Last updated: August 7, 2021

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Welcome to our big tree house test 2021. Here we present all the tree houses we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web. We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best tree house for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a tree house.




The most important facts

  • A tree house is the perfect retreat for children in the garden. In summer, it can also be used to store toys.
  • If you don't have a tree in your garden that would be strong enough to hold a tree house, there are also alternatives, such as the stilt house or the play tower.
  • You can compare tree houses on the basis of the additional equipment, such as a slide or swing, the design, the materials used and the scope of delivery.

The best tree house: Our picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a tree house

What is a tree house?

Tree houses are often a childhood dream, especially if they are high up in the trees. Unfortunately, this is often not possible because neither the equipment nor the possibilities are available in German gardens or areas.

However, to make your children happy, you can buy them a tree house.

Less exciting than a tree house in the heights, but much more accessible and safer are these "stilt houses", which are nowadays also called tree houses.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a tree house?

The great thing about a tree house is that the children have something to do in the fresh air. Nowadays it is important to give your children a balance between all the surrounding technology and the great outdoors.

It is also important not only to "force" the children, but to give them incentives and opportunities to spend time and play in the fresh air.

Another advantage is that it is an activity close to home and thus also in the care of the family. Of course, then when they will build the tree house near them. Since there are many more regulations and laws to follow for public buildings, this will also be the case in all most cases.

If you don't have time for a real activity or are afraid of bad weather, you can simply spend time with your children in the garden, where they can let off steam under supervision. Also advantageous for areas where there are no playgrounds nearby.

Did you know that you can also spend your holiday in a tree house?

In Austria you can find beautiful places to stay, for example in Lower Austria you can rent a modern tree house lodge in the middle of the forest.

It is also a safe activity. Climbing and trying things out is often in the nature of children to deny them this, it is good for children to let them have these opportunities and not to restrict them too much. But this way you can make sure the children don't overdo it on their adventures and only play around from their chosen playground equipment.

Nevertheless, it is advised to let the children play only under the supervision of their parents. Children often do not know their limits and try daring challenges or overestimate their dexterity. They are also somewhat arbitrary and sometimes have dangerous ideas.

When the children get a little older, it is best for the parents to decide whether they are ready to play alone or without supervision. However, the tree houses are designed with the idea that the children are supervised.

It is not suitable for children under 3 years or 36 months. Motor skills need to be learned slowly, but the use of these tree houses requires certain skills, such as climbing the ramp or the net.

Advantages
  • Outdoor play
  • Playground close to home
  • Relatively safe activity
  • Multiple ways to play
  • Multiple ways to modify the tree house
Disadvantages
  • Need enough space
  • Strenuous assembly

What is very appealing especially to the children themselves is the variety that the tree houses offer. They consist of several parts such as climbing walls, ramps, sandboxes etc., all of which demand different actions and encourage different skills.

They can be used alone or with friends and are also very suitable for popular children's games such as tag or petrification.

Many tree house variants also have decorations such as sails or flags and also accessories such as a ship's wheel or telescopes. This way, children can also let their imagination run wild, for example playing a pirate with his own ship or a knight.

Because of all the different possibilities a good tree house offers, your children will not get bored so quickly

Most models are not set in stone, but can be moved or rebuilt at will. If you don't want sand in your garden or your child simply doesn't like to play in the sandbox, then you simply don't need to buy it with the tree house.

On the other hand, you can also add other external accessories if you think they are important or if the children would like them. Many families have built their own playgrounds in their garden.

Tree houses certainly need space on their property. Not only the stilt house itself but, especially swings and slides should be placed in the safety path with enough free space in both directions. You should also make sure that the surface on which the tree house is built is soft enough - grass should be sufficient.

Assembling a tree house can be a sweaty affair, as the tree houses are delivered in their individual parts.

However, it should not be too difficult or complicated for experienced (hobby) craftsmen, as many manufacturers also send detailed building instructions. If necessary, you can also hire someone to build it for you, which will of course have an effect on the costs.

What elements do tree houses consist of?

Tree houses, also called playhouses, have the "house on stilts" in common. A small house made of wood is erected on stilts, which can be reached from the ground with ladders, stairs, etc. A slide is often also available. Often a slide is also available for getting down quickly. Everything is designed for children's size, of course.

The simplest models practically only have a house on stilts + a ladder or a slide. It gives children their own area and thus a place to retreat, but other major advantages of tree houses are lost. For example, sports activities are greatly reduced compared to other models. That is why I will mainly refer to the variants with several different activity parts.

There are many different combinations of activity parts and the stilt house. Besides the ladders and slides, there are also climbing towers, swings, sandboxes, climbing walls, ...

Elements Function
Stilt house Actual house, which is slightly elevated.
Ladder/slide These elements are attached to the stilt house and are intended to enable ascent and descent.
Climbing towers/walls These elements also often enable ascent and descent, plus they offer a little more movement.
Swing The swing is an extension of the tree house and allows for several play options.
Sandbox The sandbox is an extension of the tree house and allows for several play options.
Basketball hoop The basketball hoop is an extension of the tree house and allows for several play options.

We will go into more detail about the individual parts and other special features of tree houses, but on the whole you should buy what your children would like best.

Are there age restrictions for tree houses?

They are great experiences for children, but when the children get older and grow into teenagers, the tree house is no longer used. The size of a teenager alone makes using a tree house very impractical.

Manufacturers assume an age limit of 3-14 years. Therefore, you should calculate whether the tree house is really worthwhile until the child is fully grown.

For children, tree houses are wonderful places to play in the fresh air. They can play in a safe place close to home and still have an experience full of adventure. (Image source: pixabay.com / markusspiske)

What are the alternatives to a tree house?

If they decide against a tree house, here are a few alternatives:

Stilt house

They don't give the children as many opportunities to play, but they are a lot cheaper and take up much less space. This way, your children at least have a place for themselves outdoors.

Build a tree house yourself

If you have experience with tools and enough time, they can also set about building their own tree house project. There are many good instructions on the internet for designing and making your own tree house.

The advantage is that you will have exactly the tree house that is perfect for your family. And in many cases it is also a cheaper alternative.

Did you know that building a tree house requires a building permit?

At least above a certain size, you may need a permit from your municipality before building a tree house.

Play tower

A play tower is basically a tree house that does not have a house but only consists of playground equipment. It does, however, have a platform that can be reached by, for example, a climbing ramp, just like a tree house.

This is a narrow definition, as many manufacturers use the term tree house and play tower as synonyms or there is a large intersection. The most important feature of these two products is that it allows your children to do a variety of different activities.

How long does it take to build a tree house?

For two people, you should expect seven to nine hours. Of course, it varies depending on the equipment, experience of the B and the size of the tree house itself.

How much does a tree house cost?

The cost of a tree house is around 1000 pounds. It depends very much on the playground equipment and accessories. A cheap tree house can be bought for around 500 pounds, which then misses out on many of the fun equipment such as the swings.

My tip is that it's better to agree on a generous budget here, because a tree house with too little content can quickly become uninteresting for the children. In the end, you have a tree house that doesn't cost much but serves almost no purpose and doesn't have many advantages. A tree house that is a little heavier on the pocket but fulfils several wishes is much more profitable.

The advantage of buying your tree house in a shop is that you can see it directly and take it home with you. The internet is still a good place to get an overview of what's on offer and the price differences. (Image source: pixabay.com / Evita Ochel)

Online versus offline purchase

The advantage of buying offline in a shop is, of course, that you can admire the tree house right away and don't have to deal with confused scales and a few pictures. However, it might be difficult to find a shop where you can examine finished tree houses, despite a wide online range.

Another possible advantage is that you don't have to order the tree house, but can pick it up in the shop or buy it right away. This saves you the delivery costs and you don't have to wait for the delivery, which can be a problem for people who work, for example.

If you buy the tree house from retailers who also have branches, you can also enjoy this advantage when buying online.

Decision: What types of tree houses are there and which one is right for you?

There are basically three types of tree houses:

  • Classic tree houses
  • Stilt houses
  • Play towers

Which one is the right one depends mainly on the requirements your garden meets, the price you are willing to pay and the work you want to put into the tree house. In the following, we will explain the differences between the various types, as well as their respective advantages and disadvantages.

What is a classic tree house and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The classic tree house is, as the name suggests, built on a tree. Accordingly, to build the tree house, you need a relatively large and stable tree in your garden that can safely bear the weight.

This means that you also have to consider the location and the nature of the tree when planning and building the tree house. This can make it difficult to buy a suitable tree house.

Advantages
  • Individual design option
  • Takes up little space
Disadvantages
  • Must be individually adapted

If you build it yourself, you have more possibilities to adapt to the tree and you can develop your own individual style. However, craftsmanship is required for this. A tree house can also be very decorative and enhance the garden.

What are the characteristics of a house on stilts and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A house on stilts is a type of raised wooden garden house and therefore a garden shed on stilts. Although it is a children's playhouse, it usually offers no or hardly any extra play elements for children. This makes it more space-saving than play towers, but it also offers less fun.

Advantages
  • No tree necessary
  • Location freely selectable
  • Space-saving
Disadvantages
  • Few play opportunities

Unlike a tree house, the location can be freely chosen here. You are not tied to a specific place. Of course, stilt houses are also an alternative if there is no suitable tree in your garden. The tree house can be bought ready-made and either assembled by yourself according to instructions or by a professional.

What distinguishes a play tower and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Play towers are, as the name suggests, designed for playing. They are play- and fun-oriented. Therefore, they offer the maximum of possibilities and elements for children, such as swings, slides or climbing walls. You can often put these together yourself individually.

Advantages
  • Many play possibilities
  • Individual design
Disadvantages
  • Very large
  • Relatively expensive

This is where the advantages of play towers lie. On the other hand, they are comparatively large and take up a lot of space. They are therefore less suitable for small gardens. Their size also makes them the most expensive model. Here, too, an assembly service is often offered.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate tree houses

In the following, we will show you which criteria you can use to compare and evaluate tree houses. This will make it easier for you to get an overview and decide on a suitable tree house.

In summary, these are the following criteria:

  • Devices
    • Slide
    • Swings
    • Sandpit
    • Climbing ramps
    • Climbing wall
    • Climbing nets
    • Basketball hoop
  • Decoration / Design
  • Material
  • Scope of delivery

In the following, you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense for you to purchase a tree house under these aspects or not.

Equipment

Slide

Practically every model of stilt house has a slide for easy descent. Which also has the nice ulterior motive that children no longer try to jump down because there is a more fun alternative.

Most of them are so-called "wave slides", i.e. a slide with small hills. They are all around 2 to 3 metres long and are often strikingly coloured because, unlike the stilt house, they are made of plastic.

The stilt house itself is always made of wood and is also coloured so that it looks more like a tree house. Of course, you can paint the tree houses in any colour you want.

Some models also have an integrated water connection to turn the slide into a water slide.

Swings

Swinging is of course a very popular activity with children. Tree houses often include swings as well. As already mentioned in the decision section, you should ensure a safe distance here so that no injuries occur.

In most models, swings come in two parts. This reduces the number of arguments about whose turn it is when several children are using the tree house.

Sandpit

Many children also like to play in the sandbox, because there they can slip into the roles of master builder or construction worker, let their creativity run wild and try their hand at making figures. As the name suggests, it is just a box that can be placed wherever you want near the tree house.

Many models have a planned area where the sandbox should best be placed. Like right under the little house, so you don't get in the way with the other equipment. However, if you have a better idea of where the sandbox should be, then there is nothing stopping you from modifying the treehouse.

Climbing ramps

Climbing ramps are ramps with a rope attached to the top of the house. This rope is intended to make the ascent easier or possible for the children. A little mountaineering adventure. Often the ramps themselves are equipped with brackets to make it even easier to use.

The important thing with the ascents into the cottage is to give the children a sense of achievement when they have made it. Only a staircase could quickly bore the children and not encourage them enough.

Climbing wall

A climbing wall is a wall that has been equipped with colourful climbing stones (brand "GrabOn"). You know them in larger proportions from climbing gyms. Tree houses only have about 5-6 climbing stones to give the children another possibility to reach the house, for the sense of achievement and natural sporting activity.

Climbing nets

Climbing nets can also be seen in playgrounds. A sporting activity that is again rewarded with having reached the top floor. They are a little harder than climbing walls or ramps but should still be doable for the children.

Basketball hoop

Another very good accessory that children can use for sports activities is the basketball hoop. Basketball has the advantage that you can try some tricks and throws on your own, play one-to-one or with several people.

Another plus is that basketball has no age restriction. So the tree house also has a use when the children are grown up.

A basketball hoop goes hand in hand with a larger required usable area, as you also have to take into account possible misses, so that nothing gets broken and there is also enough space for the playing field.

Decoration / Design

There are many tree houses with decorations like plastic leaves for the tree house look and decorations like flags or sails for the children's adventures.

Some tree houses also have clubhouse features. Children should also see the tree house as their own territory where they have free rein. Entrance signs, uniform decoration design and special logos should help to transfer this feeling of having their own clubhouse.

This makes it much more appealing to children than a normal tree house, it helps them to put themselves in other roles and thus makes the tree house more attractive than if they only used it for climbing and sliding.

Other accessories include small telescopes at the top corners to play "pirate" or just to explore the distance, or counters to play salesman, or folding doors like those found in saloons.

If you decide on a tree house without much decoration, I would still recommend giving the tree house its own touch.

You can see the size of the tree house in the pictures. Most of them are rather small, there is enough space for about 2 children. If you have more or if your children often play with friends, you can also look for a tree house with more space so that the children have a little retreat and can sit down when they are exhausted from playing and climbing.

Material

You can look at the wood to see if it is pressure impregnated. Pressure impregnated wood is much more durable and weatherproof than untreated wood, but there are always doubts about whether it is just as harmless.

Pressure impregnation is the treatment of wood by impregnating the chemical preservatives directly into the wood itself. This is done in a large cauldron, which is where the name pressure impregnation comes from.

The wood preservatives are toxic to developing fungi and insects and also make the wood more durable against other environmental influences.

German authorities are not sleepy about such things - impregnated wood may continue to be sold and also gets the TÜV seal. Therefore, one should not worry too much.

If you decide against impregnated wood and opt for untreated wood, I would advise you to have the wood (untreated during production) treated with the right products so that it lasts as long as it should. For example, it is recommended that the tree house be varnished with an oil-based stain or paint to make it more weather-resistant.

There are also some types of wood in our local forests that are suitable for outdoor use in the garden. The three most commonly used types of wood are listed in the table below. These have certain properties depending on the species.

Wood species Description
Robinia Has a light yellow to slightly greenish colour. Is particularly suitable for wooden paving or for the construction of playground equipment.
Douglas fir Is softer than other wood species and is suitable for garden furniture. Is weather-resistant, but not particularly durable.
Larch wood The high resin content makes it relatively durable and suitable for outdoor use. Is somewhat more expensive to buy than other types of wood.

Scope of delivery

Make sure that everything you need is included in the delivery. Especially parts like anchors or safety anchors are often not included and should be ordered separately. In most cases, they are not particularly expensive, but you should still pay attention to them so that you do not have to wait even longer for the delivery of the tree house itself.

Before the tree house arrives, it is advisable to make sure you have a varied tool kit and, for safety's sake, do not tackle the task alone.

Image source: 123rf.com / 50242326

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