Making your own Sensory Room Part 1: DIY Wall Pads

Just before Christmas, I made the decision to install a full on sensory den under Leons bed. This is how Leons space was.

This issue with this was he kept hurting himself off the storage when he had meltdowns (Leon is severely autistic). He would kick the wall (which is attached to our neighbours house) He made holes in the walls. So with all these combined I sat and tried to figure out how I could change the room to suit him. His brother Max’s bed was the opposite side of the room and had most storage and his games consoles underneath it. We decided to switch Max to Leons side and fit the sensory things under Leons side. Removing the storage furniture from Leons side solved the “hitting himself of the furniture” problem. Removing the neighbouring wall solved the noise issue, so it only left kicking holes in the wall.

Leon loves softplay. He loves the feel of the mats and he loves the colour yellow. So I decided wall padding in yellow mats would be ideal – I got many quotes from companies, and it was over a £1000 for the smallest space I’d want done to be padded professionally, so obviously that wasn’t an option! I decided to make my own. Here’s how if you’d like to do the same.

DIY WALL PADS 

To make your own wall pads – You will need the exact measurement of each “pad” you want to make. We researched supplies first. I found that a B&Q within travelling distance would cut wood boards for us, I could buy foam in bulk on ebay, and I could buy PVC fabric on ebay too. I measured the full width of the areas I wanted to pad and the height I wanted it to go to. I divided these areas into more “easier to make” pads. (So that rather than making 1 huge pad, I’d have 4 I could line up and install on the wall)

This looks simple when you write it down like this. Only a few slight issues I ran into.. I didn’t account for sockets and light switches (idiot.) Thankfully though, my original plan of where the pads were going didn’t make it all too difficult to work around – we just placed them differently.

Note: We also fitted acrylic safety mirrors in the sensory area – also take this into consideration if you’d like something similar as you cannot fit anything to the wall once the pads are up. You’d need to take mirror measurements into account too. (Think bubble tube mirrors!)
Also – we mismeasured and when we rejigged we ended up with two big leftover panels which we left on the floor and absolutely love them (scroll down the bottom to look!) If you want floor panels too make sure you order enough.

 

Step by step

  1. Measure the Area.
    – Consider where you will buy supplies from and which supplies.
    – Take into account light switches, skirting boards, wall rails, window sills.
    – Divide your measurements into “easy to make” pads. For example – the board we could easily buy was 145cm tall, so we made most pads 145cm tall to save on cutting. A good idea is to draw out your pads using decorators tape, measure them to make sure your plan is right – and doodle your plan down somewhere so you don’t forget (or leave the tape up!)
  2. Find supplies.
    I used 3mm Hardboard from B&Q here you can look for a store that will cut it for you if you don’t have the right tools – straight cuts only though so you will need to work your measurements around that.
    I used Yellow PVC material from ebay here there are loads of colours and I highly recommend PVC as its waterproof and easy to wipe down.
    I used 1.5inch Upholstery foam from ebay like this one
    You’ll also need some kind of glue – I used Solvent free adhesive from B&Q again – this one
    Brackets to fit to the wall – I used flat mending plates like this
    You’ll need screws – small fat ones big enough to fit through your mending plate and catch the hardboard – but not too big that you’ll press the foam and feel it through the PVC.
    You’ll need a good staple gun & staples.
    You’ll also need the usual, drill, raw plugs, and screws or drywall screws.NOTE: For foam and PVC you should order more than what you need – as you need around 15-20cm extra height and width on each pad so you can cut it evenly and also staple it down.Also make sure your glue fits in your caulk gun unless you’re some kinda skilled ninja and can chop the bottom off. *wink
    Making them

    Ok. By now you should have –
    Boards cut to size, Lengths of foam, Lengths of PVC, enough glue to stick a house together, and all yer wee bits to attach it to the wall.1. Lay out your foam sheet,  Yes I appreciate how difficult it may be. Look at the floorspace I had to work with.


    Put your cut to size hardboard panel on it using a thick marker pen mark around your hardboard – leave about 2cm extra around each side. Cut your foam – I used scissors. This took a while.  You might have more brains than me and use something decent. Repeat for each hardboard piece you have. Make sure you leave your panel with the correct piece of foam or shit will get confusing as fuck.

    2. Take your cut foam piece and your hardboard panel, and lay the foam piece on the ground – using a caulk gun glue your foam. I expertly done ziggy zaggy shapes accross the middle and a square around the outside. Place your hardboard piece on the foam making sure its bang in the middle and the extra foam you left around the edges remain. Leave it on the floor to dry for around 24 hours. We absolutely did not do this. I highly recommend waiting the 24 hours. Repeat for all hardboard pieces. Leave in a huge pile allow the glue to dry.

    Look at my nice pile of foamy hardboard. and my messy floor. And my not so neat foam edges. And the overlapping wood bits – yes you avoid all this turmoil by ensuring you leave extra foam (see I’m saving you grief, thank me later!)

    3. That extra foam around the edge of your hardboard? Get the coolest, scariest serrated edged knife you can find and slice it off. (Takes a while but it makes your foam even – much easier when it comes to PVC application)

    4. Now that that’s done, you have a nice solid hardboard piece with foam attached firmly. You want to lay your PVC out. Lie the wooden piece down on top and draw around it (make sure its on the bad side of the PVC) You want to leave around 7-10 cm of extra material around the whole board. Cut your fabric out and leave it sitting with the hardboard piece (do not mix them up!) Repeat for the rest. (I completely forgot to photograph this)

    5. Now you have multiple pieces of hardboard, with glued on foam pieces all cut to size and stuck on firmly, sitting with their cut to size piece of PVC fabric  (that you’ve not mixed up!)
    Lie your PVC piece on the floor, good side down, put your hardboard piece on top, foam side down. You want to make sure its placed in the centre. Start on the bottom, Pull the pvc up and staple twice, then do the top. Pull the PVC tightly staple twice, then repeat for both sides. Each time you staple ensure you are pulling the PVC as tightly as you can. This will make sure the PVC looks nice and tightly pulled at the front of your panel. The corners are a bit pernickety – this video helped me so much with stapling the corners.

    Ta-Daaaaaah!  (lol at the mess- cries internally)

    6. Now you’ve made your pads, you’ll realise they’re much lighter than you expected – and the 40 million brackets you bought to fit them were probably excessive. (Yep.)

    To fit them to the wall – Simply screw on your mending plates to 3 sides of your panel. You want them to be next to each other without space – so one side will need to stay unscrewed (it’s fine! – it doesn’t move, you can attach using velcro if you wish but you really don’t need to)

    We started on the right hand side of the wall – Picture you standing holding a wall pad with the PVC facing you , that PVC wall pad will have mending plates to the top, bottom and left hand side. The next one you put up will be the exact same, (the right hand side of the next wall panel with no mending plates will sit on top of the mending plates on the left of your current wall panel)
    Hopefully this explains how we put them up..

    And that’s it! We mis-measured – and when we jiggled the boards around and got them to fit we had two panels leftover which we happily used on the floor – Leon loves them as he loves the feeling of the cold PVC on his feet.

    This is how it turned out when fitted.

    PART 2 COMING SOON.

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1 Comment

  1. Jodi
    14th April 2018 / 8:32 am

    This looks amazing!! I’m looking to do something similar for my non verbal autistic daughter who is a keen head banger. Just wondering if you could send me the pictures of the steps as there no longer showing on the blog? I’m useless at DIY so need all the help I can get! Thanks

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