Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds
Every child dreams of having their very own garden playhouse to live out their adventures! Big or small, wooden or plastic, double-storey or equipped with a slide, there are plenty of options to choose from. From little huts to cottages, we’ll cover all the essentials to help you find the right playhouse for your kids.
- Age restrictions
Choosing the right age range for your playhouse
Quick tip: Each playhouse has been designed for a specific age range which will be marked on the instructions and on the box. For example, 1 to 4 years, 3 to 8 years, 3 to 12 years, and so on. The option you choose will depend on how old your children are and whether or not you plan to replace the toy over time.
There are various types of playhouse with different parts to match your children's motor skills and level of development. The older the child, the more features the playhouse will have to encourage imaginative play. Some flatpack playhouses can be personalised – the perfect option for budding builders.
As a safety precaution, do not let young children play unattended. When it comes to children aged under eight, falls can happen quickly so vigilance is key. Wooden also ensure that the appropriate BS standards are marked on the product.
Selecting a playhouse to fit your garden
- the number of children who will be playing in it;
- whether you want a basic model or one fitted with play equipment (slides, ropes, etc.);
- whether you want moveable parts (doors, shutters, picnic sections, stairs, etc.) or the option to extend (canopies, awnings);
- the option for multiple storeys.
In addition to the space required for the playhouse itself, you will have to plan out clearance around the structure to allow children to move around it easily.
If you do not have a garden, it is absolutely possible to kit out your terrace with a playhouse. However, you should be careful where you install your playhouse (not too close to a handrail, for example) and you should opt for one-storey models to limit the risk of falls.
Wooden playhouses: an overview
Wooden playhouses are made to look like mountain chalets or little cabins perched in the forest! Aesthetically speaking, these playhouses blend into garden landscapes very well.
However, if not properly cared for, wooden playhouses will have a limited service life. As the material is exposed to threats like moss and other lichens, be sure to choose a pre-treated wood and reapply products according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
In very poor weather conditions, feel free to place a protective cover over the house to keep it safe.
Wooden playhouses can be difficult to set up and can take up to two days to install if you’re working alone.
Caring for a wooden playhouse
It is advisable to treat your wood with specialist products (such as wood paint, varnishor oil, according to wood species) every two years to ensure your playhouse has good weather resistance.
All products should be applied to dry surfaces. You may need to wash the surface (to get rid of bird droppings, for example), remove moss or sand it down before application.
Wooden playhouses may develop splinters over time. You just need to keep an eye on all edges and flooring and sand down if necessary.
Plastic playhouses: an overview
Available in a range of colours, plastic playhouses are always a big hit, whether they’re built to look like little houses or cottages.
The quality of the playhouse depends entirely on the type of plastic used to make it. Pay close attention to the density of the material, its resistance to UV rays and, of course, the price, as this will indicate how well it is built.
Optional extras can help to make the playhouse feel more realistic. Some models even feature doorbells! Most plastic playhouses are easy to assemble and are made up of large parts. However, an electric screwdriver must be used for optimal fixing.
Maintaining a plastic playhouse
How to take care of a plastic playhouse. While these playhouses require less upkeep, you should still clean them with a pressure washer on a regular basis to keep them looking fresh. Bird droppings on the outside of the structure can lead to discolouration, so it is best to remove stains quickly.
Over the winter, plastic playhouses should also be protected. You can either store it indoors or use a protective cover– if your kids will let you, that is!
Please note: you should inspect the structure regularly to check that all parts are in good condition and fixed securely in order to avoid accidents. If you run into issues, make a warranty claim!
Whether you’re looking at realistic or colourful designs or one or multiple storeys, all that’s left to do is pick the playhouse of your children's dreams. To weigh up your options, line up several products to compare style, price, assembly time and play options. One final tip: ask your kids for help!
For more information on playhouses and other outdoor play equipment, check out the following guides for our tips:
- Trampoline buying guide
- Pool toys buying guide
- Outdoor play equipment buying guide
- Trampoline safety net buying guide
Guide written by:
Pauline, Self-taught handyman, Leeds, 107 guides
With a handyman-father, I grew up with the soft sound of the sander and hammer on weekends. I am both manual and cerebral (yes, it is possible.), I learned the basics of DIY and the customization of furniture because I was passionate. The salvage mentality is a true way of life that allowed me to know how to use all the tools and products needed to give something a second life, from sander to varnish. I have two favorite activities: the transformation of old furniture and decoration tips. I am always ready to lend a helping hand to revamp a table or to restore a mirror that was intended for the trash that will become a friend’s centerpiece. I’m convinced that it’s possible to reinvent an interior by small, regular modifications, I constantly research low-cost, test ideas.