Build a Simple Playhouse Deck

diy playhouse deck
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This playhouse deck uses standard 2x6 boards and minimizes scraps. Four feet off the ground, there is just enough clearance underneath to store toys under! Build a playhouse on top.

diy playhouse deck plans
Overall Dimensions for the basic platform is shown above. To make the swingset arm, you will need to review the dimensions from the first drawing. Composition is wood boards, painted and sealed for outdoor use. If you are not using the base unit for a sandbox (would make great toy storage!) then I recommend using treated lumber for the 4×4 posts and what would have been the sandbox sides. I was just talking with my husband’s uncle about using wood composite decking instead as it would last much longer, but is much more expensive. One of the factors is to consider the number of years the playhouse will be used, and then choose your lumber accordingly. Paint on boards properly maintained in a dry location could last your kids into college.


Shopping List
  • 2 – 4×4 Posts 8′ Long (3 if you are using the swingset option)
  • 29 – 2×6 Boards, 8′ Long (8 of these can be stud length 92 5/8″ if stud length is cheaper)
  • 4 - 2x4 @ 8 feet long (use for cross bracing)
  • 2-1/2″ Exterior Self Tapping Deck Screws
  • 2″ Exterior Self Tapping Deck Screws
  • Outdoor Paint or Stain
Cut List
  • 4 – 4×4 Posts @ 47″ (OR 2 @ 47″ and 2 @ 96″ for the swingset option)
  • 8 – 2×6 @ 92 1/2″ (Shorter Sides)
  • 4 – 2×6 @ 96″ (Longer Sides)
  • 8 – 2×6 @ 12″ (Diagonal Supports, both ends mitered down 45 degrees)
  • 16 – 2×6 @ 96″ (Deck Boards)
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Power Sander
General Instructions

Build at your own risk. Work on a clean level surface. Choose a location that is level and dry to avoid water damage. Check for level after each step. Check for square after each step. Predrill all screw holes. Use necessary safety equipment and precautions.


Step 1

Sides { Part 1 } Lay the 4×4 posts flat and attach the posts as shown above to the sides. Use 3″ screws. Also note that if you are building the swing arm, ONE of each of the posts on each side will be 96″ long.

Step 2

Sides { Part 2 } Now attach the remaining sides to the posts and sides as shown above. Use 3″ screws. Level the frame and adjust for square. Trust me, it will be a miracle if it’s square without adjustment.

Step 3

Diagonal Supports With the box nice and square and level, fasten the diagonal supports to each corner as shown above. This should stiffen up the corners considerably.

Step 4

Joists Mark out all of your joists on the sides, (the long sides) as shown above. Then screw the joists to the sides as shown above. Use 3″ screws.

Step 5

Step 6

Cross brace the base with 2x4s as shown in diagram, attaching with at screws into the framing.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Prime and paint with an exterior appropriate paint or stain with sealant.


Aubergine (not verified)

Sun, 05/09/2010 - 21:14

I hear ya on the diy/ddiy conundrum. In the past 10 years I had did it myself all most anything. I made soap (the real stuff you need lye for), sewed a hill of diapers, even delivered my baby all by myself. I just wanted to say ditto that and thank you.

Dturp (not verified)

Sun, 05/09/2010 - 22:46

I like this one. We just bought a new house with a bigger back yard and with a 2 year old little girl these plans will come in handy very soon!

satakieli (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 01:14

This is going to be great! Can't wait until we move into a house with our own yard so I can build it!

I totally agree on the DIY thing. I try my hardest to do everything myself, people always think I'm a little odd because of that but it was the way I was raised - Build, re-use, recycle.

Brandan (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 02:23

Decided to go the DIY route for my new studio floor. I needed a sprung floor and found out that it was going to cost me $13k from a flooring company!!!! I don't have that money, so husband and I are building it ourselves for under $2k. It is truly back breaking work, and I can see why people don't DIY, they can't be bothered or take the time. And my body really hurts. But it feels so good to have built it myself and saved so much money.

Their Mommy His Wife (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 02:38

thank you so much for drawing this up. I agree with you on the DIY. Our issue has been that my husband has had 2 back surgeries in 3 years so it limits what large projects we can tackle, and my issue has been not having the right tools to do things. But craigslist is becoming our friend in the tool department!
Our little girl will LOVE this playset.

Keyes (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 03:09

I literally spent hours looking for a plan like this just Saturday and I was starting to wonder how hard it would be to do myself. So THANK YOU!! We're moving to Las Vegas in June and I'm guessing it will be a little hot for outdoor project for a while (I currently live in North Dakota and we're lucky if it's not snowing in May) but come fall I'm definitely building this playhouse!!!!

Bonnie (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 03:10

I had to tell you that I am a new follower and think your blog is the greatest. Thank you for all the hard work you put into these plans for us! I have many things book marked for the hubby to build when he gets time!!!

Kate Bailey (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 03:13

I love this! I recently made up plans of my own to build an outdoor playhouse/swingset, but I opted out of it because it was still going to cost me like $600 if I made it from cedar or redwood. We opted to buy a small metal swingset in the meantime, but when we decide we have the money to invest in a project like this, I will definitely be building it!

Foote Family (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 03:40

This is great! My husband is in the process of building a huge playset in the backyard. He's never built anything before and we've been having a great time doing it together. We may try to incorporate this in our current design.

Kelley (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 04:01

Woo Hoo!!!! I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited that you decided to build this! Can't get any better, I've been hoping you'd do a kid's playhouse, because my yard is too small for a big playset. Now I just have to talk my father-in-law into helping!

Angelfacebaby (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 04:06

I'm thinking of modifying this to put it in my basement playroom with the cube shelves underneath. Could I do the 2x4 supports on the bottom on just 3 sides instead of 4 so they aren't tripping going under all of the time?

Lu (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 04:11

Ok now I'm completely bummed out, my house came with a perfectly nice playhouse and swing set. It's not as big as this one, but it's already there. I never thought i'd wish it wasn't, but I'd love to build this.

Melissa (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 04:27

The joy that this brings me and will bring my children is immeasurable. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Leslie (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 04:42

Pugs need a playhouse, don't they? I think I may just build them THIS one and keep it on the ground. Ginger is getting old and doesn't navigate well. I think they'd have a blast! Or, maybe I can use these plans for my chicken house. I'm getting 4 or 5 chicks in a week and, of course, they'll need appropriate accommodations, in pink!

Celia Marie (W.) B. (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 04:44

We just bought a playhouse/swingset about 2 weeks ago for a lot more than this would cost! Too bad for us!

~October~ (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 05:08

YIPPEE!!!! {{{twirls}}} We disassembled our cheap crappy fort/swingset last fall when it started falling apart (after a hurricane) and my girls have been BEGGING for a new one. I told them we would start working on one "soon." Soon has come and gone, so I decided this weekend to build a new picnic table (thanks to you!) and start on plans for a new playhouse. I am so PUMPED you posted this!!! It is going to be a great weekend! THANK YOU FOR BEING SO AWESOME!!!

Sabrina (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 05:19

So funny, we have been looking for plans for a playset for about a month and my hubby had about succumbed to just buying a DDIY set. Thanks to you my kids are going to get a playset of their dreams!! Thank YOU!

Ellie Cutler (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 06:16

OH...MY...GOSH!!!!! I'm am SO building this in my backyard. I seriously have a huge old list of things to build but this might just top that list.

Kristin (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 06:52

This comes at a perfect time. We just got a free wood swing set for our daughter thanks to a family friend who was moving and couldn't bring it with them. It's kind of lame (but I can't complain it was free)

I seriously have been thinking of ways to make it cooler and I think you just did it for me so thank you!

We have the slide/swings/ladder/ and monkey bars (which is where the swings are hung from) so with a few easy(I think) changes I think we can incorporate your plans and what we already have.


The Blog (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 07:24

This is perfect. Yesterday we were looking for playhouses for the kids. Our yard is small and I don't think it will accommodate a swingset. This is perfect for us! However, I'm worried about the "keeping it dry" part. We live in the pacific northwest. It is always wet. What can I do to treat/modify it?

AnimalCracker (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 07:56

We built something pretty similar to this in our backyard. I would recommend a X cross brace support across one side of the post four posts, under the slide would be good. This will really help stop any side to side movement when kids are up top playing. Ours is concreted down and it still swayed just a little until we added the extra brace.

Ashlee (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 08:05

Oh WOW!! My husband is a full time student and we live in a small townhouse right now, but as soon as we have our own home, I am going to put this in..probably before we even get unpacked! My kids will LOVE this. I was just looking at some the other day and dreaming! THANKYOU THANKYOU!!

AnimalCracker (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 10:08

Thought I would share. We bought safety handle bars, monkey bars, telescope, steering wheel, and an open spiral slide from I was able to get a reduction on price for some items because of the cost for shipping of the slide. If you are just getting small stuff the prices and shipping are pretty good. None of the Orange/Blue stores carry any "fun" slides and we were really confined on space so I couldn't get a straight slide. I find the spiral is a bit safer for smaller kids as well.

John & Melanie (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 10:12

My husband made this one. my kids love it, we love it and has an attached swing set. Let me know if you want pictures.

We've even had the neighbors ask for the plans they like it so well. :(

Angie (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 10:54

Ana, I don't know you, but I love you! I've been looking for a playhouse exactly like this one and found plans for one online for only $10 and I almost bought it. Boy am I glad I didn't! I have built many things of yours already and still have a long to do list, but this has taken priority over them all. Thank you so much for all you do! You are truly amazing.

Melissa (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 16:43

I'm so happy you posted this! We don't have the money to buy a nice playhouse already made, so this is going to be a real treat for our kids!

So Bella (not verified)

Mon, 05/10/2010 - 17:48

Oh, wow, I have been wanting to build a playhouse for my 2 girls for so long! I can't wait to get started, thanks Ana!!

Erica (not verified)

Tue, 05/11/2010 - 03:00

I can't wait to build this! I emailed the link to my hubby right away, and he said he'd love to help me build it!

Thank you - looks great!

The Crandalls (not verified)

Tue, 05/11/2010 - 07:07

So how much did it cost to build this? I have been wanting one for the kiddos and just can't p ull the trigger.

Crystal (not verified)

Tue, 05/11/2010 - 10:10


When you get to the part where you post plans for the house part itself, could you also include an alternate for just the house on the ground? Our HOA won't let us have one that sticks up above the wall line, but I'd love to try to build just the house, without the sandbox and slide under it.


Tina (not verified)

Tue, 05/11/2010 - 17:02

We started getting a place ready in the yard today so we can start making this play house. My daughter and her best friend are very excited. Our neighbors tree is too close to our fence so we have a lot of roots to cut out but it's going to be worth it. Ana I Love ALL your ideas!!

Jon (not verified)

Thu, 05/13/2010 - 05:41

I am definitely going to second the cross brace idea. Also, notice how the boards are connected on the one you linked - big bolts or lag screws. You don't want the weight of that house plus your kids and their friends shuffling around on this base - the structure will flex, and those tiny wood screws won't hold forever. If you don't want the cross braces, then I would sink the legs a foot into the ground and pour concrete to keep it steady.

Kandace (not verified)

Wed, 05/19/2010 - 05:37

what kind of wood would be best for the posts (sorry if you already answered this in the comments...i read most and didn't see them but a two year old was jumping on my lap so bear with me!! I know cedar is recommended but that really jacks up the price!! Can standard wood be used and just water sealed or treated? I'd love to make this!! Also, do you have any idea on the price yours will be after its all said and done?

Ana White (not verified)

Wed, 05/19/2010 - 06:46

As far as lumber goes, here's a few things to consider. I plan on using shingles for the top (because I want the playhouse to be dry, so that Grace can leave books and toys in there and they do not get destroyed) so a large portion of the deck will be covered. This will help keep your boards dry.

I would not use treated lumber, as it gives off fumes and your children will be playing on the surface.

If you can afford to place the playhouse on a dry surface that drains water, like gravel or concrete, that would help out considerably. You could also dig holes, place concrete blocks in the holes, extend your 4x4s from the holes, and back fill with gravel, and that would keep the ends of the 4x4s from rotting.

Here's the deal on paint. If you are painting cedar or painting pine, you have to repaint every few years because the paint begins to fade/chip. So as long as your boards are kept up and the seal is maintained, I don't see a difference in what type of wood you use. The main thing is you want to protect the wood that is not paintable (the bottoms of the foundation).

kadee (not verified)

Fri, 05/21/2010 - 02:09

Did you post the swing set portion of this yet? We are anxious to get building, but would like to see it all before I get started :)

Kandace (not verified)

Fri, 05/21/2010 - 07:52

ahh, makes sense! Thanks for your reply. I'm thinking after we do some much more minor building projects and see how they go I'm going to show this to my husband. We want a playset SO badly for our boys but everything that isn't just RINKY is so overpriced for what it is!!
So basically do what you'd do for a wooden fence post, dig and concrete or gravel.

Carolyn (not verified)

Tue, 06/08/2010 - 16:33

Love your site, it's on my blog list, and I just downloaded both of Jen's albums! Thanks for the side bennie of new music.

Tina (not verified)

Sat, 07/10/2010 - 05:37

We have completed the bottom section of the playhouse. We used bolts on each side of the 4x4 because we thought that was a lot of weight for screws to hold. We also wanted a flat floor and save money. So we used a double layer of particle board and used contractor glue inbetween. There will still be a deck in the front of the house. I painted the particle boards but as soon as the house goes up I will put cheap flooring down. We hope to have the walls built today. Thank you Ana!!

kori (not verified)

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 07:38

Thanks for the plans. We are not usually a DIY family, but we are trying to become one.

If I was going to expand the deck to 12x12 instead of 8x8, would I need additional posts or larger beams? Or can I just follow these plans exactly with longer 2x6s?

Ana White (not verified)

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 17:52

Hi Kori, if you are expanding your deck to 12x12, you should probably check your floor joist span recommendations for your area (depends on snow load, etc) and increase the board width for the supports. The 4x4 posts should be fine as long as the deck remains at 4', and the decking is fine too. Good luck with your project! Ana

Melissa S. (not verified)

Mon, 02/21/2011 - 06:11

Hi Ana. Just wanted to let you know that I just finished the platform part of this project and it cost a little more than $300, even using the stud length 2 x 6's. 2 x4's would have been even more! I guess living in rural Kansas just makes everything more expensive. Wish we had a cheaper option, but all in all, it's not too bad.

Ashley W (not verified)

Thu, 08/30/2012 - 13:38

I am looking for direction on how to make the railings, stairs and slide opening and cannot find it. I have slowly found all the postings to make the entire playhouse (it took forever to find the front wall - I thought we were going to have a 3 walled house!) We would like to build this in steps because our girls are 1 and

ginnytheotherone (not verified)

Tue, 11/20/2012 - 21:36

Love this plan, and it's finally Cool enough in Texas to build this. My kid is older, and I would like to make the platform and posts taller. If I made the whole thing 2 feet taller, what would I need to modify to keep it safe?

Thanks for your site. We love to peruse the ideas, and am loving news of your book and tour.

Anonymous Coward (not verified)

Wed, 11/21/2012 - 01:49

You would need a railing, just like a second story deck.