Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Our "Big Woods" Tree House DIY

"When are you going to build the Tree House?" was the question the grandkids repeatedly asked Papaw. Now, it's done! Check out how this novice carpenter did it!

When we made the decision to move to our log home in the northeast woods, it was no surprise that the grandkids asked for a tree house. We finally had plenty of property, along with innumerable trees, so let the planning begin!

Location, Location!!

First things first: pick the site. This area was chosen because there were 4 oak trees that created a "rough" square. The top of a small maple tree in the center was cut to allow for the build. 

Do the Research!

Next, my husband Charlie (alias Papaw) researched ways to hook the tree house to the trees while allowing independent movement of the trees and treehouse.

He decided to use Heavy Duty Screw-in Steps that hunters use. He ordered the steps online and put 2 on each tree. When screwed in, they form a "J-hook".

For the framing, he doubled treated 2" x 10" lumber on the front and back to be the main weight-bearing beams for the structure. These boards rest on the steps.

Down each side, he fastened a single 2" x 10" to each beam and allowed them to rest on 2 separate steps. On one side he used a 2" x 12" because it was available.

As the Tree House progressed, and Charlie realized the weight was going to be more than he originally thought, he put 3 - 6" x 6" treated posts under the front beam and 2 posts the same size under the back. The posts were concreted in the ground and installed in a manner to allow the tree house to "slide" on top of the posts.

2" x 8" treated lumber was used for Floor Joists . They were anchored to the tops of the weight-bearing beams, using metal anchors.

Time for The Floor!

Two types of flooring were used:
  • 5/8" plywood was used for what would be the enclosed room.
  • The remainder of the floor was covered with treated deck boards.

Deck and Floor (top)


The Helpers

Grandkids Noah, Alex, and Mia help Papaw.

Good Helpers!

Hanging Out!

Alex takes a break from building!

Building the Steps

Building the steps was definitely a challenge! Since the ground is not level, the side boards would need to be different lengths, and Charlie did not know what angle to cut the boards on the top and bottom for proper placement. There must be a mathematical formula for this, but we didn't know what it was! The first attempt did not work.

My solution? The "tried and true" cardboard method! We doubled and glued corrugated cardboard together to make a template to cut the boards. With some adjustments, it worked!

It worked!

After the side boards were cut and attached to the Tree House, it was time to add the steps. I helped Charlie level the boards as he fastened them securely. A block of wood was mounted under each step for extra strength and stability.

The Walls

The walls were framed with 2" x 4"s, and Engineered Paneled Siding was attached. The walls were built on the deck, put in place, and connected to the flooring and to each other.

The Roof

Corrugated Asphalt Sheeting was used for the roof.

A "scrap" of the roofing
Since the enclosed room size was determined by the surrounding trees, it is not a true rectangle, thus nothing is "squared".  For that reason, the roofing frame was installed in an asymmetrical pattern, allowing the sheeting to be "pieced", thereby saving on costs. 

Forecast: Rain!

"Roof Installation Day" was the longest work day. Rain was predicted for the next day, and Charlie worked by flashlight until after 10:00 p.m. to finish the roof. Oh, the things we will do for grandkids!

He then covered the front wall and anything exposed with plastic to "weather the storm" and keep everything dry until the room could be finished.

A tarp was placed over extra building materials.

Finally, the Storm Is Over!

After the storm, we checked for leaks. With the use of a little roof tar, the roof is now totally waterproof.

All Walled Up!

Charlie now installed the remaining wall. He custom built a door and installed the final window. 

Trim was added to the door and windows along with a door handle.


Alex helps with the window trim.

Railing was then installed to allow for the Stockade Fencing which would be added later.

Grandkids Mia, Noah, and Alex are good helpers!

First Visitors!

Cousins Lucas and Landon were excited to visit and see the Tree House!

Adding the Handrails

1-1/2 inch lumber was fashioned into the handrails.

The Gate

The gate was hung with spring-loaded hinges so it automatically closes. It was mounted in a manner so it can only open into the deck, thus preventing accidental falls.

It's Painting Day!

Exterior paint was used on the Tree House in a color that would go with our log home.

Surprise! The Railing is now a Stockade Fence!

The fencing boards were spaced a few inches apart to allow for water gun and Nerf gun battles! Stain will be applied after the boards weather suffiently.



While traveling in Texas, I saw a climbing swing in a yard, and knew we had to have one. Amazon to the rescue! With practice, grandson Alex mastered the climb!


Alex did it!

Hanging out inside!

Temporary home for a swing

4" x 4" timbers were used for the framework for 2 additional swings. 

The 4" x 4" was screwed into the floor joist.  The other posts are concreted into the ground.

Charlie ran I-bolts through the 4" x 4" to hook the swing chains to. 


So is the Tree House finished? Maybe; maybe not. 

We are still looking for a slide, and some other items have been suggested by the grandkids: 

  • a trapeze swing  
  • a zip line 
  • a fireman's pole
  • a shelf or drawers for snacks (This has been mentioned several times by our climber!)

Only time will tell! 

Our Tree House in the Big Woods!

Thanks for visiting!