Playhouse Deck Options

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 05/25/2010 - 19:53
Difficulty
Intermediate
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When we introduced the Playhouse Deck plans from last week, I didn’t realize that a 2×6 96″ length can be almost DOUBLE the cost of a 2×6 Stud Length (92 5/8″). Since the deck is going to be the most expensive part of this plan, I wanted to give you different options.

CALL YOUR HOME IMPROVEMENT STORES
Call you local Orange and Blue stores and get price quotes for the following boards:


2x4 x 92 5/8" (Stud)
2x4 x 96"
2x6 x 92 5/8" (Stud)
2x6 x 96"
4x4x8' Posts

Write these numbers down and then click over to the original deck plan and price out the deck with the original plan.

OPTION 1: 2x6 STUDS ARE WAY CHEAP
__________________________________________________________________

With the stud length 2x6s being your cheapest option, the playhouse will have t sit perpendicualr to the deck boards instead of parallel.

You will need to purchase 28 2x6 Studs, 2 4x4 x 8' Posts (or 3 if you want the swing set option for later).  Evenly space your joists as shown above.  Your cut list will look like this:

8 - 2x6 @ 92 1/2" (You could actually just leave these at 92 5/8", and your deck boards will be 1/8" shy)
20 - 2x6 @ 92 5/8" (Stud Length)

Your deck boards will all be 2x6s at 92 5/8".

OPTION 2: 2x4s ARE EVEN CHEAPER

To use 2x4s for your decking, you will need
4 - 2x6 - 8' Length
8 - 2x6 - Stud Length
24 - 2x4 - 8' Length

Your Cut List will be
24 - 2x4s 96" (Purple Boards below)
4 - 2x6 @ 96"(Green Boards below)
8 - 2x6 92 1/2" (Blue Boards below)

You will basically build as in the original decking plan here, but use 2x4s for your decking and not 2x6s.  And yes, I did check the codes to make sure it's fine for a 2x4 to span this length.

OPTION #3: 2x4 STUDS ARE THE CHEAPEST OPTION

If 2x4 studs are your cheapest option, build your frame as in the first option, and add decking with 2x4 stud length as in the second option above.

Your shopping list will be
24 - 2x4 Stud Length
12 - 2x6 Stud Length

Your Cut List will be
24 - 2x4 @ 92 5/8"
8 - 2x6 @ 92 1/2"
4 - 2x6 @ 92 5/8"

My Grand Total with this option in Alaska was under $100.  I've got mine built, it's super sturdy!  Stay tuned for pictures (and it's much bigger than I had thought!)
Hope this helps you out!
Ana

Comments

nillabeans6 (not verified)

Tue, 05/25/2010 - 20:06

you are incredible! I could never have considered talking hubby into letting me build the playhouse I have always wanted for my littles until you posted this. We have discussed, and even bought plans for other houses, and he was always so intimidated by the cost and the actual building process. Not now!!!!

Gnomeful Things (not verified)

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 02:47

If money is an issue I'd work with the 2 by 4's for decking. I used them for the treehouse I built for my girls a few years ago and they are just fine.
I'm now trying to convince my husband they need this second house so they can travel by zipline!

beautyoflife (not verified)

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 03:25

Thank you so much Ana for all the time and effort you put into creating those alternative options. that was so great of you!

Lucia's Mama (not verified)

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 03:36

Sorry, I know you've mentioned it before, but how exactly do we install this? If the ground is level, it can just sit there? I guess that means it would have to be PERFECTLY level? If it's not, what are the next steps? I'm a total novice and my backyard is NOT level.

Ana White (not verified)

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 07:35

Thank you all, I just posted this because it's part of the homework that I do when I am building my own house. I think you could come in around $100 for lumber with one of these options, and yes, I always check span tables and live load limits and such before making ANY recommendations. Don't forget, I've designed and built a few real houses, and I've actually built this playhouse too (wanted to make sure it was super easy to build and totally doable first.

The best way to "level" your playhouse is to buy concrete deck or pier blocks. Start on the lower end and dig two holes that are 90" apart at the centers and large enough for the deck blocks. Place two of the deck blocks in these holes and one side of the playhouse deck (from step 1, consisting of 2 4x4s and 1 apron). Then from that lower side, find your other two corners and dig and put the posts in. Attach the side apron with a level (it will not be level with the tops of the higher posts) and trim off the tops of the higher posts.

Tina (not verified)

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 10:37

Another possible option for the playhouse deck plan would be to use a combination of dimensional lumber/studs with ¾” plywood. I was looking through a book by Sunset publishers called “Backyards for Kids” and they display a team putting together a kit house from HomePlace structures. The kit comes with a framed floor that is covered with wood boards AND plywood. The plywood section is where the house sits and the wood boards are the front porch. If you take a look at Ana’a first picture above under Option 1 where she has a blue rectangle that says “House will sit here…”, well, that blue square would essentially be a 4’ x 8’ piece of plywood (3/4" thick). I’m not sure if mixing plywood with the wood boards will make it a cheaper alternative or not, but it is attractive option for me because I plan to put the playhouse on the ground (therefore any small parts/pieces that my daughter may play with in the playhouse won’t fall through the cracks). I'm also not positive that this would be a structurally sound option if you were planning to elevate the playhouse deck like in Ana'a plans??? The preassembled floor in the book also had 2 beams underneath (I’m guessing they were treated 4x4’s) running perpendicular to the floor joists. These beams sat directly on the pre-graded ground. I read that if your site receives groundwater that you should first put down a 4” bed of gravel. The gravel will keep the soil beneath the playhouse from eroding and becoming soggy. They used levels along the width and length of the floor to gauge the degree of tilt all around. To raise the floor, they inserted cedar shims under the floor beams. To lower it, they lifted the floor slightly and dug into the dirt underneath. They continued to make adjustments in this manner until the floor was level. Patio stones, cinder blocks or concrete piers (as Ana mentioned in the above comment) can also be used as your foundation rather than the beams.

Ana White (not verified)

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 10:51

Tina, you are absolutely right. I did consider this option but ended up not posting it because it will most likely increase the cost of the project instead of decrease it. Because the footprint is an exact 4x8 foot dimension, 1 sheet of 3/4" plywood could be used for the floor. I would also add another joists, as the joists are not quite on 16" centers. Then just use 1x4s (3/4" thick) cedar boards for the decking. You can also not add a joist and use 1 1/4" OSB for the floor and 5/4" cedar boards. But remember, you will want to trim out the outside edges of the plywood to keep them from getting wet.

Thanks Tina for noting this.

Tina (not verified)

Wed, 05/26/2010 - 13:28

Thanks for the additional information Ana! I can't wait to make this playhouse. Thank you for sharing your amazing talents with us. You are a rockstar!

tjhester22 (not verified)

Wed, 09/22/2010 - 07:11

I have gone about this project sort of out of order. I have the frame built... was going to give it to my goats, but my children decided they are NOT 'too big' for it. So the plans have changed. I wanted to make the deck a bit higher, so I think I am going to use 8' posts and conrete them into the ground 1 or 2 ft. I wanted to make a trap door under the house instead of stairs... or maybe in addition, not sure. Any hints as to how I might do that? I have a plan in my head but it seems much more complicated than your plans usually are. I appreciate you so much! Thank you!

Julie

Ana White (not verified)

Wed, 09/22/2010 - 08:24

Julie, love the trap door idea! Just make sure that you place the door between joists and frame it out with 2x6s on the open sides. Also, check to make sure you don't need 4x6s for posts - I believe 4x4s are recommended up to 4' - unless you do some serious cross bracing. Good luck!