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How to Make a Tree House Part 1

My kids have asked for a treehouse ever since we moved into our current house. After finding the perfect tree in our backyard I decided to stop stalling and get building! In part 1 of 2, I will build the support platform on which the treehouse will be built.

  1. Find the Right Tree
  2. Set Anchors
  3. Build the Support Platform
  4. Add a Deck

1. Find the Right Tree

There are many guides online to help you decide which tree is right for your treehouse. We used https://www.treetopbuilders.net/tree-selection/ to help confirm that the tree we were hoping to use was suitable for the job. The tree in question is a spruce tree with a 75 inch diameter, which should be plenty strong, even for a soft-wood tree. I had to remove some dangling limbs from the tree because it was struck by lightening many, many years ago. The tree house platform will occupy the space where those limbs used to be.

2. Set Anchors

After a lot of research, I decided to use TABS, or Treehouse Attachment Bolts, to support one end of the treehouse platform and 2 wooden beams set into the ground to support the other; this way, the spruce tree isn’t supporting the entire weight of the platform. The Tabs are massive bolts that are driven into the sides of the tree using larger drill bits and a wrench the size of a baseball bat. I marked the final height of the platform and subtracted the height of all of the supporting structures to give me the TAB location. I ordered the TAB equipment from TreehouseSupplies.com including the rented drill bits.

After attaching the TABs to the tree, I rented a two-person auger and drilled some huge holes in the ground. In these holes, we placed 4×4 beams and set them with Sakcrete. These two beams will be the uprights that will hold up the other end of the platform. We laminated two 2x10s and fixed them in between the two vertical beams.

3. Build the Support Platform

To make the support platform for the treehouse, I used joist hangers to mount 2 2x10x to the face of the laminated header connected to the upright beams. The other end of these large pieces of lumber will sit on the TABs connected to the tree. I then mounted some 45-degree joist hangers to the face of the header and cut down some more 2x10s to connect the header corners to the 2x10s sitting on the TABs. We now had a triangular support system that was supported by the tree and by the vertical beams set into the ground. To add some additional lateral support, we added some knee braces to the inside of the vertical beams.

4. Add a Deck

Now that the treehouse has a sturdy foundation, it is time to add the walking deck. Depending on the span of your support joists, you may be able to just lay down some decking material and call it good. In our case, I am going to build a deck frame made out of 2x8s and set them on top of the support joists. These decking frame pieces have a 16 inch spacing and hang over the support frame. We used decking brackets to attach the deck frame to the support frame.

Once the frame for the deck was in place and capped at the ends, we began to lay down the actual decking. All of this lumber was pressure treated so that it can withstand the outdoors. The decking boards were secured to the deck frame with 3 inch decking screws and spaced about 1/8 inch apart to allow for wood movement over time. I trimmed off the overhanging decking boards and the treehouse platform was all done!

Strong and Sturdy Platform

Part 1 of this two-part project was just about making a sturdy platform for the rest of the treehouse. Yes, it is just a deck elevated about 12 feet off the ground, but in the second part of this series, it will get a hand rail and other fun features. This platform construction allows you to have a blank canvas on which to build your treehouse. It could be an elevated deck or a fully-enclosed tiny house, it’s all up to you. Big thanks to Lowe’s for sponsoring this project. Stay tuned for Part 2!