The summer holidays may be coming to an end, but there’s no reason to end the fun! Encourage your kids to get outdoors with their very own treehouse – which you’ll be assembling, thanks to our step by step guide. [It doesn’t even need to be for the kids – there’s no shame in having your own hideaway up in the treetops!] Here’s how to build a perfect treehouse.
Phase 1: Planning
- Check with the local authorities – there may be restrictions in terms of what you can build, such as height considerations, protected trees or blocking someone’s view.
- Be a good neighbour. If the treehouse is going to be in their line of sight, let them know as a courtesy.
Pick your tree
- It needs to be strong, sturdy, healthy and, most importantly, alive.
- It shouldn’t be too young or too old.
- Check for any signs of rot, disease or parasites – these could weaken the tree.
- It’s a good idea to get an arborist to give the tree the all-clear before you begin building. Safety first!
- Treehouses can also be built utilising more than one tree situated close together, as this guide from Instructables demonstrates. The treehouse can then be bigger, and less bracing is required.
Create a design
- How high do you want the treehouse to be? [Not too high if the structure is intended for kids.]
- Make use of the natural shape of the tree, and allow for growth and movement.
- There are plenty of designs available on the internet, which you can then adapt to your specific requirements. Alternatively, you can create your own.
- How will you support the treehouse? How will you access it? What features do you want it to include? Make sure to incorporate all of these elements into the design.
Phase 2: Building
- Our tough Eisenhower Multi-Pocket Trousers are just the thing for any treehouse-building activities – the extra pockets mean that every tool you’ll need will be within easy reach.
- There’s bound to be some woodcutting involved – the Dickies Safety Goggles will ensure no wood splinters or dust particles end up in your eyes.
- Finally, the Dickies Unlined Leather Work Gloves will keep your hands protected while you’re hammering away, hauling planks or sawing off branches – there’s nothing like a pesky cut or splinter to slow down progress.
There are 3 main kinds of supports you can use for treehouses:
- Posts – This method is the least damaging to the tree. It involves inserting posts into the ground, close to the tree.
- Bolts – A traditional method of support, the platforms or beams are bolted directly into the tree. This can also be incredibly damaging to the tree, however.
- Suspension – As the name suggests, the structure is suspended from branches using chains or ropes. This method won’t work for all designs, or for treehouses intended to carry a lot of weight.
The platform and deck
- This needs to be level, and built as close as possible to the trunk. You may need to cut holes in some of the planks to account for existing branches.
- Detailed instructions on building a secure platform can be found here.
- Install the decking [the “floor”] over the platform base.
- Ensure you include some kind of railing around the platform to prevent anyone from falling off. [If your treehouse is going to have some kind of deck/balcony.]
- How are you or your kids going to get into this fine treetop abode? If the treehouse is close to the ground, a simple wood or rope ladder will do. For structures that are higher up, however, a longer wood ladder or set of steps with a handrail is recommended. For the adventurous among us, you could even create a spiral ladder that winds around the trunk.
- If you want a ‘closed’ treehouse, you can create plank walls and a roof. These can either be put together while you’re up in the structure, or fitted together on the ground and hoisted up.
- Roofs can either be made out of wood or simply constructed out of a piece of tarp that is nailed down.
- Windows and doors? Why not? It’s your project – let your imagination run wild.
- Add some cool features! What about solar lights, water cannons or bridges?
- Weatherproof your structure. Make sure to stain or paint the wood, so that it will last for many years of play.
- Regular maintenance is important to prevent accidents. Check on the structural integrity of the treehouse – particularly for rotted wood, loosened fixtures, shaky supports, and tree growth. Make repairs or improvements where necessary.
If you’ve built a treehouse in your garden, we’d love to see the pictures! Do you have any advice to add? Let us know in the comments below. Finally, if you’re in need of some inspiration, take a look at this collection of awe-inspiring treehouses.