9 Simple Steps To Protect A Wooden Playhouse In Winter

Wooden playhouses are a great source of imagination, fun and entertainment for kids in the warmer months. However, as the snow starts to fall, the attraction of sitting in a cold hut can wear off. At this stage, you’ll want to get the playhouse protected and ready to last through the winter.

This article will help you prepare your playhouse before snow starts to fall. This will help you extend the structural integrity of the playhouse, as well as its lifespan. You’ll have an asset that will entertain your kids, and add value to your property as a great family home.

9 Simple Steps To Protect A Wood Playhouse In Winter

1. Seal The Wood With A Wood Preserver

Sealing the wood ensures that moisture doesn’t enter the wood and start to rot it from the inside. Sealant should be applied annually. It’s a clear liquid that can be picked up from your hardware store or online. Look for one with UV-protection built in.

To apply it, check that the wood is dry first. You don’t want to trap moisture inside wet wood. If the wood is dry, use a paintbrush, and start at the top of the playhouse. You can then pick up all of the little drips and make the application even and smooth.

2. Check For Holes In The Playhouse Roof

You might need to look at it from an upper storey or get a ladder, but you want to check for any holes in the roof, both from the inside and out.

Clear off any build-up of leaf matter with a soft brush. If you have an asphalt or felt roof, consider if it needs replacement. If you have a metal or shingle roof, check all of the screw or nail fastenings for any surrounding deterioration. Patch any holes and silicon any gaps.

3. Add Insulating Film To The Inside Of Playhouse Windows

Insulating window film amazing. It generally sticks to the window frame, creating a little pocket of air in between the actual window pane and the film.

You are looking to decrease how quickly the temperature changes in the playhouse. This will help to buffer and slow down temperature changes. In turn, this will reduce the amount of condensation, and water pooling, on the wooden window frames.

4. Check The Seal Around The Window Frames And Door

Whilst some air flow is good for helping to remove humidity from the playhouse, you don’t want rain or melted snow creating puddles inside.

Use rubber or foam weather seal to protect the gaps around the window frame and doors. You might also want to look at adding a weather strip to the bottom of the door, depending on if snow is likely to be blown in.

5. Remove Plastic Elements That Can Become Brittle

As the temperature drops, even good quality plastic can become brittle in the cold. On your playhouse, this might be letterboxes, decorative elements, steering wheels, periscopes, anything really!

Where possible, you want to remove these from any stress. This stress might be the weight of snow building up, any animals climbing on it, heavy birds landing on it. By storing these items in a shed or garage over winter, you’ll have them in good condition for the spring.

6. Remove Any Swings Or Webbing Before Snow Makes Them Heavy

Some swings will also benefit by being taken down before the snow falls. This will protect the swing itself, the chains or rope holding them up, as well as the structural frame.

Snow can add up to a significant weight. If this builds up on the swing or webbing, it can cause damage to the swing and ropes, as well as apply long term pressure to the frame.

Unscrew the bolts or screws, and again put them away in a safe place in the shed or garage. Make sure any ropes aren’t placed where they are wet for any length of time.

7. Take Any Soft Furnishings Such As Rugs, Blankets And Soft Toys Inside

Soft furnishings can collect moisture over time. Especially when the snow is still falling and melting at the start of winter, or when spring appears. This will increase the humidity, and make it easy for mold and bugs to grow. It can also make good bedding for vermin seeking shelter.

Before storing them for the winter, give everything a good wash.

8. Don’t Cover The Playhouse As This Will Trap Moisture

Don’t put a tarpaulin or other cover over the top of your playhouse. This will cause moisture to build up on the outside of the playhouse, including both roof and walls. This is a sure recipe for rot.

9. On Fine Days, Open The Windows For Airflow

When you notice that you have a relatively sunny day, try to open up the windows of the playhouse. This will allow any built-up humidity to leave.

Remember to close everything up again before the next sleet or snow event!

If you also have a trampoline, check out this article on how to winterise a trampoline.

How Do You Maintain A Wood Playhouse?

When spring comes, and you open up the yard again for playhouse shenanigans and adventures, it’s a good idea to give the playhouse a mighty once-over. This will give you the chance to take stock of the condition and what needs to be done.

Here are the simple steps I like to follow to maintain the wood playhouse in our yard.

1.  Look At The Floor For Any Signs Of Water Or Water Damage.

Here, you are looking for any patches that are persistently damp. Any such patch probably indicates a leak from above, so spray a hose over the roof. Do the necessary repairs.

Also check out any signs of general damp that might indicate water coming up from the ground. Here’s how to take care of damp playhouses.

2. Clean It Inside And Out

I like to use a stiff brush over the walls inside and out, and vacuum the entire thing. Remove any signs of bugs, including spider webs.

There’s always a bit of dust, but there may have been some vermin or wild animals that have sought shelter from winter. Maybe you left some blankets that have made a warm safe haven for hibernation. Clear it all out.

3. Check For Cracks And Rot In Your Playhouse

Look for any cracks or rotten bits in the playhouse itself, as well as in any attached swingset frame. Fix these before the kids decide to throw themselves at the playhouse.

Fill in cracks with timber filler. You can get both exterior and interior filler that can be sanded, sealed or painted. You want to make sure you’re not leaving any crevices that bugs can breed in, or that water can pool in.

4. Cut Away And Plug The Rotten Bits

Look to see if there are any rotten bits, and they it can be repaired. A playhouse window frame can be repaired fairly easily, but the leg of an A-frame may need the entire beam replaced.

If it’s a repair job, cut out the rotten bits with a wood chisel, and try a builders’ bog. This is a product where you mix two parts together, and it makes a bog that can be used to block larger holes. It’s like magic, it heats up and you plug the hole. You then have a minute or two to shape it, it cuts away like cheese, so you can even replicate fancy architrave work if your hand is steady.

4. Sand Any Splinters Or Protrusions Back

Look for any rough bits including splinters. Sand it all back before the kids come in looking for first aid.

5. Apply A Wood Preserver Annually

Apply a wood preserver with UV protection. It’s a good idea to do it annually to help seal out the water. Make sure the wood is dry before you start, otherwise you’ll trap water inside the wood.

6. Clear The Outside Of Leaf Litter

Check around the outside of mulch or leaf litter. As well as a bug- or vermin-breeding ground, this can build up a damp mess against the side of the playhouse.

Cut back any branches that are either overhanging or about to hit the walls.

7. Tighten All Screws And Bolts

Over time, playhouses and playsets can become slightly unstable. You can help prevent this by keeping all of the fastenings tight.

Go through the walls and hinges one by one. It can be difficult to remember where you’ve been and what you’ve done. Start with one wall, and work your way across it in a repeating up and down path. Tighten or fix each one as you go.

Don’t try to remember where the problem is and plan to come back, it will be just too tricky to remember. If you do need to come back to it, use a piece of masking tape to put a dot on the wall.

8. Lubricate Any Hinges On The Door, Windows And Shutters

Get a can of lubricating oil spray, and it should come with a nozzle that can get into nooks and crannies. Listen for if there is any creaking in the hinge or resistance as you open and close it. Spray a small amount of oil into the gap in the hinge, and open and close the hinge until the oil moves around.

Look at any other moving parts such as steering wheels, or metal buckles holding swings or moving parts on any attached playsets. Look for signs of rust, and also apply lubricant.

9. Test The Integrity Of Any Ropes Or Chains

Inspect for any signs of deterioration in ropes or chains. This might include any rope fences or bridges, as well as swings on an attached playset. Once you know that it all looks good, actually try to put a bit of weight on it, and stress test it a little. Don’t go over any advertised weight limits but you can definitely put a knee on a swing, and bear down a little.

Replace as soon as you see any sign of weakness or fraying.

10. Clear Out The Sandbox Sand

Look through all of the sand for hidden toys, animal droppings and nature debris. If you find anything that you don’t want your kids playing in, you might have to sieve the sand.

If the sandbox is too large, or the job doesn’t suit you (a genuine possibility!), you can replace the sand in its entirety. Find where you get rid of old fill (don’t just dump it!), and then get your local garden supplies or hardware store to deliver the right amount of replacement sand.

To Wrap It Up

I hope this has been useful to help you plan how to winterize your playhouse, and then also how to maintain it through the year. These might be a few hours on a weekend, but it will extend the life of your playhouse immeasurably if done each year. Go forth!

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