How to choose the right playhouse: tips from the experts
What better way to make sure you select the right playhouse for your children than talking to other parents who already own one? We asked some of our favourite family bloggers for their playhouse insights. This is what they told us...
Is a wood or plastic playhouse best?
A plastic playhouse is bright and colourful and, because it’s lightweight, easy to move, but does a plastic playhouse really make sense? Our bloggers prefer wood – as Natasha who writes the UK lifestyle and parenting blog Serenity You says:
My advice would be to buy a wooden playhouse as it will last longer than a plastic one. You can also paint a wooden playhouse bright colours. You can keep it interesting by painting it a different colour each year. Or if you're the creative type, then paint some flowers and trees on the front.
Longevity and versatility are important considerations when choosing a playhouse, but so is sustainability says Katy of popular family travel blog Otis and Us:
“I try to choose toys that are sustainable and ethical and therefore often choose wooden toys with this in mind”.
A sensible move – all Waltons wooden playhouses are made in the UK from FSC certified timber.
Choose a versatile playhouse
Because a playhouse is a big purchase, you’ll want to think about it carefully. Our bloggers’ advice is to go for the option that offers kids the most use. The guys at pregnancy and parenting magazine Mummy and Me say:
Cost is always a factor in which playhouse to consider buying, however it's not always just about that. Important features for me in a playhouse have been the overall look and 'appeal' of the product, how much space it takes up, what it has to offer in terms of play value and the lifespan of the product.
Because children use playhouses for unscripted imaginative play, buy one that offers multiple options – as Mummy and Me go on to say – get one that’s versatile enough to use as “a house, a shop, a school, a spaceship – whatever [your kids] decide the playhouse will be on that particular adventure!”
And don’t forget other kinds of garden play – kids love to slide, swing and enjoy rough and tumble. As mum of bilingual twin boys, Mummy Lauretta says: “My boys love to climb so they would have loved a playhouse with stairs and a second floor or maybe a lookout, slide or fireman's pole.”
Here at Waltons we offer a huge range of playhouses including models with upper floors, double “garage” doors, various roof options, and some featuring slides and a swing set. We also have a wooden play shop that could be turned into almost anything! Think cafe, post office, puppet theatre or lemonade stall.
Buy a playhouse that grows with your kids
It makes sense to choose a playhouse with growth spurts in mind. Mari who writes the excellent travel, food and lifestyle blog, Mari’s World says:
Look for something that will grow with the children. The one we previously had was passed on to another family as it was too small to grow with the twins. Now I'm on the lookout for a teen den that will see us through the next tricky period of their lives.
That’s something with which Catherine who writes about family, gardening, and crafting for her blog Growing Family agrees: “For me, a playhouse needs to be big enough for at least two children to play in. If there’s room for something like a play cooker or a small table and chairs, so much the better.”
Walton’s playhouses are generous in size ranging from the 5ft x 5ft all the way up to a roomy 8ft x 6ft with plenty of different roof heights and styles from which to choose.
Buy the sturdiest playhouse you can afford
Your new playhouse needs to withstand both the rigours of the elements, and the adventurous play of your kids at their most boisterous. As Clare of family finance blog, My Money Cottage puts it:
Playhouses need to be sturdy enough to last as they do get played with an awful lot and even the littlest children can be pretty heavy handed! Wooden playhouses are ideal, they look beautiful in the garden and children really treasure them.
Make sure you opt for a playhouse with the right kind of guarantees, says Jade at The Parenting Jungle: “Make sure wooden houses comply with safety regulations and check for anti-rot guarantees. You can paint them with preservatives and if you are really keen you can felt the roof.”
You’ll be glad to know that our playhouses come with a 10 year anti-rot guarantee and felted roof as standard – but you should always treat a wooden building with preservative once a year to maintain its weather protection. As Fiona at award winning frugal living blog, Savvy in Somerset says: “If you buy a wooden playhouse make sure it's treated with something to protect it from the elements. If possible...buy a cover to protect it during the winter months.”
Always put safety first
Not all playhouses are built to the same high safety standards, something Michelle at family life and finance blog, Time and Pence says should concern every parent:
Safety is paramount so when purchasing a playhouse it's important to look at all the features. Ensure the design won't cause any problems for little people including getting fingers trapped, falling down steps or even locking themselves in.
Here at Waltons, your children’s safety is something we take very seriously. That’s why all our playhouses come with shatter-proof styrene glazing, gaps around doors to protect little fingers, and are Certified by European Toy Safety Standards EN71 for ages 36 months and above.
We hope we’ve given you some insight into the things to look out for when shopping around for a new playhouse. Don’t forget, here at Waltons, we offer a wide range of fabulous wooden playhouses for active kids – all of which are safe, sturdy, and made from sustainable FSC certified timber.
For more help, also see Waltons ultimate guide to buying a playhouse.
Lead image: Waltons