For kids, building a tree house can become an obsession. A private place to call their own, a high perch from which to watch the world, who can blame them?
Obviously, building a tree house is no small task--it must be done right for safety sake, and so you don't create an eyesore in your backyard. Hint: If you don't have much building experience, find a friend or family member who is handy, and willing to lend a weekend of his or her time. And then you must have a good stout tree with branches that spread in a V-shape, and is located away from power lines, the street, and other potential dangers.
Before you start on a design, go to a building supply
store to find out how much all of the materials will cost.
Listed below are the materials needed and the estimated cost
that we came up with (prices vary according to location and
- At the lumber yard, "sight down the wood"--that is, hold
one end of the board up to your eye and look down its length for
- Inspect the wood for knots, and not just for aesthetics. Knots warp the wood, and they're hard; your nail hates to hit one and so will your arm.
- For the wood, choose pine; a soft, abundant, inexpensive wood; treated with arsenic--a handy dosing that retards bugs' interest. Otherwise, termites and carpenter bees bore in and lay eggs. Redwood would be ideal, a durable, light wood that bugs find naturally repugnant, or a hardwood like oak, but they are both more expensive.
|Prep Time: Weekend Project|
|What you need:|
|Two 40 lb. bags of concrete mix: $4.65
Two 6" lag screws: $1.35
3" galvanized screws, three packs of 20 each (for roof, balusters): $6.27
Two pounds 3 1/2" galvanized nails: $2.75
Five pounds 2 1/2" spiral deck nails: $6.85
Plastic tarp for roof: $3.00
Two 4'x 4'x 16'(for posts): $24.54
Seven 2'x 6' x 8' (for frame, joists): $24.64
Fourteen 5/4'x 6'x 8' (for floor): $87.00
Four 2'x 8'x 8' (for railing): $19.80
Twenty-eight 2'x 2'x 8' (for balusters, roof): $53.48
Five 2'x 4'x 16' (for diagonal supports, ladder, rungs): $21.50
#2 Phillips head screwdriver
Steel wheelbarrow (for mixing concrete)
To begin, measure the rectangular frame for the tree house floor. If you get through this, you'll get through the rest. This is the hardest and most tedious part, and no one will enjoy it.
Lay a 2' x 6' on the ground next to the trunk beneath the two limbs that spread into a V. The boughs rising through the floor will become, on one side, a natural railing and on the other, a living stool. Our tree house floor is a 5' x 6' rectangle. That leaves about 14' above ground--11' to the tree house floor plus 3' extra to become the corner posts for a railing.
Fasten a 2' x 6' to the tree with two 6" lag screws.
|3.||Drop a plumb line from each end; mark where it falls with sticks|
|4.||Using a square, measure the length of your floor from each stick and mark those spots|
|5.||Use a posthole digger to dig two 2 1/2' deep holes. Pour 6
inches of concrete into each hole; let set 24 hours.
|6.||Place 4' x 4' posts in holes; pack with dirt.
|7.||For the frame, complete the rectangle by nailing the three
2' x 6' boards to the ends of the original 2' x 6', and to the
outsides of the 4' x 4' posts.
Cut wedges in the ends of the two 2' x 4's.
|9.||Nail one end to the underside of the frame, the other to the bottom of the posts.|
Run 2' x 6' floor joists 16 inches apart and parallel to the original 2' x 6' board. Nail from outside the frame
|11.||Cut the floorboards to length and lay them perpendicular to the joists.|
|12.||Cut notches in the end planks to fit around the posts and all four rail supports.|
|13.||If desired, cut curves in the floorboards to allow tree
limbs to come through.
Cut two 2' x 4's to match the height of the 4' x 4' posts. Space 16 inches apart.
|15.||Place on bricks in the ground so the ladder won't sink, fit the top into notches you've made for it in floor, and nail it in. The top will poke through the floor and serve as railing supports|
|16.||Attach 2' x 4' rungs all the way up, leaving 12 inches between the tops of each|
Double up two 2' x 4's and run them through the notch you made in the final floorboard. The post should match the height of the 4' x 4' columns and ladder.
|18.||Lay 2'x 8's over the four corner railing supports.|
|19.||Cut at a diagonal so each pair of sides meets to form a
|20.||Nail balusters 6 inches apart to the outside of the floor frame and screw each to the top railing|
Attach vertical 2' x 2's to each corner. Join with four horizontal 2' x 2's to make a rectangular frame
|22.||Screw two other 2' x 2's at an angle to form a gable at each end and add a vertical support at the two center po|
|23.||Join the gables by laying a 2' x 2' between them|
|24.||Drape the frame with a tarp and staple down.|