Our Great Treehouse (The Walls-Up-Update)

July 23, 2014   //  Posted in: Backyard, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  6 responses

I’d grade us a solid-A on our success in the proclaimed “Summer of Making No Plans.” Travel has been minimal (all pleasure, no pressure!), weekends at home have been plentiful (busy!), and for the first summer in a long time, it feels nice not to have a fully booked calendar. We bought a gas grill. A riding lawnmower. Planted a beautiful vegetable garden. Kept a fully-stocked fridge for dinners in, and are maximizing our treat receipts to the fullest possible extent. Refreshing, in many senses.

The summer staycation of 2014 is probably the only reason we’ve come as far as we have in our outdoor cleanup efforts; winter was so long in NY, that we basically look to spend as much of our day outdoors as possible.

The treehouse we’re building for the kids is coming along really well too, which is the real reason for this update. When I initially showed you how far we’d come, we had framed out the walls surrounding the raised platform structure.

It’s worth documenting that we’ve had to remind ourselves repeatedly that this is a p-l-a-y h-o-u-s-e, but even so, it’s becoming one of the most well-built structures in our portfolio. A natural wood exterior and structure was always something we agreed upon – this is mostly because we also agreed that being able to stain or paint it to blend into the wooded yard was optimal – but we wavered between using individual boards, or pieces of paneling to complete the walls because cost was one of the biggest hurdles. We had been talking about siding options all the while, but it took us a few weeks to come to a decision. See, the height of the walls ranged between 35″-78″, and because the wall circumference measures somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-38-ft. around, that’s a lot of surface area, and a lot of money (for a kid’s rough and tough playhouse).

Walls and floor of our new treehouse.

T1-11 wasn’t my first choice, but after about a week of sense-talkin’, Pete turned me around (I was pushing for individually installed vertical boards, which would have cost about $100 more). The solid paneling felt a little “too commercial-grade finished” initially, but now that it’s installed, it was definitely the perfect fit (also, it looks way more finished than anything I had in mind for this project). What I’m showin’ here is a product with 4″ spaces, or something close to that. We actually went with the t1-11 that presented as 8″ panels (it’s right on the bottom-most shelf there), because I thought better fit the scale of the structure well.

T1-11 for the kid's treehouse.

When compared to the detail work that would have been necessary with individual boards, it didn’t take all that long to install the sheets of t1-11 with just a few strategically placed screws and all of our muscles. Sometimes we employ children to take pictures of us doing projects, and those photos don’t always turn out super well. Blurry armpit holes!

Installing t1-11 on our treehouse.

So, yeah, the t1-11 walls were installed in just a few days, and it only took us more than one day because we had to go back to the store to buy more paneling after pulling the whole “let’s just see how far these 4 boards go and not bother measuring” thing. We needed a total of eight 4’x8′ sheets, BTW, which is not inexpensive at around $36/sheet, but have lots of little leftover scraps for which I already have another project planned. For budget comparison’s sake, the individual boards we were looking at ran in the neighborhood of $8-10/1x6x8′ board, so it could have easily been 2x or 3x as expensive to go that route. Alternately, we also looked into using fence panels or single fence pieces, which would have been a little more affordable, but weren’t available in longer than 6′ lengths, which was just a little shy of what we needed.

Of all of the inspiration images we sourced, one detail that resonated with me was a giant round window, the type of detail that would play off the modernness of the overall structure. We planned for it in advance, leaving an opening roughly 48″ x 48″ wide in the studded wall framing that would host the window in the “front”. When it came time to measure for and cut the circle out of the t1-11, we made the classic oversized protractor by locating the center of the area and drilling a screw into it, and then attaching a ~23″ string to it, with a pencil tied to the opposite string end.

We went over the line several times until we were confident that it was as symmetrical as possible, and then I cut the circle free using a jigsaw.

Cutting a circle into T1-11 for the kid's treehouse modern window.

It felt pretty rewarding to see this much progress in just a few days. I had been in a rush to snap these finished shots (used a 50mm lens that I had recently used to snap portraits of the girls, it auto-focused on all of the wrong places, which maybe makes them more artsy-fartsy than usual)… step-by-step photos are often an afterthought lately, because time is of the essence. Do you know how much more you can get done when you’re not stopping to take photos every 45 seconds because, BLOG? Bloggers can relate to this, but parents can relate to the need to GO-AS-FAST-AS-POSSIBLE during nap time.

We installed t1-11 as the outer walls of our modern children's treehouse.

We installed t1-11 as the outer walls of our modern children's treehouse.

We’ve done a bit more since this step in all honesty (I stained some areas, and then we made some railing progress), but I figured it would be better to get this post up rather than nothing, because I’ve been working through this draft to for about a week now.

How’s your chill summer going?

  • Staci
    4 years ago - Reply

    This looks so great! That circle window is perfection.
    Are you planning on doing anything on the interior walls, or just painting/staining and letting the framing be?

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      The inside will be stained for the most part, but we have been promising Julia the chance to paint some of the interior panels in “pretty colors”. So, we’ll see. There will eventually be features like a chalkboard/pegboard/shelving once we have a roof to speak of… it’s coming along!

  • Bradley
    4 years ago - Reply

    Did you need to get a permit for this?

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      We did not. Though it will be standing for us for a long time, I don’t think it falls into the “shed,” “deck,” or “gazebo” categories that our town cites for permitting. There are plenty of store-bought playsets that can be just as permanent… do you know something I don’t know?

  • Colleen Panzer
    4 years ago - Reply

    I relate to so much in this post and none of it is probably what you meant people to focus on. Not taking step by step photos for the blog because you’re worried about time? YES. Worried about time because you’re scrambling to get as much done as you can during nap time? YUP. Sitting on a draft so long that your subject matter has changed since you started the draft? OH GOODNESS YEAH.

    Nevertheless, your treehouse is coming along great, and I can’t wait to see it!

  • Mark Winters
    4 years ago - Reply

    Looking really good, Em and Pete

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