Treating your kids with a backyard playhouse is a fantastic way of providing them a safe outdoor sanctuary where imagination can run free. Unfortunately, a ready-to-use playhouse can be a costly investment.
Fortunately, there are plenty of free plans — which is what we’ll help you find today. We’ve found 20 of the best free backyard playhouse plans so you can create the perfect playground for your child.
Important Details to Consider When Building a Playhouse
As you may know, building a playhouse requires some careful planning. After all, you want them to be safe. We’ve listed some essential details you need to consider before you begin building.
The playhouse size depends entirely on your preferences and available space. An easy way to determine the size is by considering how large your yard is and how many kids you have.
In large backyards, you can go all out, and construct a fortress with room for three or more kids to play. For smaller spaces, there are compact playhouse plans that fit in a corner.
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If you need a playhouse that can accommodate more kids but is still compact, you could always consider a 2-story playhouse. That way, there’s ample room for kids to play — just make sure it’s sturdy enough to hold the weight.
Types of Materials to Use
What kind of wood do you use for an outdoor playhouse? It’s crucial not to take this decision lightly. We’ve divided it into categories for you.
- Pressure-treated: This type of wood is the most cost-effective material for the frame. It’s water-resistant, meaning it’s excellent if you plan on leaving it exposed to the elements.
- Regular kiln-dried: Also cost effective, this option is better if you plan on protecting the playhouse from outdoor elements. It isn’t water resistant, so maintenance is a must.
- Redwood/cedar: Softwoods are naturally weather resistant, and they’ll give your playhouse a premium look. However, they can be quite costly and are susceptible to dents and scratches.
- Pressure-treated: This is another of the best materials to use since it’s inexpensive and durable.
- Composite: This type of material usually consists of wood fiber, plastic, and glue. It requires the least maintenance and offers high durability — a great choice if you don’t want pressure-treated lumber. However, it’s significantly pricier and can get hot in direct sunlight.
- Softwood: Although popular due to its premium appearance, softwood isn’t optimal for decking as it scratches easily.
- Hardwood: If your budget allows for it, hardwood offers longevity and weather resistance. It also adds to the aesthetic (similar to softwood).
Pressure-treated wood is the best material for the trim on your windows, corners, and door. You can also use regular kiln-dried lumber, but it needs at least two exterior stain coatings, and even with that, it isn’t as durable as pressure-treated.
With glass windows, single pane shed types are best. These are low cost and keep the construction energy efficient by sealing in heat and cold. That said, you’ll need to apply silicone around the top and sides to prevent water from seeping in.
- Cedar: Though cedar creates a stunning, natural finish, it’s quite expensive.
- Asphalt: Low cost and offering variety in color and style, asphalt is a popular option. Ensure that you purchase extra to account for any waste.
- Metal: Provides longevity and cost efficiency, making it another common choice.
What to Build a Playhouse On
What do you put under a playhouse? This depends on the type of playhouse you’re building. Ensure that the ground is level. If not, it’s essential to correct this problem for safety reasons.
For ground playhouses, you can build a deck that inclines on one side to counter the tilt or lay a foundation of sand or play bark. You could also place a permanent base with concrete, but level the ground beforehand.
If you’re building a tower playhouse, the foundation should always be soft if your kids fall down. This could be either grass or play bark.
Free Playhouse Plans to Consider
Now that you have an idea of all the details to consider when you build a playhouse, check out 20 of the best free backyard playhouse plans to consider building for your kids.
Retro A-Frame Playhouse Plans
A retro A-frame playhouse is the perfect tribute to 50s architectural style. It’s simplistic yet eye-catching. And how cute is that little pink door?
Charming Wooden Playhouse Plans
If you want something natural and easy to build, this charming wooden playhouse is an excellent idea. With round windows and an open-floor design, it’s modern, as well. There’s no foundation, so you’ll need a lawn to place it on, but this also means you can move it to storage in bad weather.
The Pirate’s Playhouse
Are you raising a small Jack Sparrow? This pirate ship would make a perfect addition to your backyard. Finish it off with a slide and a ladder, and you have a winner.
This easy, DIY playhouse plan is fantastic for small backyards. The miniature cottage includes a single room that you can decorate with rugs and small furniture. Just don’t forget the windows to open up the space.
For little kids, castle playhouse plans are fantastic for hours of fun and imagination. It’s quite simple despite the intimidating name, and you can customize it to your kiddo’s liking.
A tower playhouse is a perfect hideaway to have in the backyard. You can construct it around a tree for some shade or leave it freestanding. Include a ladder and slide, and decorate with curtains.
A traditional playhouse plan with a fenced front porch, plenty of windows (and plant boxes underneath), is the perfect addition to a backyard. Finish with a fresh color and some furniture. If you have any paint around from when your home’s exterior was painted, consider using it for the exterior of your playhouse and have it all match.
Pallet Playhouse Plans
Pallet playhouse plans are ideal if you’re working with a budget. All you need are recycled pallets and some paint. It’s small and includes a front porch where your little one can sit.
Wendy Playhouse Plans
A Wendy-style playhouse has a strong country vibe. It offers a front porch where two kids can sit and enjoy their juice boxes.
Minimalist Pallet Palace
If you want a playhouse to accommodate your eco-friendly playground, a minimalistic pallet shelter is worth considering. You only need a couple of recycled pallets and a firm foundation that you can dress with rugs or mats.
Log Cabin Playhouse Plans
Inspired by the great outdoors, a log cabin playhouse will please both kids and parents. With brown hues topped by green trim, it becomes a forest fortress in the backyard.
The Hill-Friendly Fort
If your backyard consists of a hill, we recommend building this hill-friendly design. Although it’s a playhouse, your kids can use it for years to come as a place to view their territory — it might be fun for Mom and Dad, too.
In this playhouse, no adults are allowed. Constructing this design requires a bit of skill to ensure it’s safe. However, once you’re done, it will be your kids’ favorite spot. Have a soft foundation like sand or grass, and accessories with swings. You could even try a tire swing.
There aren’t many 2-story playhouse plans that are easy to build, but this design is pretty straightforward. It’s all about creating the foundation and then adding what you like, be it swings or slides.
Another take on a 2-story playhouse plan is this clubhouse playset. It’s a reasonably large house, topped with a twisty slide and swings; fun for small and older kids.
Cottage-Style Playhouse Plans
If you don’t shy away from a challenge, this cottage hideaway is the perfect project to try. The result is an adorable white cottage with the sweetest pink accents, and finished with flowers, a few windows, and a deck. Seriously, the décor is so cute, Mom will be jealous!
Playhouse plans with a loft aren’t always easy to build, but if you’re up for the challenge, we recommend trying it. It creates a secret hideout for your kids with a potential for summer sleepovers.
This treehouse design places your little ones a few feet above the ground and is relatively simple to build. Paint the interior a bright color, and instead of a door, use colorful curtains.
A Playhouse With a Slide
Instead of a mega-playhouse, this plan keeps it simple by elevating the miniature cabin. Include a ladder and slide for easy access and exit, and ensure the ground below is soft.
For kids who love the beach, Balinese-inspired playhouse plans are must-have additions for the yard. Get some long window shutters, detailed railings, and colored glass for the door, and you’re set to go.