Friday, July 31, 2015

Easy, Inexpensive Repair to a Playhouse Roof

About a year ago our neighbors were getting rid of their playhouse. Their daughter was entering middle school, and they knew that our kids would love playing with it. Boy, do they know our kids. They are constantly in this house, making mud pies, sweeping, decorating, and just playing. I don't know why they love their "chores" in their playhouse so much more than their actual chores.

The playhouse sat with its plastic roof baking in the hot Arizona sun. If you have never experienced Arizona, our sun does wonders for "indestructible" plastic. As the plastic aged, it became brittle. Did I mention that the house also sat under the edge of our lemon tree? So this past winter, as we were shaking lemons off of the tree, plastic shrapnel was flying. I could hear Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture" playing every time a lemon landed on the roof and plastic sprayed in the air. By the time the lemon harvest was over, the roof was a roof in the loosest of senses. Something had to be done.
The old roof has seen better days.

I had a package of shingles that was left when we bought the house, and I also had a roll of roofing felt from a shed project that I did years ago. Essentially, I had almost all of the supplies needed to re-roof the kids' playhouse. If only I had some inexpensive labor...

The kids and I started by dismantling the plastic roof. I took care of all of the small, sharp pieces. They took care of the fasteners inside of the house. After about fifteen minutes, the roof was off. I was very happy to see a recycling symbol on the underside of the plastic, so we threw the pieces into our recycling bin and moved on to the construction phase.

Big A diligently unscrewing the old roof.
The next steps were to add horizontal braces for the plywood, screw the plywood into the braces and edge of the house, adhere a drip edge, felt and shingles, and sit back and enjoy. Here's the process in a little more detail:

1) We installed a horizontal cross piece at the apex of the roof using 2 x 2 scrap. This gave us a place to fasten the plywood where it came together.

2) We measured the roof line and cut scrap particle board to fit. We then screwed this down, making sure that the screws went into the existing and newly installed cross pieces. Note - please check the length of the screw. The first screws I used were too long and went through the horizontal pieces. Normally I would be fine with something like this, but my kids' heads go into this playhouse, so I really didn't want the sharp ends of screws sticking down.

3) I installed a drip edge around the perimeter of the roof. This was the only supply that I had to purchase. The drip edge prevents water from running into the edge of the wood roof base.
Such hard workers!

4) I installed the felt using construction adhesive. I didn't want to do anythings with nails, since I kind of like my kids' heads, eyes, noses, and every other part that goes into the playhouse. I didn't want to think about them messing around and smashing into the ends of nails sticking down, so I decided that construction adhesive would be my best friend for this project. I used clamps to keep the edges down while the adhesive was drying.

5) Starting at the bottom edge of the roof, I started installing shingles. I used construction adhesive for these as well. As I got to the end of a row, I cut the last piece with a utility knife to line up with the edge. I then started on that side with the next run, alternating directions.

Installation of the horizontal supports
In total, I spent less than $20 on this project. The kids now have a playhouse that will keep them dry when they're playing in the rain, will keep them in shade when they're playing in the sun, and will keep them safe since they no longer have to play around shards of broken plastic. Aside from all that, the new roof greatly increased the resale value of the house, which is great in the sellers market that we are experiencing right now in Arizona.

Now if I could only get the kids to replace the drapes and change out the faucet.
Plywood and drip edge installed

Last run of shingles clamped and drying

Little E is thrilled with the result!


  1. I have been looking at a couple of your stories and I can state entirely well done. I will bookmark your blog.
    new roof

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