How to choose the right playhouse: tips from the experts

How to choose the right playhouse: tips from the experts

The best way to make sure you select the right playhouse for your children is by talking to other parents who already own one. We asked some of our favourite family bloggers for their advice. Don’t buy a new playhouse without reading these five top tips…

In the meantime, browse our full range of high quality wooden playhouses for inspiration.

1. Choose wood over plastic

Small wooden playhouse with flower door decal
With sustainability in mind, Katy chose a 4x4ft Snug Wooden Playhouse from Waltons
Image: Otis and Us

Plastic playhouses are bright and colourful and, because they’re 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. 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 sustainable and certified timber. 

2. Go for a versatile design

Wooden tower playhouse with slide and swings
A playhouse with added swing and slide will get plenty of use
Image: Poppy Tower Wooden Playhouse with Activity Centre from Waltons

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. Claire from Life, Love and Dirty Dishes says: “Our playhouse has been an office, a shop, a cafe, a work shed, a laboratory, a garage, even an art gallery. The possibilities [are] endless. As far as encouraging imaginative play, their playhouse tops the list of everything we own.

To help children use playhouses for unscripted imaginative play, buy one that’s versatile enough to transform into whatever they want. Christy from Welsh Mum explains that “setting up a role play area for your toddler” is one of the best ways for them to learn about life. After studying child development, she explains why pretend play is such an important activity for young children:

“With imagination we can dream and think about things that aren’t immediately in front of us, which give us ambition and drive, as well as hope and even empathy. Imagination leads to problem solving and can be applied in all aspects of life.”

Here at Waltons we offer a huge range of versatile playhouses including models with upper floors, various roof options, and some with slides and a swing set.

3. Buy a playhouse that grows with your kids

Cream and white playhouse with green door
A second storey gives kids even more room to play
Image: 7x5ft Snowdrop Playhouse with loft from Waltons (courtesy of Waltons customer Gill)

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 from the award-winning 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.”

There’s a Walton’s playhouse to suit every sized garden ranging from the 4ft x 4ft Snug Playhouse all the way up to a roomy 7ft x 5ft Swiss Cottage with internal ladder and loft room.

4. Buy the most robust playhouse you can afford

Person varnishing wooden playhouse
Treating your playhouse with preservative helps it to last for many years to come
Image: Shutterstock

Your new playhouse needs to withstand both the rigours of the elements, and the adventurous play of boisterous kids. 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 Waltons playhouses come with a 10-year anti-rot guarantee and felted roof as standard – but you should always treat a wooden building with a wood stain or preservative once a year to maintain its weather protection. As Fiona at the 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 a cover to protect it during the winter months.”

5. Always put safety first

Door gap on Waltons playhouse
Waltons playhouses have safety gaps around the doors to prevent trapped fingers
Image: 6x6ft Dutch Barn Wooden Playhouse from Waltons

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 for a new playhouse. Don’t forget, here at Waltons, we offer a wide range of fabulous wooden playhouses and outdoor toys for active kids – all of which are safe, sturdy, and made from sustainable and certified timber. For more help, also see Waltons ultimate guide to buying a playhouse.

Lead image: Dahlia Playhouse with Tower from Waltons

Back to blog