How to Build an Outdoor Playhouse

An outdoor playhouse in the backyard is a classic place for both boys and girls to play outside. Not only is building an outdoor playhouse a do-it-yourself task, but it can be a fun project for both the parents and children.

Materials Needed:

Regardless of your skill level, having plans on paper is a must. If using a professionally designed set of plans, required tools and materials will be listed. However, here are a few things you can always count on using:

  • Lumber
  • Basic construction tools
  • Galvanized nails
  • Wood screws
  • Door and windows
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Paint, exterior varnish or stain

Step 1 - Planning and Checking

Many places require local or county building permits for certain types of building projects, especially for an “outbuilding.” An outbuilding is often defined as any 10’ by 10’ structure, so you may not have any issues building an average sized playhouse.

Read through your plans from start to finish. This is to be sure that anything you don’t already have can be purchased or borrowed, and to be sure there are no surprises along the way.

Step 2 - Start With Flooring

Mark the area where your playhouse will sit, using a tape measure to verify dimensions. Clear the area of debris, and use a level to be sure the ground has an even grade. If the ground isn’t level, it won’t be able to provide proper support. Cut and attach your floor joists, then screw your wooden planks (the floor itself) on top.

Step 3 - Building The Walls

Attach posts to the corners of your floor and anywhere else you want vertical support (such as an especially long side). Attach at least one diagonal crossbeam from the top corner of one joist to the bottom corner of another for support. Screw wooden planks to the crossbeams.

With your sides in place, screw 2 by 4 beams to the top around the outside wall, giving more support to your walls and holding your planks in place. Follow up by framing out the locations for your door and any windows.

Step 4 - Roof

For the rafters of your roof, you can construct them on the ground and hoist them up if you have a friend to help, which may make it easier to build them properly and evenly. Screw them one at a time into the top of your playhouse.

For the actual roof, attach plywood. If you are feeling up to it, you can construct the rafters so the roof will be slanted for water run-off (which will make it more durable in the long run), but this can be a tricky process for the novice carpenter.  

Step 5 - Finishing Up

Stain, paint or use an exterior varnish on the playhouse. Be sure to research the pros and cons of each, as they each offer something different in expanding the life of your wood, changing the feel and look.

Paint, varnish or stain your door and window frames, then attach them as well.

Step 6 – Further Recommendations

Adding roofing felt and shingles will extend the life of your roof, and vinyl or other types of siding will extend the life of your walls. You can further secure windows and other openings against the elements (especially mold and mildew) by sealing them with caulk.