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Railings and Final Touches

Once the walls were up and the ladder was made, it was time for the front railings. Again, using standard railings made this much easier. I needed another post on the top where I left off the fourth post underneath. This would brace the railings in the middle.

Voila! Finished tree house.

Adding a cap to the top of the fourth post (helps with water damage on the open end of the wood) and a chain at the “entrance” put the finishing touches on the tree house. After a quick field test from the target audience I knew the project was a success!

The residents loved their new tree house!

Putting up the Walls

Standard size lumber is a beautiful thing. As it happens, a lot of standard size lumber elements come in similar standard sizes. So when I decided to make my life a little easier by using stockade fence sections for the walls, they happened to also be the same length as the longest side of my tree house. So while I did have to cut down one side, the other could be used full size and was exactly the right length.

With the help of some very nice (and very strong) friends, I lifted each of the (very heavy) stockade fence sections into place and nailed/screwed them in. This secured the back and side walls which faced the neighbors. (I’m sure the neighbors don’t want my kids peeking out at them over the fence any more than I want the neighbors peeking in on my kids in their tree house.) Since the front sides would be just railings, the back walls had no need for windows.

This is how it looks with the back walls in place. It's taking shape!

For added stability, I cut one brace for the fourth side and secured it to the tree. It’s the only place where anything is attached to the tree. Because I didn’t want a fourth post interrupting the flow of my backyard, I opted for three posts and one bracket to the tree. It’s very sturdy!

This was also the time to make the ladder. It was pretty simple, just the vertical side pieces with horizontal steps braced by “L” brackets underneath. It’s also designed with hooks on the main landing of the tree house so that the ladder can be removed in the winter, or if the kids should not have access for some reason.

Putting on the Floor Planks

Once the frame was up, it was time to put down the floor boards. This was the easiest part. Since I designed the size to work with standard size lumber, all I had to do was lay them down in place and screw them in.

Using an old bunk bed ladder temporarily, I was able to climb up and down to put on the floor boards.

Around the tree trunk there were some boards that still needed to be cut. So I measured for those and cut out enough space around the trunk so that it could still have room to grow.

Completed floor boards installed.

Once the floor was complete it was ready for the side walls, railings, and custom-built ladder.

Putting in the Posts and Frame

So the first thing I had to do was put the posts in the ground. Because I was building around a tree trunk and not in the crook of a tree or between two trees, I had to put posts in the ground to support the base.

Putting in the posts with a post-hole digger and cement.

I measured the places for the posts, dug the holes, then poured in the cement; checking and double-checking that they were square and positioned properly. It took a day or two for the cement to set before I could put up the frame for the tree house floor.

The base of the tree house with posts and frame.

Once I could put up the frame for the floor, I measured and cut and put up the frame, being careful to give adequate room around the tree so it would have room to grow. This made the frame very sturdy.

So I’ve decided to build a tree house

I have a pretty small back yard, but I have a good tree house tree. My kids love to play outside — just like I did when I was a kid. And one of the things I always wanted as a kid was a tree house! I never got one, but I can build one for my kids.

Newly purchased wood all ready to go!

So I did some planning, measuring, sketching, re-measuring, and re-sketching. Then I went to Home Depot to see what the standard sizes of wood were. I wanted to do as little cutting as possible. I ended up planning the base/floor of the tree house to be a standard length of a 2×6, which is 8 feet. Voila! No cutting to length!