How To Make A No-Wood Backyard Fort Playhouse For Boys

Making a backyard fort playhouse with PVC pipe or foam fun-noodles instead of wood. Tips on materials and how to build.

When thinking of a backyard fort, one immediately thinks of wood: plywood, scrap lumber, even scaled down log styled versions. However, it is possible to make a fort for the younger set in your family without ever pounding a single nail. A no-wood fort is perfect for anyone who cannot build a permanent structure, such as someone who lives in a condominium, or who has a small yard. On the other hand, those who just do not want to build a wood structure for other reasons, such as cost.

Two potential materials that can be transformed into a fun place for the kids to call their own include PVC pipe or foam fun noodles, traditionally made for use in swimming pools. One note of caution: avoid plastic sheeting when fabricating anything where kids are concerned, and stick with a breathable material.

PVC pipe is easily cut with a small handsaw, and along with PVC corners and connectors, you can quickly create a frame for a fort, suitable for the young frontiersman in your life. Be creative when designing and assembling the framed exterior. Draw out a simple floor pan if you wish to make a multi-room structure, and keep in mind the height of the children that will be using it when determining the height of the frame. One rule to keep in mind is that it will have to be a single story structure. While PVC pipe is strong, it should not be relied upon where the safety of children is concerned. Make sure to frame the shape completely, including the bottom exterior crossbeams, with the exception of the door placement. Once you have your frame complete, you can use any number of items to finish framing in your fort, including sheets, blankets, even tarps. For a more creative fort exterior, use a camouflage style material or tarp. The frame cover can be sewn, which will result in a longer lasting cover. If you are not the sewing type, and using a camouflage tarp, purchase camouflage colored duck tape to match, and tape material in place. Ties sewn to the fabric could also be used to secure the fabric exterior in place. Window placement should be considered at this time if it has not already been done. If covering is fabric, sew around window openings to keep fabric from raveling. Tape a binding in a similar fashion on any tarp. This may not appear to be a necessary step, but it will greatly lengthen the life of the material.

Foam fun-noodles can be used in a similar manner, along with fabric, but do avoid using a heavyweight tarp, as the foam noodles may not be able to support the weight. To secure the noodles in one place, use dowel rods inserted into the bottoms of the noodles, leaving enough sticking out to insert into the ground. Remove the dowel rods if you plan to use indoors.

Advantages of building a play fort with these materials include ease of assembly and tearing down. They also, with the exception of the cutting with the saw, are a great family project. Involve the kids that will be using it, from the design stage, all the way through the final assembly.

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