How to build a wooden playhouse
Step-by-step advice on assembling a children’s playhouse
There are hours of fun to be had with a playhouse. Children will love playing in their own outdoor den and they can be decorated with bright and cheerful colours to create a truly individual play space.
Follow our step-by-step instructions and we’ll show you how to build a wooden playhouse to be enjoyed for years to come.
We’re building a playhouse that:
- is made from wood (explore our plastic playhouses for an alternative assembly)
- has an apex roof
- features a small, separate veranda
- comes with felt for the roof and all the fixings needed (be sure to check your chosen playhouse before building)
- is built on level timber decking
The following instructions can easily be adapted for more elaborate designs with extra windows or a second floor. Let’s get started…
There are a number of things to consider before building a children's’ playhouse, including:
- planning permission
- selecting the site, and
- preparing the site
Is planning permission required for a wooden playhouse?
Outbuildings, including playhouses, are considered permitted developments by the local planning authority and so don’t require planning permission (subject to limits and conditions). We recommend checking the Planning Portal website for more information on planning permission before you build.
How to select a site for a wooden playhouse
As with all garden buildings, the first decision is where to position your wooden playhouse.
We recommend selecting a site that is:
- firm and level
- in natural sunlight
- not obtrusive to your neighbours’ views
- accessible from all sides for easy maintenance
- as dry as possible and not likely to be affected by possible flooding
- easily viewable from inside your home so that you can always keep an eye on your children
- away from overhanging trees - locating it underneath a tree will put it a risk from falling branches.
And in autumn, you’ll need to clear fallen leaves from it to prevent them rotting and marking the roof.
It’s also important to decide which way the door is going to face.
How to prepare the site for a wooden playhouse
Once you’ve decided on a spot for your playhouse, it’s essential to ensure the ground is prepared before you start building it.
There are a number of options available to provide a safe and secure playhouse base. These include:
- paving or a patio (pictured)
Build on one of these existing surfaces or lay them from scratch.
Paving – We offer a great variety of paving slab options which can be purchased in packs or single slabs. Choose the right one for your playhouse base with our Paving buying guide.
- Concrete – Head to our 'How to build a shed base' article for expert advice on laying a concrete base. The principles and options are the same for a shed and a playhouse, although you may want to add a more decorative finish to the edging and entrance to the playhouse.
- Playhouses should be erected by two adults. especially when fitting the main sections of the playhouse together.
- Make sure all children are at a safe distance away from the playhouse until construction is complete.
- Always wear protective safety gear when necessary.
- Wooden playhouse – check that the kit includes floor, roof felt and fixings
- Timber off-cut – for checking the playhouse’s corners are square
- Wood filler - check it's suitable for exterior use
- Sheet of thin cardboard – to protect the door’s window when fitting the window bars
- Phillips screwdriver
- Combi drill
- 2millimetre (mm) wood drill bit and countersink bit
- Claw hammer
- Club hammer
- Utility knife
- Tape measure
- 1metre (m) metal ruler or length of timber
- Square – also known as a builder's square or rafter square
- Work platform
Assembly instructions will vary from playhouse to playhouse, so always follow any specific manufacturer’s instructions and order of work supplied with the playhouse.
Watch the weather and plan to build the playhouse on a dry day. Ensure there is plenty of space and a clean, dry area for assembly.
Remove any travel blocks. Travel blocks are pieces of timber framing often fixed under the playhouse’s panels to prevent damage during transit. Each panel usually has two blocks.
Use a claw hammer to carefully tap them off.
Lay the panel with the door face upwards on a flat surface. This panel is one of two playhouse gables (panel with triangular-shaped top).
Place the door within the door aperture (opening). Position the door centrally to the door opening ensuring any gap is equal on all four sides.
Place one hinge at the top edge of the door and a second at the bottom edge of it. If your playhouse comes with three hinges, place the third in the middle edge of the door. Mark the positions of these with a pencil.
Remove the hinges and use a 2mm wood drill bit to drill pilot holes into the pencil marked areas. A pilot hole provides a guide hole to help direct the screws and prevent the wood from splitting and cracking.
Use a Phillips screwdriver to screw 30mm screws into the screw holes to fix the hinge to the door and the gable.
Position the playhouse floor on top of your prepared playhouse base.
Lay the floor joists under the playhouse floor, running parallel to the sides of the floor.
Position the outer joists to be flush with the edges of the floor (or as instructed). Position the remaining joists evenly between the two outer ones.
With a pencil, mark the centres of the joists onto the top of the floor – this will give you a drilling guideline.
Check that all of the joists are square to the floor and fix them to the floor using the recommended screws per joist. Pre-drill each one first to create a pilot hole through the floor and halfway into the joist.
Lift the playhouse’s back panel into place, and with the help of an assistant hold it upright.
Lift one of the playhouse’s side panels onto the playhouse floor. Check that this panel doesn’t have a door (the one with the door should be the last panel raised).
Screw the back and side panel together along the framing battens where they meet. To do this, drill three pilot holes – one where the battens meet at the top, one at the bottom and one in the middle.
Remove the drill bit and replace with a countersink bit – this should be depth of the screw’s head. Drill into the pilot holes to create countersunk holes – these ensure the screw heads will be flush with the surface of the timber panel for a neater, cleaner finish.
Remove the countersink bit and screw three 50mm screws into the countersunk holes to secure the two battens together.
Fill any gap around the holes with wood filler and sand smooth.
Repeat Step 5 to fit the other side panel.
Once in place, fit the final panel housing the door. Don’t fix the playhouse frame to the floor just yet - you’ll need to ensure the panels are all square, aligned and fitted together first (unless the provided instructions say otherwise).
Use a square to check that all the corners of the playhouse form true right angles.
If the playhouse isn’t quite square, shift it slightly. Do this by tapping one corner with a club hammer, holding a timber off-cut against the playhouse timbers to avoid damaging them.
Fit the door handle.
From inside the door, drill a pilot hole where the handle will be attached.
With assistance from a helper, hold the handle in place on the outside of the door. From the inside, use a 60mm screw to secure the handle to the door.
Check that the door opens and shuts easily.
Fit the roof support or ridge bar across the top of the playhouse, ensuring the top corners of the bar are flush with each top point.
Drill pilot holes and use the screws provided to fix the bar to each gable end through L-shaped metal brackets (these are included with the playhouse kit). Use four screws per metal bracket.
Lay the roof panels on the ground and place an eaves frame batten under one edge of the long side and fix in place with evenly spaced 30mm screws.
Repeat for both roof panels.
Slide the roof panel up onto the gables to the apex. Secure onto the framing beneath using 40mm screws directly through the roof sheet.
Make sure to attach the roof sheets to the ridge bar, measuring and marking evenly spaced fixing positions as recommended in the instructions.
Repeat this for the other roof panel.
Fit the fascia support block to the front of the playhouse using 30mm screws, making sure it is flush with the outside edge of each roof sheet.
Check again that the playhouse is square on the playhouse floor and base. Shift as necessary.
Screw the sides and gable ends to the floor with 50mm screws. To do this, check the installation guide for the best fixing locations and pre-drill with pilot holes for the best result.
Position the separate veranda floor at the front of the playhouse and secure as instructed. Some verandas are supplied and constructed as part of the assembled floor panel and so will already be fixed into position.
Secure the veranda rails onto the front of the playhouse if required (some verandas are pre-fixed to the main part of the side panels).
Screw the bottom of the rails down into the floor and the tops into the eaves of the playhouse. Drill pilot holes and countersink all the screws so the heads aren’t protruding from the timber. Finish with wood filler and sand as necessary.
Our wooden playhouses are usually supplied with the roof felt tacks and fitting instructions as part of the kit.
Check that the roof boards are completely dry before laying the felt.
Unroll the roofing felt, then measure and cut the required amount of pieces depending on the size of the playhouse roof.
The pieces covering the roof panels should run the full length of the playhouse with a 50mm overhang at either end.
The felt strip needed to cover the gap in the felt should be the same length and overlap at least 75mm over each roof panel.
Lay the first piece of felt over the bottom side of one panel, leaving a 50mm overhang at the eave. Use a claw hammer to nail felt tacks along the top edge about 300mm apart. Fix it down along the gable ends and eave with the felt tacks at 100mm intervals. Repeat on the other side.
Place the top strip of felt over the top of the roof and nail it along each edge at 100mm intervals.
Hold a piece of timber beneath the felt where the gable end felt overhangs the front eave. Cut a straight line from the corner of the roof to the edge of the felt using a utility knife.
Fold the cut flap under and tack the felt down at the corner and along each edge at 100mm intervals.
Position the roof fascia (decorative pieces of wood shaped to fit the apex roof) over the felt on the front and back gable ends. Be sure to sandwich the felt between the fascia boards and the roof.
Pre-drill and then countersink the holes.
Screw the roof fascia in place using the screws provided and finish with wood filler and a smooth sanding.
Finish the fascia by adding any diamond-shaped wood finials provided to the apex of the roof.
Ensure the point at the top of the finial doesn’t protrude above the rooftop (as shown) to be compliant with healthy and safety law (European standard EN71).
Remove the protective film from both sides of the door’s glazing (styrene).
If it doesn’t peel away easily by hand, score gently around the edge of the glazing with a utility knife and peel away. Do so on both sides of the door.
Working from inside the playhouse, place one short piece of beading in the groove at the top of the door’s frame. Push into the top left corner.
Fit a second short piece of beading into the lower groove of the door frame and push into the bottom right corner.
Secure the vertical window bar.
Place a thin piece of cardboard against the window to help avoid any potential scratching as you secure the window bars.
From inside the playhouse, hold the longer window bar in place against the window in a diagonal line. Position the bar centrally and with the recess facing into the playhouse (this ensures a flush, tidier finish on the outside of the playhouse).
Turn the bar in a circular motion until vertical. Slot the top of the bar into the top groove of the window and the bottom of the bar into the lower groove.
Place the remaining beading into the grooves, they should wedge in nicely.
Secure all of the beading to the frame using the recommended screws, in this case the supplied 30mm screws. Screw in two screws - one at each end of the beading - on each piece of beading.
Remove the cardboard.
Place the second window bar horizontally against the first bar to create a cross shape. It should sit neatly in the recess in the centre of the vertical bar.
Drill a small pilot hole 5 to 10 centimetres (cm) deep in the centre of the cross where the two bars overlap. Be careful not to drill too far and into the glazing.
Screw in the recommended size screw (20mm for this playhouse).
Place the window frame cross against the inside of each window. Position the frame centrally to the window and fix using four 20mm screws into the corner of each frame.
Place the doorstop on the inside of the door framing and fix in place with a couple of screws.
Secure the two cover trims to either end of the playhouse side panels at the back of the playhouse.
Pre-drill three pilot holes – one at the top, one at the bottom and one in the middle of the cover trim. Countersink the holes and secure with three 30mm screws per trim. Finish as necessary with wood filler and sanding.
The playhouse is now fully assembled.
Top tips: Ideas for decorating a playhouse
- Evoke a traditional cottage look by painting the door and window frames a different colour from the walls.
- Have fun with camouflage patterns. Mark out and number the sections freehand and encourage the kids to paint by numbers.
- Paint shapes with wall stencils or create your own with cardboard cut-outs.
- Create distinctive paint effects, such as beach hut and ombre, as demonstrated in our video (below).
- Lighten the inside of the playhouse by painting with a white or pale shade – or even add wallpaper, wall stickers or your child’s own artwork for a truly lived-in look.
- Finish outside with bunting, garden party lights, potted plants and a welcome mat.