How to build a tree house

Building a tree house for the kids is a great way to spend some quality time together and can even teach (god forbid) the kids some simple woodworking skills. We will cover in this article how to build a basic deck and some sturdy handrails. With tools found in most homeowners stores, this can be done in a few weekends. First select the tree where you want to place the tree house. It doesn’t have to be a huge tree, but it should provide some height and good shade. If you’re lucky enough to have a tree with a good three-way crotch to support a platform, you’re a bit ahead, but not required. The platform of a children’s playhouse should be about six feet off the ground or so. Using pressure-treated lumber, you should form a square platform base around the trunk of the tree. You don’t want to fasten the deck to the tree, as drilling, screwing, and such can damage the tree itself. The platform will float using the tree branches for support.

Most of the time, additional leg supports must be added to adequately support the weight of the platform and children. A good size lumber to use is two-inch by six-inch boards for joists or floor supports. I highly recommend using galvanized wood screws to assemble the flooring, as screws will withstand tree movement and stress much better than nails. Framing the floor is usually not as simple as typical sixteen inch on center frames, as the trunks of the trees will dictate where the floor joists can be placed. By using good framing techniques in the use of headers, hanging hooks, etc., a safe and sturdy floor can be built. Once the flooring is in place, the ladder is next. A prefabricated staircase is the simplest, but a staircase can be built from two by four, some from one by three, and some screws. Turning the two-by-fours on edge, screw a few pieces of one-by-threes on ten-inch centers to the edges of the two-by-fours. These are the steps or rungs. Once this is done, make sure the ladder extends three feet beyond the platform floor for safety. Now install some short pieces vertically in the plane between the horizontal steps. This will help support the steps or rungs. The ladder must be securely tied to the platform to prevent it from tipping over. Do not bolt the ladder to the deck as the deck is constantly moving with the trees. Handrails must be strong enough that a 150 pound side load pushed against them will not break them. Four-by-four-inch lumber makes the best support posts. Install them no more than four feet on center and they should be bolted or bolted to the floor frame.

Make the finished railing at least 34 inches tall. Depending on the age of the children using the tree house, the actual enclosure can be no more than one plus two by four as a midrail or a full frame if there are really young children playing there. A six foot by ten foot deck can also easily accommodate a small house. Instead of cutting the four by four to 34 inches, let them extend up to 48 inches above the deck and they can become two of the house’s corner supports. Some very simple frames and plywood walls anchored by the two corners of the four by four can provide a fort, house, or other great place to hide and play. If you feel inclined and the budget allows. A waterproof roof, some paint, a small door or window, or even a bench or two will give the kids their own space in the tree house to play. A must-have idea today is to place some plastic wood chips at least six inches deep around the tree house and especially at the bottom of the stairs in case of slips or falls.

Peter
Your friendly building inspector

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