Endless summer days have been spent in tree houses imagining far-off adventures. Whether simple or elaborate, a tree house can be constructed in any backyard. All that is needed is a good plan and a few days.
- 2×4″ stock
- circular saw
- drill with selection of bits
- tape measure
- fishing line
- Site and Layout – It is more than likely that the location and type of tree house you are building has already been chosen for you. Be sure that the tree is safe and healthy – look for both visible and hidden dangers before you begin. Temporarily support a 2×4″ piece of stock from the location chosen so you can get an idea of where other supports may be needed. Drop a string and weight to locate a second and third support point on the ground. Using temporary supports go about lying out and nailing down a floor frame.
- Foundations – Any structure relies on its foundation to resist the effects of gravity. Once you have dropped and marked your foundation location, dig a whole several feet deep. If you have a frost issue, the foundation should go below the frost line. Quick-drying cement can be used for the foundation. Stop about 3″ below the surface. Cardboard tubes can be used to reduce the amount of cement used. Attach a post clamp to the foundation before it is completely cured. Now cut a post to a longer-than-needed length and attach a foundation clamp. Measure and mark the finished post’s height.
- Decking – When attaching the deck framing to the posts, pre-drill and countersink holes for bolts. Sometimes, if you are going to stain a project, it is better to do so as you go along to ensure that all of the wood gets covered. If you are fairly sure about your measurements, staining or painting before assembly can also be a good idea. Install the frame and decking and be sure to allow a nail’s width between decking boards for drainage. If the open space is more then 32″ across, a cross joist will be needed.
- Ladder – Making a ladder to reach the tree house is straightforward. Cut two 2×4″ stock boards to length and round over the corners. Clamp the boards together securely and drill holes through both pieces of wood. The diameter of the holes should match the diameter of the dowels to be placed into the holes. Finally the clamps should be unclamped and separate the stock lengths. Attach dowels to both pieces of stock and nail the dowels firmly to the stock.
- Railings – Attach railings to the decking. This step may also involve walls. If a railing is needed, you may need to speak with a building inspector to make sure the height of the rail and spacing between stiles are safe and legal.