How to Make an Outdoor Chessboard

The Patio Chessboard
Instead of concrete, this beautifully landscaped outdoor chessboard opts for pebbles, but it doesn't look like those pieces are too mobile.
Instead of concrete, this beautifully landscaped outdoor chessboard opts for pebbles, but it doesn't look like those pieces are too mobile.

If your lawn isn't big enough for a chessboard, perhaps your patio is. Already have a block patio? You're halfway there. Keep in mind that patio blocks come in all different sizes. Some are 16 inches by 16 inches (41 centimeters by 41 centimeters); others are 10 feet by 10 feet (3 meters by 3 meters). Once again, math is important. Figure out the space your chessboard is going to cover and paint the blocks accordingly.

However, if you want to build a concrete and sod patio chessboard from scratch, try this do-it-yourself project adapted from our friends at the DIY Network. (For the sake of easy reading, we will again omit metric conversions.)

  1. Just like a lawn patio, measure the perimeter first. Begin by framing the outside of the patio with pieces of lumber that measure 2 inches by 4 inches. You want the perimeter to be 16 feet by 16 feet. This will give you eight squares running along the outside, each measuring 2 feet by 2 feet. Once you're done framing, dig out 2 inches of soil on the inside.
  2. Next, take a handful of screws and place them every 2 feet on top of the perimeter frame. Attach a string to the screws and run a grid pattern from one end of the chessboard to the other end. Do this for all sides.
  3. Now comes the intricate part. Build 32 wooden frames using your two-by-fours. Each frame has to measure 4 square feet. Be precise when you cut and measure, because you're going to pour concrete later. Install the first frame on one corner of the chessboard and work out from there. Make sure the frame sits right next to the perimeter frame.
  4. Ram stakes on the inside of the smaller frame, one on each side. Next, raise the frame to the height of the string grid. Screw the stakes to the perimeter frame to hold everything in place. Repeat this step as you work your way from the corner. You'll be installing the square frames in every other "space" using the string line grid as your guide.
  5. When the inside frames are finished, pour the concrete into the squares that don't have stakes. Trowel the tops. You can color the tops with color hardener, or you can brush each wet top with a broom. It's your call. You also can also paint them when the concrete sets and hardens. Remove the frames in about 24 hours.
  6. Next, lay sod in the opposing spaces. Make sure each piece of cut sod (you'll have to trim it) makes contact with the soil.

Whether your board is mowed on a lawn, or part of a patio, you're going to need chess pieces. Each player begins with 16 pieces: eight pawns; two bishops; two rooks; two knights; one queen and one king. You can purchase various life-size pieces. They can be made out of wood, resin or plastic. Or, if you have enough dogs, use them as your chessmen.

Author's Note: How to Make an Outdoor Chessboard

I play chess occasionally, but I mow the lawn regularly. I'm not sure whether I want to combine the two. Plus, I don't think my two dogs would like to be chess pieces. The new puppy is always knocking my Great Dane down. I guess that would be considered cheating if Bobby Fischer came to play.

Related Articles


  • Alvarez, Maria. "Active design for affordable housing." Long Island Newsday. July 31, 2013. (Aug. 14, 2013)
  • DIY Network. "How to Create a Chessboard Patio." (Aug. 15, 2013)
  • DIY Network. "How to Paint a Lawn." (Aug. 15, 2013)
  • MegaChess. "MegaChess Rubberized Vinyl Board with 24" Squares." (Aug. 15, 2013)
  • Scag Power Equipment. "Lawn Striping and Lawn Patterns—How Do They Work?" (Aug. 15, 2013)
  • The Scotsman. "Giant chessboard bid to fight child obesity." (Aug. 14, 2013).

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