Does my wooden playhouse need a base?
Buying a playhouse for your little one can often be a whole new experience for many. With so many different options out there you want to be sure you are going to create the very best little play space you can. One of the questions we very often get asked is;"Does my playhouse need a base?"
The simple answer to this question is that it is completely up to you! You don't have to have one - it is not necessary with our wooden playhouse range as long as your grass is level.
However, many prefer to have one for many reasons - the most popular being to make the inside of the playhouse a good place to store toys and to create a slightly drier more solid space for their children to play - especially in the winter when the ground may get muddy and wet. Smaller children may want to sit or crawl around inside the playhouse so creating a base will prevent your child from ending up looking like a swamp monster if your garden is prone to getting very soggy!
We have outlined the various options below for creating the perfect base or buying a pre-made floor for your playhouse. There are differing amount of effort involved in creating a base for your playhouse. We have also included detailed instructions on how to build your own and some easier less labour-intensive options too!
Skip to the following sections by clicking the links below:
<Grass playhouse bases
<Wooden decking bases for your playhouse
<Patio playhouse bases
<Play bark for playhouses
The Best Place for Your Base
Before you start you need to find the very best place to create your playhouse base.
The place in which you place your lovely little home is an important aspect to consider. If you prepare carefully for its arrival, the assembly of the playhouse will be incredibly quick and easy.
Here are a few handy tips:
Make sure that there is enough space for a 1.5 -2 metre radius of clear space around the playhouse without obstructions. This will prevent the children from hurting themselves on any garden objects while playing.
Keep in mind that you will need access to all sides of the playhouse once assembled for application of chosen wood treatments and maintenance etc.
Size of your playhouse
Think about the shape and layout of your garden; the dimensions and type of the playhouse will determine which type of garden/outdoor space you wish to use.
The playhouse needs to be placed on level ground to ensure stability and safety, while also ensuring that the doors can open freely without getting stuck on the grass/chosen type of ground. Having level ground will also make the assembly of the playhouse much easier!
A little shelter
The surrounding area conditions need to be suitable; young trees, foliage, or weeds that are prone to growing may impact the future condition of the playhouse if too close. Avoid placing the playhouse underneath tall trees that angle rain into concentrated areas as this may gradually impact the wood, and if possible, try to avoid areas open to extreme elements.
It's a good idea to have the playhouse within sight of your home so that you can keep an eye on the little ones while they're playing; if there's a window in your home that faces onto your garden that also happens to be one that you spend a fair amount of time near, placing the playhouse in line with this is very useful.
Our wooden playhouses are designed to be assembled straight onto grass, making it quick and convenient to put up your playhouse in hardly any time at all and it's ready for the little ones to play. So you don't need to worry about making or buying a base. You just need to make sure the grass is level.
Our wooden playhouses are heat treated and are pre-painted with water based stain which includes a mould inhibitor, so you can assemble the playhouse straight onto grass without worrying about the moisture from the grass below. Just make sure you re-coat the playhouse each year according to the playhouse instructions and follow the guidelines on your chosen tub of treatment.
My grass isn't level...
If you don't have level ground the walls of the playhouse will not align properly causing you problems, not only whilst you are building it, but it could later on too. You may wish to look at putting in place a permanent base for your playhouse, like a concrete patio with a wooden floor or decking for example.
It's really important that any playhouse is on a level surface, otherwise it won't be as sturdy and strong as it's supposed to be.
A wooden playhouse is a lovely addition to your garden and is designed to last, so you want it to be assembled properly and looked after from the beginning!
If the grass isn't completely level, you have a few options...
If you've got a ground-floor playhouse, you can make or buy a base for your playhouse, level your grass or lay an area of play bark or sand.
If you're using a base, you can either dig out a level section of grass and then install the base, or create a base with an underside which inclines along with the grass.
If you've got a playhouse with a platform, it's best to level your grass or lay a level area of play bark or sand.
Ground level playhouse:
If you already have a decking area in your garden, this is a perfect space for a ground-floor playhouse to sit as the surface should already be level.
If you'd like to add your own decking, read our detailed instructions on how to create your own wooden decking base here.
If the decking is textured or has deep grooves it won't be quite as comfortable as grass for the little ones to play on, but you can always buy or make a separate floor to go inside the playhouse, or add cushions and rugs for playtime.
Playhouses on platforms are so exciting for little ones with slides, ladders and balconies included. They should be assembled onto a shock absorbing surface such as grass, play bark or sand.
They shouldn't be assembled onto a decking area or hard surface
such as concrete. Grass is the perfect surface for a tower playhouse,
it absorbs impact and you've most likely got a grassy area already so you don't need to spend time or money making a new play area.
Create Your Own Decking Base
A Little Prep...
1. Measure out your area. As long as the area is a little larger than the footprint of your playhouse, it can be as small or large as you like. Just make sure there'll be at least 2m clearance between the playhouse and any walls or trees. Once you've chosen your area, mark it with a peg in each corner. It's a good idea to measure out your area based on the size of your chosen decking boards for minimal cutting.
2. Run string between the pegs to mark the whole area, use an edger tool to cut straight edges in the turf and remove the turf with a spade. Check the ground is level by using a straight edge and spirit level, and level out any slight unevenness.
3. If you have soft ground, all you need to do is cover the area with a layer of weed control fabric and 50mm of gravel on top, before laying the decking. This will help to absorb moisture during rainfall and keep the decking away from the ground.
Fitting the Decking
1. Start with the outer frame. Fit the frame together around the edge of your chosen area. Bolt or drill them together using galvanised screws. To keep the joist frame secure, we recommend using two screws on the sides of the frame and one on the top edge.
2. Use wood preserver on all edges which have been sawn and on the areas where screws have been drilled into the wood.
Assemble the Joists
1. The joists create the supporting frame for the top decking boards. For a small deck, three joists should be enough, one placed in the middle with the other two placed between this and the outer frame. The spacing between joists for horizontal boards should be around 400mm.
2. Make sure that each piece of the frame fits together at right angles (so that it's not wonky!) and use a nail gun or electric drill to attach the joists to the outer frame with galvanised nails.
Assemble the Decking Boards
1. We'd recommend positioning all of the decking boards on the frame before fixing them in place, making sure the frame is fully covered. Check you're happy with the layout and then you can start fixing them into place.
2. Pre-drill your holes in the boards first, as little cracks can appear if you hammer nails straight into the wood. You should have a hole in each of the 4 corners for each board.
3. As well as fixing the boards at each corner onto the outer frame, fix the boards at the centre where they pass over the joists for added support.
4. Lots of people spend much time measuring out the boards before fixing to the frame, but this can be fiddly. We recommend cutting the boards to size once they're fixed in place for ease. Then you can cut them to your desired length while they're secured in place.
Be sure to read all instructions provided with your chosen decking set, and use any tools according to the manufacturer's instructions.
If you've already got a patio, all you need to do is make sure you add an internal wooden floor for your ground-level playhouse. We wouldn't recommend putting the playhouse onto a hard surface like a patio, concrete or asphalt, unless safety surfacing such as a wooden floor is used inside the playhouse. We have wooden floors available for all of our ground-level playhouses. They come in two panels and simply lay inside the playhouse.
A tower playhouse with a platform and slide should be assembled onto a shock absorbing surface such as grass, play bark or sand. It shouldn't be assembled onto a hard surface such as concrete. Grass is the perfect, safe surface for a tower playhouse; it absorbs impact and provides a softer ground.
Creating Your Own Patio Base
Our playhouses can be assembled straight onto grass or any safe surface without needing a base, but if your grass isn't level or you'd like to create a feature area for the playhouse, a base does offer some great advantages.
As well as providing a level and solid surface, it will also prevent weeds and foliage from working their way into the playhouse - something that may happen if a wooden playhouse floor is placed straight onto grass. Having a base will also ensure that the walls of the playhouse line up properly, as gardens are often slightly uneven - even if they appear to be level.
There are different kinds of bases that would be perfectly suitable. Slab bases are really simple, require minimal effort and are very quick to build, so here's a simple guide for building your slab base at home...
Remember, you'll need to lay a safety surface around and inside the playhouse before the little ones start playing, as a slab base is very hard. This can be a layer of grass, astro turf, a rubber safety mat or wooden floor inside.
Build the base
1. Once you have decided on the best place to lay your playhouse base, use your pegs and string to mark an area 2 inches larger than the floor area of the playhouse.
2. Dig out a depth of approximately 2.5 (6.5cm) inches of soil - this will contain your base.
3. Level the area with a rake and take out the pegs.
4. Create a cement and building sand combination by mixing 1 part cement to 8 parts building sand. Then spread this evenly inside the 2.5" deep hole and ensure that the mix settles at approximately 1.5" (4cm) in depth. Level this with a rake.
5. Working outwards and starting from one corner, lay the slabs down by tapping gently at the centre of each slab with a suitable tool.
6. Ensure all slabs are level and firmly placed.
7. Simply brush off any excess dust and sand as this could affect the positioning of the playhouse.