Sunday, June 18, 2017

DIY Summer Oasis Playhouse

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoofedItMyself #CollectiveBias

With an energetic toddler, we needed something in the backyard that would keep her busy for the summer months. I decided to design a playhouse to serve that purpose. I wanted it to be multi-functional-- not something that she would easily get bored with. I think it turned out great and so far she hasn't been bored!

We also wanted the playhouse to look nice in the backyard-- something that beautified the yard rather than made it look cluttered and junky. This is where the hubby came in. He's a carpenter by trade, so when I told him my idea-- he quickly drew up a plan and got to work!

And so the Summer Oasis Playhouse was created. To keep the backyard looking classy, we knew we wanted to add shingles to the roof. We started the project by visiting the GAF Roofing Center at Lowe's. It's set up to show the different types of shingles on a good, better, and best spectrum. It's located on an endcap and is a great place to look at all of the shingle colors and styles. Everything that you need for your roofing project is located all in one general area.

We decided on the Timberline® Shingles brand since it's the best selling brand in North America. We used Timberline® Natural Shadow® Shingles, FeltBuster® High Traction Synthetic Roofing Felt, and TimberTex® Premium Ridge Cap Shingles. You can learn more at the GAF Website or Facebook Page.

I also wanted the playhouse to have an open concept where she could enjoy a nice breeze yet still be shaded from the sun. We added shingles to the roof and siding on portions of the playhouse so that it matches well with our home. Little Miss Sunshine is going to have so much fun this summer.

The front of the playhouse is open with an attached "bench" that is large enough for an adult to sit on and relax while the little one plays. It's also the perfect height and size for a small children's table.

One side of the playhouse was built with a lemonade stand in mind. It features a wooden countertop that sticks out past the exterior of the playhouse to serve as a "bar" type area. Children will have endless amounts of fun playing restaurant, ice cream shop, coffee shop, or lemonade stand. There are so many possibilities! It's the perfect height for children and adults alike to pull up a chair and enjoy a cold drink or even a meal.

The opposite wall features a chalkboard which runs from the floor to the ceiling. It's the perfect spot for little artists to draw with sidewalk chalk, write a menu for their pretend restaurant, or even to play school.

Half the length of the playhouse is a sandbox-- it's the perfect size for a couple of small children to play in, but still gives room for an open area near the bar area so it's easy to walk in.

The backside of the playhouse is made to look like a wooden fence with slats and provides a cool breeze, a perfect view of the outdoors, additional lighting in the playhouse, and a nice style. Eventually, I would like to plant sunflowers, or something along the exterior of this fence side that would grow up along the fence and add some greenery-- the perfect gardening project for littles.

This project is easy enough for anyone to do-it-yourself. It does take a considerable amount of time to assemble. Hubby worked on it on the weekends and in the evenings after work. The good thing is that it's a project that can be completed in stages and you can stop here and there when you need to.

Want to build one for your littles? Here are some instructions so you can DIY!

Material List:

  • 4 brick pavers
  • 2- 4x8 osb or cdx plywood sheets (1/2" - 5/8")
  • 5- 1/4" - 1/2" plywood sheets
  • 2- 8' 1x6 cedar
  • 2- 10' 1x6 cedar
  • 3- 4x4x8' cedar
    • cut 4- 4' long pieces
    • use others for bracing purposes
  • 2- 2x4 8' cedar
    • cut at 64"
  • 9- 6' dog eared cedar
    • cut at 4'
  • 7- 10' 2x4 (also use for cuts below)
    • cut 14 pieces at 48" at an 8/12 pitch long point to short point
  • 13- 8' 2x4
    • cut 2 at 7'
    • cut 3 at 81"
    • cut 6 at 18"
    • cut 6 at 43 1/2"
  • 2- 8' 2x4 green treated
    • cut 2 at 81"
  • 6- 8' 2x6 green treated
    • cut 3 at 64"
    • cut 2 at 81"
    • cut 1 custom for sandbox
  • 8- 8' 5/4 decking boards
    • cut 15- 20" boards
    • the rest are used to custom the bench top
  • 4- 8' 1x4 white pvc trim (wood grain)
  • 4- 10' drip edge (white)
  • 4x4 smooth cement board (if building chalkboard)
  • 11 - 8' x 7 1/4" James Hardie Board siding
  • 2 lbs. 3" deck screws (or 16p nails)
  • 1 lb. 1 5/8" deck screws
  • 2 lb. 8p sinker nails
  • 2 lb. 1 1/4" galvanized steel roofing nails
  • 1 lb. 1 3/4" galvanized steel roofing nails
  • 1 small box 1" round plastic cap roofing nails
  • 1 roll FeltBuster® High Traction Synthetic Roofing Felt
  • 2 bundles Timberline® Natural Shadow® Shingles (Pewter Gray)
  • 1 bundle TimberTex® Premium Ridge Cap Shingles (Pewter Gray)
  • 1 tube Black Jack caulk
  • 1 qt. black chalkboard paint (if building chalkboard)
  • sand for sandbox

Tool list: 

  • hammer
  • impact drill
  • 2' level
  • 6' level
  • triangle square
  • tape measure
  • carpenter's pencil
  • skil saw / saw
  • grinder (if used cement board for chalkboard)
  • utility knife
  • scissor style tin snips
  • PVC coated gloves
  • safety glasses
  • 6' ladder
  • saw horses
  • shovel


Step 1: Select the location where you want your playhouse to stand. Level out the area where the four corners will be located and place a brick paver in each corner to act as a footing for stability. (see pictures in step 2)

Step 2: (If needed) Using a shovel, level out the outline of the perimeter so that you have leveled the ground for the four sides of the playhouse. My hubby is a carpenter so he had a leveling laser for this step but you could also use string lines and a long level (for these instructions click here).

Step 3 & 4: To form the perimeter and an outline to build the outside walls, screw 2- 81" and 2- 64" 2x6 green treated boards to the 4- 4x4 cedar corner posts with 3" deck screws.

Step 5: Using 3" screws (or 16p nails), fasten the 6- 43 1/2" 2x4 studs together, 16" on center in between the top white plate (2x4) and bottom green treated plate to assemble the full wall.

Step 6: (Wall 1) Place the assembled wall in between the two plumb corner posts and fasten the wall to the corner posts with 3" screws. Place the third plate on top of the wall and fasten with 3" screws or 16p nails.

Step 7: (Wall 2) Turn two 2x4 cedar boards flat and install them in between the two exterior 4x4 cedar posts using 3" screws. With 1 5/8" deck screws, fasten the 9- 4' dog-eared cedar slat boards (fencing) to the 2- 64" 2x4 cedar boards.

Step 8: (Wall 3) Notch the two 4x4 cedar corner posts 3 1/2" deep (top to bottom) and 1 1/2" wide (from the inside out). See photos below. This will act as the support for the 2 ply 2x4 header for the rafters.

Glue and screw together the 2- 7' 2x4s with 3" deck screws from both sides of the boards with a two screw pattern, 12" on center. Place in between the two notched cedar posts and screw together with 3" screws from the outside of the posts into the header. (See Step 7, photo 2)

Step 9 & 10: (Wall 3) Build a shorter wall opposite the tall wall to act as a little bar area. Assemble the same as done in step 5.

Assemble the countertop using a qty. of 15 20" cut 5/4 cedar deck boards by screwing them to the top of the short wall with 1 5/8" deck screws. We installed ours with 4" to the inside and 1' to the outside. Later, we installed a bracing system for this table after the siding was applied. The braces were made out of the 4x4 cut offs from the corner posts and a second layer of 5/4 cedar deck boards under the countertop. (see step 28)

Step 11: (Rafters) We decided on an 8/12 pitch so we will give instructions based on that. However, you can choose the pitch of the roof and adjust accordingly.

Using a triangle square, make a line with an 8/12 pitch common, and then cut. From the long point of your cut, measure 4' down the board and then make another cut exactly like the first so that the pitches are going the same direction.

Cut a birdsmouth in the rafter at the location of where the plates/header will be. You can determine where to cut by screwing two together, holding them out on the edge of the building at the corner post location.

Make sure the point of the two rafters is directly centered/plumb on the building, hold it against the 2- 4x4 exterior corner posts. Trace on the backside of your rafter for the birdsmouth. Do not cut more than 1/3 of the depth of the rafter when cutting the birdsmouth. Also, do not over cut your trace marks as this will weaken the board-- using a jigsaw is recommended in this application. This makes sure it is structurally sound. There is a formula for acquiring the length and depth of the birdsmouth but it was not necessary to use on this small of a project. We used trial and error.

Assemble five of these rafters.

Step 12:  Install the five rafters 2' on center by toe-nailing each rafter to the top plate/header with 3" deck screws. Once installed, we placed 2x4s (about a foot down) on each rafter to act as a sag brace.

Step 13: Sheet the roof with the two sheets of 5/8" (or 1/2") osb or cdx plywood. Make sure the overhang is the same on both sides before nailing it down with 8p sinker nails every 6" on center.

Step 14: Add two more rafters (without birdsmouths) per end at the outer edge of the roof sheeting to act as the gable-end fascia board. Nail 1x6" cedar boards to the rafter tails (past the edge of the wall) with 8p galvanized nails for facia trim (see third photo below-- although not shown in this picture, a 1x6" cedar board will be applied to the gable end as well).

Step 15: Install the drip edge by measuring the length of the sheeting and cutting the drip edge to size. Screw/nail (1") this down to the sheeting with the short profile over the face of the fascia and the long profile on top of the sheeting.

Step 16: For the gable ends, cut a notch in the short profile (as shown in the picture) in the center of a full piece of the drip edge. Bend it over the top of the peak of the gable end and cut to length at the edge of the drip edge that you previously installed.

Slightly notch the end of your cut so that you can bend the sharp point around the corner to finish it out.

Step 17: Install the FeltBuster® High Traction Synthetic Roofing Felt over the top of the roof sheeting with 1 1/4" round plastic cap roofing nails. Nail at pre-marked locations. Make sure the FeltBuster® does not stick past any edge of the roof, if it does-- cut it off with a utility knife.

Step 18: Apply a shingle starter strip by either turning a shingle upside down so that the tar is facing upwards or by using manufactured starter shingle strips. This is what seals the first row of shingles down to your roof.  (as seen towards the right edge in picture one below)

Using 1 1/4" galvanized roofing nails, install the Timberline® Natural Shadow® Shingles by stair-stepping at least 6" and cut the starters and finishers as required so that it is even with the edge of the drip edge. The next row will start at the top edge of the architectural cutout of the previous shingle (as seen in picture three below). Nail 5 evenly spaced nails just above the architectural cutout so the nails do not show when the next shingle is placed above.

(The shingles look great and we were impressed with how durable they are! They are sure to last a long time.)

Cut any excess shingles past the ridge peak off.

Step 19: Install TimberTex® Premium Ridge Cap Shingles. These are pre-perforated in the package. Bend them until they break into three individual pieces, as shown below.

Use a piece of starter strip, or turn a TimberTex® Premium Ridge Cap Shingle upside down so that the first cap has something to stick to (as described in shingle installation).

Nail these down with 1 3/4" galvanized roofing nails. There is a notch on the cap that shows where to start the next cap. Always nail on the outer edge of the cap so that your nail will not be exposed by your next piece installed. Center the cap on the peak of the building and run a straight line until finished. Cut the excess so that it is even with the edge of the drip edge.

Caulk the two exposed nails with black jack or similar.

Step 20: For safety reasons (see nails sticking out below), install 1/4" or 1/2" sheeting to the underside of your rafters. If you use 1/4", you may want to install extra backing for nailers because the 1/4" does not span 2' on center and could be wavy.

Step 21: (optional) Add decorative features to cover voids, as shown below.

Step 22: You may add a corner brace to make the building stronger, as shown in the first picture below.

Build the bench by screwing a ledger board to the exterior wall and some upright 2x6s (backing boards) to support the bench top (as shown in the 4th picture).

Screw 5/4 cedar boards to the top of the ledger board and backing boards. The bench is 100% customizable to the height and depth that you prefer. Cut the boards accordingly.

Step 23: Install white vinyl trim board along the perimeter of the exterior walls. Next, install the siding you prefer. If you have not yet, install the bracing to the bar side.

Step 24: Install the chalkboard using 18g galvanized nails with nail gun or 8p nails.

Step 25: Build the Sandbox: There are many ways you could create a perimeter for the sandbox within the playhouse. Determine what you would like and measure 2x6 green treated and cut to length. Screw to the 2x6 green treated base of the building using 3" deck screws.

Step 26: Put in the sand and start playing! You can see how excited Little Miss Sunshine was!

And that's it, you're finished! I added chalk, sandbox toys, and bowls/cups from the a dollar store. Now there are hours of playtime and entertainment ahead!

Do you have a project that you would use GAF Roofing on? I'd love to hear about it!

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