Building a treehouse for the kids is an exceptional way to pass some quality time together and may even teach the kids some flexible woodworking skills.
Let’s explore how to build a basic platform and some sturdy handrails.
Using tools found which are readily available everywhere, this can be done in a few days.
First, select the tree where you plan to install the treehouse. It need not be a huge tree but should give some height and ample shade. If you are lucky enough to have a tree with a good three-way crotch to hold a platform, you are a little ahead but it is not obligatory. A kid’s playhouse platform should be approximately six feet off the ground or so.
Using pressure-treated lumber you need to form a square platform base around the tree trunk(s). You do not want to join the platform to the tree as drilling, bolting and such can harm the tree itself. The platform will float using the tree limbs for aid.
Most often extra leg supports must be added to adequately support the weight of the platform and the kids. Good-sized lumber to use is two inches by six-inch boards for floor joists. I strongly suggest using galvanized wood screws to join the floor as screws will take the tree movement and stress much better than nails. Building the floor is usually not as simple as the sixteen inches on center typical framing, as the tree trunks will dictate where floor beams can be placed. By using good framing techniques in the use of headers, hanger clips, and so on a sturdy safe floor can be assembled. Once the floor is in place, the ladder is next. A pre-made ladder is the simplest but a ladder can be formed of two by fours, and some screws.
Turning the two by fours on edge, one by three pieces on ten-inch centers to the edges of the two by fours. These are the steps or bars.
Once done make sure the ladder extends three feet higher past the platform floor for safety. Now install some short lines vertically on the flat between the horizontal steps. This will help support the steps or rungs. The ladder must be securely attached to the stand to prevent tipping. Do not screw the ladder to the floor as the platform is constantly moving with the trees. Handrails should be strong enough that a 150-pound side load pushed against them will not break the railings. Four by four-inch lumber makes the best support posts. Install them no more than four feet on center and they must be screw lagged or through-bolted to the floor framing.
Make the complete railing at least 34 inches high. Depending upon the age of the kids using the treehouse, the exact enclosure may be no more than one more two by four as a mid-rail or a full latticework if real small ones are playing there. A six-foot by ten-foot floor can easily accommodate a small house as well. Instead of cutting the four by fours at 34 inches, let them extend up to 48 inches above the platform and they can become two of the corner supports for the house.
If you are inclined and the budget allows, a waterproof roof, some paint, a small door or window, or even a bench or two will provide the kids with their own treehouse space to play. A must idea today is to place some plastic wood chips at least six inches deep around the treehouse and especially at the bottom of the ladder in case of a slip or fall.