Whether it’s a base for adventures, a ‘no adults allowed’ den, or a secret hiding place, a children’s playhouse can inspire some of the best imaginative outdoor play.
Many adults will remember the thrill of having your own hideaway space as a child, into which you could invite friends, have secret meetings, or play with your toys. Playhouses can help develop creativity and social skills – as well as being a whole lot of fun.
Children’s outdoor playhouses come in all shapes and forms, from wooden towers and treehouses, to colourful plastic houses and fabric tepees. The best one for you will depend on the amount of space you have available and your budget, as well as your child’s age and preference.
To help you choose the best children’s playhouse for your little adventurer(s), we’ve put together this list of 5 of our favourites.
Last update on 2021-09-24 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
We’ve based our choices on their size, durability, and the potential for fun that they offer.
Our favourite children’s playhouse is a high-quality wooden tower design, which will fulfil all their treehouse dreams
This 4×4 BillyOh Bunny Max Tower Kids Playhouse is the one we recommend above all others.
This wooden playhouse is set on a tower, creating an elevated, treehouse effect, that is sure to delight children of 3 years and over. There’s a short ladder leading up to a veranda, and a 4’ x 4’ house, complete with door and windows.
The roof is covered in mineral felt, to protect it from the elements, and the pre-treated wood, and tongue and groove panels, further help to make the structure durable and weatherproof.
The total floor plan, including the veranda and steps, is 6’ x 5’, so you don’t need too much space in your garden to construct this option. The playhouse is relatively easy to assemble, and comes with clear instructions – expect it to take a capable adult around 5 hours to build.
It’s not the cheapest option, but it’s still very affordable, considering what you get – and we’re sure the kids will love it.
- Made from high-quality, pre-treated wood.
- Engineered tongue and groove panels offer improved weather protection, and a strong, smooth finish.
- Apex roof with mineral felt provides further weather-resistance, and ensures the playhouse can be left outside year-round.
- Exciting design for children – includes tower, ladder, veranda and playhouse.
- Can be easily customised using wood paint.
- Relatively small footprint of 6’ x 5’ makes it suitable for most gardens.
- Includes safety railing, to help prevent children falling off the veranda.
- Not the most affordable option.
- Finish can be a little rough – some parts may need sanding down before allowing children to use.
- Not suitable for children under 36 months.
Our best value playhouse is made from weatherproof plastic, has lots of optional accessories, and is perfect for younger children
If you’re looking for a more affordable option for your little ones, this low-priced Smoby Plastic Jura Lodge with Picnic Table could be the answer.
This option consists of a ground-level playhouse with door, windows, and attached picnic table on the side, offering children a place to sit. It’s made from plastic, and finished in shades of grey, with a red and brown table.
If you want to build on your playhouse further, a range of compatible accessories – including a chimney, garden and outdoor kitchen area – are also available to purchase separately. This allows you to customise the playhouse to suit your child.
The plastic is UV-stabilised and highly durable – this is one you can leave outside all year, without needing to worry. It’s suitable for ages 2 years and over, so it’s a great choice for toddlers and younger children, and doesn’t pose the safety concerns of a raised tower.
Measuring L 81 x W 54 x H 49 cm, this compact playhouse is perfect for small gardens. However, the small size means there’s not much room inside for play, and kids will quickly outgrow it. As long as you don’t mind the short lifespan, this is a highly affordable, decent quality playhouse.
- Made from durable plastic.
- Weather-resistant and UV-stabilised.
- Highly affordable – this is our cheapest playhouse.
- Includes a picnic table, for children to sit at.
- Other accessories are available to purchase separately, including a chimney, garden and outdoor kitchen area, allowing you to personalise your playhouse.
- Playhouse is comparatively small – there is limited room inside for play, and children will quickly outgrow it.
This stylish, cotton canvas tepee playhouse will be a hit with both children and adults
Cost: Price not available
For something a bit different, that will still inspire hours of imaginative play, check out this Children’s Tepee from Lavievert.
This fun and unique playhouse is made from 100% cotton canvas, with fumigated pine poles, and durable plastic connectors. The cotton is moth and mildew-proof, so it should last if well looked after.
However, the playhouse is not waterproof, so will need to be taken inside in bad weather. This is made easier thanks to the included canvas carry bag, which also allows you to transport it to the living room, park or beach.
The tepee playhouse features a 5-sided design, with a built-in door and windows, both with roll-up covers. Pockets under the windows offer your child a place to store their outdoor toys or snacks, and there’s plenty of room inside for multiple children to play.
The tepee design is stylish, and will give your garden a festival look – especially if accessorised with the included cushion cover and flag, or with some additional bunting and fairy lights. The canvas can be hand-washed in cold water, to keep it looking its best.
Overall, this is a fun, affordable and good-looking playhouse that is sure to please children and adults alike – you can always borrow it once the kids are in bed!
- Made from 100% cotton canvas and fumigated pine poles.
- Mothproof and mildew-resistant.
- Roll-up door and windows for easy access and optional privacy.
- 2 pockets under the windows offer storage space for books and toys.
- Includes a canvas carry bag, for easy transportation.
- Also comes with a cushion cover and decorative flag.
- Attractive design that will look great in your garden.
- Comparatively low price.
- Not fully weatherproof – should be taken inside after each use.
- Can be a little difficult to erect and stabilise the 5 poles.
This small, wooden playhouse keeps things simple, yet effective, and meets EN71 safety standards
Cost: Price not available
Next up is this 4×4 Honeypot Snug Garden Playhouse by Waltons, which is an excellent choice if you want a simple, wooden playhouse, at ground level.
The structure is made from PEFC certified timber, in the form of tongue and groove boards. If you’re concerned about the longevity of your playhouse, you’ll be pleased to hear that the wood is pre-treated, and comes with a 10-year guarantee from the manufacturer against rot.
Some of the features of this playhouse include a felt-covered Apex roof, for weatherproofing, a child-safe door, planed timber, and windows with shatterproof glazing. The playhouse conforms to the EN71 European safety standards for children’s toys.
The 4’ x 4’ size of the playhouse makes it suitable for smaller gardens, whilst still providing enough space inside for children and toys. Multiple windows ensure the interior space is light, and allow you to easily check on your little ones, without interrupting their play.
It comes in a natural finish, but it’s possible to use wood paint to add colour, if you want to customise the playhouse. It’s not the most affordable option here, but not the most expensive either, and for a wooden playhouse of this quality, we think it’s great value.
- Made from durable, tongue and groove cladding.
- Wood is pre-treated, and comes with a 10-year guarantee against rot.
- Compact 4×4 size is suitable for small gardens.
- Apex roof with felt for improved weatherproofing.
- Includes smooth-planed cladding, shatterproof styrene glazing and child-safe doors, to reduce the risk of injury.
- Meets the EN71 safety standard for children’s toys.
- Can be painted using exterior paint, for customisation.
- Not the most affordable option.
- Not suitable for children under 3 years.
This spacious wooden playhouse offers plenty of room for multiple children to play at once
Cost: Price not available
We’ve saved one of the best until last with this 8 x 4 Playhouse by Forest Garden, which is both our largest, and most expensive option.
It’s made from pressure-treated wood, which gives it excellent longevity, and means it can be safely left outside year-round. The tongue and groove boards are 12mm thick, and there’s a fully boarded floor. All wood is guaranteed against rot and fungal damage for 15 years.
The design features a playhouse with hinged stable door and windows, and an adjoining decked veranda, with an integrated seat. The door has safety hinges and a magnetic catch to prevent trapped fingers, and the window is filled with a shatterproof styrene glazing, as opposed to glass.
You can leave the wood as it is for a natural look, or paint it with exterior paint, to create a completely personalised playhouse for your little one, or something which matches the rest of your garden furniture. It comes flat-packed and will require self-assembly on arrival. The instructions for this could be clearer, but it shouldn’t be too hard for anyone skilled at DIY.
The large size of this playhouse makes it a great choice for those with more garden space. Children over the age of 3 will enjoy using it as part of their imaginative play, and there’s plenty of room for friends and siblings to play together, improving their social skills.
- Made from high-quality 12mm tongue and groove boards.
- Durable and long-lasting – wood is guaranteed against rot for 15 years.
- Large playhouse offers plenty of space for groups of children to play.
- Built-in stable door, windows and decked veranda.
- Compliant with EN71 safety standards for children’s toys – safety hinges on the door and styrene glazing in the window make it safer for young kids.
- Our most expensive playhouse.
- Only suitable for ages 3 years+.
- Assembly instructions could be better.
Can A Children’s Playhouse Be Put On Pebbles?
The main requirement for the base of a children’s playhouse is that it is level, to ensure the structure is stable, and that it provides some shock absorbance, in the event of a fall.
Playhouses are often erected on grass, play bark chippings or sand, for these reasons. If the playhouse is at ground level, as opposed to a tower, it could also be assembled on a hard surface, such as concrete, paving slabs or wooden decking.
There is no reason why you could not also use gravel or pebbles for a ground-level playhouse, providing there is a solid base underneath. Be wary of using pebbles as a base for a tower playhouse, as they could hurt your child if they fall.
How To Make Your Own Wooden Playhouse
There are many plans available online showing you how to make your own wooden playhouse, but one of the easiest ways is to use wooden pallets. Lay one or two pallets flat to make a base, and screw sheets of plywood over it, to form a level floor.
Position more pallets vertically around the base, to form the back and side walls of your playhouse, and screw into place. These pallets will need to be sanded down, to prevent your children getting splinters.
Lay another sheet of plywood over the top, to form the roof, and fix some sheets of galvanised steel or roofing felt onto this, to make it weatherproof. Attach the roof to the frame, using more wood screws. Hey presto, you have an open-fronted playhouse!
If desired, use wood paint to add colour and improve the look of your DIY playhouse, then treat the wood with a protective stain, for increased longevity. Make it feel homely by laying a rug on the floor, and adding some of your children’s favourite outdoor toys.
April is a freelance writer who specialises in writing about home and garden design and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.