The 10 Best Playhouses
This wiki has been updated 36 times since it was first published in March of 2015. These outdoor playhouses are sure to keep your kids happy and entertained all summer long. They come in a variety of designs to suit your little one's style with a range of interesting features, including sand and water tables, working doorbells, and more. Plus, when the weather turns bad, some can be set up indoors, too, so your child can continue to play inside the house. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 17, 2020:
One of the major dividing lines among sets on the market exists between those than can be set up indoor and outdoors, and those that are built to live only outside. Often, the models designed for outdoor use only will be made from natural materials like cedar or plywood that are held together with metal hardware. Even though these are designed for outdoor use, however, they can fall victim to inclimate weather over the years as readily as indoor models would, so it's important that the finish on the wood be weather-resistant, and that the hardware be corrosion-resistant. Both of those features can be found in models like the Gorilla Playsets Malibu and the Backyard Discovery Timberlake.
We sent a couple of our indoor/outdoor models packing, as a few were replaced within their companies' respective lineups. The Countryside Cottage from our last ranking was also removed due to the propensity of its flower planter to collect rain and create a source of standing water. If you live in an area prone to mosquitos, this can create a hazardous and unenjoyable play area for kids or adults. We replaced this with the Little Tikes Go Green, which is a great choice if you want to instill good habits in your kids like conserving water and recycling, as it's built around environmental responsibility.
Lilliput Play Homes Town & Country As long as money is no object, you can create a getaway for your kids that might rival the house in which you currently live. These expansive setups boast multiple floors, exquisite detailing, and durable construction, and the company makes a whole host of furnishings you can purchase to round out the decor inside. lilliputplayhomes.com
Smart Playhouse The offerings from this company are a lot more adult in their architecture and finishing than much of what you'll find on the market, and some might even serve as an outdoor bedroom space for particularly adventurous kids. They feel more like extra-small tiny homes than like playthings, and their construction quality is top-notch. smartplayhouse.com
How To Choose The Perfect Playhouse
If your child regularly spreads spaghetti sauce and finger paint everywhere, a plastic playhouse is a smart choice.
Most adults have happy memories of playing "make believe" games as a child. And research has proven the many cognitive benefits children receive from using their imagination to entertain themselves. A playhouse provides endless opportunity for this type of creativity. There is no question as to whether or not your child should have one; the only question is which kind is best for your home and family?
Children can be quite messy. They like to draw on things and play with their food. While this is normal and may even be indicative of a fast learner, it also leaves parents with a lot of cleanup work. If your child regularly spreads spaghetti sauce and finger paint everywhere, a plastic playhouse is a smart choice. These are easy to wipe down and hose off. Those who prefer a more rustic, classic look may want a wooden model. The latter is also more eco-friendly.
Some children become very attached to their playhouses, and can't stand to go a day away from them. If this sounds like it could be your child, get a lightweight model so you can easily bring it indoors on rainy days. If your child is very social, a playhouse that can accommodate them and a couple of their friends will make the experience more enjoyable for them. Some children love to pretend to be grownups and enjoy mimicking everything their parents do. If your child falls into this category, a playhouse that looks like a miniature version of a real house is a better choice than one modeled after a princess castle or dragon dungeon.
Important Considerations For A Playhouse
The safety of your child should come first and foremost. In recent years, toy safety regulations have become stricter in the United States and the United Kingdom, so make sure you stay up to date on recalls and new standards. Some playhouses come equipped with a jungle gym, slide, and ladder. These offer children a fun way to stay active at home, which may, in fact, improve their academic performance. Purchasing a playhouse can be seen as an educational tool.
Some playhouses come equipped with a jungle gym, slide, and ladder.
Since you'll likely want to keep an eye on your child while they play in their house, make sure the model you buy has plenty of cut outs and windows. An open format will help you supervise playtime better. That being said, the model should have doors and windows that open and shut, because children like to feel that their playhouse is their own personal area. A few even come with a small picnic table or bench, allowing them to double as a kid's table during family events.
If you're trying to encourage your child to be more helpful around the house, look for a playhouse that comes with accessories like a fake stove, dishwasher, or grill. If your children associate fun with domestic activities, they might be more inclined to offer help in the real kitchen. Don't forget to think about how you, as an adult, would like your yard to look. Purchase a playhouse that leaves enough space for your more sophisticated patio set, and buy one that blends in with your other outdoor decor.
How To Keep Your Kids Safe In Their Playhouse
As mentioned earlier, wooden playhouses are an eco-friendly choice. But they can be too welcoming for nature, often attracting wasps, bees, spiders and mosquitoes. Any time your child is going to venture into their playhouse, it should be checked for insects. This is doubly important in the warmer months. Clear any out before allowing your child inside. Children are smaller and their systems are weaker than adults'. It takes much fewer bee stings to harm them than a grownup.
Any time your child is going to venture into their playhouse, it should be checked for insects.
Don't leave a playhouse in direct sunlight, especially if it's plastic. This material can become so hot when exposed to the sun's rays that it's dangerous to touch. The majority of outdoor play items for children should be kept in the shade. Many of these become far too hot in the summer. If your kids are particularly rough on their playhouse, then every few days, take a walk around it and crawl inside of it to inspect the nuts and bolts and ensure they haven't come loose. Always supervise your children when they are playing and don't let them crawl on top of their playhouse. Most kids will try, but it puts them at risk of falling.
If you have a wooden playhouse, inspect it regularly for splintered wood. If the material has cracked, the playhouse could be covered in some frayed wood just waiting to cause a splinter in a child's curious hands. Nearly every new playhouse should be made with non-toxic paint, but it should still be checked periodically for any chipped paint. Even the non-toxic variety is bad for a child to eat.