How to Choose the Perfect Playhouse

A common misconception about playhouses is that they are just toys. On the contrary, they are evidence of a beautiful childhood, and as David and Jeanie Stiles wrote in one of their books, help children practice skills that “will help them later in life, like leadership, cooperation, communication and organization.”

As parents, you want the best for your kids. If a playhouse can be such a wonderful present, you probably want to know everything about it and select only the best. In this guide, we aim to give you an objective analysis of playhouses we carry and help you make a well-informed decision. After all, you want to select a playhouse that’s just right for your kids.

Budget

This is one of your first and certainly very important criteria. However, we encourage you consider this criterion only after you have found a few potential candidates. You will find that playhouses can be very different from each other; each has its pros and cons. Sometimes, a little more expensive playhouses can make a much better present in the long term. For example, as your kids grow up, an slightly larger playhouse can grow into a reading nook. Or a great outdoor playhouse can overnight turn you children into the most popular kids in the neighborhood. There are great things about playhouses that we cannot simply assign a dollar value.

Room for Creativity

Most people think that bigger or more expensive is better. This is not always true. What is really important is how much fun you can have with your playhouse. We love it when a friend of ours told us about his very first and extremely simple “playhouse.” It was nothing more than four wood panels quickly nailed together. One opening was cut on each of the panel. No roof. In this extremely simple “playhouse,” our friend became a shop keeper, a postman, a fireman and sometimes batman. The amount of fun generated from decorating that “playhouse” was also endless. Children can be much more creative than adults. Bring out your inner kid when selecting a playhouse and you will find that there are so much more to a playhouse.

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Location, Location, Location

Size and material of the playhouses are the two main factors to determine where you should place your playhouse; we will go into details about them later. However, whether you put the playhouse indoor or outdoor, the first thing you want to consider is how it looks in context of the surrounding. The playhouse should fit well with its background and give you enough room to move around it for playing, cleaning and potential future maintenance. If you have small children, you want to put the playhouse where you can easily see what your children are doing from inside the house. If it’s a taller outdoor playhouse, you might want to check if you need a building permit for it. The good thing is if you do need a permit, we are sure you got yourself a really nice playhouse and are loving it. Also you also want to check with your neighbors if they are OK with you putting a bigger playhouse in your backyard. If they have children, invite them over to play as well.

Wooden Playhouses vs. Plastic Playhouses vs Play Tents

Compared to wooden playhouses, plastic playhouses have several advantages: they are generally cheaper, smaller, and easier to set up, dismantle or move around. They are more popular with families with smaller kids because of their brighter colors. Most of the times, families put their plastic playhouses indoor. However, if they choose to bring them outside, these playhouses require little maintenance and do not need foundations.

Most people would agree that wooden playhouses look nice in their backyard. Depending on the material and the craftsmanship, these playhouses can still be popular with kids for years. Talking to one of our partners, we learned that a family bought a playhouse from them 15 years ago and loved it so much. Now the children grew up and moved away, so the farther dug up the foundation and gave the entire playhouse to a family with younger kids. There was no rotting with the playhouse, and it became an instant hit with the new family. You can do a lot of customization with a wooden playhouse and the playhouse will “grow” with your kids. If your playhouse is big enough, it be can be re-purposed as a shed.

Play tents have been gaining a lot of popularity among families with younger kids. They are most affordable, easiest to set up or take down, and most variable in term of designs. The two most common materials for play tents are polyester and fabric so some can be used both indoor and outdoor, while the others should only be used indoor. Imagine listening to bedtime stories in a play tent next to a fireplace. Many adults would love to do that.

Size

Playhouses and play tents come in a wide range of sizes. Play tents are usually the smallest; the largest play tents might hold up to 4 people. The largest playhouse can have several stories. Of course, whichever play structure you buy should fit nicely in your home. One trick to help you visualize the right size of the playhouse is to duct tape the floor to the largest dimensions of the playhouse, including the roof. Larger playhouses generally are easier to maintain and gain a more popularity points for your kids.

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Accessories

More and more play furniture and accessories are created to make playing in playhouses as real as possible. Just like buying a playhouse, you want to consider similar aspects when selecting these accessories: size, material, location, and price.

Assembly Requirements

Most playhouses require assembly. Play tents are usually the easiest to set up, followed by plastic playhouses and wooden playhouses. If you have some handyman skills and enjoy a challenge, setting up a wooden playhouse with your kids will be a special bonding experience. However, if woodworking is not your strongest suit, don’t be discouraged from giving your children a wonderful gift. Handyman services are usually available locally and at reasonable prices.

Safety

Regardless of the playhouse you select, safety for your kids is the number one priority. Please follow the age suggestion as closely as possible. You want to ensure that the playhouse is well-constructed and sturdy. Product description and reviews are the best place to confirm this. Please also check out our Safety Guide for more information.

Hours, even years, of fun can be enjoyed on the right playhouse. We hope this guide has been helpful to you in making the right decision. Please also remember that we are always available to answer any of your question.