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Created: May 1983
Updated: April 20, 2020

Kid's Playhouse


My daughter "required" a 4' x 8' x 6' playhouse that she could use with her friends and little brother to have their tea parties. I never did draw up much more than a napkin plan as I spent a lot of years in construction. In fact, almost my whole life, so this was a fairly easy weekend project. Here are the steps I used as best as I can remember with far better instructions than I ever made for myself. *Smile* You are welcome to ask questions. I can always go out and measure or look.


I started with a total of eight 12" square cement pavers placed on tamped and graded sand. On those I put a 3/4" piece of 4" x 8' exterior plywood that was supported underneath with seven 4" x 4" x 48" pressure treated posts evenly spaced on the plywood. Prior to screwing the plywood onto those posts each end was cut at a 45-degree bevel so the square end could not be seen from the edge of the playhouse. Using linoleum cement, I glued a remnant of vinyl flooring that I picked up for just a few dollars and trimmed it flush with the 4' x 8' floor.

Side Frame

The frame did not need to be either large or strong as I was going to cover it with exterior grade plywood. I did want an internal frame so the roof would be strong enough to let the kids and me stand on top to pick cherries. I used 2" x 2" framing that went through my router with a 1/4 round over bit then through my sander to ensure there would be no splinters. The sides were all framed on one-foot centers to be 4' 6" tall to accommodate 9' exterior grade plywood. All the framing pieces were predrilled then screwed together with 3" galvanized deck screws. Openings were left for two front windows a center two-part "Dutch" door, and a large end window to provide maximum ventilation. The door opening was made to be as large as possible so this "big people", meaning 6'+ me could get in without too much trouble as I wanted to be able to use this as a storage shed for pool and patio stuff later.

Roof Frame

Our area has some codes covenants and restrictions that limited the overall height to no more than six feet. By using the sand base and sunken pavers I was able to actually set the floor height just above ground level and had to kind of make the rest to fit the allowed 6' in height. I divided the available height over the sides by two and made two equal slopes to create the Dutch roof effect. The sides actually support four 8' long stringers on each side of the roof to hold up the roof ply. The side supports were each angled to hold those stringers at just the angle I wanted for the roof. There are no cross braces inside except at the ends.


With 4' wide panels and an 8' length you end up with corners that just don't come together. I planned for that by cutting dados exactly the width of the plywood into 2" x 2" trim pieces. I used Liquid nails to attach those pieces of trim and to attach the siding to the frame sides. All was held for gluing by 6 penny cement coats. Around each window I used exactly the same treatment with dado cut 2" x 2" to make a nice trim on three sides of each window and around the door. For the bottom of each window I used 6" heavy cedar. Under the cedar were matching dados that let those pieces fit tightly onto the side ply. The top of the cedar went through my table saw to get a 5-degree tilt so water would drain outside, but no so much that the window sills could not be used to store important things.


The bottom piece of ply was first run through my table saw to match the bevel of the top portion of the roof. It was glued with Liquid Nails and screwed to the stringers and sides. I cut the top pieces on my table to match the angle that they would meet at the gable then glued and screwed them on. There was a small overhang of the top piece over the bottom that vanished flush with a little help from my Sawzall. I covered the roof with a thick coat of felt then used light colored shingles to cover the roof. All was glued on rather than stapled or nailed with something that would go through the inside.


To match the "Dutch" roof the unit had to have a "Dutch" or split door. I made the doors just like the windows, meaning I used the dado cut 2" x 2" to surround a piece of exterior ply for all four sides on the top. For the door bottom I trimmed the bottom three sides the same way, and again used matching cedar dado cut to make a nice ledge for the top of that bottom door piece. I used a sliding latch inside that locks either down or up to let the doors float open or closed. Hinges were 1" x 3" hinges let into the 2" x 2" trim.


I first caulked all with polyurethane caulk then painted the outside with exterior white. All the 2" x 2" trim pieces got a nice coat of light blue which kind of matched the color scheme we used for our pool and patio equipment.


Unlike most who have real climate, in our area here in Northern California we get about 3 months of cold rain and that is pretty much it. As a result, I built this unit without having to have real weather tight windows. Instead, each of the three windows has its own piece of ply that slips just inside the window frame and locks in place with screen twist locks. These pictures are from the rainy season, so the playhouse if filled with pool toys, lawn furniture, and other items that get put under cover for our winter. I generally kick the solar in March to bring our pool to a nice 72 degrees, and at that point clean out the playhouse. When the kids were smaller, we bought the plastic playhouse furniture including little table, chairs, kitchenette, and other goodies that have long since found new homes. Hope this gives you some inspiration.