In this guide we’ll take a look at the best children’s playhouses for the UK market.
I’ve compared design, features, build quality and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
In this guide we’ll take a look at the best children’s playhouses for the UK market.
What is the Best Children's Playhouse?
In a rush? Here's my top choice...
High-quality, weatherproof playhouse for years of fun!
This LittleTom Children's Playhouse offers excellent value for money. It has a picnic table, bench stools, a hinged-gate door, and window shutters. The house measures 104 x 95 x 118 cm and the table can be fitted inside or out. It's easy to assemble, made from high-quality weatherproof plastic.CHECK PRICE →
Everything I Recommend
More Detailed Children's Playhouse Reviews
LittleTom Children's Playhouse Review
Children’s toys can take up a fair amount of space, but this LittleTom Children’s Playhouse succeeds in being relatively compact whilst still making good use of its size.
At 104 x 95 x 118 cm, it’s certainly not the biggest playhouse featured here, but it’s resourceful and makes use of both its indoor and outdoor space.
The picnic table can be attached to the house either on the inside or outside, meaning there’s enough room for two children to sit on their stalls at the table in the playhouse, but also that all of this furniture can be moved outside for al-fresco picnics.
As long as the weather is good, this arrangement essentially created ‘extra’ playing space.
There are other features as well to keep kids entertained, with a working ‘stable’ door and a window with hinged shutters. The back wall has some moveable ‘cog’ elements which are designed to encourage children to play imaginatively.
Of course, as adults, we’re interested in the long-term quality of our investment, not just the short-term fun for the kids. The playhouse is made from plastic which is thick and stable. It can be placed indoors or out, although some of the stickers may peel if left outside exposed to the elements, and it weighs just 14 kg so is easy to move around.
However, it’s also worth noting that it’s only really suitable for children up to 5 years old due to the size; the chairs have a recommended maximum weight capacity of 25 kg.
In terms of assembly, there are no tools required for putting it up – the large plastic screws can be tightened with a 2p coin if necessary. And, therefore, it’s relatively easy to take down again for storage as well.
- Very easy to put together - simply slots into place and the plastic screws are easy to tighten
- Weighs just 18 kg so easy to move around the garden or into storage
- The table can be positioned either inside or outside of the playhouse
- Enough internal space for siblings under 5 to play together
- Working windows and doors gives kids more of a sense of independence and realism
- The stickers that attach to the house are not particularly long lasting and tend to come off easily
- Children may grow out of this playhouse quickly as it is very compact
Little Tikes Cape Cottage Children's Playhouse Review
For small gardens and patios, this Little Tikes Cape Cottage Children’s Playhouse is a compact choice – it has a footprint of 108.6 x 88.9 cm and is therefore one of the best children’s playhouses for anyone short on space.
Of course, due to its smaller size, it caters to a smaller age range than some playhouses. Although Little Tikes state it that it’s suitable for children of 18 months – 10 years, it’ll likely be too small for most children over five years old.
However, some smaller adults will still be able to fit inside the house (not standing up though, I’m afraid!) which can be useful for supporting and encouraging younger children to play inside. Of course, whether you’re allowed in may depend on whether you’ve been lucky enough to receive an invite for tea or not!
There are two stable-style doors which open and close, as well as two window openings with shutters. As an additional feature, there’s a letter box for posting mail into. Small elements like this can sometimes encourage more imaginative play.
The double doors will also come in handy if more than one child is playing in the house at a time, as there won’t be any arguments (hopefully!) about who is in charge of opening the door.
Measuring just 124.5 cm tall, it can also be set up in the living room or kitchen, as mentioned, is small enough not to take up too much space. Made of plastic, the pieces simply ‘click’ together, resulting in a cottage-style playhouse that uses slightly more subtle and understated colours than some other models.
- Good for small gardens thanks to the compact 108.6 x 88.9 cm footprint
- Weighs just over 14 kg so relatively easy to move around
- Can be assembled in under 30 minutes
- Plastic surfaces are easy to wipe clean if needed
- Whilst compact, a smaller adult can still fit inside the playhouse
- No built-in floor so it can get muddy in the wetter months, although you could buy a mat or ground cover to put down
- Not particularly sturdy on windy days and may need to be anchored down or taken inside
- Only suitable for children up to five-years-old due to its small size
- There's not a lot of space inside for placing chairs or other 'play' units like mini kitchen sets
Redwood Lodge Wooden Children's Playhouse Review
If your children love all things ‘fairy tale’, this Redwood Lodge Wooden Children’s Playhouse looks like it’s fallen straight out of Hansel and Gretel. It has an enchanted look about it, with its deliberately crooked design, making the house resemble a colourful illustration from a kids’ book.
As a wooden structure, with Perspex ‘glass’ in the door and window frames, it’s slightly more water tight than some of the more open-design playhouses, making it more suitable for all-weather play. There’s no floor, so some people may consider buying one separately, but the roof is covered in thick felt as additional protection against the elements.
It features a chimney, a small round window, an opening window, and an opening door. The door and opening window close with magnets, making them safe for little hands.
Measuring 145 x 145 cm, with a height of 110 cm, this playhouse is suitable for children aged 3+. Due to the relatively large interior size it’s possible to fit other items inside too, so if you have a play-kitchen or any other children’s furniture, it may well find a new home inside the playhouse.
The fir wood construction is pleasantly ‘neutral’ against a garden setting, and it needn’t be off putting in terms of assembly either. Redwood Lodge have made sure it’s pretty straight forward to put together – there are five panels in total which are pre-drilled and pre-constructed (with the doors, windows etc. already in place) meaning it’s just a case of screwing them together.
Despite being wood, there also shouldn’t be any problems with splinters as the corners and edges have been curved and smoothed for safety.
It’s a slightly larger playhouse than the plastic options featured on this page, which gives a little more scope for fitting furniture inside, but it should still be an appropriate size for most small gardens. However, you may need to leave a bit of extra room to accommodate the roof overhang, so that’s something to consider when assessing whether you have enough space in your garden.
At 59 kg, this playhouse is somewhat heavier than the plastic ones as well, so it’s more likely to be a relatively permanent structure, as opposed to one you could move around regularly.
- The fir wood design looks natural and complements the neutral tones of the garden
- Soft-close door and window magnets help prevent trapped fingers
- Can be assembled in around an hour thanks to pre-drilled holes and pre-assembled panels
- Four children under five-years-old can fit inside
- At 59 kg it's more difficult to move around the garden and will likely become more of a semi-permanent fixture
- Assembly requires some DIY skills and extra tools
- There's no floor included so it can get muddy if placed on grass in the wetter months
Wooden Den Children's Playhouse Review
For slightly older kids, this Wooden Den Children’s Playhouse is sufficiently ‘cool’ enough to interest those who are growing out of younger toys, whilst still being a good option for smaller kids.
It’s therefore one of the best children’s playhouses to go for if you have a wider age gap between your children – it’s suitable for 3 – 10-year-olds and looks sufficiently ‘grown up’, with its wooden finish, to be enjoyed by those at the top of that age range too.
The overall footprint is 185 x 290 cm, and it’s 230 cm tall. It therefore requires a slightly bigger garden than the majority of the playhouses featured here, especially as it has one feature that none of the others have. Unlike other playhouses on this list, this model combines the idea of a climbing frame with a playhouse, with a 1.8 m slide included for a more exciting exit from the platform.
As a result, not only do you need space for the playhouse itself, but also enough ‘clearance area’ for children to safely come off the slide.
Three children can use the playhouse at one time, although the size of the internal playhouse is a little small – the size of the entire raised platform measures 120 x 115 cm with approximately half of that space used as the outside decking/balcony, and half the space used for the playhouse.
There’s a ladder to help children up to the raised platform, and the platform is positioned 100 cm off the ground. Underneath the platform there is an area which could be turned into a sandpit, or used for another purpose.
Whilst the wooden door opens with a hinge, the two windows are sealed shut. They do, however, have glass panels which make it possible for kids to peek out. Despite the fact the windows and doors can be fully closed, some water may seep in through the roof when it rains as there is no felt padding. This is a feature which is present on the Redwood Lodge Wooden Children’s Playhouse which is also featured on this page.
In terms of assembly, putting this Wooden Den Children’s Playhouse together can take anywhere from 3 – 6 hours and will require the help of two people. The instructions are easy to understand, it’s just a case of following them closely.
- Plastic slide is easy to wipe clean if needed
- All nuts and bolts covered to prevent scratches and scrapes
- Wood is pressure treated so no additional treatment is required before assembly
- Added elements like the slide and ladder add to the excitement
- Assembly is difficult and requires an extra pair of hands as well as DIY skills
- Takes up a lot of space so may not be suitable for small gardens
Waltons Wooden Children's Playhouse Review
If you’ve got a medium/large garden, the Waltons Wooden Children’s Playhouse is just as good a playhouse as it is a place to store the children’s toys.
It looks like a miniature version of a traditional Dutch barn and has a lot of space inside, measuring 183x 183 cm (that’s 6 x6 ft). To help you picture these dimensions, that means its footprint is as large as, if not bigger than, a standard garden shed. The roof height is 188 cm at its highest point, which means the majority of adults can also stand up inside (if they stand in the centre!).
As a result, it’s stated to be suitable for a really wide age range of 36 months +. The door height is 1.08 m, so based on average heights it’s best suited to children of up to around seven-years-old.
There are five windows which allow in light, with panes made from shatterproof styrene for safety. They don’t open, but the main door is hinged and can be fully closed to give the feeling of a real mini house inside.
Finger-gaps have been included around the door to stop little fingers from getting trapped, and the PEFC-certified wood (which means it’s sustainably sourced) has been smoothed and rounded to avoid sharp corners and splinters.
A wooden base comes with the playhouse to stop it sitting directly on the ground; however, a more substantial base may still be required to stop damp from affecting the wood. The roof is felted to make it more water resistant.
All in all, it’s a large playhouse which will be suitable for several children to play in for many years. Then, once the little ones have grown out of the playhouse, you could also repurpose it as storage for outdoor toys or furniture, so it can be useful as a relatively long-term investment.
- Simple and attractive design that complements existing garden decor and hues
- Suitable for children of all ages thanks to the extra ceiling height
- Very clear instructions aid easy assembly
- Huge amount of internal space means there’s plenty of room for kids to play
- Particle board floor included to keep furniture and toys dry
- Although assembly is easy, you may still require an extra pair of hands
- Large footprint makes it unsuitable for smaller gardens
- More of a permanent feature than plastic playhouses due to the large and heavy construction
Smoby Children's Playhouse Review
Whilst some playhouses can be a little simplistic, this Smoby Children’s Playhouse has a lot going on. There are loads of features to keep the kids happy and entertained (most likely for hours at a time, which is never a bad thing!) yet it isn’t too expensive either.
It’s the largest plastic playhouse here, measuring 185 x 109 cm, but should still fit in most small gardens. The reason it’s a little bigger than others is because it doesn’t have just a basic square design, but an additional porch/extension area as well.
There’s a hinged stable-style front door, and two windows that can be opened and closed. And, there are other moving parts too, which generally help to captivate the attention of little ones; there’s a small sink, grill, letter box, flower box and doorbell.
The doorbell plays a tune and requires 2 x AAA batteries to run – likely to be a big hit with any of the three-years-and-up children using the playhouse.
A floor doesn’t come included, but rubber mats or similar could be put down inside to stop the grass getting muddy underneath. It does only weigh 12 kg, so could also be moved around the garden if necessary.
In terms of weather protection, the plastic itself is treated with ani-UV so shouldn’t fade or degrade in the long run. However, the sides of the playhouse are very open which likely means that children will only be able to use it on fair-weather days without getting wet.
Most adults will be able to fit inside, and there’s space for some children’s furniture to fit as well, to give kids more things to keep them entertained whilst in the playhouse.
In terms of construction, the plastic pieces slot together very easily in about an hour with no tools required – some of the large plastic screws can be tightened with the help of a coin, but you won’t need to get the toybox out.
All in all, this is one of the best children’s playhouses for keeping kids entertained. It has a sturdy construction, and can be used by several kids at a time, whilst being big enough to allow for extra furniture etc. to be added in the future.
- Weighs just 12 kg so easy to move in and out of storage and around the garden
- 1.48 m height can accommodate growing kids
- Solid plastic construction is stable and can withhold a reasonable amount of weight
- Can be assembled in around one hour
- Adults can fit inside to join in and support younger children
- The sink and grill can fill with rain water and there is no easy way to drainthem
- Included instructions are in black and white which may make it a little difficult to distinguish between parts
- Doorbell batteries need to be purchased separately
Things to Know Before Buying a Children's Playhouse
Young children love to pretend they’re grown ups, and there’s no better place for them to get a taste of independence than in their very own playhouse.
Playhouses can help children develop a variety of skills and often keep them entertained for hours at a time. Who knows – you might even get invited in for ‘tea’ if you’re lucky (mmm… a delicious empty teacup full of air, delicious!).
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best children’s playhouse to suit your little one(s), so here are a few pointers to help you make an informed decision:
Playhouses offer a cosy and safe play space that your child can call their own.
Children seem to really revel in the idea of having their own personal ‘home’, and playhouses can help teach independence and encourage personality development. Plus, they give kids another reason to love being outside (we’ll get onto the important of this below).
They’re great for developing a child’s imagination, giving them another exciting place to play, with the freedom of the garden around them. Depending on how protected the playhouse is from the elements, it may also allow them a space to go even when it’s a bit rainy outside, meaning they don’t have to feel cooped up indoors.
If you have more than one child, a playhouse can help teach your children to share and play together, developing valuable social skills. This is also the case when children are old enough to invite friends round, as they’ll likely use the playhouse a lot and will develop their social skills.
It can be very beneficial for children to spend time outdoors, and a playhouse can encourage them to do so. Here are just some of the ways that this can help children and their development:
- When outside children are more likely to be doing some form of exercise, be it running, skipping, walking etc. Inside, they might just be sitting. Getting in the habit of exercising can help prevent obesity and instil good habits in them for later life. Exercise is also great for maintaining good mental health.
- If children have a reason to be outside, they will be limiting their ‘screen time’ inside. Whilst some use of digital screens can help teach children different skills, they should be exposed to a range of activities so that they don’t use screens as their fall back.
- Children who spend time outside will learn and develop curiosity about the natural world. Again, this adds another interest to their life, helping them ask questions and consider the world around us.
- Being outside allows kids the opportunity to be creative and invent games that they might not play inside. Creative and imaginative thinking are both good skills to encourage.
Playhouses are available in a huge range of designs, and there are a few factors to consider when choosing which one is right for you and your child.
We’ll cover construction materials in more depth in the ‘Construction Materials’ section below, but it’s worth briefly mentioning them here as well. Plastic playhouses tend to be better for younger children – their windows and doors are less heavy and it’s harder for kids to trap their fingers or knock their heads. Wooden playhouses tend to be slightly more permanent outdoor structures, they’re good for slightly older children and may suit your child for more years.
When it comes to features, plastic playhouses tend to have more interactive parts than wooden playhouses. This can include items such as picnic tables, chairs, windows with shutters, toy-kitchen units, letter boxes, working doorbells, etc. Seeing as there’s such a large range of features available, the best thing to do is shop around and compare different options. Once you start looking, you’ll soon see how many different choices there are.
Some playhouses are designed to look like certain ‘establishments’ like cafes, post offices, supermarkets, restaurants, and so on. If your child has a certain interest, a themed playhouse could be a real hit.
Just remember that children do have a tendency to grow in and out of certain phases, so sometimes a more basic option might stay relevant for a longer time.
That said, children do enjoy the chance to interact with different items, so moveable parts like doors, windows, cupboards, sinks etc. will likely always be a hit.
Both plastic and wooden playhouses are also available in more simple designs. These still offer a lot of different possibilities to children, even if they don’t come with built-in interactive elements.
Basic designs allow your child to put their own spin on their ‘new home’. They could even make their own furniture out of boxes and other items, leaving a lot of scope to be creative and develop logistical thinking.
There are three main questions to consider when working out what size playhouse to go for:
- How much space do you have available? Do you want the playhouse to be positioned exclusively outside, or would you like it to be used indoors on occasion?
- How old are your children, and do you want them to ‘grow into’ the playhouse, or have it be the perfect size for them straight away?
- Do you want to be able to fit into the playhouse as well, to have another place to interact and spend time with your child, or is this not important?
It’s important to consider how much space you have available; some playhouses look a lot smaller in pictures than they are in real life!
For very young children, small plastic playhouses are ideal. These can be used both indoors and out depending on how much space you have available. These tend to have a footprint of less than 110 x 110 cm and are often suitable for children aged from around 2 – 5 years.
Larger outdoor-only models are more suitable for older children. As a rough guide, they might be around 200 cm wide and can be made from plastic or wood. You might find them better value for money because children can use them for longer – this is especially true of the bigger wooden houses; they’re not just “little kids’ toys”. In fact, it’s not unheard of for even young teenagers to want an outdoor clubhouse!
Work out exactly how much space you have available by physically marking out the area beforehand. You need a flat area of garden in a safe location. Being able to visualise how much space the playhouse will take up is useful as a playhouse which is too large will cramp your garden.
As mentioned, smaller playhouses tend to be suitable for children up to around the ages of 5 – 7.
The age suitability of a certain playhouse often comes down to a couple of factors: the height of the doorway, height of the ceiling, and weight capacity of any furniture.
Children can be slightly taller than the height of the door frame and duck to enter the house, as long as there is still enough space for them to move around. Take into account the lowest roof measurement when deciding if a playhouse will be suitable for your child.
Average children heights are as follows (to help when comparing against the roof height of playhouses)
3 years old – 95 cm
4 years old – 101 cm
5 years old – 108 cm
6 years old – 115 cm
7 years old – 121 cm
8 years old – 128 cm
9 years old – 133 cm
10 years old – 138 cm
11 years+ – 144 cm+
If you want the best value for money, you may choose to buy a larger playhouse that the child can ‘grow into’, but that may mean that they need assistance using it (for example, unlocking and locking wooden doors) initially.
The amount of interior space will dictate how many children can fit inside the playhouse, as well as whether you can squeeze in there too.
At least two children can normally fit in even a small plastic playhouse. If the side measurement is closer to 200 cm, at least three children will likely be able to fit inside.
If you’re hoping to squeeze in occasionally too, take note of the door frame size and the height room available. These will likely be an adult’s biggest challenges when getting into a playhouse.
If there’s sufficient interior space, it should also be possible to fit children’s furniture into the playhouse. A table and chairs will likely encourage kids to spend even more time outside, so it’s worth taking note of the interior area of the playhouse for this reason too.
Playhouses tend to be made of either plastic or wood. There are pros and cons to each material, which are detailed below.
Playhouses for younger kids are often made from plastic which tends to be a good choice for them; it’s durable and waterproof as well as safe and low maintenance. Generally speaking, plastic playhouses have rounded edges and extra gaps to stop little fingers getting trapped.
Plastic has the added bonus of being very easy to clean – even if it gets a bit grubby outside, you can simply hose it down. If you want a plastic playhouse that will last, you should make sure that the plastic is anti UV – this will stop the colour from fading and degrading in sunlight over time.
The majority of plastic playhouses are easy to assemble with plastic pieces that ‘slot’ into place. The most you’ll need to do when putting these together is tighten large plastic screws. For this reason they’re also relatively easy to take apart for winter storage if necessary.
Plastic playhouses also tend to be quite light, generally weighing between 12 – 20 kg. As a result, they are more mobile than wooden playhouses and can be moved around the garden if necessary. However, lighter plastic playhouses may need to be kept an eye on during very windy weather.
These are traditional and charming, more suited to older kids because everything is just a bit more solid. Wooden playhouses might have sharper corners (although some models will take care to curve them off), and don’t always have all the safety allowances that plastic houses may have (like extra gaps around the doors). Of course, they can still be suitable for younger children too, but more supervision will be required.
Wooden playhouses can be more aesthetically pleasing than plastic ones, adding a nice feature to your garden. Depending on the size that you buy, they may also be used for longer, as your children grow up. Children can quickly outgrow a small plastic house, but wooden playhouses can stay relevant for longer.
The downside to wooden playhouses is that they aren’t always as weather resistant as plastic houses. If not properly maintained, wooden playhouses can be susceptible to rot. Look for one made from pressure-treated wood as this will mean it is already protected against rot or insect infestation. After a few years, you will need to apply a wood treatment to even pressure-treated wood to keep it effective.
Wooden playhouses with felt roofs will have more protection against rain coming in through the roof. This can make them more waterproof inside. Building a wooden playhouse on some sort of foundation can also stop water seeping up from the floor and causing rot.
In terms of assembly, wooden playhouses require more time to put together. You’ll likely need a few tools, some DIY knowledge and an extra pair of hands.
There are a few things that can help keep children safe when they’re playing in their playhouse.
Firstly, always check that the playhouse is age appropriate for your child. Most playhouse manufacturers will state the recommended age range for the equipment and this shouldn’t be exceeded.
For younger children, as mentioned, it can be good to check that the playhouse has finger gaps around any moveable windows and doors so that their fingers don’t get trapped.
Children should be supervised at all times, and it’s always a good idea to regularly check any playhouse for anything that may have broken or be hazardous.
With wooden playhouses, check for rough timber that could splinter, and make sure screws are well embedded or covered with safety caps.
If you do purchase a wooden playhouse, you should do a ‘safety check’ every so often. This way you can sand down any splintering wood and check out other potential problems.
Ensure that the playhouse isn’t positioned under any trees to prevent branches falling on the roof and potentially damaging it.
You should also make sure that the playhouse is situated away from any obstacles which children might accidentally run into when playing in and around the playhouse.
If there is any sort of raised platform or slide, you need to leave a 2 m clearance zone on all sides of the structure. This will help protect children in case they fall.
Children's Playhouse FAQs
Most wooden children’s playhouses are made from pressure-treated timber. This should keep it protected from rot and insect infestations for around 10 years.
However, sealing the wood against moisture roughly every year can help stop the wood from expanding and contracting if it gets wet. Sometimes this movement can cause damage to the timber.
Given that playhouses are temporary structures, there is usually no planning permission required. However, pay attention to size restrictions, especially if your playhouse is going to be placed near to your property’s boundary.
Whilst each planning authority has its own rule, generally speaking, playhouses that are less than 2 m from the boundary need to be under 2.5 m high.
This comes down to personal preference. As long as your playhouse is located on flat ground, you won’t need a base.
However, some people prefer to use a base so that the inside of the playhouse is nicer for kids. A playhouse with a base can be used to store toys and a base will also keep the inside of the playhouse dry. Without a base you may find that the playhouse gets muddy and wet.
If a wooden playhouse is placed directly on the floor, with no base or foundations, the wood may get damp and rot.
There are certain restrictions when it comes to placing structures near the boundary line of your property, especially if they’re over a certain height. Check the restrictions for your area before putting up the playhouse. Generally speaking, if it is over 2.5 m tall, it needs to be placed further than 2 m from the boundary.
It’s important that your playhouse is also placed on flat ground for stability and to ensure the doors can open freely. Don’t put it under any trees, and any falling branches could pose a safety risk.
If your playhouse is made from wood, ensure you have access from all sides so that you can treat the timber on a regular basis.
You should also ensure the playhouse is in clear sight of your home so that you can keep an eye on the kids.