How to Build a Two Story Playhouse

Written by j.e. myers
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Children love outdoor playhouses. Build one for your children and you will be guaranteeing them lasting memories. Construction of a two-story playhouse will be challenging and very good construction skills will be necessary. However, the result of your efforts will be magical in the eyes of your child. A fanciful and well-built playhouse is truly a gift that will last for many years. Planning and proper site preparation are important.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Seek proper building permits and necessary permissions. Most communities regulate the size and location of all outdoor structures including permanent playhouses. Some homeowner associations prohibit permanent playhouses so check covenants before proceeding.

  2. 2

    Draft your playhouse design. Plan to build doors and windows to "child" scale but allow for growth of children over the years. A good playhouse design will accommodate the needs of a preschooler through the sixth grade.

  3. 3

    Determine a means of access to the second story. A vertical ladder or real steps are common. Keep emergencies in mind and determine how an adult can access the second floor if necessary. Dual entrances and exits from both floors are especially good.

  4. 4

    Plan for safety. Do not exceed six feet in height for a second story. A fall from a taller second story window or other opening could be fatal to smaller children. Do not use real glass in any windows: Plexiglas is a safer alternative. Avoid any potential pinching or strangling hazards such as ropes and trap doors.

  5. 5

    Design with supervision in mind. Build openings and windows that will permit you to supervise activities inside the playhouse easily.

  6. 6

    Prepare the building site. Do not build a permanent foundation. Prepare the base of the playhouse by removing sod and laying down tamped masonry clay or gravel or patio blocks to keep the floor of playhouse off the wet ground.

  7. 7

    Frame the playhouse as you would a real home, using 2x4 lumber. Attach sidewalls to a wooden floor frame. Construct roofing joists so that water run off will be efficient.

  8. 8

    Cover floors, walls, and the roof with ¾ inch AC plywood. Position the "good" side of the plywood towards the interior of the house.

  9. 9

    Install any steps, ladders, or other transition devices. Install ladders permanently so children cannot move them out of position.

  10. 10

    Insulate walls with "house wrap" and insulation if desired and then sheath the structure with shingles, siding, and real roofing tiles. .

  11. 11

    Build exterior steps to the second floor if desired. Add banisters and railings on any second story staircases and decks.

  12. 12

    Add window and door treatments. Sash windows that open and close like real windows are fun but shuttered windows work well too. Double or "Dutch" doors are good for creative play.

  13. 13

    Trim the outside playhouse with mouldings. Finish and seal floors and walls inside the playhouse to prevent splintering. Avoid carpeting.

  14. 14

    Paint the interior and exterior to suit. For the benefit of neighbours and home values, paint the exterior in colours that coordinate with your home and which are not too loud. Avoid decorating the outside of the playhouse with images based on fads like popular television characters. Stick to timeless, gender-neutral themes.

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