A tower with a roof really appeals to kids as they get older: it turns the play structure into the clubhouse where they can hang out, store their stuff, and have sleep-overs. The roof also protects the structure (and the kids) from rain, sun and the accumulation of debris and tree sap. But perhaps most important, you’ll like looking at it! It looks great to finish off the play structure with a beautiful roof. We have many styles of roofs as well as a variety of materials. Let’s look at the materials first.
Cedar Shingled Roof
The Cedar Shingled Roof has a beautiful rustic appeal. The cedar shingles take the stain colors beautifully or we can leave it natural. The cedar shingle roofs are waterproof: the first layer is redwood planks that you see as the ceiling from the inside. Then we add a layer of roofing paper, followed by the cedar shingles. The result is a beautiful and snug roof.
The Tongue-and-Groove (T&G) Redwood Roof is our most popular roof. I call it the 95% waterproof roof. It is a single layer roof made up of redwood T&G boards that are fitted together and caulked. Once built, the entire roof is caulked at all the seams as well and trims are added to give extra protection from rain. The result is a beautiful roof that is almost completely waterproof at a more reasonable cost than our double layer roofs.
The Malibu Lighthouse has a Copper Roof that is slowly developing a beautiful bluish-green patina with time. A bit more expensive than the wood roofs, the copper works perfectly for certain settings, such as the lighthouse.
Our Canvas Roofs are made by our sister company; that is by the company my sister Pat Butler and her husband Dennis Hustead own and operate, Hustead’s Canvas Creations. They use Sumbrella fabric which keeps its color and stands up to the weather for years. Most of the canvas roofs are used on the Hideaways and Robin Hood’s Forts, but custom canvas roofs are also available.
I came up with the idea of the Tree-Stake Roof when I was designing the Atherton Castle because I wanted something more rugged than a cedar shingle roof. I bought a bundle of tree stakes from a garden center, ripped them in half on the table saw and made the roof for the Atherton Castle. Like the cedar shingle roofs, it’s a double-layer roof: I start with a layer of redwood planks as the ceiling, add the roofing paper and then add the tree stakes. I love the rustic look.
Faux Terra Cotta Tile Roof
The Faux Terra Cotta Tile Roof looks a lot like real terra cotta. It’s made from plastic and the tiles are installed in the same manner. The real terra cotta tiles are too large and too heavy for a playhouse. These plastic tiles are smaller in size and fit the scale of the play structure. For the Hacienda, I encircled a redwood tree with the play structure. The roof is not attached to the tree but I did add a flexible rubber piece to fill the gap between the tree and the roof – that helps keep debris and rain out without constricting the tree.
The Pyramid Roof has four equal sides that rise to a center point. It’s also called a hip roof. The pyramid roof looks great from all angles and really works well on square towers. In can be constructed in any of the above materials and we can use it on a playhouse or a tower. In the photo here, it is on the Robin Hood’s Fort. The hip trim pieces on each of the four seams add extra waterproofing protection and gives us a chance to add in another color.
The Gable Roof is beautiful to look at it and I like that it lets extra light in through the two windows on the gable ends. Also, if you want a loft inside your playhouse, the gable roof gives you the most headroom.
Gable Roof with dormer
The Cape Codder is a great example of a Gable Roof with dormer. The dormer makes room for the Dutch door. The upper Dutch door lead to fun little loft in the roof, while the lower Dutch door leads to the ground level via a ladder.
Modified Hip Roof
The Modified Hip Roof works well for rectangular shaped forts. For this structure I was playing off a similar roof on the family’s home. It’s a great shape for a fort or castle roof and the cedar shingles complete the look nicely.
The five-sided Pentagon Roof is rarely seen in the real world. It’s hard to tell that the playhouse isn’t a regular four-sided structure as you approach it, but once inside, you get a greater sense of space inside in a Pentagon than you would in a square playhouse.
The Hexagon Roof is a six-sided roof and the most fort-like of my roofs. It’s a big favorite of the boys in the family. For the Tahoe Outpost, the outside of the roof is a muted green that blends in with the environment, but the underside of the roof is stained a sunny yellow to show off the craftsmanship.(photo name: tahoe outpost. Photo: tahoe_outpost.jpg – crop)
The Octagon Roof is a beauty and the eight sides look good from all angles. The view from the underside is stunning: the eight rafters come together at a center post that is floating up in the air, held in place by the forces of compression from the eight rafters. I like to stain the rafters one color and the roof ceiling another to accentuate the beauty of the structure.
The Pyramid Facade Roof was inspired by the Victorian houses in San Francisco with their whimisical facades. I wanted this play house to be open to the sky but it didn’t look right without a roof. Adding a playful façade of a pyramid roof did the trick!
Castle Corner Façade
Castle Corner Façades are fun to make! I wanted to convey the look and feel of a castle corner tower without cutting into the open deck space. The castle corner are especially fun since they are a façade- somehow you feel you are on a Hollywood set…
The Castle Rook is a great way to finish off the top of a castle: it gives the feel of a roof but lets the light in through the open top. Another option is to add a clear plexiglass skylight bubble at the top to make it waterproof.
The King’s Crown is a fun way to finish off the top of an octagon without adding a roof. The drama of it appeals to kids and the posts running long make for good handholds when climbing over the rock walls. A roof structure doesn’t need to actually shed rain or shield from the sun to be a big hit with the kids!
The Shed Roof is the most economical of the roofs. The roof is a single plane sloping from the back to the front. The shed roof looks great from the front, so it works best for structures that are sited in a corner or against a fence. For the Pirate’s Haunt, I added bamboo blinds as well so the kids could turn the upper level into a private clubhouse.
This Balcony Roof hangs off of the gable end of the main tower. It mirrors the shape of the balcony. Adding a roof really helps define a space: this balcony is more like a room because of the roof. Plus it gives us a place to add a firepole!
The Half-round Roof is purely decorative. Sometimes it just looks better to add a roof! I like the way this small roof makes the entrance up the ladder to the second story more dramatic.