What kid doesn’t love a treehouse? In fact, most adults love them too! Whether you’ve got boys or girls, a treehouse is an awesome adventure for them, getting them outdoors and playing all sorts of imaginary games, whether it’s a fort or a secret club hideout, a treehouse will bring heaps of fun for years to come.
You can go as elaborate as you want with a treehouse, we’ve certainly seen some amazing treehouses that are good enough to live in, or you can go as simple as you like. You don’t have to plan a torturous two year building project, unless you want to of course! You can keep it simple with just a platform, some rails and a tarp roof. Here are our top tips of things to think about before embarking on your treehouse building adventure.
Have fun and get the kids involved, they’ll love it!
Now, let’s dive in and give you those tips to build an awesome treehouse.
Tip 1 – It’s all about the tree
- Not just any old tree will do, you’ll have to choose carefully. It can’t be too young and it can’t be too old, as it has to provide heaps of support.
- The tree should be sturdy, healthy, and mature. Make sure it’s living and that there are no signs of decay or pesticides killing the tree from the inside or from the roots.
- Make sure it has a strong trunk and deep established roots.
Tip 2 – Before you start
A couple of tips to think about before you dive in:
- Keep the structure as lightweight as possible, which includes stuff like furniture. The heavier it is the more support it needs and might damage the tree.
- When bolting directly to your tree, use fewer, but bigger fasteners.
- Don’t use reclaimed wood, as it’s not as strong as new wood.
- Also, don’t have it too high off the ground, for kids it should be a maximum of 1.5m high.
- Plan your structure on paper first before you start out, allow for a deck and don’t make the treehouse too big for the tree. Make sure that you remember to leave some space for your tree to grow around the treehouse.
Tip 3 – Building a platform
- The platform, which is the foundation for the treehouse is the most important element in building your treehouse. Build it close to the trunk with diagonal bracing for extra strength, if it’s not supported by branches or posts.
- Make sure your platform is level – otherwise you’ll have a completely lopsided treehouse that is will have you rocking and rolling around, which is clearly not a good thing!
- Try not to damage the tree. Rope lashing is better than nails, but you’ve really got to know your knots to make this work. If you don’t, stick to strong galvanised screws. Ungalvanised screws will cause rust and disease.
- When you secure the treehouse, don’t cut the bark all the way round, or constrict it too tightly with rope or wire — this can quickly kill the tree and that means danger. You certainly don’t want your treehouse falling down with the kids in it!
Tip 4 – Building the floors and roofs
- Once your platform is secure, you need to add a floor. You can use exterior plywood sheets or even tongue and groove floorboards. It’s up to you.
- You can build the walls on the ground and lift them up, or you can build them while you’re up there.
- To make building your treehouse a bit easier while perched up there in the tree, you can add the wall finishes on the ground and prefix doors and windows. You can even pre-assemble your roof. But remember if there are branches around that are likely to interfere, it’s probably best to build it up there. You can even make your roof out of tarp if you want it to be simpler. If you’re going with the wooden roof option, you can cover it with external plywood and finish it with roofing felt (tar paper). You can use battens and then finish with materials such as recycled shingles, thatch or palm leaves.
Tip 5 – Building the windows and doors
- Quite frankly you can do what you want when it comes to your treehouse. You don’t need to do exactly as the book says – you can use your imagination and tap into those kids’ imaginations too!
- The important thing when building windows and doors, if you do of course, is to keep them in proportion to the size and design of the treehouse. For safety and lightness, use Perspex or Plexiglas.
Tip 6 – Building the deck and railings
- Nothing beats sitting outside on the deck of a treehouse amongst all those leaves and branches.
- Your deck can be part of the treehouse platform, or it could even just be the platform.
- Your deck needs to be surrounded by safe railings. Although these are functional, you can still let those imaginations run wild. For something different, why not make a giant hammock by attaching a strong rope net to the deck? Spread it with pillows and cushions and just like that you’ve got a great place to relax.
Tip 7 – Building access to your treehouse
- Now that you’ve built your treehouse, you need to give some thought as to how you’ll get up there. A simple wooden or rope ladder is great if the treehouse is quite close to the ground.
- However, steps with handrails are far better for higher treehouses.
- You can even get really creative and build spiral steps around your tree, but of course, this would be part of that long and torturous build as opposed to keeping it simple. It depends how handy you are with all those tools!
- Imagine this – if your treehouse is really quite high (not suitable for younger kids) you could break up the journey with cool platforms, or you might even be able to build a bridge or rope walkway. How awesome would that be?
So, there are our top tips to building an awesome treehouse. As we said, you can keep it as simple or as complicated as you like, go as big as your imagination allows, and of course, don’t forget to have fun and get the kids involved for a great family adventure!