When I was a kid summertime meant one thing, playing outside with my friends. One of my favorite places to hang out was at my best friend Joel’s treehouse. It was our headquarters for tag and Super Soaker battles, reading comics and trading baseball cards. With summertime on the horizon, I got to thinking, how cool it would be to build an epic treehouse of my own? So I got to work and along the way I put together a few tips and ideas that will help you, whether you’re trying to build your own kickass backyard sanctuary for you, or the ultimate fort for your kids. Follow this easy guide to constructing the coolest treehouse for kids — and adults — in your very own backyard.
How to Build a Treehouse in 5 Steps
Step 1: Consider the Location Well
Before you get to sawing and drilling away you’ll need a few of these basics covered: a big enough backyard and a strong, deep-rooted tree. If you have these two, then you’re off for a good start.
Make sure it is strong enough to hold the weight your ideal backyard treehouse. To know if your tree is right for the job then make sure it meets these few essentials:
- huge trunk
- sturdy branches
- deep, long roots
A few trees that are the perfect foundation for a treehouse are apple, fir, maple, and oak trees.
Next on your checklist is the fences in your backyard, if they’re too short then you might be in for a few awkward encounters with your next-door neighbors. Be neighborly and talk to them first so they’re aware of your plans before you break ground on your epic treehouse.
Step 2: Lay out the Treehouse Properly
Now that you have the perfect tree picked out and your neighbors gave you the green light for your project, it’s time to get the blueprints rolling. Get creative with the design—whether you want something simple and classic or something that puts your craftsmanship on full display. If you’re having trouble getting the ball rolling try searching online, and your local bookstore will surely have some guides and resources to get your creative juices flowing.
Accuracy with your measurements is crucial. The size of the treehouse must be proportionate to the tree, otherwise, it won’t be secure and safe. As a general rule of thumb, a tree trunk that is at least 12″ in diameter can hold a standard 8’x8′ treehouse. The treehouse should not exceed 8 feet in height so your kids can climb up with ease and play without feeling dizzy or getting scared of the height.
Keep in mind that over time the tree will get taller, wider, and branches will grow. Design your treehouse so it allows for the growth of the tree and plan on pruning and trimming that tree.
Step 3: Construct with Safety Features
Every step of the planning and construction of your treehouse should center around one thing, safety. It is, after all, supposed to be a cool place for you and your buddies, or for your kids and their friends to hang out. You’ll want to keep it free from sharp corners, and you’ll definitely want to sand that would down.
When constructing the frame and housing, nails won’t be enough to hold this tree castle together. You should also use long screws to attach the wood to the tree trunk, or rafter ties to attach the pieces of wood to each other. Since the treehouse is suspended on the tree, be generous in using materials that will secure the construction’s attachment to it.
Kids will definitely run around the treehouse, so make sure railings around the platform are at least 36″ high. Also, in instances when kids suddenly slip off or jump off the treehouse, putting lots of leaves at the base of the tree to break their fall can make a good cushion for their fall.
Step 4: Provide Strong Support
If your backyard treehouse is going to go the distance then the support you choose is key. These three types of support are tried-and-true methods, so choose one based on what your goals are:
- Post method – posts are placed from the base of the treehouse (usually one in each corner) down to the ground. This is the most recommended support method since it provides the most stability for the treehouse.
- Bolt method – additional pieces of wood are attached from the treehouse base down to any part of the tree trunk. This may be considered a safe support, however, it can damage the tree trunk to some extent.
- Suspension method – durable ropes will be attached anywhere from the treehouse up to the topmost branches of the tree. This is quite dangerous since the ropes have to withstand the weight of the treehouse.
Step 5: Adding Personality
Now that the hard work is done it’s time to make this treehouse into the man-cave, hideaway, or ultimate kid’s fort you set out to make. You can wire it up so you can put your gaming consoles or maybe a stereo for some music, and don’t forget the lighting if this treehouse is going to be used day and night.
Maybe add a deck if you want a place to lounge in and out of your treehouse. Consider whether the windows you cut are should be left open for the air to flow through freely, or add some screens and sliding windows. Whether you plan to add some exterior paint or just keep it simple, you will definitely want to seal the outside with some varnish or water sealant to protect your hard work. After all, you put your blood and sweat into this so make sure not to leave it vulnerable to Mother Nature.
Now that you have an idea on how to build a treehouse, check out this video from 100 Cool Ideas! to see some inspirations for your treehouse design:
Constructing a backyard treehouse is no different from building a regular house. However, keep in mind that it will also be a treehouse for kids, so ensure extra safety provisions in constructing your dream treehouse!
Are there any tips on how to build a treehouse you’d like to share? Feel free to write them in the comments section below.