Credit: Unsplash

What are Playhouses?

A playhouse (or Wendy house) is a garden building, usually made of wood or plastic intended for children to play in. They can be single- or two-storeys and provide an insulated area for children’s development and imagination to run wild whilst being in a safe and weatherproof stucture.

But a garden playhouse can be one of many different types.

Types of Playhouses

The two easiest ways to split up playhouses are by material and type (or style). Let’s start with the former.

Playhouses by material: Wood

Wood is one of the most popular playhouse building materials. This is because wooden playhouses are:

  • Long-lasting
  • Durable
  • Weather-resistant
  • Traditional/classic design
  • Fitting with garden aesthetics (e.g. they go with wooden furniture)
  • Customisable 
  • tongue-and-groove cladding. This style of interlocking panel creates a solid structure that’s weather-resistant. 

    Best for: Anyone who wants a traditional look or to customise their children’s playhouse.

    Tower playhouse with flag and slide on grass

    Playhouse by type: Tower playhouses

    A tower playhouse is elevated off the ground on stilts. Children access the playhouse via an external ladder onto a small balcony to enjoy a great view from up top. 

    Tower playhouses are very popular as they also provide space underneath. You can use this for toy storage, as a shaded play area, or even as a garage! Tower playhouses are excellent choices for growing and more adventurous children.

    You can find versions of this style as tower playhouses with a children’s slide or even swing sets. (Plus, it can give kids a place to play that parents can’t easily access!)

    Best for: Growing, adventurous, and active children.

    See what customers had to say. Check out our BillyOh Bunny Max Tower Stories.

    We’re almost finished with playhouse types – we promise! Then we can get on to how to pick, position, and build one.

    But we’d also like to give some:

    Special mentions

    Garden playhouses may come in either wood or plastic and either one-storey or two, but there are a couple of other contenders.

    Log cabin playhouses

    This category technically falls under both wooden playhouses and two-storey playhouses. 

    You can find log cabin playhouses with multi-room designs and features like an internal bunk. Perfect for sleepovers or a midday nap!

    Their timber construction also gives off a lovely modern aesthetic with slightly lighter coloured timber. You might see them feature things like cottage-style windows with shutters and even flower boxes. 

    Best for: A modern update to a classic playhouse. For maximum use year-round and throughout the day.

    Wendy houses

    The world was first introduced to Wendy houses after J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. And since then, our little ones haven’t looked back. Really, it’s just another name for a small playhouse. The classic look is usually that of an apex-roof single-storey playhouse, though.

    You might also find a Wendy house with a platform and picket fence to extend the play area,  as well as a gate.

    Best for: A timeless look as well as indoor and outdoor play.

    See what our customer had to say. Check out our BillyOh Peardrop Stories.

    playhouse interior with slats labelled fairies and unicorns
    Credit: @nataliesian89/Instragram

    How can playhouses be used?

    If you’re looking for ways to personalise your playhouse check out our ideas below. And if you haven’t bought your playhouse yet, maybe this will spark some ideas.

    Space Station

    Nothing beats learning about the planets, staring at the stars, and wondering what could be living out there in space.

    So why not turn your kid’s playhouse into an educational space station  – get them outside and learning! 

    You could deck the inside with posters of star constellations and the solar system. Outside, you could place a telescope. A tower playhouse with a raised platform would be perfect for this.


    Arts and crafts den

    From experience, we know how much of a nightmare it can be to walk into a room to see the kids have been having an unsupervised arts and crafts afternoon! So save yourself the hassle of constant cleanup and turn your playhouse into an arts and crafts den.

    A garden playhouse can provide a space where children can get as messy as they like.

    Secret superhero hideout

    Fortress of Solitude, Stark Tower, or even the Batcave. Any of those piquing your nostalgia?

    If so, why not give your kids the same superhero fun by turning your playhouse into a hideout. Gather some cool spy gadgets, maps, and maybe even a getaway vehicle to park outside the hideout. Oh, and don’t forget to find a place to hide superhero suits!

    Something like a two-storey playhouse with an internal bunk would provide the perfect spot. 

    Fairytale castle

    For a more traditional transformation, why not turn your playhouse into a castle?

    By installing shelving to your wooden playhouse, you can store costumes, play swords, and crowns. Painting a timber playhouse greys with accents can make it look like stonework, too.

    Ok, so we’ll stop before we start telling you all about our ideas for a Halloween-themed playhouse. Now that we’ve argued for why buy a playhouse, let’s look at how to narrow down your choices. 

    Single storey pent roof playhouse painted white with small bench and picket fence on turf
    Credit: @beckys_family_home/Instagram

    5. Roof type

    Your playhouse’s roof type will factor into the question of size and aesthetics. The main options on offer include:

    • Pent roof – Where the roof is one single plane that slopes to the back of the shed to maximise runoff
    • Apex roof – Roof is made of two slopes that meet at the highest point in the middle. Slopes fall to either side of the playhouse face
    • Reverse apex – Similar to an apex roof, but slopes fall towards the front and back of the shed
    • Dutch barn – Made of four sloping panels that create a smoother apex-style roof

    Consider which roof is going to give you maximum headspace for growing children.

    6. Design features

    As well as the main style of playhouse that you choose (e.g. tower, Wendy house, two-storey etc.), what design features excite you and your kids?

    Do you want traditional-looking Georgian or crossed windows? This may well play into the theme of your playhouse that we discussed earlier. If you want to make a classic fairytale cabin, then a quaint playhouse with a picket fence might be the best choice.

    7. Extras

    Once you’ve settled on the general style of the playhouse you’d like, think about extras. If your children are particularly boisterous, then the addition of slides, swings, and ladders might be in order. 

    8. Where to put a playhouse?

    We’ll break this last point down into two sets of practical considerations.

    Available space

    When picking a playhouse (or any garden building), you need to be realistic. Sure, you might want a luxury two-storey log cabin playhouse, but think about:

    • Safety – Is your proposed playhouse site near to any dangers like nettles or a ditch?
    • Level ground – Building a suitable base for a wooden playhouse can extend its life. But it’ll require level ground
    • Surrounding space – Is there enough room to access all around the playhouse?
    • Drainage – Make sure to build where there is sufficient drainage. Avoid marshy ground or building at the bottom of a slope
    • Trees – Will trees block sunlight and put your children off playing in summer? Do trees pose a danger with falling fruit or branches?
    • Supervision and visibility – Is your playhouse in the line of sight of the house? Can you get to it easily and quickly if need be?

    Top TipFind a spot in your garden with space to create a level base. Leave room around your playhouse to access it for maintenance. (Or to allow children to run around it!).

Playhouse Maintenance

And once you’ve picked, bought, and assembled your playhouse you can start to get prepared for further down the line. Namely, treating and decorating it.

Treating and painting your playhouse

And we don’t just mean treating it right! (Ok, bad gag – that’s on us).

For a plastic playhouse, obviously, you won’t hard to treat it with anything. For a wooden playhouse, start by checking if the timber used was dip- or pressure-treated. If it’s the latter, you shouldn’t need to apply any treatment yet (but may want to after about a year).

Dip and pressure-treated timber will protect your playhouse against insects and rot. Otherwise, before assembly, you might want to treat your playhouse panels separately with a wood treatment with UV protection and a mould inhibitor.

This is because wood can either rot in damp and cold weather or dry out and crack in warm weather. 

If you want a more in-depth checklist for how to treat your playhouse – check out this guide. 

But essentially, sanding (where necessary), priming, and treating timber can help extend its life. Just remember to use a transparent sealer if you plan to paint over it. Use a coloured wood stain if you want a traditional, rustic look. 

And always use EN71-certified or water-based paint if you’re painting your playhouse interior.

Playhouse will also typically have gaps where windows and doors are for safety precautions. We wouldn’t recommend it, but to make your playhouse more insulated and weather-proof, you might consider caulking around these gaps. That’s if you accept the associated responsibilities and trust your children!

A better way to achieve a similar goal might be to Shop Playhouses


Your Garden Buildings Direct playhouse requires a minimum of two people and some tools to help assemble it. Following the assembly instructions provided with your order, it should only take a matter of hours to build.


You want to make sure to purchase a playhouse that your kids won’t quickly outgrow. If they’re taller, perhaps they need a two-storey playhouse. Make sure to try and maintain a scale that encourages them to use it without feeling overwhelmed.


A good way to do this is to mark out your proposed playhouse site before purchase with some strings lines. Adjust these until you find a size that your children are comfortable with.


We’d advise against placing any garden building straight onto the ground as it can cause damp and uneven pressure on the structure. However, you can build a level gravel and plastic foundation onto grass or a timber sub-floor to elevate your playhouse.


Most wooden playhouses will come with a 10-year anti-rot guarantee. Regular wood treatment can help to extend the lifespan of your playhouse.


What makes a good playhouse objectively could be things like:


  • Durability
  • Quality of construction materials
  • Ease-of-assembly
  • Weather-resistant


But you’ll also need to factor in what makes a good playhouse for you, including:


  • Suitability for your available space
  • How the aesthetic fits in with the rest of your garden
  • How it suits your children’s ages, size, and style of play


Our playhouses are not designed for children aged under 36 months. This is because there are small parts that may be a potential choking hazard. The maximum user weight for tower and two-storey playhouses is also 50kg. We recommend keeping playhouses a minimum of 2m clear from any obstructions or other structures.