I’ve been quite busy all summer- just not doing much that I considered especially blog-worthy.
I’ve done a few bits and pieces of things about the garden, picked cucumbers, picked tomatoes (which are slow to produce this year for some reason?), picked more blackberries than I had freezer space for and anxiously watched as my pumpkin vines put out nothing but female flowers so therefore did not produce any pumpkins.
WHEW. For nothing to write about, that was a hell of a run on sentence.
We started the tree house project almost a month ago, but didn’t finish until recently because the weather was just MISERABLE for working on stuff like this outside. The part of August where you’re soaked in sweat before you can make it to the end of your walkway is not conducive to ambitious outdoor plans of any sort.
I made a couple trips to the woods to move a few ferns, decided to hell with that and spent the next two weeks playing in the creek with my kid. It was a wonderful way to spend the end of summer- exploring creek beds and feeding Cheez-Its to crawdads.
The one in the picture rode his about 20 feet down the creek before it took on enough water to fall apart and sink.
Right- tree house.
So we picked up all of these pallets from the hardware store down the road because they were there. And because they were free. And because I have a zillion posts on Pinterest for projects you can do with pallets. It wasn’t until a couple weekends ago that we finally purchased a Saws-All and decided to break some of them apart and make some stuff out of them. Between the pallets and the tires stacked up, our front fence was beginning to look like something that should have had dueling banjos as a soundtrack. Not wanting to become a Midwest/Southern cliché, we decided to delve into the Pinterest list and make a spice rack. It turned out fairly well and went together with minimal effort. We still had TONS of pallets though, so we decided to use them to build the tree house as well.
The base of the tree house is 4×4 posts, anchored in concrete about 3ft deep. The platform was built of mostly scrap lumber from our dwindling pile, primarily of 2×4’s and maybe a 2×6 thrown in there somewhere. It’s anchored to the top of the posts with big lag bolts through the frame into each post.
The walls are all pallet wood. We used the thicker inside boards for the top and bottom and attached long pallet decking boards vertically to build a wall frame. Shorter pallet boards were added horizontally to the outside of the wall, but to keep the weight down, I didn’t entirely close in the wall with the horizontal boards. The window in the back of the tree house serves as more than just decorative; the V-Shaped bracing gave the entire thing a lot of stability. We used a 2×4 on each end at the top to add strength and help tie it all together. We’ve had 350+ lbs of people up there and there were no creaks or groans.
I will say that our daughter is fairly mellow though when she’s up there. She doesn’t do a lot of rough-housing or bouncing off those walls. If you’re building this for kids that are not of a fairly calm demeanor, I would consider reinforcing those walls with some serious bracing or at least wrapping the entire thing in light wire mesh. If you’re really concerned about the wall strength, drop the decking down several feet so that it’s sitting down inside the support posts instead of on top of them.
I’ve heard horror stories from my husband about the things he and his brothers did as kids. If I were building this for them- I probably would have framed the walls with 2×4 construction like I was framing a house, used 6×6 or 8×8 support posts and rented an auger to get the posts as deep as possible.
We tried a rope ladder for access at first, but it didn’t work out very well. It was hard to climb, I was worried the knots wouldn’t hold, it kept twisting with her on it, even though it was anchored. We left the anchor- a 3 ft section of 4×4 with holes drilled on either end and 3 foot long, 1/2 inch rebar pounded into the ground. Tom cut two smaller pieces of 4×4 and drilled into them part way to cap the rebar stakes. They can have sharp edges and they WILL rust after they’ve been outside for a while, so they have to be covered with something. A couple of screws toe-nailed into the caps keep them in place. The ladder was built of 2×4 lumber and attached to the back of the anchor. I’m MUCH happier with this ladder than the rope version; it added strength and stability to the entire structure, it’s easy for our kiddo to climb and we can use it ourselves- which eliminates dragging the stepladder out every time we need to get up there for something.
There is a big truck tire in the bottom of the frame, it’s lag bolted to each post and I’m going to fill it with dirt, rock and mulch to add weight to the bottom of the structure. The tree house decking is almost 8 feet off the ground, so I wanted to make sure it was very bottom heavy. The smaller tires are off my car and fit perfectly between the posts for climbing. I’m thinking I may add more stuff to the bottom later. We’re planning on adding a swing bar off of the post nearest the ladder. I found you can purchase all the swing components- brackets, seats, rubber coated chains, etc. online and they are fairly reasonable in price.
Our daughter decorated the inside of the walls with glittery sidewalk chalk. We added a couple of hooks with paracord and a galvanized metal bucket so that she can haul things up and down without carrying them up the ladder. She was putting random things in the bucket JUST to pull them up and down. 🙂
Side note- Anything we added that might hold water, such as the bucket and the tires, we drilled holes in. You don’t want to CREATE mosquito habitat if you can avoid it.
I’ll update after the swing bar and perhaps again when I get to landscaping underneath.