How to Build a Landscape Timber Playhouse

Tom King

Building a playhouse for your kids using landscape timbers is a lot of fun -- reminiscent of an old-fashioned log cabin raising. You'll need some basic tools and a helper, but otherwise, if you've ever built a tower out of dominoes or one of those Lincoln Log houses, then you have pretty much all the engineering expertise you'll need to build a very sturdy, safe playhouse.

  1. Sand all your landscape timbers and fill any splintered areas with wood filler to protect children's hands. Lay out your cutting and drilling tools in a handy place, since you will be cutting and drilling each piece as you go.

  2. Lay two timbers on the ground and drill holes for the all-thread rods 4 inches from the ends of each timber. Do the same with two more timbers and lay them crosswise over the first two timbers so that the holes match up. Insert four 8-foot all-thread rods into the holes, one at each corner. Thread on a bolt and washer on the bottom of each rod below the lower landscape timber.

  3. Lay timbers side by side between the second-tier logs, on top of the first-tier logs. Lay them tightly side by side all the way across for flooring. Drill and screw in place with 6-inch galvanized screws. To improve footing, you can cut a sheet of plywood decking to nail over the top of the timbers to give you a smoother surface.

  4. Drill a hole through a second tier timber 3 feet from one of the corner rods. This will make space for a door opening. Insert another rod through this hole and bolt it at the bottom.

  5. Drill two more full-length timbers 4 inches from the ends and thread them down over the corner rods crosswise to the second pair of timbers so you get a back and forth stacking effect. There will be a timber-thick gap between each layer you stack. This gives you excellent visibility so you can see kids playing inside the playhouse. Cut one small foot-long timber and drill a hole in the center vertically through the log. Slide the short log over the extra rod at the door frame.

  6. Drill one full-length timber at the ends as before and place it crosswise opposite the side with the rod for the door opening. Cut a timber long enough to reach from the corner of the door wall to the rod for the door frame. Drill it and slide it down over the corner rod and door post frame rod. Cut a foot-long long, drill a hole in the center and place it over the corner rod at the opposite side of the door frame.

  7. Stack back and forth this same way all the way around till you reach the top of the door frame. Add at least one full-length timber above the door frame that has holes for the corners and the door frame rod. Add one more pair of timbers on the top of the wall stack and temporarily bolt the stack together.

  8. Lay a course of timbers crosswise over the two top timbers. Lay them close together all the way across to form a sturdy roof. Pre-drill and screw the timbers into place with 6-inch galvanized screws. Remove the top bolts and install another pair of timbers crosswise over the ends of the roof logs and bolt securely into place. Cut off any excess steel rod at the top.

  9. Spray the entire structure with water seal using a garden sprayer. The water seal will protect against seepage of insecticides and preservative chemicals used to treat the landscape timbers.