Tree house platform (Jumping right in) - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 06-04-2020, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Tree house platform (Jumping right in)

Hi Folks,

So I'm working on plans for a tree house and I've never built a deck or platform before. I'm looking at a 10'x10' platform which will be 4' off the ground to the top of the decking. To that end I have a few questions about best practices...

If I'm digesting all my new knowledge correctly I am coming from a place where my posts are cemented into my footings, my beams rest on top of my posts, and my joists rest on top of my beams. Is this the correct, most structurally sound way to build? I've seen pics and plans that seem to place the joists in line with the beams, essentially making it one level. Is that accurate too?

If I'm using 4'x4' posts, 2'x8' for beams, 2'x6' for joists and 5/4"x6" for decking, and I want my deck to be 4' high, I need to subtract the 7.5", 5.5", and 1" to get the height of my post, right?

Assuming the in-line beams and joists, I would only subtract the 7.5" and 1".

Please let me know if I'm on track here and any resources you can point me to about building raised decks or platforms would be appreciated.

Thanks all.
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post #2 of 23 Old 06-04-2020, 12:30 PM
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I just used a pallet for my son's wish for a platform in a tree.
Worked well and cost nothing.
johnep
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post #3 of 23 Old 06-04-2020, 07:48 PM
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Its better if the kids build it, then they are vested in it, I see too many tree houses empty 99.9999% of the time

Keep framing simple and avoid joist hangers
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post #4 of 23 Old 06-04-2020, 09:35 PM
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I'm not sure why you should stay away from joist hangers. They've been successfully used on hundreds of thousands of decks over the years. This is a good read on what type and how to install outdoor deck rated hangers.

https://www.deckmagazine.com/design-...rs-for-decks_o

Also check the span rating of your 2x6 joists. If you will be spanning all 10 feet, you may have a bouncy platform. Here is a span chart that I ran across:

https://www.finehomebuilding.com/pro...eck-joist-span

There are tons of information on the web about deck building. A little research and you should have no trouble with a small deck like you want to build.

Cheers

Another $000,000,000.02 worth of advice,
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post #5 of 23 Old 06-05-2020, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Its better if the kids build it,
I agree. My boy is only 4 so there is a limit to what he can help with but he loves helping drive screws and is learning to use a hammer.

-Steve

Last edited by Tourless; 06-05-2020 at 08:33 AM. Reason: added quote
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post #6 of 23 Old 06-05-2020, 08:41 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Shop_Rat View Post
A little research and you should have no trouble with a small deck like you want to build.
Thanks, and agreed. I've been doing so much research that I'm starting to wonder if I'm not overthinking it. For example, this is my first build using footings, posts, beams, and joists. I've watched way too many videos on building floors and decks, and read just as much about tolerances and spans and loads and woods, etc. Now my biggest question, which I can't seem to get a straight answer to, is when building (and maybe the size of the structure is part of the equation), are joists generally secured on top of the beams or can they be hung in line with them? If I think in terms of layers it's footings, posts, beams, THEN joists? Or Beams AND joists?

-Steve
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post #7 of 23 Old 06-05-2020, 10:43 AM
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Tree House Mansion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tourless View Post
Hi Folks,
So I'm working on plans for a tree house for my 4yo son.
I'm starting to wonder if I'm not overthinking it
overthinking a tree house for a four year old and his friends ??
possibly - but, if you go with the plans that are in your mind,
this is what you will end up with . . . .
(do you have a HOA or other zoning laws you may have issues with ??).

Tree house platform (Jumping right in)-tree-house.jpg

.
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Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 06-05-2020 at 10:46 AM.
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post #8 of 23 Old 06-05-2020, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
if you go with the plans that are in your mind,
this is what you will end up with . . . .
You're funny, and 100% correct!

I reached out to my local planning and development folks and I waiting on a call back from the chief inspector but from my initial phone call I learned that if I build the tree house on a platform that is secured to the ground I may very well need a permit. If I build the structure directly on the tree and only on the tree I may be free and clear of any permit requirements.

-Steve
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post #9 of 23 Old 06-05-2020, 12:46 PM
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Tree House

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If I build the structure directly on the tree and only on the tree,
I may be free and clear of any permit requirements.
yeah - that makes more sense.
looking forward to seeing your plans on paper !!
(a Jacobs Rope Ladder is in my mind for that Rustic entry/exit).

Tree house platform (Jumping right in)-1555507098172.jpg
.
.

ok - all funnin aside: once you get clearance of a design that works
for you within all the legal red tape, then we can provide more accurate
suggestions that are within your skill sets.
bottom line is - kids are happy with a cardboard box to play "fort" games.
anything above that is a bonus.
so - lay it out on paper and study it (over and over). once you and the wife
settle on a design, then we can help with the basic floor support.

.

there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks.

Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 06-05-2020 at 01:15 PM.
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post #10 of 23 Old 06-05-2020, 01:01 PM
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your killing us john...

i think your over designing it. a 4 yr old will outgrow a 4 foot off the ground platform in ten years or less, unless it's real secluded, if you know what i mean

cementing posts is overkill for future demolition. with your recent visit to the inspector, use post bases on top of the ground. if you bring down the size a little you wouldn't need beams perse, just a rim joist, joists and posts. this isn't something your going to see the grandkids use, just a few years with your family. that is unless you follow john's plans, complete with satellite TV

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Last edited by _Ogre; 06-05-2020 at 01:03 PM.
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post #11 of 23 Old 06-05-2020, 01:47 PM
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I never build a tree house before.. I did buid wooden tiny house for myself 4 or 5 years ago...I know they are very difference..

I watched an american reality show program on netflix... its name is TREEHOUSE MASTERS .. I love it so much..You have to watch it.. His name is Pete Nelson..
This is his site https://www.nelsontreehouse.com
It is very good source .. You can find all information about tree houses..

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post #12 of 23 Old 06-05-2020, 06:10 PM
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I also would not cement posts into the ground, but I would not place a free standing structure on pedestal blocks either. It could never be stable, and worst case high winds could literally knock it off. I have seen big winds do bad things to unanchored structures.

I always opt to dig a post hole, set a brick or flat stone in the bottom of the hole, insert the post, and fill the hole with pea gravel. You will find that it will "set" the post laterally as tightly as concrete, and if you ever want to remove the post, simply pull straight up on it; it'll come right out. I've been building anything that has a post this way for years (my decks, fences, freestanding outside spigots (2), etc.).

I set my outside posts first, and bolt the rim joist to each post with two 1/2" galvanized carriage bolts (6" long). I almost always set long enough 4x4s to use as handrail anchors or roof/ structural members. I then use rated joist hangers and fasteners and set the joists flush with the top of the rim. For a ten foot deck I'd set four corner posts and then place a post in between each corner, for a span of five feet. The center post could indeed be set on a pedestal block unless you want structural support above the decking.

So you easily can tell that I am a joist hanger builder. Since I have never had an issue with the three large multi level decks I have constructed, along with several smaller platforms for various uses, I can't see changing now. Your results may vary.
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Another $000,000,000.02 worth of advice,
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post #13 of 23 Old 06-08-2020, 03:43 PM
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Read up on Nelson's info from Treehouse masters, I learned a lot of things I never would've considered. I had wonders how they built those massive houses across multiple trees without them ripping apart when the trunks move. Specially designed hangars; a simple design that makes a lot of sense.

As for your question, how big is the tree you're using? How many trees will make up this design? Draw a diagram, it'll help with measurements.
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post #14 of 23 Old 06-08-2020, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tourless View Post
Thanks, and agreed. I've been doing so much research that I'm starting to wonder if I'm not overthinking it. For example, this is my first build using footings, posts, beams, and joists. I've watched way too many videos on building floors and decks, and read just as much about tolerances and spans and loads and woods, etc. Now my biggest question, which I can't seem to get a straight answer to, is when building (and maybe the size of the structure is part of the equation), are joists generally secured on top of the beams or can they be hung in line with them? If I think in terms of layers it's footings, posts, beams, THEN joists? Or Beams AND joists?
If it's a tree house where a tree supports part of it will need to be allowed to move or the wind will tear it apart. If it's just a deck standing out in a yard by itself it's very simple.
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post #15 of 23 Old 06-09-2020, 07:12 AM
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Built this tree house for my son he is now 26. It held up great until he modified a few things and added a second story. Ha! Yet it was his tree house.

http://readyrangers.tzo.com/treehouse/album1.html
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post #16 of 23 Old 06-09-2020, 11:10 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies everyone. You've given me some food for thought. I'll probably start a project post once I get started.
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-Steve
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post #17 of 23 Old 06-11-2020, 08:33 PM
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If building in the actual tree, be sure to use spikes for attaching the structural members to the tree, not straps, which will girdle the tree/branch. There are some good treehouse books available via buildersbooksource.com

Otherwise, you are correct, the "treehouse" you have described is really a deck with the railings covered with sheathing and presumably it will have a roof. That means you will succeed if you follow the guidance in a good publication, like one of Fine Homebuilding's books on deck building -- it covers industry standard best practices, and offers a lot of insight that will help save you time and money.

-- Bradley
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post #18 of 23 Old 06-11-2020, 09:39 PM
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Hi friend, I spent a year building a bigger than it should have been treehouse for my 4 kids (ages 8, 11, 11, 14). It progressed as it went. I used one post and 5 trees. I encourage you to just go for it. The hardest step in any job is getting started.

Sorry the pics are so random... I think there are others in my gallery.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 7DC100BD-C824-4AAD-A794-2BE4FF5E160F_1591925935241.jpg (630.5 KB, 26 views)

Common sense is genius in it's working clothes. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
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post #19 of 23 Old 06-18-2020, 11:21 AM Thread Starter
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So here's the plan... attaching a pdf. Basically an 8x8 platform 4 feet off the ground, the house is 8x5 leaving ~3x8 for balcony. The beams are 4x4 with 2x6 braces, the joists are 2x6 spaced 16 on center, the decking is 5/4x6 deck board and although it doesn't show it, it will extend into the house. I didn't account for the slide of ladder to get into it in the first place, and I'd like to add a trap door on the inside. The house itself is 2x4 framed and probably 3/4" ply for the walls and roof. The rafters are 2x6.

I think there is some overkill here. I think I could frame the house with 2x3 and 1/2" ply for the sheathing. But I'm going to leave that to the inspector guy that I'm working with.

BTW, it's one of my first times using a CAD program and it was a blast! I'd love to hear what people think.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Tree House Design Drawing v4.pdf (267.6 KB, 15 views)

-Steve

Last edited by Tourless; 06-18-2020 at 11:24 AM.
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post #20 of 23 Old 06-18-2020, 11:44 AM
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Tree House

looks great !!

Tree house platform (Jumping right in)-tree-house.png

Quote:
I think there is some overkill here.


naaahhhhhhhhhh - just build it & have fun.

.

there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks.

Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 06-18-2020 at 11:47 AM.
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