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There are plenty of different playhouses and backyard playground sets to choose from in the stores today, but sometimes it is actually better to build this kind of thing on your own by following a detailed set of plans. Building a playset for your child or children brings with it many benefits. They’re scalable, so you can add extra features like slides, swings, climbing walls, and more as your kids develop. Plus, they can be customized to fit within your space. They often cost less than a complete, all-in-one kit. But the main thing that you need to think about when it comes to these kinds of custom DIY playsets is the pride and satisfaction that comes along with building something unique and fun for your family. If your children are old enough, you may even want to have them help you with the building process – you’ll need all the help you can get with some of these projects. We took some time to scour the web for some of the best plans that you can use to build the perfect, customized playset for your children.
Types of DIY Playsets and Forts
Basic Four Post Forts
These are perhaps the easiest to assemble, and very sturdy as well. Using a basic A-frame structure, you can easily incorporate a swingset, add a slide, or climbing wall. Really, the options are endless.
Angled Base Forts
These style forts are more flexible when it comes to design options, and offer easier expansion options so you can add a slide, tire swing, or any number of other accessories. However these forts require a little more attention to detail, especially because of the angled cuts. You’re looking at a substantial amount of time and effort to build a good one.
DIY Backyard Swing Set
Building a playset is easier than you might think and can be completed in a single weekend if you have enough people to help out. We have a number of do it yourself kits and plans. The first thing you are going to need to do with a backyard swing set is put together the frame. Make sure that you are purchasing durable, reliable lumbar (pressure treated) for the frame because this is what is going to hold up the entire swing set. A good tip to remember here is that you can actually turn the base of the swing set into a sandbox if you leave enough space. Once the general frame of the swing set is up, you will then want to add the railing for the platform portion of the playset.
Make sure to leave an empty space to add the slide that you will need to purchase separately. The great thing about adding the railing to the swing set is that you will be able to add ship steering wheels, telescopes and other small accessories to the railing to encourage new levels of creativity in your children. Once the main section of the playset is complete, you will then be able to add a separate beam that stretches out to another triangular base. This is where you will be able to install the swing sets.
Creativity is key when building a playset, so let your imagination run wild when making your own!
The DIY Playground
To build a complete playground, you’ll need to space out a good sized portion of land that can accommodate multiple features. You’ll want to make sure you have You do not want to put the deck on the top level because you will still need to add a railing later. Before you add the railing, make sure that you leave enough space for the slide and the ladder. After all, your kids will need a way to get up to the top of the fort.
The Tire Swing
If you do not have a lot of space or money to work with on your custom playset, then you may want to look into the tire swing. Find the strongest tree in the yard, and wrap a metal chain around a thick, strong branch. Aim for a branch that is around 10 feet off the ground. You will then need a connector link and locking swivel hook for the middle part of the chain. You should have the tire chains attached to the chain around the tree branch in three spots. Use an eyebolt installed inside the tire in three spots to connect all of the chains together.
Find the parts you need
We have a great selection of plans from Plan-it-play and other accessories to complete your playset. Check out some of them below or visit our DIY plans and accesories page to view them all. We also carry a full line of Plan-it-Play products that includes DIY kits to build your own swingset, fort, along with all the fun add-ons you could want.Check out our favorite accessories for DIY playsets
The complete list of DIY, build-it-yourself playset plans:
This detailed plan-set with step-by-step instructions is in both metric (mm) and imperial (inch) dimensions.
These plans elaborate on how to add a climbing wall structure to the fort above, which reminds me of a treehouse, minus the tree.
Check out this fort made with girls in mind, featuring a stylish front porch area and a feminine touch that most playsets lack.
Here’s another one for the girls, with a creative shape that looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland. It’s a whimsical design that’s would delight any young girl with an active imagination. It definitely requires a bit more experience, with some very long and angular cuts best handled with a mitre saw.
packed full of cool designs that’ll fit every taste, skill level and budget that are all presented in a easy to follow PDF plan anyone can follow.
From DIY Network, this fort is pretty large, and definitely requires a lot of time and skill. Recruit one of your friends, or get that lazy teenage son of yours to hep. If you can pull it off, the payoff would result in a giant fort that provides tons of fun for your kids.
This was a toss up on whether or not to include here. On one hand, here’s an example of what NOT to do when building a fort, unless you like mixing splinters and possible structural collapse with your kids’ playtime. However, it’s a great creative effort that was done for super cheap using a lot of household leftovers. You be the judge.
A great series of videos by carpentry and woodworking expert Ron Hazelton on how to assemble your own fort.
Treehouses seem to be all the rage lately, and even have their own reality tv show. This set of instructions outlines a very nice looking, double-decker fort/playhouse. The kids would love to have a place like this to retreat. Or maybe the parents would…
10. Raised fort
This is an exceptional fort, crafted with raised legs that elevate it off the ground by about six feet. It features a secret trap door for a secret entrance, and a ramp that extends from the floor. This plan by is very well documented, and could easily be extended to include a number of optional accessories and features.
A rustic, and very well put together playhouse made from logs. Would be a perfect addition to the backyard of your vacation cabin.
Feeling a bit more adventuresome? This ferris wheel type of playset features four spots for your kids to sit in, and a design that takes safety into account, which is a good thing!
13. Simple see-saw
Perhaps you need an additional feature for your backyard playground. This easy to follow set of instructions lays out how to build a simple see-saw that’s safe and fun to use.
14. Swinging see-saw
If you like the simple see-saw, but want something a with a little more style, try this swinging version.
15. Tree house plans
Good ol’ Ron Hazeton comes through again. What can’t this guy build? I think every kid dreams of having a mini-fort/house to escape to in a tree, and this great outlines in great detail everything you need to build a safe tree house.
Ehow brings us this outline explaining how to build a sturdy wooden play structure using 2x4s and some plywood.
This unique structure offers tons of options for playing, swinging, and climbing around. Kids will love the unique design, which both looks good and is highly functional.
Here’s an exceptional example of dedication and pride of craftsmanship. This structure has it all, from a zipline, to multiple rooms/levels inside the fort, swings, and much more. An incredible playset that must have taken a long time to create.
If you have the inkling to build a basic four post playset, then why not follow these instructions to add a slide to the unit? It’s an easy way to enhance the structure and provide more fun for the kiddos.
Built using round landscaping poles, this version can be expanded or slimmed down to your needs and features a crawl tunnel connecting the two units.
Kelly of “View along the way” provides a great outline that’s well-documented, showing how to build a playset with a tower.
My Outdoor Playset has a very well put together guide to building your own fort. They include great images and instructions to build a set that includes two tire swings.
A unique twist on the normal four post playset, this structure resembles a firehouse, which is sure to get your kids’ imaginations going.
Do your kids have an entrepreneurial spirit? When I was little, I remember “borrowing” most of the fruit and veggies from my parents fridge, and hocking them by the side of the road from a Fisher Price table. I bet if I had this setup, it would have been a more profitabe enterprise.
The name says it all. This is a fairly large, multi-section fort connected by a narrow bridge up high. It includes a tube slide on one end, and a fenced play area on the other side. No doubt this one takes a bit of time, and effort.
Perhaps you don’t have the time or money to build something like the “dream” playset above. After all, you still need to buy that of Busch for the weekend. Well, feast your eyes on the pallet playhouse, a structure that looks more like a chicken coop. This plan, while very basic, offers at least a basic foundation to start with along with plenty of exciting splinters to keep you on your toes.
Let’s get down to the basics. When I was a kid, the best thing about getting a new appliance wasn’t the number of BTUs it put off, or the the amount of cubic freezer storage. All that mattered was that the box remain intact so we could use it to build whatever our imagine could conjure up. We’ll end this list with the cheapest DIY playhouse you can build – the cardboard one. This is actually a great guide, with solid instructions on how to create not just a playhouse, but a train, and a boat.
28. Deluxe playhouse
DIY Network comes through again, with very detailed instructions on how to build a deluxe playhouse. They include a set of PDF plans as well. There you have it! With these resources, you should be able to pull together a great playset for your children. Don’t forget that once built, you can customize it in all sorts of ways; make it your own by adding swings, climbing walls, fire poles, telescopes, and much more. Browse our collection of residential playground equipment to get more ideas. If you’re looking for the right accessories and parts to complete your next project, we recommend checking out our favorite parts and accessories for DIY playground projects here. You’ll find everything you need to build your own fort, mount a tire swing, and make your backyard into your kid’s favorite play space.