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DIY Playhouse for Kids

  1. Step 1 Build the Deck Frame

    A completed deck frame is laid on the ground.
    A jig helps a person screw boards together at a perfect 90 degrees.

    First, you’ll need to start with the deck frame. Start by cutting two 2 x 4-inch pieces of lumber at 96 inches long for the top and bottom pieces. Then cut five 2 x 4's to 96 inches, less the width of the 2 x 4 (about 93 ½ inches).

    Place the two longest boards on the top and bottom and space the shorter boards evenly across the center, creating a square base and attach it all with wood screws.

  2. Step 2 Lay the Deck on the Frame

    1x6-inch piece of lumber is being attached to the top of the deck base.
    The finished deck base with the 1x6-inch lumber top completely attached.

    Next, you’ll create the top of your deck base using about eighteen 1 x 6-inch pieces of lumber.

    Lay them on the frame going the opposite way of your support beams and pre-drill them so they don’t split. Attach each of them with two 2 ½-inch wood screws, being sure to screw them in at each support joist underneath. Once the base is complete, you’ll need to ensure it’s level.

    Concrete blocks underneath can help level it, just take your time and use a level to ensure that all sides are level before continuing.

  3. Step 3 Build the Back Frame

    The back frame is laid out on the grass.

    For the back frame, start by cutting two 2 x 4’s at 70 ½ inches, or the width of your house frame (or however long you’d like your playhouse to be, but keep in mind if you change the measurements here then you have to account for the new measurements through the rest of this build.)

    Cut four 2 x 4’s at 50 inches, giving the back of the house about a 57-inch height – you can make them longer if you’d like your playhouse to be taller.

    If you’ve got a pocket-hole jig, attach your boards like you see in the image above using pocket holes. If not, then simply screw them together normally using wood screws.

  4. Step 4 Build the Front Frame

    The front playhouse frame is laid on the grass.

    You’ll need to cut the following sizes of 2x4’s to create the frame pictured above:

    • (1) 2x4 cut at 70 1/2” (top piece)
    • (1) 2x4 cut at 63 1/2” (middle piece)
    • (1) 2x4 cut at 63 1/2” (right side of the door piece)
    • (1)2x4 cut at ~ 46 1/4” (left side of the door piece)
    • (1) 2x4 cut at 60” (left side of house)

    Using the same method in the last step, use 2 pocket holes (or regular screw holes) per attachment piece and secure in place with 2 1/2” wood screws.

  5. Step 5 Build the Side Frames

    One of the side playhouse frames is laid on the grass.

    You’ll need the following cuts to make the side frames:

    • (2)2x4 cut at ~57 1/16 inches cut at 15 degrees off square for back pieces
    • (2) 2x4 cut ~ 66 15/16 inches cut at 15 degrees off square for front pieces
    • (2) 2x4 cut ~ 48 3/16 inches cut at 15 degrees off square both sides for roof piece from back to front
    • (2) 2x4 cut at 48 inches for bottom pieces

    Attach them as you’ve done through this project, either with pocket holes or regularly using two screws per attachment piece, and secure in place with 2 ½-inch wood screws. 

    Cut and attach the roof pieces last as this measurement and attachment is the hardest to get precise.

    Remember, one side should be the height of the back frame and the other side should be the height of the front frame, in line with the rise of the roof.

  6. Step 6 Assemble the Playhouse Frame

    The completed playhouse frame stands on the deck base.

    First, stand your back frame up on your deck and secure to one of the side frames with 2 ½-inch deck screws. Repeat to attach the side panels. Finally, attach the front panel to the side panels using 2 ½-inch deck screws

  7. Step 7 Attach the Roof Joists

    The roof joists shown close-up.

    Measure from the inside of the roof frame from back to front in 3 spots cut your 2 x 4’s to size. Three joists are ideal for using corrugated PVC roofing; however, it’s also acceptable to lay plywood or use any other roofing material.

    These joists will be approximately 55-56 inches long. Attach them to the back and front of the frame into the joist by drilling a pilot hole then using a 2 ½-inch deck screw.

  8. Step 8 Attach the Siding

    The side of the playhouse being installed.
    The playhouse with the siding attached.

    There are many different sidings you can use, from pine tongue and groove to cedar or others, all depending on your budget. Plywood is even a great option.

    You can run your boards vertically or horizontally when installing your siding, but keep in mind, vertical installations use more lumber. Cut your tongue and groove boards to size, measuring and cutting as you place the boards.

    Start at one side of the frame and secure the boards using 1 ¼-inch brad nails. Insert the groove to the previously placed exposed tongue and continue placing boards like this, securing with brad nails at an angle at the top and bottom of the frame. 

    You may reach the corner with a short or long board. A gap of approximately ½-inch will be ok, otherwise you may need to measure and mark a new board and rip it down lengthwise with your circular saw to complete one side. Continue placing the boards like this around the house until completed.

  9. Step 9 Cut off Excess Boards along the Roof Line

    The boards are cut flush with the roof line.

    Use a jigsaw or portable circular saw to cut off the excess board length that juts out above the roof line.

  10. Step 10 Mark out Window Locations

    A window is cut out of the side of the playhouse, but not yet framed.
    A circular window cut out of the side of the playhouse.

    Whether you want a circular window or a square one, the process is similar. Select a size, shape and location of the windows, noting the location between framing 2x4’s. If your windows are square, you may want to frame them out, but it’s not necessary.

    Draw out your design and use a jigsaw to cut the window. Sand using 100 then 220 grit sandpaper to remove the rough edges and avoid splinters.

  11. Step 11 Add Trim

    A fancy window is cut out of the side of the playhouse, and a trimmed-out door is shown.

    To add the trim around your doors and windows, cut and measure 1x2’s for the front, back and side panels and cut the trim to surround your doorway, hiding any exposed edges. Attach it with brad nails.

  12. Step 12 Install the Roof

    The roofing of the playhouse is shown.

    Cut your corrugated PVC roofing with a utility knife or utility scissors to fit the size of the roof. Account for about 2 inches (or more if you prefer) overhang. Ensure your roofing runs front to back to facilitate water and debris run off.

    Overlap each piece by at least one corrugated segment, then secure them with hex screws to the roof frame and joists.

  13. Step 13 Stain and Paint

    A dark coloured paint is applied to the exterior of the playhouse and the trim is painted white.

    Apply an exterior stain and sealant, or exterior paint in whatever colours you wish.

  14. Step 14 Decorate Your DIY Playhouse

    The finished playhouse with plants and accessories surrounding it.

    With your playhouse complete, you can accessorize the exterior with greenery, planters and other items to really make it your own.

This article was published in partnership with Cloe Thomson

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