially around holes). We used 120 grit sandpaper on a belt sander for both the faces and the edges.

Since our panel had already been used for pouring concrete, we had a few extra steps to take:

  • check for nails or screws
  • clean the large concrete left overs using a wire brush
  • since it wasn’t bought cut to size, we used a circular saw to size it properly
  • we cut the corners round, using a jigsaw
  • sanded the faces and edges
  • fill in the holes and cracks using wood putty
  • sand again to flatten the putty

Check for nails or screws

So, we took the time to thoroughly check for nails and screws. We carefully removed all of them, before cutting the board to size. This way, we made sure that we wouldn’t damage the blade of the saw. If you don’t use a special construction saw blade (which are quite expensive), the teeth get damaged very easily.

Clean the large concrete left overs using a wire brush and a hammer

By cleaning concrete leftovers on the board (and anything else that’s on the board, as well), it’s easier to check again if there aren’t any screws or nails remaining in the panel. At the same time, the concrete pieces won’t get in the way of making a straight cut with the saw. Any trace of cement can easily deflect or jam your saw.

Cut the plywood panel with the circular saw

I use a handheld circular saw to cut large sheet, no matter what type of sheet we’re talking about: osb, plywood, marine or formwork plywood, even large hardwood panels. They are easier to cut straight with a handheld saw, using a guide (considering you don’t have one of those fancy huge table saws). I use a straight wooden board as guide, clamped to the surface to be cut. I then run the saw pushing it along the board (take care to consider the distance from the saw’s edge to the blade when clamping the guiding board).

Cut the corners round, if you want a backboard with rounded corners

We didn’t want a panel with simple straight corners. We wanted to make them round, to make it look better.

I usually use whatever round object comes in handy and fits (approximately) the necessary diameter. In this case, for the basketball backboard, I used an angle grinder disc. In order to make the corners round, I placed the disk on each corner and traced the line for the cut. Then, I used a jigsaw to cut all corners round.

angle grinder disk used to trace the rounded corners
Using an angle grinder disk for tracing the corners of the basketball backboard
i used an angle grinder disc to trace the rounded corners
Tracing the rounded corners of the basketball backboard
the formwork plywood panel that is going to be recycled into a basketball backboard
The plywood panel after cutting the corners round

Sand all surfaces and edges of the plywood board

I sanded all the surfaces of the plywood panel using the belt sander. I used 40 grit sandpaper since it was pretty damaged. This way, the whole sanding process took much less. I then increased the grit gradually up to 120, so the final surface is smooth.

sanding the formwork plywood after cutting to size and rounding the corners
Sanding the plywood panel
sanding the old forwork plywood panel with the belt sander before filling in the holes and cracks with filler
Sanding the plywood board with a belt sander

I did the same thing for the edges. I had to take extra care on the corners to avoid damaging the shape. Yet, the sanding of the rounded corners solved the small errors from cutting with the jigsaw.

sanding the edges of the DIY basketball backboard using the belt sander
Sanding the edges of the plywood panel using a belt sander

Apply two parts wood putty into the holes and cracks

After discovering the two parts wood putty, I use it very often, especially when the project will be painted. It’s very strong and hardens very fast.

two parts fast drying wood filler used to fill in the holes in the plywood panel
Two part filler for fixing the holes
miximg the two part wood putty for filling the holes in the plywood panel
I mixed the two part filler on a scrap piece of plywood

I filled in all the holes and cracks on both faces of the backboard. No matter what type of plywood you are using, it is a good advice to apply filler on the edges too, since there are always small pores that will result in bad looking paint. Otherwise, the water will infiltrate through those pores and the backboard will get damaged much faster.

filling the holes of our soon to be basketball backboard using two parts filler
Covering the formwork board’s holes using two parts filler

Sand the backboard again

After the filler dried, I sanded the panel again. There are two reasons for doing this:

  • to remove the excess putty, as it’s very difficult to fill in the holes and obtain a perfectly smooth surface when applying it.
  • the surface has to be as smooth as possible when applying the first layer of paint
sanding the backboard after the two part filler hardened
Sanding the filler after it hardened

Painting the basketball backboard

First layer of paint

I wiped the plywood panel with a soft cloth to remove all the dust remaining after sanding.

For the paint, I used a medium gray color, this being the main color of the backboard. I chose this shade of gray as I had some paint left from a different project.

After the first layer dried (pretty fast, as it was a water based paint), I lightly sanded using 280 grit sandpaper and wiped the surface with a cloth again.

The second layer of paint

I applied the second layer of paint. I always apply at least two layers to make sure it will last long. Especially for this basketball backboard, which will be exposed to the elements all the time (rain, wind, sun, snow)

For every layer I apply, I take care to apply it on the edges too. This way, the edges will have twice the layers, giving the backboard a much better resistance outside.

After the second layer dried, some of the small cracks and holes that I missed in the first step started to show up. This kind of small imperfections are difficult to observe unless there is a uniform paint already applied.

So I filled in these holes using putty. This time I used a water based putty reinforced with fibers. It’s stronger than standard putty. I didn’t use two parts filler anymore because the small holes and cracks need a longer time to fill in properly and the filler would have hardened too quickly.

After the filler dried, I sanded the panel again, using 280 grit sandpaper.

after the paint dried, small holes and cracks started to show up
Some holes and cracks started to show up on the backboard’s surface
i filled the tiny holes that showed up after painting using fibers reinforced wood putty
Applying the fiber reinforced wood putty

The third layer of paint

I usually don’t apply three layers. But, in some cases, I choose to do this both because it gives the project a much better resistance and because I had to cover the putty applied after the first two layers.

the first two layers of gray paint applied on the basketball backboard
Spraying the paint on the backboard panel

Tracing the lines on the basketball backboard

I used painter tape to make the lines as straight as possible.

I used a straight strip of wood clamped to the board to guide me when applying the tape. This helped me obtain very straight lines. I did this on all four sides, until I obtained the lines for the outer frame of the backboard.

using painter tape to trace the lines on the backboard
I used painter’s tape to draw straight lines on the basketball backboard

In the end, I looked around for another round object that has a smaller diameter than the angle grinder disk used to cut the corners. After tracing the round corners on the painter tape, I used an utility knife to cut it with care.

tracing the inside of the outer line on the backboard
Tracing for cutting the painter tape

For the rectangle above the hoop:

  • i decided on the size
  • lightly traced the lines using a ruler and a pencil
  • put the painter tape using the pencil lines as guides
  • for the rounded corners I used different objects available on hand
painting the yellow lines of the DIY basketball backboard
I used yellow paint for the DIY basketball backboard

After tracing all the lines with painter tape, I used a fine brush and bright yellow paint to draw them. It took me three layers to make the yellow lines cover the gray background completely.

the backboard is painted in gray, with yellow lines
The backboard is painted and ready to be installed together with the hoop

I accidentally touched some small unwanted areas with the brush, so I used some gray paint to cover them up.

small errors that have to be fixed after removing the tape
Small cover ups using gray paint are required

The reasons I used this colors combination:

  • I wanted our basketball backboard to be different than the ones available in the stores
  • we really like the gray – yellow color combination
  • I already had both colors in the shop, as I had already done other projects using these colors.
the look of the basketball backboard after removing the painter tape
The look of our basketball backboard

Installing the basketball hoop on the backboard

As I said in the start, the hoop came with the screws included. Installation was very easy:

  • positioned the hoop on the panel
  • marked the holes using a pencil
  • drilled recessed holes to fit the screw heads (i used a 15mm drill bit)
  • fitted and tightened the four screws that keep the hoop in place
I used a 15mm forstner drill bit to drill recess holes needed to install the backboard
15 mm holes drilled to fit recessed screw heads
the basketball hoop and DIY backboard
The hoop and backboard

This is the result. There still are some errors that show up in bright sunlight, but, overall, the basketball backboard and hoop look great.

I took a lot of pictures to manage capturing the ball as I did 🙂

The effort of spending a nice weekend afternoon was really worth it.

What do you think about it?

The diy basketball backboard, gray with yellow lines, the hoop and the ball
DIY project done with the kids – basketball backboard

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