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Playhouse Deck

May 9, 2010 |
posted by Ana White
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This playhouse deck uses standard 2x6 boards and minimizes scraps. Four feet off the ground, there is just enough clearance underneath to store toys under! Also check out the other options for building this deck in a more economical fashion - depending on the price of lumber in your area.

Playhouse Deck

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Playhouse Deck
Overall Dimensions for the basic platform is shown above. To make the swingset arm, you will need to review the dimensions from the first drawing. Composition is wood boards, painted and sealed for outdoor use. If you are not using the base unit for a sandbox (would make great toy storage!) then I recommend using treated lumber for the 4×4 posts and what would have been the sandbox sides. I was just talking with my husband’s uncle about using wood composite decking instead as it would last much longer, but is much more expensive. One of the factors is to consider the number of years the playhouse will be used, and then choose your lumber accordingly. Paint on boards properly maintained in a dry location could last your kids into college.

Materials and Tools

Shopping List: 

2 – 4×4 Posts 8′ Long (3 if you are using the swingset option)

29 – 2×6 Boards, 8′ Long (8 of these can be stud length 92 5/8″ if stud length is cheaper)
3″ Screws
2″ Screws
Outdoor Paint or Stain

measuring tape
safety glasses
hearing protection
circular saw

Cut List

Cut List: 

4 – 4×4 Posts @ 47″ (OR 2 @ 47″ and 2 @ 96″ for the swingset option)
8 – 2×6 @ 92 1/2″ (Shorter Sides)
4 – 2×6 @ 96″ (Longer Sides)
8 – 2×6 @ 12″ (Diagonal Supports, both ends mitered down 45 degrees)
16 – 2×6 @ 96″ (Deck Boards)

General Instructions

Build at your own risk. Work on a clean level surface. Choose a location that is level and dry to avoid water damage. Check for level after each step. Check for square after each step. Predrill all screw holes. Use necessary safety equipment and precautions.

Step 1

Playhouse Deck

Sides { Part 1 }
Lay the 4×4 posts flat and attach the posts as shown above to the sides. Use 3″ screws. Also note that if you are building the swing arm, ONE of each of the posts on each side will be 96″ long.

Step 2

Playhouse Deck

Sides { Part 2 }
Now attach the remaining sides to the posts and sides as shown above. Use 3″ screws. Level the frame and adjust for square. Trust me, it will be a miracle if it’s square without adjustment.

Step 3

Playhouse Deck

Diagonal Supports
With the box nice and square and level, fasten the diagonal supports to each corner as shown above. This should stiffen up the corners considerably.

Step 4

Playhouse Deck

Mark out all of your joists on the sides, (the long sides) as shown above. Then screw the joists to the sides as shown above. Use 3″ screws.

Step 5

Playhouse Deck

Screw down the 2×6 decking boards to the joists and sides as shown above.

Finishing Instructions

Preparation Instructions: 
Prime and paint with an exterior appropriate paint or stain with sealant.

Happy Mother's Day!

Hope there were lots of hugs and breakfasts in bed, and maybe even a few miter saws and nailers, for the toughest job on earth.  Because even Bering Sea fishermen get big fat paychecks and their seasons end.  Moms, well, we get mother's day.

When asked what I wanted for Mother's Day, I could think of nothing better than a good day of yard work and home improvement.  So we cleared brush, built cabinets, cleaned the yard, and finished the front of our house.  I've got three diffent colors of paint on my hands, but it was well worth it.

This is what our house looked like as of Thursday.  I got snowed on last year as we were painting the front and finishing the siding.

And here's what our house looks like right now.  My Father-in-Law, Tim, stopped by and made some pretty perfect cuts on the siding boards, my husband nailed, and I for once in my life, watched.  And took pictures.  I didn't miss climbing scaffolding that day.

But then someone has to paint.  So I got my turn on the scaffolding.

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I hear ya on the diy/ddiy

I hear ya on the diy/ddiy conundrum. In the past 10 years I had did it myself all most anything. I made soap (the real stuff you need lye for), sewed a hill of diapers, even delivered my baby all by myself. I just wanted to say ditto that and thank you.

posted by Aubergine (not verified) | on Sun, 2010-05-09 23:14

I like this one. We just

I like this one. We just bought a new house with a bigger back yard and with a 2 year old little girl these plans will come in handy very soon!

posted by Dturp (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 00:46

You never cease to amaze me

You never cease to amaze me Ana. Great ideas and rant about both the playhouse and food!

posted by Virginie (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 01:40

This is going to be great!

This is going to be great! Can't wait until we move into a house with our own yard so I can build it!

I totally agree on the DIY thing. I try my hardest to do everything myself, people always think I'm a little odd because of that but it was the way I was raised - Build, re-use, recycle.

posted by satakieli (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 03:14

Decided to go the DIY route

Decided to go the DIY route for my new studio floor. I needed a sprung floor and found out that it was going to cost me $13k from a flooring company!!!! I don't have that money, so husband and I are building it ourselves for under $2k. It is truly back breaking work, and I can see why people don't DIY, they can't be bothered or take the time. And my body really hurts. But it feels so good to have built it myself and saved so much money.

posted by Brandan (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 04:23

thank you so much for drawing

thank you so much for drawing this up. I agree with you on the DIY. Our issue has been that my husband has had 2 back surgeries in 3 years so it limits what large projects we can tackle, and my issue has been not having the right tools to do things. But craigslist is becoming our friend in the tool department!
Our little girl will LOVE this playset.

posted by Their Mommy His Wife (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 04:38

I literally spent hours

I literally spent hours looking for a plan like this just Saturday and I was starting to wonder how hard it would be to do myself. So THANK YOU!! We're moving to Las Vegas in June and I'm guessing it will be a little hot for outdoor project for a while (I currently live in North Dakota and we're lucky if it's not snowing in May) but come fall I'm definitely building this playhouse!!!!

posted by Keyes (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 05:09

I had to tell you that I am a

I had to tell you that I am a new follower and think your blog is the greatest. Thank you for all the hard work you put into these plans for us! I have many things book marked for the hubby to build when he gets time!!!

posted by Bonnie (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 05:10

I love this! I recently made

I love this! I recently made up plans of my own to build an outdoor playhouse/swingset, but I opted out of it because it was still going to cost me like $600 if I made it from cedar or redwood. We opted to buy a small metal swingset in the meantime, but when we decide we have the money to invest in a project like this, I will definitely be building it!

posted by Kate Bailey (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 05:13

This is great! My husband is

This is great! My husband is in the process of building a huge playset in the backyard. He's never built anything before and we've been having a great time doing it together. We may try to incorporate this in our current design.

posted by Foote Family (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 05:40

Woo Hoo!!!! I am

Woo Hoo!!!! I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited that you decided to build this! Can't get any better, I've been hoping you'd do a kid's playhouse, because my yard is too small for a big playset. Now I just have to talk my father-in-law into helping!

posted by Kelley (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 06:01

I'm thinking of modifying

I'm thinking of modifying this to put it in my basement playroom with the cube shelves underneath. Could I do the 2x4 supports on the bottom on just 3 sides instead of 4 so they aren't tripping going under all of the time?

posted by Angelfacebaby (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 06:06

Ok now I'm completely bummed

Ok now I'm completely bummed out, my house came with a perfectly nice playhouse and swing set. It's not as big as this one, but it's already there. I never thought i'd wish it wasn't, but I'd love to build this.

posted by Lu (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 06:11

The joy that this brings me

The joy that this brings me and will bring my children is immeasurable. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

posted by Melissa (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 06:27

Pugs need a playhouse, don't

Pugs need a playhouse, don't they? I think I may just build them THIS one and keep it on the ground. Ginger is getting old and doesn't navigate well. I think they'd have a blast! Or, maybe I can use these plans for my chicken house. I'm getting 4 or 5 chicks in a week and, of course, they'll need appropriate accommodations, in pink!

posted by Leslie (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 06:42

We just bought a

We just bought a playhouse/swingset about 2 weeks ago for a lot more than this would cost! Too bad for us!

posted by Celia Marie (W.) B. (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 06:44

fiber removed flour indeed! i

fiber removed flour indeed! i love it and second everything you said!

posted by cynthia (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 06:50

YIPPEE!!!! {{{twirls}}} We

YIPPEE!!!! {{{twirls}}} We disassembled our cheap crappy fort/swingset last fall when it started falling apart (after a hurricane) and my girls have been BEGGING for a new one. I told them we would start working on one "soon." Soon has come and gone, so I decided this weekend to build a new picnic table (thanks to you!) and start on plans for a new playhouse. I am so PUMPED you posted this!!! It is going to be a great weekend! THANK YOU FOR BEING SO AWESOME!!!

posted by ~October~ (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 07:08

you read my mind, thanks!

you read my mind, thanks!

posted by ALS (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 07:08

So funny, we have been

So funny, we have been looking for plans for a playset for about a month and my hubby had about succumbed to just buying a DDIY set. Thanks to you my kids are going to get a playset of their dreams!! Thank YOU!

posted by Sabrina (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 07:19

OH...MY...GOSH!!!!! I'm am

OH...MY...GOSH!!!!! I'm am SO building this in my backyard. I seriously have a huge old list of things to build but this might just top that list.

posted by Ellie Cutler (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 08:16

This comes at a perfect time.

This comes at a perfect time. We just got a free wood swing set for our daughter thanks to a family friend who was moving and couldn't bring it with them. It's kind of lame (but I can't complain it was free)

I seriously have been thinking of ways to make it cooler and I think you just did it for me so thank you!

We have the slide/swings/ladder/ and monkey bars (which is where the swings are hung from) so with a few easy(I think) changes I think we can incorporate your plans and what we already have.


posted by Kristin (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 08:52

This is perfect. Yesterday we

This is perfect. Yesterday we were looking for playhouses for the kids. Our yard is small and I don't think it will accommodate a swingset. This is perfect for us! However, I'm worried about the "keeping it dry" part. We live in the pacific northwest. It is always wet. What can I do to treat/modify it?

posted by The Blog (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 09:24

We built something pretty

We built something pretty similar to this in our backyard. I would recommend a X cross brace support across one side of the post four posts, under the slide would be good. This will really help stop any side to side movement when kids are up top playing. Ours is concreted down and it still swayed just a little until we added the extra brace.

posted by AnimalCracker (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 09:56

Oh WOW!! My husband is a full

Oh WOW!! My husband is a full time student and we live in a small townhouse right now, but as soon as we have our own home, I am going to put this in..probably before we even get unpacked! My kids will LOVE this. I was just looking at some the other day and dreaming! THANKYOU THANKYOU!!

posted by Ashlee (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 10:05

Thought I would share. We

Thought I would share. We bought safety handle bars, monkey bars, telescope, steering wheel, and an open spiral slide from playsetparts.com I was able to get a reduction on price for some items because of the cost for shipping of the slide. If you are just getting small stuff the prices and shipping are pretty good. None of the Orange/Blue stores carry any "fun" slides and we were really confined on space so I couldn't get a straight slide. I find the spiral is a bit safer for smaller kids as well.

posted by AnimalCracker (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 12:08

My husband made this one. my

My husband made this one. my kids love it, we love it and has an attached swing set. Let me know if you want pictures.

We've even had the neighbors ask for the plans they like it so well. :(

posted by John & Melanie (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 12:12

Ana, I don't know you, but I

Ana, I don't know you, but I love you! I've been looking for a playhouse exactly like this one and found plans for one online for only $10 and I almost bought it. Boy am I glad I didn't! I have built many things of yours already and still have a long to do list, but this has taken priority over them all. Thank you so much for all you do! You are truly amazing.

posted by Angie (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 12:54

I'm so happy you posted this!

I'm so happy you posted this! We don't have the money to buy a nice playhouse already made, so this is going to be a real treat for our kids!

posted by Melissa (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 18:43

Oh, wow, I have been wanting

Oh, wow, I have been wanting to build a playhouse for my 2 girls for so long! I can't wait to get started, thanks Ana!!

posted by So Bella (not verified) | on Mon, 2010-05-10 19:48

I can't wait to build this!

I can't wait to build this! I emailed the link to my hubby right away, and he said he'd love to help me build it!

Thank you - looks great!

posted by Erica (not verified) | on Tue, 2010-05-11 05:00

So how much did it cost to

So how much did it cost to build this? I have been wanting one for the kiddos and just can't p ull the trigger.

posted by The Crandalls (not verified) | on Tue, 2010-05-11 09:07

AWESOME!When you get to the


When you get to the part where you post plans for the house part itself, could you also include an alternate for just the house on the ground? Our HOA won't let us have one that sticks up above the wall line, but I'd love to try to build just the house, without the sandbox and slide under it.


posted by Crystal (not verified) | on Tue, 2010-05-11 12:10

We started getting a place

We started getting a place ready in the yard today so we can start making this play house. My daughter and her best friend are very excited. Our neighbors tree is too close to our fence so we have a lot of roots to cut out but it's going to be worth it. Ana I Love ALL your ideas!!

posted by Tina (not verified) | on Tue, 2010-05-11 19:02

I am definitely going to

I am definitely going to second the cross brace idea. Also, notice how the boards are connected on the one you linked - big bolts or lag screws. You don't want the weight of that house plus your kids and their friends shuffling around on this base - the structure will flex, and those tiny wood screws won't hold forever. If you don't want the cross braces, then I would sink the legs a foot into the ground and pour concrete to keep it steady.

posted by Jon (not verified) | on Thu, 2010-05-13 07:41

what kind of wood would be

what kind of wood would be best for the posts (sorry if you already answered this in the comments...i read most and didn't see them but a two year old was jumping on my lap so bear with me!! I know cedar is recommended but that really jacks up the price!! Can standard wood be used and just water sealed or treated? I'd love to make this!! Also, do you have any idea on the price yours will be after its all said and done?

posted by Kandace (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-05-19 07:37

As far as lumber goes, here's

As far as lumber goes, here's a few things to consider. I plan on using shingles for the top (because I want the playhouse to be dry, so that Grace can leave books and toys in there and they do not get destroyed) so a large portion of the deck will be covered. This will help keep your boards dry.

I would not use treated lumber, as it gives off fumes and your children will be playing on the surface.

If you can afford to place the playhouse on a dry surface that drains water, like gravel or concrete, that would help out considerably. You could also dig holes, place concrete blocks in the holes, extend your 4x4s from the holes, and back fill with gravel, and that would keep the ends of the 4x4s from rotting.

Here's the deal on paint. If you are painting cedar or painting pine, you have to repaint every few years because the paint begins to fade/chip. So as long as your boards are kept up and the seal is maintained, I don't see a difference in what type of wood you use. The main thing is you want to protect the wood that is not paintable (the bottoms of the foundation).

posted by Ana White (not verified) | on Wed, 2010-05-19 08:46

I LOVE your site. You plans

I LOVE your site. You plans and ideas are astounding.
I have a question though. Could you make a plan with measurements for one of these? http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_2MftbryoHd0/Sq-Qwe0q9-I/AAAAAAAADWY/uWoT7SskeH...

This was a picture taken at the botanic garden in DC and I want to make it but I am afraid that without measurements I will just waste wood, time & money.

posted by KT (not verified) | on Thu, 2010-05-20 08:03

Did you post the swing set

Did you post the swing set portion of this yet? We are anxious to get building, but would like to see it all before I get started :)

posted by kadee (not verified) | on Fri, 2010-05-21 04:09

ahh, makes sense! Thanks for

ahh, makes sense! Thanks for your reply. I'm thinking after we do some much more minor building projects and see how they go I'm going to show this to my husband. We want a playset SO badly for our boys but everything that isn't just RINKY is so overpriced for what it is!!
So basically do what you'd do for a wooden fence post, dig and concrete or gravel.

posted by Kandace (not verified) | on Fri, 2010-05-21 09:52

Love your site, it's on my

Love your site, it's on my blog list, and I just downloaded both of Jen's albums! Thanks for the side bennie of new music.

posted by Carolyn (not verified) | on Tue, 2010-06-08 18:33

We have completed the bottom

We have completed the bottom section of the playhouse. We used bolts on each side of the 4x4 because we thought that was a lot of weight for screws to hold. We also wanted a flat floor and save money. So we used a double layer of particle board and used contractor glue inbetween. There will still be a deck in the front of the house. I painted the particle boards but as soon as the house goes up I will put cheap flooring down. We hope to have the walls built today. Thank you Ana!!

posted by Tina (not verified) | on Sat, 2010-07-10 07:37

Thanks for the plans. We are

Thanks for the plans. We are not usually a DIY family, but we are trying to become one.

If I was going to expand the deck to 12x12 instead of 8x8, would I need additional posts or larger beams? Or can I just follow these plans exactly with longer 2x6s?

posted by kori (not verified) | on Sun, 2010-07-18 09:38

Hi Kori, if you are expanding

Hi Kori, if you are expanding your deck to 12x12, you should probably check your floor joist span recommendations for your area (depends on snow load, etc) and increase the board width for the supports. The 4x4 posts should be fine as long as the deck remains at 4', and the decking is fine too. Good luck with your project! Ana

posted by Ana White (not verified) | on Sun, 2010-07-18 19:52

Hi Ana. Just wanted to let

Hi Ana. Just wanted to let you know that I just finished the platform part of this project and it cost a little more than $300, even using the stud length 2 x 6's. 2 x4's would have been even more! I guess living in rural Kansas just makes everything more expensive. Wish we had a cheaper option, but all in all, it's not too bad.

posted by Melissa S. (not verified) | on Mon, 2011-02-21 09:11
emmarosemc's picture

This could work pretty good

This could work pretty good as a chicken coop with a little modding too!

posted by emmarosemc | on Fri, 2011-06-17 10:44

Rail, and rock climb wall

Do you know what the specs were for your rail and your rock climbing wall?

posted by Amanda74075 (not verified) | on Fri, 2011-06-17 15:47

railing and slide

I am looking for direction on how to make the railings, stairs and slide opening and cannot find it. I have slowly found all the postings to make the entire playhouse (it took forever to find the front wall - I thought we were going to have a 3 walled house!) We would like to build this in steps because our girls are 1 and <1. Also I saw you said not to use treated wood because it gives off fumes but I didnt see what you recommended using... just regular untreated or something different? (the guys at the big orange store said we should use treated wood) Buying supplies tonight so any direction would be great!

posted by Ashley W (not verified) | on Thu, 2012-08-30 15:38

really want to make a taller platform. Would it be safe?

Love this plan, and it's finally Cool enough in Texas to build this. My kid is older, and I would like to make the platform and posts taller. If I made the whole thing 2 feet taller, what would I need to modify to keep it safe?

Thanks for your site. We love to peruse the ideas, and am loving news of your book and tour.

posted by ginnytheotherone (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-11-21 00:36

Making it taller?

You would need a railing, just like a second story deck.

posted by Anonymous Coward (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-11-21 04:49


I have made the deck but not sure how to add railings as there is no post. How can I add a post to the deck so the rails will be sturdy? Any info is appreciated.

By the way I am now addicted to dyi projects all because you make it so easy for us to follow. Thank you very very much for this.

posted by Vina | on Wed, 2013-05-08 21:53

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