Which playhouse is best?
Playhouses provide the structure that opens the door to a child’s imagination. Kids used to build their own playhouses from blankets but always struggled to keep the structure intact. With an assemble-at-home playhouse, kids now get to play in houses that resemble those made for grown-ups.
Playhouses promote unstructured and unsupervised physical and social play. They help put kids in charge of their own lives where they can make their own rules. If you’re looking for a forest-themed storybook cottage with molded 3D stonework and a thatched roof, you might like the Step2 Naturally Playful Storybook Cottage. Made for outdoor use, it has a molded-in fireplace and a cuckoo clock with working hands.
What to know before you buy a playhouse
Where do you want your playhouse?
Some playhouses are for outdoor use. These are sturdier and are often made of wood or plastic. Others are intended for indoor use only. Indoor playhouses are lighter in weight and less sturdy but are easier to set up and take down. If your playhouse is for outdoor use, it can often be used indoors, too, but not the other way around.
Most playhouses state on the packaging what age group they’re made for. Use this as a general guideline, because the more important measurement is the size of the kids who will be playing in it.
Smaller playhouses are for much younger kids and usually have a limited amount of space for playing without someone bumping into the walls or ceilings.
There are many choices of playhouse themes. Fantasy playhouses are popular among small kids. Older children often prefer playhouses that resemble adult structures, such as storybook cottages, cabins, teepees, forts, castles, and even themed playhouses from companies like Disney.
What to look for in a quality playhouse
Playhouses feature at least one of four basic types of materials: wood, plastic, fabric, or cardboard.
- Wooden playhouses: These are the sturdiest and most likely to resemble adult structures like cottages and cabins. Wooden playhouses are often too large for the indoors. They are the heaviest playhouses, so you won’t want to be moving them around much after you put them together. Wood structures are usually the most expensive and typically take longer to assemble.
- Plastic playhouses: This type of playhouse is sturdy or flimsy, depending on the thickness of the plastic. It’s a good idea to check them out carefully before buying. Because plastic is so easily formed into shapes, plastic playhouses tend to have textures, designs, features, and extra molds right in the structures.
- Fabric playhouses: With these, you’re likely to get some kind of tent. The strength, weight, and durability of fabrics range from heavy canvas at one end to light and gauzy polyester fabric at the other end. Whichever fabric your playhouse is made of, look for reinforced and double-seamed stitching all around.
- Cardboard playhouses: These are the cheapest and flimsiest of all the playhouse materials. If you choose a cardboard playhouse, make sure it has corrugated cardboard for extra rigidity. Check to see how the cardboard sides and roof are connected to each other and avoid those that are likely to collapse. They rarely cause injury when they do, but may frighten or frustrate a child.
How much you can expect to spend on a playhouse
Cardboard playhouses usually cost from $20-$40. Most have designs printed on them and a few are blank, so kids can draw on them as they please. Playhouses costing between $50-$100 are usually plastic and often feature themes. Most wood and heavy-gauge plastic playhouses cost between $150-$400, but some can run into the thousands of dollars.
How do I clean my playhouse?
A. The proper cleaners for a playhouse depend on the materials it’s made of, so you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When in doubt, use mild household cleaners or disinfectant wipes.
Can I take my playhouse apart and rebuild it?
A. Most playhouses are designed to easily assemble and disassemble. Always check first to see how much is involved in putting it together and taking it apart. Generally, the simpler the construction, the easier it will be.
What’s the best playhouses to buy?
What you need to know: This feature-packed fairy-tale play cottage is the ideal size for toddlers.
What you’ll love: The molded 3D stonework and thatched roof are true to the forest cottage theme from many children’s stories. This playhouse comes with a kitchenette that has a play stove with clickable knobs, faucet, built-in table and working shutters and door. The battery-operated working electric doorbell and play phone add a modern touch to this fairy-tale playhouse.
What you should consider: Some say the roof doesn’t line up properly.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top playhouse for the money
What you need to know: This award-winning playhouse is designed to be sturdy and easy to assemble.
What you’ll love: This teepee is 65 inches tall and constructed of durable, breathable, and nontoxic canvas with double-stitched seams throughout. The pentagon shape is spacious and tall enough to stand up inside. This playhouse has five solid wood beams, a floor mat, a large window, and a door flap that closes with Velcro fasteners. It’s an ideal place for reading, coloring, and dream-catching.
What you should consider: It would be even better if the floor mat had more cushioning.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This pink 55-by-53 inch fun tent is large enough for four kids to play in together.
What you’ll love: This playhouse is easy to put together and at only 4 pounds, is light enough to move around after assembly. The hexagonal shape of this playhouse makes the structure more stable. The durable polyester fabric is easy to clean. It includes twinkling star-shaped ceiling lights.
What you should consider: The three AA batteries are not included.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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David Allan Van writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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