Playhouse Buying Guide
A playhouse is a wonderful investment in your child’s memories. It stimulates outdoor play, imaginative play and co-operative play. What better birthday or Christmas present than a playhouse that will provide years of entertainment?
All of our playhouses are wooden. We believe a wooden playhouse provides a sturdy, timeless structure and a more ‘grown-up’ feel. Plus, its natural charm will make it a lovely addition to your garden.
Let us guide you through what to consider when deciding which playhouse is best for your family and your garden.
This guide will cover the topics below. Click a topic to go straight to the information you need.
How much space do you have?
Your garden only has a certain amount of room. You want a playhouse that will be an attractive feature, a fun space for your children and fit in with your other garden fixtures such as sheds, furniture and borders.
Remember to leave 1 foot of space around the playhouse for maintenance. Also consider the space available to open the doors and any windows.
Mark out the area you are considering with twine and pegs or canes. This will give you the best idea of which size playhouse is best.
How old is your child?
If you want to invest in a playhouse that will provide plenty of space as your child grows or for an older child, look for a larger playhouse such as 6x6 or 8x7. Or, for ultimate playing and growing space, opt for a two-storey playhouse that will have increased headroom.
Where is the best space?
Make sure the playhouse is facing the best direction for your children.
Will the playhouse get the best of the sun throughout the day? If your child is at pre-school or primary school, you’ll want the best sun later in the afternoon. Or perhaps full day sun on the weekends is your priority?
You may want your child’s playhouse to be shadier and out of full sun. In this case, a spot under a tree may provide dappled shade.
Take time to monitor the sun in your garden and decide on the best location for the playhouse.
Top Tip: Check the precise measurements in the specification
Not all 5x5 playhouses are exactly 5x5. The same goes for all other sizes. These are just approximate measurements that act as a general starting point. ALWAYS check the specification guide on each product page for precise, detailed measurements.
Look out for overhanging roofs and other features that may make measurements more complicated. Where playhouses have attached slides or verandas, make sure you know if these are included in the measurements. Our friendly UK-based call centre will be happy to answer any queries you may have.
What is Dip Treatment?
Dip-treated playhouses are the most common and they can be recognised by their orange/amber colour finish. Dip-treating is the quickest and cheapest method of applying preservative to the timber. The wood is dipped in the preservative, providing it with a surface covering. However, it is not as long-lasting as pressure treatment and so requires annual applications of preservative to maintain protection. The majority of dip-treated garden buildings will offer a 10 year guarantee if supported by annual retreatment.
Dip-treated playhouses are by far the most common as customers will often paint a playhouse in attractive colours anyway. Plus, being smaller in nature, the annual retreatment of a playhouse is not as laborious.
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What is Pressure Treatment?
Pressure-treated playhouses have the preservative forced deep into the heart of the grain of the wood under great pressure. They can be recognised by their lighter colour which may appear slightly green or have greeny-blue patches. This is simply the preservative residue and will fade with time.
In effect, the preservative becomes an integral part of the timber giving it a long life and effective protection against rot. Anti-rot guarantees with pressure treated garden buildings can be as much as 15 years, saving you both time and money as there’s no need to buy and apply treatment every couple of years.
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Which treatment should I choose?
This is mainly a budget issue.
A dip-treated playhouse will cost less initially as the process is not as costly for the manufacturer. However, you will end up spending more money on tubs of treatment, brushes etc and spend time reapplying each year. If you forget to re-treat, you are risking the integrity of your garden building.
A pressure-treated playhouse will cost a little more at first but you can just put it up and leave it, knowing it will resist the weather without more treatments for another decade and a half.
The cladding construction is how the timber boards are constructed to form the walls of the playhouse. There are two main types of playhouse cladding: Shiplap and Tongue & Groove. 12mm is the standard cladding thickness that you would expect on a wooden playhouse.
- boards interlock tightly for a weather-resistant, robust construction
- lack of gaps provides increased protection from rain and wind
- thicker boards mean they are less susceptible to movement under different weather conditions
- has a scalloped profile which enhances rain run-off, moving water away from joins
Tongue and Groove Cladding
- boasts all the same excellent benefits of shiplap cladding
- rather than scalloped, the boards are flat
- the sleek finish is often considered more modern
OSB or Timber?
You will need to consider the material used to make the roof and the floor. OSB (oriented strand board) is the most common material for both floors and roofs on cheaper playhouses. Timber boarded or tongue & groove floors and roofs will vary in thickness but will be stronger, more resistant to sagging and more durable than OSB.
Bear in mind that a wooden floor will be better suited to the years of children’s footfall and vigorous play.
The roof of a playhouse is usually finished in felt.
Always check the thicknesses and materials in the specification.
Do I need opening windows?
Though not a common feature of playhouses, opening windows are a definite bonus as ventilation can help regulate the temperature of the playhouse. However, leaving the door open can achieve this too.
If the playhouse has a second storey, these windows will not open for safety reasons.
What will the windows be glazed with?
To meet safety regulations, any glazing in a playhouse with be a shatterproof alternative to glass such as styrene or polycarbonate. These alternatives will not shatter into sharp pieces. Today's glass alternatives are almost always UV protected to prevent yellowing over time.
How will the door be secured?
A magnetic catch is the most common closure for a playhouse door. It prevents a child from accidentally being locked inside a playhouse. Doors are also designed to need minimal effort to push open.
A ring latch, usually in cottage-style black metal, may be used to add charm to the magnetic catch. It is often accompanied by traditional black hinges.
Top Tip: All playhouses must meet safety regulations.
To keep your children safe, all playhouses must meet strict safety standards. At Buy Sheds Direct, we only sell playhouses that are certified as having met these regulations. Shatterproof glazing, smooth-planed wood and child-safe hinges are just some of the required features.
A tower playhouse is raised on a platform and accessed by a ladder. This automatically creates a small veranda area which will feature railings.
While there will be great views to be had from the playhouse itself, underneath the platform becomes another usable space. Create a den with tarpaulin sides; add a sandpit and water table; or simply use the extra space to store outdoor ride on toys and garden games.
Tower playhouses with slides
What could be more fun than making a quick get away by slide? Adding a slide increases physical activity as well as offering a space-saving combination of a playhouse and play equipment.
Remember to take into account the dimensions of ladders and slides when planning the garden space for your playhouse.
What child wouldn’t want a little house of their own, just like the grown-ups? Two-storey playhouses have an interior ladder which leads up to a raised area, ideal as a bunk bed or secret hideaway. Railings add safety while a fixed window offers light and views across the garden.
Some two-storey playhouses even have a dormer window for a truly grown-up playhouse. Plus, the extra storey provides increased headroom which will make these larger playhouses last even longer. A super investment!
Playhouses come in an exciting range of shapes and designs. From charming cottage style “homes” to imaginative tepees, you’ll find a design that you and your child will fall in love with. Wooden playhouses are also beautiful features. The crafted timber build lends itself to decorative elements and those charming finishing touches that will enhance your garden.
A veranda not only adds charm but is a practical space to kick off muddy wellies or place a painting easel. It adds extra space to play or to sit and relax with a reading book.
Scalloped Barge Boards
Running along the exterior gables, these pretty features add cottage charm to any playhouse.
Look out for door peep holes for adding extra light and extra charm. Plus, large cottage hinges make a playhouse even more delightful.
Shutters and window boxes are delightful finishing touches that will make the playhouse a stunning garden feature. Some playhouses offer window boxes and shutters as optional extras or you could make your own.
For something a little different, try 7x6 Shire Wigwam Playhouse, the Dutch Barn Playhouse or the 6x4 Shire Command Post. These unusual playhouses are sure to spark the imagination. The Command Post has opening ports, perfect for water pistols or passing secret notes. It makes a super club house!
A well-chosen colour scheme can transform a playhouse, personalising it to suit your child or a favourite theme. You’ll find a whole rainbow of colours at DIY stores. Plus, some exterior timber paint includes preservative that will protect your playhouse too.
Top Tip: Add style touches such as curtains, doormats and solar lights.
Make the playhouse extra special with pretty curtains, a welcoming doormat and sparkly fairy lights. You can even have a little garden planter by the front door for little green fingers to get started on growing herbs or plants. From doorbells to a stepping stone entrance path, there are lots of ways to decorate a playhouse.
Bear in mind that these buildings won’t have safety features, such as hinges that protect trapped fingers, so you will need to judge carefully at what age a “grown up” garden building will be more suitable.
With solar power hubs that power devices, a few bean bags and a lap top, your teen will be happy having a place to get away and to entertain friends. From camping fridges for drinks to darts boards, there’s a whole host of ways you and your teen can make it a great hangout.
The best bit? When they leave home, you’ll have a craft studio, garden retreat or home office of your own!
All playhouses need to be installed on a reliable, level surface. If not, the playhouse will shift, doors and windows will misalign, and the integrity of the garden building will be undermined. A level grassed surface will require a base. A level hard surface, such as slabs or concrete, does not require a separate base.
Please note that base installation is not included with playhouse installation services.
What type of base should I use?
Concrete is the best material for creating a base though it can be the most expensive.
Concrete slabs are the next best alternative to a concrete base. The slabs should be laid in such a way to form a continuous base with no large gaps between each slab.
Both of these options should ideally sit on a good dressing of sharp sand and hardcore to allow for adequate drainage of rainwater. The concrete base/slabs must be level.
A Probase Plastic Base is an easy to assemble kit which allows ventilation under your playhouse and keeps it raised above any damp.
Our ProBase plastic bases are 100% recycled plastic, making them eco-friendly. Plus, the base can be reused if you wish to reposition your playhouse in your garden.
Its interlocking design makes it easy to put together and, although it is lightweight, it provides a very strong and durable base for your summer house. The ProBase should be laid according to the instructions which will include proper ground preparation, use of the provided membrane and inclusion of pea gravel where the size of the summer house suggests. Once installed, the plastic base must be level.
Do I need to use damp membrane?
With a plastic base, it is essential to use damp membrane. This will be included with the Probase kit.
If you are laying a concrete base or concrete slabs, it is highly recommended that you use membrane as part of the process.
What if I am still not sure?
On the product pages at Buy Sheds Direct, you can look in the options menu to see if a plastic base is recommended for the garden building you are purchasing. If in doubt, call our friendly, UK-based Customer Service Team and they will be happy to help.
We do not recommend any other materials other than the above for the construction of your base as these may not cope with UK weather conditions and potential subsoil erosion. A playhouse cannot be placed directly on soil, grass or sand. We also recommend that all bases are constructed by a qualified trades person.
How soon will delivery be available?
Many of our products are available on pick-a-day delivery. This means you will be able to select your delivery day before you purchase. This will be shown on the product page if available.
If pick-a-day is not available, look for lead times on individual products as these will tell you when a product will be available for dispatch. You will then be contacted by the manufacturer who will arrange a delivery date with you.
If you make any changes to your order once paid for, this can change your delivery date. Therefore, please check you have ordered everything you need.
What are the delivery charges?
Many of our products include free delivery. However, some more remote postcodes do incur delivery surcharges even where free delivery is available to others. Use the postcode checker to ensure we deliver to your area and to identify any possible surcharges.
If you're not a DIY expert then why not let the professionals build your new playhouse for you, leaving you with more time for fun and games with the kids?
Some of our manufacturers offer an installation service for their playhouses. This will be visible in the product’s menu if available. Once your playhouse is ready for dispatch, the manufacturer will contact you directly to arrange an installation date.
If you have any other questions or require any clarification on any of the information above, please call our friendly, knowledgeable, UK-based Customer Service Team. We are always happy to help.
So, have you measured your space yet? Yes? Right, you are ready to shop for your child’s new playhouse! Exciting times ahead…