Fruitful Insights | Paul's Playhouse Blog
How to Build an Outdoor Loft Playhouse | Free Step-by-step Plan May 16, 2017 16:57
Before beginning, make sure to read over the entire plan to get a feel for the project and add up all the materials that will be needed. If you have any questions, feel free to send off an email. Don't forget to reference the below points before and during the build too. Happy play housing!
Before you swing that hammer:
- Many hardware stores offer a lumber delivery service and a bulk purchase discount, which we encourage you to take full advantage of to save time, money and hassle. Paint, hardware, roofing materials and other accessories can also be bought at this time.
- If the project will not be on ground posts, the structure should be built on a flat, level grade that is slightly larger than the footprint's dimensions. Regrading may be necessary to achieve level ground. This area should also be at least 6' from any other structure or obstacle.
- For the structure's foundation, 4x4s, concrete blocks or anchored ground posts with beams can be used to keep the project level and off the ground. Building the structure on an island deck of equal size is the most secure and the method we recommend.
- When building, make sure the framing is square. You can achieve this by cross measuring the corners, checking to see if they're equal, or the 3,4,5 rule can be used as well.
- For screwing or nailing the framing together, use two screws/nails to connect 2x4s together, three screws/nails for 2x6s, etc. When attaching 5/4” decking material, use two, 2” decking screws 3/4” away from the edges to attach them to framing. Use two ½” carriage bolts to attach any 4x4 posts to a joist. Toe screwing may also be needed to attach some joints together. Use our How to Framing page for a more detailed and comprehensive set of framing instructions.
- Be advised that if an exact 8', 10', 12' or 16' piece is required, you may still need to cut it as they can vary in length by up to an inch.
Cross bracing with wood or cable can be used to help stiffen up a platform and prevent it from wobbling.
- Make sure to paint or stain all the exterior lumber to keep it safe from the rain and other elements. All exterior framing and decking material should be pressure treated or intended for the outdoors.
- Spreading mulch and having distinguished walks can help reduce trip and fall injuries.
- Be sure to also read over the United States CPSC's Outdoor Home Playground Safety Handbook. This short publication goes over important safety factors when it comes to a variety of topics regarding backyard play structures.
- Don't forget to also look at the FAQ page.
Building the Free Loft Playhouse
Step 1: Building the Floor
From (4) 2x4x12s, cut and assemble the eight pieces as depicted in the below illustration.
Step 2: Cover the Floor
From (2) sheets of plywood, cut and install the two pieces to the top of the joists as depicted in the below illustration.
Step 3: Walls
From (8) 2x4x12s and (1) 2x4x8, build two of the wall shown in the below illustration.
From (3) 2x4x12s and (1) 2x4x10, build the wall shown in the below illustration.
From (3) 2x4x12s, build the wall shown in the below illustration.
Install these four walls to the platform as depicted below. From (2) 2x4x12s, cut and install the four top plate pieces as shown.
Step 4: Siding Pt 1
From (3) sheets of plywood, cut and install the four pieces to the left and right walls as shown in the below illustration. Cut the window openings out after with a hand saw or reciprocating saw.
Step 5: Framing the Loft
From (1) 2x4x12, (1) 2x4x10 and (1) 2x4x8, cut and build the unit shown in the below illustration. From (1) sheet of plywood, cover this unit.
Step 6: Loft Rail
From (1) 2x4x412, cut and assemble the four pieces as depicted in the below illustration. Install this unit as shown in the 2nd below illustration.
Step 7: Loft Ladder
From (1) 2x4x10, cut two of the piece shown in the below illustration. From (1) 2x4x10, cut six 1' 6" pieces. Assemble these eight total pieces into the unit shown in the 2nd below illustration. Install this ladder as shown in the 3rd below illustration. Install the entire loft assembly inside the playhouse as shown in the 4th below illustration.
Step 8: Rafters
From (6) 2x4x12s, cut twelve of the piece shown in the below illustration. From (1) 2x6x8, cut a 6' piece. Install all of these pieces to the top of the playhouse as shown in the 2nd below illustration.
Step 9: Framing the Gable Window
From (2) 2x4x10s, build two of the unit shown in the below illustration. Install these two units inside of the gables as depicted in the 2nd below illustration.
Step 10: Siding Pt 2
From (3) sheets of plywood, cover the front and back walls as depicted in the below illustration. Cut the door and window openings out after.
Step 11: Roof Sheeting
From (3) sheets of plywood, cover the roof as depicted below.
Step 12: Front Door
From (2) 1x4x8s, (1) 2x4x12, excess plywood and door hardware, build and install the door and trim work as depicted in the below illustrations.
Step 13: Windows
(3) 18" x 27" shed windows and (2) 14" octagonal windows will be required. Use (4) 1x4x10s to trim out the windows. See the below illustrations for details.
If you do decide to build the Free Loft Playhouse, don't forget to shoot us a finished picture, and make sure to check out our accessory page to furnish your new project!
Top 10 Boy's Play-set Plans April 23, 2017 09:04
Boys are dirty, smelly and all around quite a noisy bunch. We like to play rough and have no qualms or remorse about smashing things together. As a collective, we love cars, trucks, trains, plains and anything that shoots lasers and goes boom! It would only be appropriate that there would be a sweet collection of outdoor play-set designs parents could build for their wild offspring. With Paulsplayhouses.com, that collection is here. I've hand picked my top 10 favorite boy's play-set blueprints you can download and start building today! No matter which one you ultimately go with, you'll be sure to build something awesome!
Don't forget to also check out the top 10 list of girl's playhouse plans too!
# 10: Strapping Steamroller Play-set
If you're looking for your son to find a way to constructively get that destructive appetite out of the system, look no further than the Strapping Steamroller play-set. By their very nature, steamrollers are designed to make anything they go over totally and completely two dimensional. This one is special because the two rollers can be crawled through as well! Along with the cab, you'll also find head lights and exhaust stacks to add to the realism. A pretty easy build as well, cooking up this machine for that little guy is sure to be a blast! Be sure to check out all of our construction vehicle designs while you're at it!
# 9: Huey Helicopter Play-set
Part of the Air & Space play-set collection, the Huey Helicopter play-set was made to be a real crowd pleaser! Covering over 50 square feet of play space, this wooden Huey is just a plain cool concept. Includes everything a helicopter should have, such as a tail rotor, landing gear, engine and a mean attitude, minus the huge ding to your wallet. Allow that special little guy to really engage that imagination and soar away!
# 8: Farm Tractor Play-set
Out in the country, tractors are as common as taxisin the city. It would only make sense that a young man would be getting their first tractor at some point. Enter the Farm Tractor play-set. Coming in two parts, with the tractor being in the front and the trailer in the back, this build has proven to be quite popular! The tractor stands at 8 ½ feet tall and features two levels with a front and rear entrance below and a rear and side entrance up top. The trailer is also quite versatile and comes with a bench and small ship ladder for a sweet side exit. Also throw in some cool details like two 4' wheels, light bar and exhaust stack for even more of a cool factor. It won't just be country boys who'll get a kick out of this plan!
# 7: First Rescue Fire Truck Play-set
There are few guys I know who didn't think fire trucks were the cat's pajamas when they were little. Even now, with all the cool new electronics and pipes and hoses, they have a real steam punk theme going on. Either way, a well crafted fire truck play-set is a must on this list, and the First Rescue Fire Truck fulfills that need nicely. This baby really has it all when it comes to details. Sports two levels so kids can run along the extension ladder up top, as well as two front sears, six wheels, lights, mirrors and a water cannon! All wrapped up in a 16' long, 130 square foot package. Almost as good as the real thing!
# 6: Rippin' Rocket ship Play-set
It's not rocket science, but don't tell that to the kid. The Rippin Rocket ship is a 3 level, 20' tall epic play-set that is sure to set the bar quite high when it comes to backyard playtime! Inside, you'll find two trap doors leading to the 2nd and 3rd levels, as well as a 2nd floor slide escape that's sure to com in handy in case of meeting an unfriendly E.T.'s tractor beam. Four fins not only add style, but also help stabilize the ship as well. Hopefully this rocket ship will hold the little guy over for the day we're all flying one of these things in the mean time. Artificial gravity not included.
# 5: Big Rig Play-set
Long hauls, short hauls, no hauls, it doesn't really matter. Whether you got a big payload that's on a tight deadline or your broken down at the truck stop, you can rest assured that you'll have the biggest and meanest truck on the road. The Big Rig play-set really puts you child's woodworking project into high gear! A two part plan, the first pertains to the wicket cool tractor trailer, which comes with two seats, duel air intakes, exhaust stacks, six wheels and an engine compartment that you can crawl into and escape out the front, under the grill. A few steps toward the back, and you'll enter the two level trailer with an inside and outside ladder to get to the top, as well as a place for a fireman's pole and slide. All at a total of 200 square feet, this is one ultimate, truck lover's play-set project!
# 4: Edward Thatch Pirate Ship
# 3: Mega Mech Play-set
This was a wild concept that I just had to make a reality. Being a little geeky, I thought the idea of giant robots duking it out was what future people would be doing for kicks because, robots, fighting, is totally awesome. Evidently that idea is still buried deep in my cerebrum and apparently propagated itself into what is before you here. If you have a bit a nerd streak and some carpentry experience under your belt, you would be the coolest dad, hands down, if you were to complete this thing. A proof of concept, the Mega Mech play-set is custom made to rule any backyard.
# 2: Little Willie Tank Play-set
In today's age of being politically correct, a tank themed play-set is a complete non sequitur, something that is looked down upon and despised. To that I say, pish posh, let the boys be boys and have some fun! The Little Willie design is based upon the old WWI tanks and is a magnificent weapon of extreme playtime. Features two levels with trap door access and treads that you can actually crawl through! Let's just say you won't be need a class C license when this thing shows up in the backyard.
# 1: Monster Truck Play-set
Top 10 Girl's Playhouse Plans April 22, 2017 15:29
For anyone boy that has grown up with a sister, you'll discover early on that their tastes in toys, activities and entertainment can be slightly disproportionate to yours. While you are racing and crashing your matchbox collection, she'll take those same cars and make them have a pleasant conversation and possible tea party. Or while you're playing war with your G.I. Joe, she'll make them try on Barbie's dresses. I certainly played my part in incommensurate play time as well. I couldn't tell you the number of times I caused an abrupt and devastating earthquake upon my sister's doll house when playing the part of the sober husband doll lost it's luster.
While there certainly are exceptions, boys and girls have differing tastes in quite a variety of ideas and tastes. Here at Paulsplayhouses.com, we try not just to meet, but surpass the needs of any child when it comes to playtime. While all our playhouse designs can be enjoyed by any child, some are certainly more catered toward the princess and dress up type of young ladies. The ten plans below are all handpicked from a list of almost 100 blueprints, and are sure to put a smile on any girl's face. Enjoy, and build something amazing!
Don't forget to check out the top 10 list of Boy's play-set plans as well!
You don't have to go crazy to prove that she's your little angel. The Pink Playhouse plan isn't terribly complex, but if you don't have too much yard space and want to keep it simple, you can't go wrong by going pink. Featuring a slopping roof and an alluring, mini-front porch and seven windows, the Pink Playhouse is a great choice for girls aged 3-7. Really an easy design that she'll rememberer for a long time.
# 5: King Author's Castle
The next step up from the Indoor Castle, King Author's Castle plan looks like it came right out of your child's favorite fairytale. This two level fort features a trap door, battlements, rock climbing wall and defense tower encase of an big brother invasion. Also, in the event that more space is needed, there are three other larger castle designs that can also be downloaded to insure a mighty victory against any foe or sibling!
# 4: Chesapeake Lighthouse
If you and your daughter are looking for something genuinely unique, than look no further than the Chesapeake Lighthouse plan. The big brother to the little lighthouse, here you'll find a more challenging build, but also one that is quite timeless and certainly memorable. Features three levels with the peak of the room reaching 18 feet off the ground. An excellent view from the top is guaranteed! 140 total square feet also allows other siblings and friends to enjoy the vista at the same time. Positively a momentous venture for the whole family.
# 3: Simple Suburbia
One of our most favorite concepts, the Simple Suburbia plan isn't very big or overly complex, but it's just perspiring with charter and it's quaint appearance is full of charm. A small front dormer and rear bay window setup are a few of the cool details you'll receive in this package. A choice pick when the yard area and budget aren't as grand as the good feelings you're striving for. Great for those even with a smaller lot, it's a real winner in our books! Expect big grins all around with this one.
# 1: The Wishful Wendy
Propped up on a skirted deck, the Wishful Wendy has two levels, with a U shaped, wrap around porch on the 1st floor and a front, overhanging balcony on the 2nd. A picket railing in combination with a hip roof and wavy fascia molding add to the artistry. At 280 square feet, it isn't the largest plan we offer, but it is a great compromise between having a more manageable project and still having enough space for young family and friends to feel quite welcome inside as well. Without doubt, the Wishful Wendy is the most ideal girl's playhouse out there.
Bonus: Play Furniture Plan
How to Build an Island Deck March 20, 2017 09:08
So the season has come. Spring is in the air and you're now ready to make good on that playhouse you promised to build for the kids. You take a look over your backyard and evaluate your options.
For most properties, an island platform to support their playhouse isn't necessary. A few cinder blocks or layer of mulch or gravel is enough to level out the grade. However, if you're planning on building on a steep grade or just want an elevated deck for your kid's house, a island deck is the ticket. The steps below are for a 12' x 12', but the same principles can be applied to any sized deck. A PDF plan of the below steps can also be downloaded.
Tools & Lumber that will be needed:
Drill &/or Impact Driver
Jig Saw (optional)
Miter Saw (optional)
Chalk Line (optional)
( 25 ) 5/4” x 6” x 12'
( 6 ) 2” x 4” x 12'
( 6 ) 2” x 6” x 12'
( 12 ) 2” x 8” x 12'
( 2 ) 2” x 10” x 16'
Posts & Balusters
( 10 ) 4” x 4” x 8'
( 72 ) 2” x 2” x 36”
Constructing the Island Platform
Step 1: Digging holes
Four holes will need to be dug. No matter the angle of the grade, the center of the holes should always match the bird's eye view of the left illustration. Check what the frost line is in your area and dig down accordingly. The holes should be approximately 12” in diameter.
Step 2: Installing the Posts
Unless you have a severe ground slope or want your platform to be higher, an 8' 4x4 should be adequate for a single post. Place each 4x4 in the four holes and plumb them with a level and two furring strips.
After the post has been secured, fill the remainder of the hole with concrete, as depicted in the left illustration. Repeat this four all four holes, as shown below.
Step 3: Notching the posts
After the concrete has dried, the notches for the beams can be made in the posts. Use a water level to mark the bottom of where the notch will begin for all four of the posts. Once all four of the posts have been marked, make the 1 ½” by 9 ½” notch in each post as depicted in the left illustration.
Step 4: Beams
From (2) 2x10x16s, cut two 13' pieces. Install these pieces to the posts as depicted below. Be sure to have matching cross measurements to maintain squareness.
Step 5: Joists
From (12) 2x8x12s, cut ten 11' 9” pieces and two at 12'. Assemble these pieces together as depicted in the left illustration. Maintain a 16” on center joist layout. Be sure to have matching cross measurements to maintain squareness.
Step 6: Decking
From (25) 12' decking boards, cover the joists as depicted in the below illustration. Space the decking boards apart by ¼”.
Step 7: Entry Ladder
From (1) 2x6x12, build the ladder shown below. Note that the ladder stringers will need to be shortened or lengthened depending on the final height of your deck.
Step 8: Railing Posts
From (6) 4x4x8s, cut twelve of the piece shown in the left illustration. Install these twelve posts to the platform as depicted below.
Step 9: Rails
From (6) 2x4x12s, cut and install the six pieces as shown in the left and below illustrations.
Step 10: Balusters
From (72) 2x2x36” balusters, cut seventy two 32” pieces. Install these balusters to the rails as depicted in the left illustration. Install these balusters 5” on center.
Backyard Play-set Construction Vehicle Plans March 14, 2017 20:58
I distinctly remember when I was little, my parents had a little plot of the backyard devoted to me and my Tonka construction vehicle toys. I used to spend hours digging, plowing, excavating and moving dirt back and forth between the front load, to the backhoe and into the mining-grade dump truck. I later realized this maneuver was done by my parents to keep me from totally uprooting the entire yard, but in that one space, my trucks and I were king.
With these three backyard, construction vehicle plans, those little toys get blown up to life sized proportions! Why settle for a standard swing set you can purchase from a big box store when, with a little woodworking magic, you'll have not only something totally different than the rest, but make a child's dream a tangible reality.
The dump truck, bulldozer and steamroller plans all have neat little details that really make a pop when you seem them. Exhaust stacks, lights, ladders and wheels you can crawl though all make up the groundwork of engaging play. All part of the total vehicle collection here at Paul's Playhouses, having fun is what we're about!
Similar to the monster truck, this design was inspired by the huge, ultra class haul trucks used by mining operators to carry up to 400 tons of ore in one go. Many of them had several ladders bolted right to the front grill, and tires that stood 13 feet tall. Needless to say, these are pretty serious construction vehicles, and it now can be right in your backyard!
Despite now being 13', the tires on this play-set still reaches a honorable mention of 6'. 250 square feet of play space is stretched over 2 levels of the cab, dump bed and 1st level bowels. Up front is the driver's cab with their own seat and a wrap around balcony. Exit the back door to enter into the dump bed and proceed to the rear slide or down the trap door to the 1st floor. There are six ways to enter and exit the dump truck, including three ladders and the back slide.
No detail has been overlooked too! Not only are there four huge wheels, but the top of the play-set has a light bar and the dump bed has the pattern of similar trucks in it's class. All together, the Construction Dump Truck Play-set Plan stands head and shoulders over the rest and makes for one rocking and plowing project for the ages!
I have yet to meet a boy who wouldn't like the idea of a life-sized bulldozer all to themselves. I would have been totally beside myself for a week straight if my younger self had something life this, which is why I absolutely had to design it and provide the blueprints to anyone who would be willing to tackle it! With 250 square feet of play space, there should be enough room to work that sense of demolition out of the system.
The first thing most people see with the Big & Burly is the enormous front blade, ready to push dirt, rocks or anything else that dares get in it's way. Ready to back that up are a set of 16' treads that can be accessed and crawled though on the 1st floor. Making your way up the interior ladder and through the trap door, you'll enter the driver's compartment where you'll get a good look at all the destruction committed. Other cool details include a top light bar, transparent front grill and exhaust stack. Truly not a backyard play-set for the faint at heart.
Who doesn't love something that's soul purpose is to make things flat as a pancake? The Strapping Steamroller Play-set Plan is here to full that fascination of the journey to the 2nd dimension. Perhaps, next to the anvil and assortment of Acme products, the steamroller made quite a few appearances in my favorite Saturday morning cartoons. Whatever your association way be, steamrollers make for great play-sets!
A little smaller and similar than the previous two designs, the Strapping Steamroller still has it's rightful place in captivating residential playground equipment. Just like the bulldozer, both of the rollers can be crawled though, and two step ladders on either side lead to the central cab with enough room for two steering wheels, helping to avoid potential sibling quarrels.
This play-set isn't without little details as well. Duel exhaust stacks, top light bar, front grill and headlights make up the neat ascetics for added realism. 60 square feet make up the total play area. Download the plans and start building today!
Bonus: Track Loader Swing set
I couldn't end this article without mentioning AllWebDiscounts.com's Track Loader Swing set. If building your own construction vehicle doesn't quite seem too feasible to you, but you still wanted something cool, I highly recommend you look into this unique swing set. Pictures of this design are all over Pinterest and Google for very good reason. The attention to detail is amazing, and I absolutely love the overhanging bucket and tread work!
Don't forget to also check out our handpicked Top 10 Boys Play-set Plans for other cool designs you can download!
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