Playing darts is obviously all fun and games (and competition), but for many people, the fun stops after they experience their first bounce out! Watching a dart pierce a hole in your plasterboard wall or land tip pointing down into your hardwood flooring is not a happy sight for anyone…
While darts are mostly a safe game, considering you don’t do anything reckless, there’s no denying that steel tip darts – especially at heavier weights – can cause damage to the surrounding area. The surrounding area is usually your home so protection is not essential but definitely recommended.
In this article, I’ll therefore recommend everything you can do to protect your wall and floor when playing darts as a small investment in equipment will save you a larger cost in refurbishment and home repairs!!
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How to Protect Your Wall and Floor From Darts
As mentioned above, there is nothing worse than starting to play darts and then finding out how much damage to your home and furniture a stray dart can do. To give you a real-life background story, I first started playing darts from a young age (9/10 years old) and would rest a dartboard on the dining room chair.
This chair quickly went from a nice varnish wooden finish to something that resembled a reclaimed wood chair just waiting to be upcycled! I then moved on to putting the dartboard a little higher (on the stairs) and then on multiple doors throughout my parent’s house.
The end result was always holes in the door, door frame, wall, and floor. This is also a key reason why it matters where you put a dartboard as hanging it is only half the challenge.
No matter how good you get at darts, you’ll always have the occasional dart slip from your grip, miss the board, or bounce out and land on the floor (which can damage both the dart and the environment). Therefore, protecting the surrounding area for your dartboard is something everyone should look to do when playing at home.
To protect your wall from darts, use a dedicated dartboard surround or dartboard cabinet. For a general guide, try to use something that will cover an 11-inch (30cm) radius around the board to absorb impact from loose darts that miss the board.
To protect your floor from darts, use a thick mat, darts mat, or carpet that has 1-inch – 2-inch thickness/depth. This will not only absorb the impact of the dart, but will also prevent the point from reaching the hardwood floor or tiles underneath. Rubber or woven material is best for this.
These are two summarised options covering the basics of what you need to do to protect your wall and floors. Below, I’ll cover the best ways to protect your wall and floor from darts.
How to Protect Wall From Darts
1. Dartboard Surround
The single best way to protect your wall from darts is to use a dedicated dartboard surround. A dartboard cabinet will also work well but the key thing to consider with dartboard placements is the surrounding area and the likelihood of loose darts.
When throwing for a double, even an experienced player can have a jerky movement or let the dart slip. As doubles are located close to the edge of the board, it’s very easy for a stray dart to just miss the board completely.
This is where a dartboard surround or cabinet will come in handy.
My recommendation is the Winmau Dartboard Surround. I personally use this surround and the thick rubber material fits tightly around the board and absorbs impact for any stray dart. I use mine on a dartboard stand but it works even better when wall mounted.
The surround stops your dart from making holes in the wall when you miss the board and they will also protect the dart tip from blunting as well.
2. Dartboard Cabinet
Dartboard cabinets are by far the more popular option for mounting your dartboard and protecting the wall behind. The only reason I prefer the dartboard surround mentioned above is that it serves a dual purpose.
With a dartboard cabinet, a dart that misses the board will hit the cabinet, protecting the wall behind it, but it won’t hold the dart. Therefore, In many cases, the dart will either bounce off and hit the floor or stick in the cabinet. In both scenarios, you’ll still be blunting the tip of the dart which is also damaging the dart.
For this option then, you’ll really be opting for it as a more appealing option visually (dartboard cabinets do look good once mounted) and a practical solution for protecting your wall from loose darts.
3. Budget & DIY Solutions
The above two are by far the easiest solutions to implement. The dartboard surround as an example simply fits around the dartboard and doesn’t require any tools, skills, or knowledge to mount it so, in my opinion, this is the easiest solution.
For those that don’t want to buy a dedicated dartboard cabinet or surround, maybe you just hang your board when you’re ready to play so only want a temporary solution, there are some DIY options:
- Towel – A thick towel can be hung behind the dartboard to prevent the dart from sticking in – or damaging – the wall. Hanging the towel is probably not the quickest or easiest solution but a few folded towels to act as padding behind the dartboard will at least protect the wall.
- Plywood – A piece of 1m x 1m plywood or OSB sheet can be screwed into the wall and decorated to be a permanent fixture which you can then mount a dartboard onto. The best solution here is to get a 2m x 2m sheet of plywood that you can just lean on the wall behind the dartboard and then store away when not in use.
- Corkboard – Similar to the plywood option above, the corkboard is arguably a better solution as this will hold loose darts in place while also stopping them from hitting the wall
- Other Options – People also use thick rope around the dartboard, corks, or custom-made surrounds to mount the dartboard.
How to Protect Floor From Darts
1. Use a Darts Mat
The best solution to protect your floor from darts is to use a dedicated darts mat. Some dart mats like the Viper Padded Throw Line are good options because they are not only designed to protect your floor from bounce outs but they also double up as a throw line and oche.
If you’ve ever tried to make a DIY throw line, you’ll be well aware of how annoying the process can be. I’ve used shoes, tape, pens, basically, anything to try and make a throw line so the easiest solution is to get a 2-in-1 product that can both protect the floor and act as an accurate throw line.
The only downside to a dedicated darts mat is some of them are quite slim and don’t cover a large amount of floor space. You can get some XL options but this will all depend on your space available. Dart mats can then be rolled up
2. Use a Thick Floor Mat
A more general approach you can take, similar to a darts mat, is to use heavy-duty floor mats. These are readily available from most hardware stores or even Amazon and come in a variety of sizes.
For full protection, it’s best to opt for a mat with at least 2-inch thickness in order to stop a falling dart from piercing through and still making contact with the floor underneath.
This is a fairly easy solution and can be cost-effective, though current dart mats are of similar quality and have the added benefit of a throw line so again, these would be my preferred option. Another factor to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t throw while standing on the mat, especially for thicker mats.
The reason – These mats can be a couple of inches thick and if you don’t adjust the height of your dartboard accordingly, you will be throwing at an incorrect height and not realize it. Many people step from the practice board at home to a league game and will find their throw is off, usually, it’s because of something like the above where they’ve not factored in the height from which they throw and made necessary adjustments.
3. Use an Oche
You might be reading this thinking that I either have too much space or am too committed to darts to be suggesting everyone gets an oche for their home darts set up!
Well, if you have the space (and budget), an oche is going to be an addition that few casual players have in their home darts setup and is definitely something to consider for the hardcore enthusiast. A custom-built oche is usually a wooden platform that’s been carpeted.
These oches will absorb the impact from bounce-outs and due to the carpeted exterior, won’t show any holes. They can be made as a collapsable and storable design so it’s definitely something to consider if you want a more premium version of a darts mat/throw line.
4. Use Soft Tip Darts
This could apply to both walls and floors but will not be the favored option for most people (unless you are based in the US). Soft-tips darts are both safe options in general and are also great for protecting your wall and floor.
A steel-tip dart with some weight behind it is obviously going to cause damage to anything it comes into contact with that isn’t a dartboard, therefore, if you want to eliminate this aspect, playing with soft-tip darts could be the best solution.
I know many people prefer steel-tip, especially if you play competitively so soft-tip darts might not be the best option but if you really want to prevent holes in the wall or floor – they might be the best option!
Note – While the tip is soft, the barrels in most cases will still be a form of tungsten or heavy steel. If you miss the board there is still a chance that even soft-tip darts can cause damage.
The aim in darts is to be incredibly accurate and hit the treble or double with every throw. In reality, though, very few people in the world (<0.01%) have this level of accuracy. For the rest of us, for every 100 – 1,000 darts you throw, it’s inevitable that 1% – 2% will result in a bounce out or missing the board completely.
In these scenarios, it’s best to be prepared and do all you can to protect your wall and floor from darts. For a complete dart setup, my recommendation would always be to go with dart-specific products. These are made to be practical but they also provide a great playing atmosphere which is obviously important for something that is a hobby to many of us.
As a general recommendation then, I’d opt for a dartboard surround and XL darts mat to not only protect your wall and floor but also look visually impressive in the process. You can look at more basic options like a dartboard cabinet and floor matting from a hardware store.
The choice will all depend on the space available and how it will impact your home’s aesthetic (partners are not always overly excited by a room dominated with darts gear!).