Best Playhouses

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

36 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
485 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best playhouses

Last Updated November 2019

A playhouse offers an outlet for a child’s imagination. Children can use the playhouse to play their own versions of “house,” to invent alternate universes where they create the rules, or to build forts and have sleepovers. What is even better is that playhouses can keep children busy for hours, whether that’s during the weekend or when the school is closed. Just check in every once in a while, and you’ll still have those few hours to relax or do some work.

Playhouses used to be constructed with blankets draped on kitchen chairs, but children no longer have to worry about finding books heavy enough to secure the blankets. Now playhouses are manufactured to be appealing to children playhouses (they look like “grown-up” houses), and many have features that aid children in learning new skills.

If you’d like to find a playhouse to unleash your child’s imagination, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at our top picks and read through our buying guide for everything you need to know about these childhood favorites.

When purchasing a playhouse, read the specifications carefully. The picture may include items that don’t come with the playhouse. Be sure to check the inventory so you aren’t disappointed when the package arrives

Key considerations

Size

You need to pay attention to both the size of the room in your house in which you want to place the playhouse as well as the size of the playhouse itself.

Room: Perhaps you want to turn a spare bedroom into a playroom for your children and their friends, or you may have a spacious basement where you can designate an area for playtime. Regardless of where you put the playhouse, you’ll need some extra space around it. Often, a small table and chairs or other playtime toys complement a playhouse. If this is what you’re thinking, you might want to reserve an entire room for the playhouse and its accessories. Before purchasing, check the size of the playhouse, then add a few feet around it to ensure your children will have plenty of space to play.

Playhouse: Knowing the interior dimensions of the playhouse is important when considering the age of your child. The ceiling should be tall enough for your child to comfortably play inside. If your child is tall for their age, purchase a slightly larger playhouse or one designed for older children. You also want to be sure your child can maneuver inside the playhouse without bumping the walls each time they turn around. Measure your child’s wingspan to be sure there will be enough room inside the playhouse.

Child’s age

Most playhouses include an age range in the description. The general range is ages 2 to 8, but that is by no means set in stone. If your child is walking and wants to explore, a playhouse is perfect because it provides your child with something to hang onto and plenty of textures to discover. If the playhouse includes small parts, the age range will probably be limited to children 5 and older. Tent-style playhouses are often recommended for older children, ages 8 to 12. These playhouses won’t necessarily look like a traditional house; instead, they may have a curtained entrance and resemble a fort or castle.

EXPERT TIP

Make playing in the playhouse more fun by purchasing a set of pretend food and utensils. Your children can prepare and serve “food” to their friends and toys.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Materials

Cardboard: Cardboard playhouses are considerably more affordable than plastic playhouses, but you sacrifice stability and durability. Most cardboard playhouses are made of thick corrugated cardboard and are easy to set up. The cardboard is perforated in certain places, so the pieces can be easily folded to connect together. Some cardboard playhouses have bright colors and designs on the outside, while others are plain so children can color directly on the cardboard.

Plastic: Plastic playhouses are considerably more durable and stable than cardboard models. Because of this, some may be used both indoors and outdoors. The plastic may be flimsy or sturdy, depending on the manufacturer, so check before purchasing. Plastic is easy to clean, because you can simply wipe it down with warm, soapy water or antibacterial wipes remove germs.

Fabric: Many fabric playhouses resemble tents. The fabric may be translucent, and in some it’s possible to tuck the fabric back (like curtains) to expose the inside area. These playhouses are perfect for children who enjoy playing with dolls or who like to work on crafts in their own area. Most of these playhouses don’t have any extra interactive features.

Wood: Wooden playhouses are exclusively for outdoor use. Wood is the sturdiest option as well as the most expensive.

Portability

Cardboard, fabric, and plastic playhouses are light enough to be portable, and some are specifically designed to be easily taken apart and reassembled, so you can take it to a friend’s or family member’s house or relocate it outside during the summertime.

Interactivity

Lots of playhouses feature special extras that promote learning and interacting. The more textures and components a playhouse has, the more a child can learn from exploring and playing with it. For instance, some playhouses have battery-powered lights and sounds to engage a child and teach basic concepts about electricity. Some playhouses have different doors (mailbox, oven, front door) that open and close that can help develop dexterity and fine motor skills. If you want your child to both learn and have fun, look for a playhouse that has multiple interactive features.

EXPERT TIP

A playhouse can be used as a special treat or reward for a child. When the child is behaving well, they can play in the playhouse, but if not, the playhouse gets put away.


Staff  | BestReviews

Playhouse prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable playhouses cost between $20 and $40. These most likely are made from corrugated cardboard, and they aren’t as sturdy as plastic houses. Because they are cardboard, these houses probably won’t last long.

Mid-range: These playhouses cost between $50 and $100. They can be cardboard or plastic and include some interactive features. Coloring cardboard houses and fabric tent-like playhouses that encourage creative play are also in this price range. These playhouses will last much longer than the cheaper models if they’re taken care of.

Expensive: The most expensive playhouses cost between $150 and $400. These are wood or sturdy plastic that can be used indoors or outdoors and have loads of extra interactive features for learning and playing. One of these playhouses will likely last until your child grows out of it.

EXPERT TIP

Some cardboard playhouses are recyclable. If your child outgrows it or the playhouse becomes too damaged to play with, see if you can recycle the cardboard.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Take the playhouse outside. When the weather’s nice, your child can get some fresh air and enjoy the playhouse at the same time.
  • Choose a playhouse based on your child’s interests. For instance, if your child likes tools, consider buying a playhouse that includes a workbench and plastic tools.
  • Go bigger. If you have children of different ages, purchase a playhouse that fits the larger child. That way, you won’t have to purchase two playhouses, and both children can enjoy it at the same time.
  • Buy batteries. Batteries aren’t often included with a playhouse, so if you’re purchasing one that requires batteries, be sure to add some to your order.

Other products we considered

Because children have so many different interests and play preferences, there are many unique playhouses. We’ve chosen a couple more besides our top five to share with you. Consider the Step2 Seaside Villa Playhouse for those kids who enjoy a spacious place to play. This playhouse has large, open windows, so the child won’t feel cramped inside it. It also has interactive features, so playtime is never boring.

There’s also the sturdy cedar Backyard Discovery Aspen Playhouse, a stellar space for children who love being outdoors. The house includes lots of fun details like curtains, mailbox, fence, dinner bell, flower pot holders, and little serving benches so kids can enjoy lunch outside.

While a playhouse can entertain children for hours, sometimes it’s even more fun when a parent gets involved. Try creating a game to play with your child. Offer to share a “meal” prepared in the play kitchen or decorate the cardboard walls together.

FAQ

Q. Is it easy to wash a child’s playhouse?
A.
It depends. You won’t be able to wash a cardboard house. As for a plastic playhouse, most can be wiped down with soapy water or sanitizing wipes.

Q. Can I install electric lights in my child’s playhouse?
A.
It’s not recommended because it could pose a fire hazard. If you wish to provide some light in your child’s playhouse, opt for battery-powered lights.

Q. Is it okay for my child to sleep inside the playhouse?
A.
Yes and no. It’s possible for a child to sleep in a playhouse, but it’s possible that the house (if cardboard) could collapse on top of your child. It’s not generally recommended, but if the playhouse is a tent-like structure, it should be safe for a nap.

The team that worked on this review
  • Adrian
    Adrian
    Lead Developer
  • Ann
    Ann
    Operations
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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