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How to Build a Double-Decker Playhouse

This grand double-decker playhouse will entertain the kids year after year. Learn how to build one yourself.

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building a wooden play structure for children Watch Video

Step 1: Mark the Area and Set Up Support Posts

Determine the size and location of your play structure, then stake out the area and mark the corners. Dig four postholes to a depth of 36 inches for the tower of the structure. Add at least 3 inches of gravel in the bottom of each hole for proper drainage. Tamp gravel down with posts. Place 4x4 x 12’ posts in holes, making sure they are level and plumb. Fill holes with fast-setting concrete. Brace posts with stakes while they set.

Step 2: Attach the Joist Banding

Determine the desired height of lower and upper decks. When posts are set, temporarily attach 2x6 joist banding around the outer edges of the posts at lower-deck height. Make sure the joists are level. Permanently fasten the joists by drilling pilot holes through the joists and posts then securing with 3/8" x 5" carriage bolts. Repeat the process for the upper deck at desired height.

drill through joist and secure with carriage bolts

Courtesy of Cary Wiedman

Step 3: Attach the Floor Joists and Decking

Use joist hangers to attach 2x6 floor joists to the outer banding, spacing them 16 inches on center (Image 1). Cut 1x6 decking planks to span the platform, making sure to place boards perpendicular to joists. It is okay if the boards hang over the edge. Attach planks to joists with 3-inch deck screws. To trim the overhanging deck boards, snap a chalk line on the ends of the planks and use a circular saw to saw them flush. Notch the planks as necessary to fit around the posts (Image 2). Repeat the process to install the upper deck.

Step 4: Cut the Upper-Deck Hatch

Mark out an area on the upper deck for an access hatch. Before cutting, fasten two boards to the underside of the hatch to keep the planks together when cut. Affix 2x4 boards to the joists where the front and back of the hatch will rest. These boards will support the hatch when closed. Cut out the opening for the hatch using a circular saw. Sand to remove any sharp edges. Fasten the access hatch door using 3-inch hinges.

use a saw to cut an access hatch and sand edges

Courtesy of Cary Wiedman

Step 5: Build the Swing Support Ladder

Install two 4x4 x 12’ posts in holes in line with the tower posts to serve as swing support ladder. These posts should be 12 feet from the tower. Set the posts in concrete in the same manner as with the tower posts. When set or braced, cut 2x4 ladder rungs to the appropriate length to fit between the posts. Use 3-inch galvanized screws to attach the rungs to the posts at 14 inches on center. Attach the 4x6 12-foot swing support beam to the ladder post and tower with carriage bolts. Attach swing to swing support beam.

Step 6: Build the Ladders

Build the ladder that extends from the ground to the lower deck using 2x4 x 6' boards for the rails and 2x4 x 2' boards for the rungs. Attach the rungs 14 inches apart on center with 3-inch deck screws (Image 1).

Attach the ladder to the tower by toe-nailing it with deck screws. Assemble the ladder for the upper deck in the same manner. Attach it to the upper deck with 3-inch deck screws and to the lower deck with screws that come up through the bottom of the lower deck (Image 2).

Step 7: Install the Railings

For the lower-deck railings attach 2x4 boards to the support posts at a height of 36 inches above the deck floor. Attach the slats between the railings and the deck floor leaving gaps no larger than 6 inches. Repeat for upper-deck railing.

outer rails are attached to support posts

Courtesy of Cary Wiedman

Step 8: Add Monkey Bars

Set two 4x4 x 6’ posts at the desired distance from tower to support the monkey bars. Build monkey bars using 1-1/2" hardwood dowels set in 2x8 boards. Drill 1-1/2" holes into the supports with a spade bit every 12 inches. Secure the dowels by drilling pilot holes and screwing long screws through dowels from the top of the supports. Attach the monkey bars between posts and tower using carriage bolts.

Consider attaching optional accessories such as a slide, fireman's pole, or trapeze rings.

dowels secured by drilling holes and using screws

Courtesy of Cary Wiedman

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