Tips for playhouse maintenance
Keep your children’s playhouse in tip top condition with help from our quick maintenance guide. Here are five top tips to help keep your wooden wendy house in an excellent state of repair and ensure it stands up to many years of active children’s fun!
1: Dust and clean
If your kids’ playhouse is becoming a storage cupboard for junk rather than an inspiring place to play, it won’t be much of a surprise if your children don’t use it very much. But creative play is so good for children, helping them to build good imaginations, socialise, and work their way through “real life” scenarios. Perhaps it’s time you gave your playhouse a good sort out – and get the kids involved – they’ll probably love to help.
Wait for a fine day before completely emptying your playhouse and giving it a good once over with a stiff bristle brush to remove all the cobwebs. Now take a bucket of warm soapy water and give the internal surfaces a thorough wipe down. Add essential oils to the water to give the space a nice smell and to repel insects – eucalyptus oil, bergamot, lavender and tea tree are ideal.
Give your shatter-proof styrene windows a clean with an old rag soaked with warm water and detergent, then buff them to a shine with a dry cloth.
2: Check for rot
An empty playhouse gives you the opportunity to check for rot. If you’ve bought a Walton’s building, it will be guaranteed against rot for 10 years, but you still need to protect it by maintaining it properly.
You must make sure you build your playhouse on a proper base – a wood, patio slab, or concrete foundation all work well. As well as keeping your playhouse clear of the ground, you should also ensure it’s no closer than 2ft from a wall or other structure. That’s because keeping rot away relies on having good air circulation so that after it rains, the water dries up quickly. If you have a tower playhouse that’s raised off the ground, be sure to check the structure carefully, along with the stairs or ladder.
If you notice any rot, chisel it away, treat the surface with an appropriate rot treatment, fill with wood filler and coat with wood treatment. Bear in mind that wood naturally cracks – this isn’t typically a problem as long as you apply preservative annually.
3: Check the roof
A felt roof is a good covering which lasts for several years but it does eventually degrade so you should check it each spring and again going into the winter. Always ensure you keep your roof clear of leaf litter and moss buildup as these hold the damp close to the felt creating ideal conditions for surface breakdown and rot.
If you do notice a tear in the fabric, you’ll need to repair it or replace the roof covering. Check out our handy guide to repairing a shed roof to help you complete the task. It comes complete with full instructions, photos and a video too – everything you need to tackle the job with confidence.
4: Check windows and doors
Your children’s playhouse shares the same characteristics as a garden shed and should be maintained in similar fashion. With this in mind, it’s always good to give the windows and the door a look over when you’re doing your other maintenance checks.
Look for rot in the frames, and gaps which might open up as the wood shrinks over time. You only need to apply filler if you think there’s a danger the wood will rot or if there’s water ingress. You should always use a specialist wood filler which expands and contracts with the wood or moisture will get trapped behind the filler causing rot.
If your windows and door won’t close properly, it could be because the wood is wet in which case, you’ll need to improve drainage and air circulation around the playhouse. You might also consider installing gutters and a water butt to control rain runoff. Alternatively, sticking doors and windows can be caused by subsidence – check your foundation is level and correct as necessary.
Apply wood treatment
The best way to make sure that your playhouse lasts, is to treat it annually with a wood preservative. Waltons playhouses are dip treated against rot and guaranteed for 10 years provided you apply a wood preservative when you first construct your playhouse, and then annually after that.
Wood stains are either water or oil based and each has its benefits and drawbacks. Oil based stains last longer, provide better protection from the elements, and dry slowly giving a nice even finish, but they do release toxic fumes into the air – an important consideration when your child is eagerly waiting to move in to his or her new or revamped playhouse.
Water-based stains offer lots of colour options, they’re less fumey, and less flammable. Whichever type of treatment you opt for, always choose a quality product and apply in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Thinking of painting the inside of your playhouse? It’s a good idea and will help protect the wood from the effects of damp winters. Use a pale water-based preservative or go for paint – a white primer and emulsion top coat will do the job.
Look after your children’s playhouse and it will last them for many years – hopefully our guide has given you all the knowledge you need. Kids growing up? Perhaps it’s time to replace your playhouse with a small log cabin or summerhouse which is perfect for a teen hangout and doubles as a homework/music room?