A playhouse has the power to keep kids entertained for hours, inspiring them to seek out adventure and let their imagination run wild. They’re also great for encouraging children to play outdoors in the fresh air which has huge benefits for both their physical and mental health - which means less TV and iPad time. This outdoor garden building can make a great addition to your garden, but an even better one to your child’s playtime - we know these are on most kid’s wish lists.
We’ve compiled a nifty buying guide with everything you should consider from size and type to safety features along with care and maintenance, ensuring you buy the best playhouse that is right for your garden and children. It’s an investment you won’t regret and it will bring happiness to both parents and kids for many years to come.
What type of playhouse to consider?
There are a few playhouse designs to choose from so figuring out what type will work best for your garden size and style is a good place to start when doing your research. Knowing what options are available will guide you in the right direction. Of course, thinking about your children’s interests and likes will also help you decide what one is best - after all, you need the seal of approval from the kids, right?
A very popular choice with them being a very traditional-looking playhouse. Designed with wood, they are very sturdy and long-lasting with either shiplap or tongue-and-groove cladding used for insulation and weather resistance. A wooden playhouse features a mineral-felt roof, sturdy floors along with windows, and a door to allow in light and fresh air. They also come with a 10-year guarantee against rot so they’re a safe and reliable garden building that will stand the test of time!
They will fit in well with other wooden garden furniture. You may choose to paint and decorate it with bright colours or designs that the kids may like or a subtle palette that fits in with your current garden theme. The advantage of opting for a wood style is that it gives you the freedom to change the colour and repaint it as many times as you wish - perfect for when your little ones change their mind about what they like.
This style of playhouse is constructed with robust plastic and treated with Anti-UV treatment which ensures good resistance to decolouring and extends the lifespan of it. Featuring bright pops of colour and creative designs from dragon and princess castles to farmhouses and fun playhouses with slides, they are a big hit with kids - great for unlocking their imaginations. This type of design may also complement other outdoor plastic kid’s toys you already have in your garden.
If you’re looking for more flexibility and would like the option to store it away when not in use, this is a great alternative. Its lightweight design makes it easy to move it from the garden into the house on rainy days. Similar to plastic playhouses, a tent-style one is vivid with lots of colour and designs that will inspire children’s imagination.
Generally, wooden playhouses are more spacious while plastic ones tend to be smaller. Wooden playhouses are also taller in height with their roof designs in most cases compared to plastic designs, making plastic playhouses better options for smaller children.
Deciding on the size is just as important as the style - remember bigger playhouses will mean your kids will be able to play in it for years to come and will suit a range of kids ages. If you have a few kids who will be playing in it, choosing a two-storey playhouse can be a good option and it’s also great for storing their toys.
Like any new children’s toy, you’ll want to make sure it ticks all the boxes for safe play. When buying a playhouse, you should look for these key features:
Meets the EN71 European safety standard for toys
All windows are glazed with styrene which is 100% shatterproof
Safety hinges are installed on doors
Smoothed and planed timbers to prevent splinters (wooden playhouses)
12mm gap around doors to prevent trapped fingers
Will I need to assemble it?
You’ll find most playhouses including wooden and plastic designs will need to be assembled at home. However, with easy-to-follow instructions included, the assembly should be straightforward and only take a few hours. It’s always a good idea to have 2 people assemble it for added convenience - the job will get done much quicker. Of course, it’s always a good idea to ask someone (family/friend/neighbour) to help with the assembly part if it’s not quite your cup of tea!
Plastic playhouses are quicker and easier to assemble while wooden ones tend to take longer to build and generally have more parts. You might want to allocate two days for building a large wooden playhouse.
Here is a list of tools you’ll need when building your new playhouse:
Drill & drill bits
Spirit level & tri square
Where should I put my playhouse?
This is something you should think about carefully when adding a playhouse into your garden to ensure you find the perfect and safe spot. These are a few of the things you should consider when picking the area to set it up in:
TIP: Find a good spot in your garden with enough space to create a level base. Aim to leave at least a 3ft gap around the playhouse so you can assemble and maintain it with ease.
Do I need planning permission for a playhouse?
In most cases, it’s unlikely you will need to get planning permission to add your new playhouse in your garden. However, it’s never a bad idea to check with your local planning office. In an instance where it was needed, it would more than likely be for a very large playhouse that may run the risk of blocking a neighbour’s view, depending on where it is placed.
Playhouse maintenance and care
It’s recommended that you paint your wooden playhouse with a coat of wood preserver annually to prevent it from weathering. Changes in temperature, moisture in the air, the sun, and rain can all affect the natural wood so using a wood preserver will prevent the wood from shrinking, expanding, and causing cracks, splinters, and warping. This treatment will also make sure that any colour stain or coloured paint that has been used on the playhouse will remain vibrant and new.
General cleaning only needs to be done a few times a year to maintain your playhouse - sweeping the inside and around the windows, will remove any unwelcome cobwebs or spiders and will prevent any dust build-up whilst removing larger bits of dirt or leaves that have managed to get inside.
A gentle clean is always best - simply use a soft bristle brush and warm water to scrub away any dirt or grime. This is a friendlier alternative to bleach and chemicals and more environmentally friendly, plus it’s safer for the little ones to start playing immediately after cleaning.
There is less upkeep required when maintaining a plastic playhouse with no need for painting. Although to keep it looking fresh and new, it’s recommended that you clean them with a pressure washer regularly or as often as you can. Bird droppings that land on the outside of the structure and are not washed off can lead to discolouration, so it’s best practice to remove the stains as soon you spot them. If you don’t own a pressure washer, simply wiping down the playhouse with a cloth using soap and water will also help keep it clean and presentable.
Over the winter, plastic playhouses should be protected to stop them from weathering and becoming discoloured. Storing it indoors is a great option but if you don’t have space, you can also use a protective cover and leave it outdoors.