How to Build a Tree House – Pro Tips & Plans
Tree houses aren't just for kids – they're for anyone with an imagination. These amazing treehouses will inspire you to create one of your very own. Learn how to elevate your building skills with these tree house building tips from experienced builders, including attachment techniques, site choice, assembly techniques, design ideas and more.
DIY Treehouse Building Tip 1: Site considerations
DIY Treehouse Building Tip 2: Keep weight and stability in mind for treehouse ideas
Photo courtesy of Sean Milroy
- Build the platform as close to the trunk as possible and add diagonal bracing for extra strength to support uneven loads.
- Put the load over the base of the tree, not on one side.
- For heavy tree houses, consider spreading the weight among several trees.
- A tree house will act as a sail in strong winds, which can add a large load to the tree's roots. In high-wind areas, build your tree house in the lower third of the tree.
- When building on one main trunk, level the main platform by cantilevering the beams and supporting them from below.
DIY Treehouse Building Tip 3: Don't Restrict Tree Growth
Photo courtesy of Craig MacLean
- Leave gaps around the tree.
- To accommodate tree movement and growth, allow gaps around any branches or trunks that penetrate the tree house.
- Don't constrict branches with rope, straps or wire. This can strangle the tree.
- Add spacers between the beams and the tree to allow movement.
- Use extra-long large bolts. This leaves most of the shaft exposed so you can mount items on the ends and lets the tree grow over the shaft (see "Use the Right Fasteners," Tip 6, below).
- Allow a 2-in. gap around the tree if it passes through the floor and a 3-in. gap if it passes through the roof (see photo).
DIY Treehouse Building Tip 4: Level the floor
Photo courtesy of Brenton LaFleur
- Lay beams across the branches and shim until level.
- Run the beams between trunks of different trees.
- Cantilever the beams out from a single trunk and support them from above or below.
DIY Treehouse Building Tip 5: Build sections on the ground and hoist them into position
Photo courtesy of Bob Lackey
DIY Treehouse Building Tip 6: Use the right fasteners
Photo courtesy of Michael Garner
- Allow for flexible supports, especially if you use more than one tree, so that trees can move in the wind. Special floating brackets allow the tree to sway.
- Don't run bolts through the tree. Lag bolts cause less tree damage than through bolts.
- Don't use too many fasteners. One large bolt is better than many screws or nails. You get the same strength but with fewer puncture wounds to the tree.
- Whenever possible, perch your tree house on top of fasteners rather than pinning beams to the tree. This gives the tree room to move and grow.
- Even for smaller, lighter tree houses where the load is spread over three or four attachment points, consider using 1-in.- or 1-1/4-in.-diameter lag bolts.
DIY Treehouse Building Tip 7: Buy or Make Cool Accessories
DIY Treehouse Building Tip 8: Beware of the Safety Issues
Photo courtesy of Michael Garner
- Consider using one or two supports ground to take stress off the tree.
- Make the fewest punctures necessary to support the tree house safely. Any damage to the bark of the tree is a potential entry point for disease and bacteria.
- Don't put fasteners too close together, which can weaken that section of the tree. Use at least 3/4-in. bolts spaced at least 18 in. apart vertically and 12 in. apart horizontally.
- Avoid slinging cables and ropes over branches. They cut through the bark as the structure moves.