From Axi, to Jungle Gym, to Shire, we offer a wide variety of playhouses and summerhouses for you to choose from, but do you know how to get the best out of your child’s imaginative workshop? Below, we outline a few important points you need to know about the wood used, and how to keep your playhouse in tip-top shape.
Axi, Jungle Gym and Shire use 100% FSC certified timber with their playhouses. FSC run the global forest certification system which allows customers to identify, purchase and use wood produced from well-managed forests and/or recycled materials. They inform us that the wood, used in products manufactured from our forests, is being sustainably used, keeping forests alive for many generations.
With Axi and Jungle Gym, staining and foil is used to protect the playhouse timber from mould, particularly during transportation of the product. Moisture and water can cause mould if it gets inside the timber, if you notice mould, it can be easily removed by simply wiping or scraping off. Mould does not affect the structure or stability of the timber, so scraping it off is solely for aesthetic purposes.
Similarly, salt stains can become apparent as white and green spots. This is due to resin mixing during the staining process, but again, can be easily removed through wiping/scraping off.
Treatment and Maintenance
One of the main concerns when customers purchase playhouses is how to get the most out of the product, as with its cost, you want it to last several years. Treating the wood protects it from mould, insects and the elements; this is done through applying a solution to the surface, or pressure treating the timber.
Irrespective of the wood treatment before taking receipt of the playhouse, the wood needs to have its protective coating maintained in order to keep it strong and of a high quality. Cleaning and applying a protective coat to the timber yearly is recommended, as this helps to keep the timber smooth and prevent splinters that could cause harm to your children.
Every year you should look to treat the timber and re-stain it; ensuring that the quality and colour of the wood is maintained. The more often you care for the timber, the longer your children can enjoy their playhouse, and you get the most of your money!
With pressure treatment, this does not need to be performed yearly as treatment applied to the surface would. However, you may decide to use pressure treatment annually for aesthetic reasons, as over time, this can cause timber to turn grey. Floor joists should not come into contact with the base, and should instead be separated by a damp proof layer. Care should be taken to ensure that the floor joists are correctly taken care of.
Shire does not recommend pressure treatment for tongue and groove cladding pre-erection of their playhouses as this can cause change in size and shape which can result in the pieces not fitting together. Most buildings will need to be treated prior to construction in a high quality preserve. To save you the hassle, Shire offer a ‘top coat’ option when you purchase the playhouse; they apply a layer of wood preservative on top of the base coat.
Types of preservatives and treatments
If the playhouse has only been dip treated, you are likely to need to further treat the wood with either a solvent or water based preservative. For exterior surfaces, a spirit-based preservative is recommended as they are more effective and last longer than water-based preservatives. These are available as either clear or coloured – if you are planning on painting over the top, then you should go for the clear colour to prevent tinting of the paint.
Coloured timber treatments are often water-based and require several coats for a good colour, as opposed to a high quality paint finish. If you are to go for a coloured treatment, ensure that it is not for use on rough sawn timber only, otherwise the colour may appear uneven and not last as long.
An exterior paint system is the best method to go for if you wish for a high quality paint finish. This consists of an undercoat, followed by 2 further layers of gloss or satin paint. You can use an undercoat of water-based preservative as this would reduce the fumes and the 2 extra layers would provide the extra protection you would normally get from a solvent-based preservative. Keep in mind you will need a colour that wont tint the top coats of paint! Following the application of each layer, lightly sand the wood down to smooth it out and avoid an uneven finish.
Alternatively, you can use woodstain to give a natural and durable finish for your playhouse. These can be available as quick drying or longer lasting, depending on your preferences. Provided you sand the wood before application, 2 or 3 coats should be sufficient for a smart and smooth finish.
Preservatives and treatments can be found in most garden centres, if not try online to find suitable products for your requirements. If you tend to your playhouse when recommended, your children can have a ball in their new playhouse for many years to come, whilst you also get your money’s worth!