Can Soft Tip Darts Damage Walls?

When I was buying my first set of soft tip darts, I wondered if I needed to protect the walls as I do with steel tip darts.  So I did some research and testing to find out if soft tip darts will damage my walls.

So can soft tip darts damage walls?  Yes, soft tip darts can damage walls depending on how hard they are thrown.  Typically, soft tip darts will do much less damage to walls than steel tip darts.  Soft tip darts tend to bounce off walls leaving only a small depression in the wall where a steel tip dart will puncture a wall.

Soft tip darts are nothing more than slightly lighter steel tip darts with plastic points.  No matter how good a dart player you are, a soft tip dart will bounce out, or someone will miss the dartboard.  Because of the nature of the game, a soft tip dart can damage walls, floors, decorative items, and glass.  However, I’m here to tell you that there are many things you can do to prevent damage.

What is a soft tip dart?

Soft tip darts are made up of a point, barrel, shaft, and flight.  Soft tip darts are identical to steel tip darts except instead of a metal point; soft tip darts have a plastic point.  Soft tip darts are generally lighter than steel tip darts.  The most common soft tip darts range from 16 grams to 21 grams while the most common steel stip darts range from 18 grams to 28 grams.  Soft tip darts plastic point allow them to be used on soft tip dartboards and electronic dartboards.  These types of dartboards are typically made of plastic.  The plastic points on soft tip darts make them less durable than steel tip darts.  All but the most inexpensive soft tip dart allows the option of removing and replacing the plastic point.  Most soft tip darts come with extra plastic points.  Additionally, extra plastic points are available for purchase.

How is damage caused?

Since soft tip darts are metal and plastic objects, if you throw them hard enough they can do some damage.  The initial throw of a darts places the most energy behind the dart, and this is where the most significant damage will take place with a soft tip dart.  In the case of drywall, soft tip darts will leave a small depression.  Steel tip darts will almost always leave a permanent puncture in drywall.  On harder surfaced walls made out of something like brick, soft tip darts will not do any noticeable damage.  In general, soft tip darts will do less damage than steel tip darts.  If you are concerned with permanent punctures or will be having a lot of beginners dart players throwing darts at your dartboard, then you should consider getting soft tip darts and a soft tip dartboard.

Damage from darts generally occurs from missing the dartboard all together or bouncing out from hitting the wire or another dart.  Damage to a wall with a direct hit will typically come from missing the dartboard all together.  This is characteristically seen with inexperienced dart players.  All other damage usually occurs from bounce outs and will cause a dart to fall to the floor or hit portions of the wall below the dart board.  Soft tip dartboards are known more for bounce outs then steel tip darts boards made out of sisal.  However, since soft tip darts have plastic points and there is less energy behind the dart after the bounce out, it is highly unlikely to cause damage to the floor.

How can you prevent damage from soft tip darts?

There are a number of ways to prevent damage from soft tip darts.  First and foremost be mindful where you set up the soft tip dart board.  If you are concerned with damage at all, then select a location with a harder surface wall or walls and floors that you do not mind getting damaged like in a garage.  Keep in mind that you should not place antique vases or other breakable items below or around a soft tip dartboard.  A stray dart from a bounce out can damage stuff.

You can also protect the walls and floor around your soft tip dartboard.  The best way to minimize damage to walls from missing the dartboard all together would be to install a dartboard surround or cabinet that covers the wall around the dartboard.  The dartboard surround or cabinet covers the wall around the dartboard.  Dartboard surrounds can be made out of foam or rubber, and are friction fitted around the dartboard. 

Pre-manufactured cabinets are mainly made out of wood and are mount directly to the wall.  The dartboard is then mounted inside the cabinet.  Generally, this is enough to protect the errant throw.  Only the wildest throw will miss the surround or cabinet.  The main things to consider when purchasing a dartboard surround or cabinet is that most soft tip dartboards are electronic and are shaped more in a rectangle to accommodate a scoring screen and sometimes speakers.  This makes the soft tip dartboard larger than a regular steel tip dartboard, which makes the choice of purchasing a surround or cabinet more difficult since most surrounds and cabinets are made for steel tip dartboards.  What I have seen a number of people do to make up for this is that they construct a custom surround or cabinet.  There are many examples of DIY surrounds and cabinets on Pinterest you can take a look at.

Bounce outs

To minimize the damage from bounce outs, you must look at protecting the floor directly below the soft tip dart board.  The best way I’ve seen to protect the floor would be to use rubber or foam mats or a permanent structure.  I use gym floor foam mats below my steel tip dartboard.  These are an excellent option because the gym floor foam mats are relatively inexpensive, a meant to be walked on, do not slip, and protect the floor and the dart from getting damaged.  This will extend the life of your soft tip plastic point.

Another strategy to prevent damage from soft tip darts would be to prevent bounce outs.  Soft tip darts typically bounce out when there is any type of angle to the flight path of the dart when it reaches the soft tip dartboard.  Soft tip dartboards are made of plastic, and the face of the dartboard has thousands of small holes for the plastic tip of the soft tip dart to go into.  Soft tip darts need a relatively flat flight path.  Any angle to the dart at impact will increase the chance for a bounce out.  Practice throwing the dart with less angle, or you can try adjusting the length of the stem and the size of the flight.  One suggestion I have seen in my research would be to throw the soft tip dart at a steel tip bristle dartboard and note the angle of the dart after impact.  Steel tip bristle dartboards allow darts to impact them at an angle.  

Related Questions

Can I use soft tip darts on a bristle dartboard?  Yes, soft tip darts can be used on a bristle dartboard made for steel tip darts.  Soft tip darts will not damage a bristle dartboard.  The only thing to keep in mind is that the metal wires used on bristle dartboards will wear down the plastic points on soft tip darts.  Metal points that screw onto soft tip darts can also be purchased if you would like to use the same dart on steel tip bristle dartboards. 

Can you use steel tip darts on electronic (Soft tip) dartboards?  No, steel tip darts will damage an electronics soft tip dartboard because they are typically made out of plastic.  A steel tip dart will chew up a plastic dartboard with its metal point, and steel tip darts are generally heavier than soft tip darts. 

Why are soft tip dart points replaceable?  Soft tip darts use plastic points and are replaceable because over time the plastic points will break or bend.  The plastic points typically can be unscrewed and replaced with a fresh plastic point.  Most soft tip darts come with replaceable plastic points.  Additionally, replacement plastic points are available anywhere darts are sold.