How to Build a Bowling Lane

For some enthusiasts, bowling is not just a game. It is a passion that drives their careers and their lives. Such bowling lovers do not limit their love to the local bowling alley; they bring it home by installing their very own homemade bowling lanes and making their own home bowling alley.

If you are one of them, you might be wondering, how can I build a bowling lane in my house? Well, that and many other questions are what I am going to address today.

In this article, I will talk about the dimensions of a bowling lane, the cost and area requirements for a private bowling alley, and how you can make your own DIY bowling lane. So, make sure you read this article until the end because we will learn how to make a bowling lane ourselves.

How to Build a Bowling Lane - Private bowling alley at home

Dimensions of a Bowling Lane

Before we delve deeper into making a bowling alley at home, we need to understand the dimensions of a bowling alley and what sections need to be placed within it. The overall length of a bowling lane is 60 feet in your local bowling alleys and professional venues. The width of the bowling alley is 42 inches, and the thickness is 2 inches mostly.

Before the foul line where the bowling lane starts from, there is an area of 15 feet. The first 3 feet include two rows of approach dots where you will start your run from. From there, you have a distance of 12 feet to the foul line. This is where you are going to bowl from. You will not move over the foul line. Otherwise, your shot will not be considered.

After the foul line, we have a distance of 12 feet to the aiming arrows. These arrows are meant to help you find the right trajectory in your throw and knock all the pins out.

The end of the bowling lane is at the tip of the number 1 bowling pin’s base. This is where the bowling lane ends, and on the sides of the bowling lane are the gutters. This is the complete structural anatomy of a bowling lane that you needed to understand before you thought of getting one at home.

Can you make a Home Bowling Alley?

A lot of bowling enthusiasts have asked me, can you make a bowling alley at home? Well, there is not much you cannot do in this world if you have the will and the way for it.

Making a whole regulation bowling alley in your home is possible, but it isn’t going to be easy. First, you will need a lot of areas where you can place the bowling alley, then you are going to need a considerable lot of funds as well, and you are also going to need a bunch of time and professionals to work on this project.

Since this is not a one-person handy DIY job, all these tools and requirements are essential. And skipping out on any of these might result in a lot of money spent and the desired bowling alley experience not being given. So we need to make sure that we avoid that and get the best bowling alley experience right at home without any compromises.

Cost of Making a Private Bowling Alley

Getting a bowling alley installed in your home in a specific room or even your basement will not be inexpensive or cheap by any means. This, especially if you are looking for an automated bowling alley experience and not just a DIY bowling lane made of wood plates you got from IKEA.

If we consider customizing a room into a full-blown bowling alley, you’re looking at the cost of at least $100,000. But if you include excessive customizations, lighting, ambiance, aesthetic designs, and sitting areas, then you are probably going a bit over $150,000, which is quite a lot.

However, suppose you are persistent about it, and you want to truly elevate your home experience to another level, like a bowling lover. In that case, you are going to spend this much money and get your private bowling alley. It is undoubtedly going to be amazing once it is complete, that is for sure.

Area Requirement for a Bowling Alley

Now, if you are thinking of getting a proper bowling alley made into your house and are concerned about the area requirements of a bowling alley, you are in the right place. At home, you will suffice with a singular bowling lane in your private alley so let us talk about that. The total length requirement for the system is going to be anywhere from 86-100 feet. This includes all the sections required for an automated, regulation bowling lane.

We include the 15-16 feet for the approach; then we have the 60 feet bowling lane itself, then we have the automated service machine space at the back, including the pinsetters, rollers, pit, and the works.

You can also go for an arcade-styled bowling alley installation that will be smaller than usual and more suited for entertainment purposes than practice for professional tournaments and love for the authentic sport itself. However, it comes around at 55-60 feet only, which is quite a bargain, I would say.

How many square feet do you need for a bowling alley?

For a one or a two-lane bowling alley, you need approx 800-1400 square feet. This is based on 80-100 feet long and 10-14 feet wide.

How to Make a Homemade Bowling Lane

Now, if you are not going to spend thousands of dollars to get a professional bowling alley installed in your home, there is another way around. You can still get the fun of bowling without any of the excessive pizazz.

Let us look at how you can build a DIY bowling lane and play with it.

Gathering the Tools

First and foremost, you are going to need to get all the materials and tools gathered. This will include all the components you need for the job and any excessive decorations that you might want to use. Let us take a look at the things we’re going to need for this DIY project:

  • Wood – Preferably Pine or Maplewood because that is what the original bowling lane is made out of.
  • Power Drill – You will need this to fix any pieces of wood and other things.
  • Saw – If your wood is not already cut, you are going to have to cut it according to your requirement.
  • PVC Pipes – You are going to utilize these in place of your gutters.
  • Smaller Bowling Balls – This bowling lane is not that durable, so you need to use smaller bowling balls to play on it.
  • Bowling Oil – Bowling Wax or oil will also be required if you want to play.

Placing the Lane and Gutters

Once you’ve taken the dimensions of the lane and the area you’re installing the lane in, start placing the wooden pieces and fixing them onto the surface of the floor.

The very next thing you are going to do is cut the PVC pipes into semi-circular shapes and then sand the sides to the point where they are curved but not too much. These will be used as gutters.

Attach the lane with the gutters on the sides and make sure everything is entirely even. Then, once the structure is ready, you can paint it and be artistic if you want to.

Keep a Manual Pinsetting System

Since you are not spending a fortune on getting an automatic pinsetter, you will be using a manual pin setting system, and for that, you will need space.

Ensure you leave a bit of space for a person to quickly go and set the pins once they have been knocked down without any risk of injury or breaking the bowling lane itself.

Put Oil on the Surface

Now that the bowling lane is almost ready, you will use the element of surprise here. Again, the oil pattern will make sure that the bowling lane is smooth enough for the bowling ball to roll on.

Apply the bowling oil gently and decently, but before that, you need to make sure any holes or crevices are covered and locked so the bowling lane does not leak out any oil.

Play on your DIY Bowling Lane

Once we are all done with the DIY bowling lane setup, it is time to test your DIY project out. You will place the bowling pins at the end of the bowling lane and take your small bowling balls out for a spin. Throw the balls and see if the bowling lane works perfectly. If it does, hurray, you are done, and you can now bowl in your house for a fraction of the cost of a private bowling alley!


Building a bowling alley in your house can be a challenge, but if you do it right, it will be one of the best entertainment investments you have made in quite a long while. I hope you learned a lot from this guide and that you will use this knowledge for the better. If you do end up installing a bowling alley within your house, I hope you have a blast and enjoy every bit of the private bowling experience. Have an excellent bowling career!

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