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The Home Depot

The Ultimate Tree House Building Guide

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Carpentry > The Ultimate Tree House Building Guide
The Ultimate Tree House Building Guide

Tree houses are a classic part of an all-American childhood. They are private escapes where your little one can play, read or just hang out. Tree houses range from the very simple to the surprisingly complex.


Most kids love the idea of having their own personal tree house, but parents might balk at the idea. Some may think that tree houses require too much effort or become too costly to build. However, the process might be easier than you realize. Read on to find the ultimate tree house building guide.

  1. 1.Do it Yourself or Call in a Professional

    Do It Yourself

    Will you be building your tree house yourself, or will you call in a pro? The answer to that question will be determined by how complex your tree house plans are, how comfortable you are with carpentry and construction, and how much spare time you’re willing to devote to the project. If you’re up to it, by all means build the tree house yourself. This could be a great activity for the whole family to take part in! However, remember that you want your tree house to be strong and structurally sound as well. If you think that building a safe structure for your kids to play in is beyond your existing skill-set, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a professional. A good carpenter can help you put together a tree house that will last for generations to come.

  2. 2.Gathering your Materials

    Gathering your Materials

    If you have opted to purchase a manufactured tree house, most of the required materials will come included. Of course, you’ll need to provide your own tools in order to build it correctly. Read the instructions carefully to determine what you need to have on hand and how you’ll be using the parts provided. If you are building your own house from scratch, there are a number of materials you’ll need. Take a look at your building plans and determine the amount of pressure-treated lumber by calculating the square footage of the tree house, while also accounting for additional waste. Construction will require basic tools including a drill, hammer, table saw, tape measure, screwdriver, ladder, screws, nails, bolts, and paint.

  4. Before you Build

    3.Before you Build

    Make sure there aren’t any local rules that prohibit you from building a tree house on your property. Some communities don’t, but others have very specific standards about what kind and size of structures homeowners can erect. Make sure that your tree house won’t cause problems for your neighbors either. Out of courtesy, discuss your plans with them before the project begins to avoid any potential complaints down the road.

  5. Tree House into the Tree

    4.Getting your Tree House into the Tree

    Many experts recommend that you build your tree house in sections and then hoist those sections into the tree (or trees). It’s much easier and safer to assemble the tree house piece by piece as opposed to maneuvering a large structure while you are several feet off the ground.

  6. 5.How to Select the Tree

    How to Select the Tree

    First determine the tree house's primary function and design before choosing the appropriate number of trees sturdy enough to support the weight of the structure. Remember that trees are living, breathing things and they will continue to grow even after you’ve installed your tree house. It's important not to restrict tree growth either by allowing enough room around the trunk for it to expand. You can have an arborist inspect your trees to ensure they are healthy, mature, and large enough to withstand heavy loads.

  7. 6.Important Safety Reminders

    Important Safety Reminders

    Remember that while tree houses are fun, they can be dangerous too. You want your tree to be secure to prevent possible damage, destruction, or injury. Many experts advise that homeowners refrain from building tree houses higher than eight feet off the ground, and should always reinforce their tree with strong rails. After powerful storms or strong winds, check your tree house to make sure there is no damage and talk to your kids about the importance of staying safe while they play.

  9. How to Maintain your Tree

    7.How to Maintain your Tree

    Because your tree is supporting your tree house, it’s very important that you keep it in good shape. Look for signs of wear and tear, stunted growth, pest infestation, and disease. Check the roots to make sure they are deep and well-established, and be sure to maintain your tree with continual trimming and pruning to prevent dead limbs from obstructing the tree house.

  10. 8.How to Maintain your Tree House

    Maintain Tree House

    Most tree houses are made of wood, and wood needs special care in order for it to withstand the elements. If your tree house is made of wood, make sure to check for signs of water or pest damage. Apply new coats of waterproofing treatment as needed, and reinforce any rotten or destroyed sections of the building.


    With the right care and consideration, a tree house can be a great outdoor addition to any family home. Building the tree house correctly the first time will guarantee it lives on for years to come.

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