An outdoor playhouse is an exciting addition to any backyard, providing kids with a safe and fun space to play and use their imagination. Not only can a playhouse encourage physical activity, but it can also promote creativity and social skills.
While there are plenty of pre-made playhouses available on the market, building a playhouse yourself can be a rewarding and cost-effective project, allowing you to customize the design to your child’s preferences. In this article, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to build an outdoor DIY playhouse for kids. Whether you are an experienced DIYer or a beginner, this guide will help you create a playhouse that your kids will love for years to come.
What are the Benefits of Building Your Own DIY Playhouse?
Building a DIY playhouse for kids can have several benefits, including:
- Cost savings: Building a playhouse yourself can be more cost-effective than buying a pre-made playhouse. You can use recycled materials or buy cheaper materials to save money.
- Customization: Building a playhouse yourself gives you the flexibility to customize it to your liking and your child’s preferences. You can choose the design, size, and features of the playhouse that will best suit your child’s needs and interests.
- Creativity and bonding: Building a playhouse with your child can be a fun and creative activity that can promote bonding and communication between you and your child. It can also teach them valuable skills such as measuring, cutting, and assembling.
- Quality control: When you build a playhouse yourself, you have complete control over the quality of the materials and construction. You can ensure that the playhouse is built to your specifications and is safe for your child to play in.
- Sense of accomplishment: Completing a DIY project can give you a sense of accomplishment and pride. Seeing your child enjoy playing in something that you’ve built together can be a rewarding experience.
Overall, building a DIY playhouse for kids can be a fun, cost-effective, and rewarding project that can provide your child with a safe and enjoyable place to play.
Time to Complete
Download Printable Plans in PDF
Tools for this project
- Available with the purchase of PDF plans.
Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size. See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page as well as links in “tools for this project” and “material list” sections are affiliate links.
Step 1 – Level the Ground and Mark the Pier Locations
First, clear out the area of bushes and any vegetation. Then level the ground to eliminate any low or high spots.
Using provided dimensions in the picture, roughly mark the centers of pier locations. Choose one corner as the home base and pull all dimensions from that location. Otherwise, your measurement will contain errors.
Next, build the batter boards for the string lines to establish a more accurate foundation layout. Then pull and adjust the strings to the exact dimensions following the playhouse plans.
Using the string lines, you will be able to set a perfect outline of the foundation. In addition, string lines will ensure the foundation is squared and leveled. For more information about how to use string lines correctly, you can find it here.
Step 2 – Dig Holes for the Piers
Now dig out 14″ round and 24″ deep holes for the piers (assuming your ground is flat and leveled). Then take 12″ round concrete form tubes and cut six pieces to 24″ in length. If your ground is sloped, you might need to dig deeper holes, and some concrete tubes might be taller than others. As long as the top of the forms have the same elevation.
Place the concrete form tube into the hole. The top of the tube should be about 2″ above the ground. Make sure that all concrete tubes are leveled. Also, the top of all concrete tubes should have the same top elevation.
Step 3 – Insert Posts and Pour Concrete into the Form Tubes
When working with concrete, you have a limited amount of time before it becomes hard. After concrete becomes harder, it’s very difficult to adjust or change its shape. So you will need to have your materials ready before mixing the concrete.
Take 4×6 pressure-treated lumber and cut six pieces to 48″ in length. Then insert them into the form tubes. The top of the post needs to be 24″ above the concrete tube.
Draw an X on top of each post. This will show you the center of the board. Secure each post with cross braces so they do not move when pouring the concrete. Make sure the center of the board matches the dimensions provided in the picture. Also, check that the top of each post is at the same elevation.
When everything is ready, and the measurements are accurate, mix the concrete and fill the tubes.
Once the concrete cures, remove the temporary cross braces that were supporting the posts.
Step 4 – Cut and Install the Legs
Next, take 4×6 lumber and cut eight leg pieces to 10 feet in length. Even if you purchase 10-foot-long boards, you will need to double-check the measurements. Sometimes they are slightly longer, and you will need to trim them to get the exact 10-foot length.
Place two legs on the top of the pier on both sides of the post. Then drill a 1/2″ hole through the legs and the post to insert the bolt. You will need to use 12″ long bolts to secure the legs. Make sure the bolts and nuts have washers on each side.
The benefit of using bolts and nuts, as appose to screws, is that you can tighten the bolts when wood shrinks due to weather conditions. This will prevent the playhouse from wobbling.
Step 5 – Join the Top of the Legs
To join the top of the legs, take a 4×6 lumber and cut four pieces to 23″ in length. Insert this piece between the legs so it’s 11″ above the top of the leg. See picture.
Similar to the previous step, drill a hole for the bolt and tighten the nut.
Step 6 – Cut and Attach the 12 Foot Horizontal Beams
Take 4×6 lumber and cut four horizontal beams to 144″ in length. Then place them on top of the legs. Make sure these beams are centered between the legs. Then secure the beams to the 23″ long piece with a bolt and a nut.
Step 7 – Cut and Attach 14 Foot Horizontal Beams
Similar to step 5, using 4×6 lumber, cut four pieces to 168″ in length. Then place them on top of the lower beams, as shown in the picture.
Once they are centered between the legs, drill 1/2″ holes from the top through the lower and upper beams for the bolts. Secure the lower and upper beams together with bolts and nuts.
Step 8 – Install Diagonal Brace
Take 4×6 lumber and cut two pieces to 49 1/2″ in length with a 45-degree miter cut on one end. Then chamfer the corners on the opposite side, as shown in the picture.
Now slide in the diagonal brace between the lower beams and the legs. The top of the brace needs to be flush with the top of the lower beams. Once you position the brace at 45 degrees, then drill the bolt holes. Secure the brace with bolts and nuts.
Step 9 – Cut and Install DIY Playhouse Deck Beams
Take 10-foot long 4×6 deck beams and place them on top of the posts as shown in the picture. Then using 8×4 metal strap plates or truss mending plates, secure the beams to the posts.
Step 10 – Attach the Joist Boards to the Beams
Take 2×6 and cut two joist boards to 53″ and fourteen boards to 56 1/2″ in length. The joist boards will need to be attached to the beams using Simpson Strong-Tie Face Mount Joist Hangers.
The two shorter joists will need to be mounted to the deck beam on one side and to the leg on the other side. The front joists need to be installed 1 1/2″ from the front of the playhouse. Later in step 16, you will need to attach a fascia board over these joist boards.
Next, space out and install the remaining joist boards about 16″ apart. The back joists will also need to be installed 1 1/2″ from the back of the playhouse.
Step 11 – Install the Deck Boards for the DIY Playhouse for Kids
Now take ten-foot-long 2×6 deck boards and install them across the joist using wood screws. You will need to trim a few deck boards to go around the legs.
Step 12 – Build the Walls for the DIY Playhouse
Now it’s time to build the walls of the playhouse. First, start with the side wall.
The side wall needs to be 10 feet long, so take one 2×4 that is 10 feet in length for the bottom track and two 2x4s for the top track. Then cut eight 2×4 studs to 79 7/8″ in length. Also, cut four boards to 22 1/2″ in length for the window. Assemble the wall as shown in the picture.
Next, build the back wall. The top track will need to be installed at a 12.6-degree angle to follow the roof slope. Follow the dimensions provided in the picture.
Once the walls are assembled, place them on the floor and attach them to the deck boards with wood screws or nails.
Step 13 – Install Roof Beam for the Playhouse
Take 4×4 lumber and cut two pieces to 96″ in length. These 4×4 beam posts will support the roof beam. Then take a 4×6 board and cut it to 120″ in length.
First, attach the back 4×4 post to the back wall and the deck with wood screws. Then place the front 4×4 post making sure that the distance from the wall to the post is the same for both, the back and front posts. Next, place and secure the roof beam to the 4×4 posts. You could use a metal strap or truss mending plates to connect the beam to the post, just like in step 8.
Step 14 – Cut and Install the Roof Trusses
For the roof trusses, use 2×4 lumber. Then attach a 2×6 fascia board at the front and back of the roof trusses.
Take 2×4 and cut nine boards to 96″ in length. Then using the measurement provided in the picture, cut out the notches. The notch needs to be cut at the same angle as the roof slope, which is about 12.6 degrees. You could also position one truss on the beam/top plate and mark the notch. Then use that as a template to mark and cut the remaining notches.
When placing the roof trusses, the lower notch will sit on the top track of the side wall, and the upper notch will sit on the roof beam.
Place the first truss flush with the side wall and roof beam. Then take the 2×6 fascia board and attach it to the truss board as shown in the picture.
Install the remaining trusses about 16″ apart. Keep in mind that you will need to attach plywood on top of the roof, so make sure the trusses land on the plywood edge. Otherwise, you will need to add additional trusses to support the plywood.
Install the back fascia board the same way as the front board.
Step 15 – Attach Roof Plywood and Siding
For the exterior of the wall, you could use different types of siding, depending on your budget. The easiest and probably cheapest way is to use a 4’x8′ sheet of siding panels that could be cut to a specific size. But you could also purchase vinyl siding boards and install them individually.
See the cut list for siding dimensions if you are using siding panels. Once the siding is installed, cut 1×4 trim boards around the windows.
Next, take 3/4″ plywood and install it on the roof using wood screws or nails. Then cover it with roof paper and shingles.
Step 16 – Measure and Cut Boards for Fence Panel
This playhouse has three fence panels. One panel is on the front, one is on the side, and one is on the back.
Before installing the fence, cut two 2×6 fascia boards to 56 1/2″ in length and two 2×6 boards to 53″. Attach these fascia boards to the joist in the front and back of the playhouse as shown in the picture. Then you will be able to attach the fence panel and the stairs to this fascia board.
To build the front fence panel, take 2×4 lumber and cut two rail pieces to 80 1/2″ in length. Then take 2×3 lumber to cut 14 picket boards to 37″ in length. Trim the ends of the picket boards at 45 degrees, as shown in the picture.
Attach the pickets to the rail boards with a 3 1/2″ gap between each picket. Once the fence panel is assembled, then attach it to the front of the playhouse using wood screws.
Now the side and the back fence panels have only one top rail. The pickets at the bottom are attached to the deck beam and the fascia board. Follow the same method as building the front fence for the other two fence panels.
Install the fence as shown in the picture.
Step 17 – Build the Stairs for the DIY Playhouse
Take 2×8 lumber and cut two pieces to 60 3/4″ with a 45-degree miter cut on both ends. Then cut five pieces to 32″ in length for the steps. Next, assemble the steps as shown in the picture. Finally, attach the stairs to the front fascia board with 2 1/2″ wood screws.
Step 18 – Install Monkey Bars (Optional)
This step is optional. If you prefer not to install monkey bars, you could skip this step.
Mark the exact locations and spacing of the monkey bars on the upper beam that was installed earlier. Then secure the bars with bolts or screws. Might need to use screws or bolts depending on the kind of monkey bars you have.
Next, take another 4×6 beam that’s 14 feet long and place it on top of the lower beams right up against the monkey bars. Then secure the bars to this beam.
Drill a 1/2″ hole through the upper and lower beam to secure the monkey bar beam with bolts and nuts.
Step 19 – Attach the Swings to the Beam
Space out the swings equally and attach them to the upper beam. You are done with the DIY Playhouse for Kids.