Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Building a Playset Paradise for Your Yard

By: Danny Lipford
Playset in backyard.

Completed DIY pressure treated playset.

We’re tearing down an old, deteriorated playset, and building a new pirate themed one from scratch for these homeowners. The pressure treated wood playset includes a two-story playhouse, swings, trapeze bar, and rock climbing wall.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner, our makeover goes out into the backyard to remove an eye-sore, and create a play-set paradise.

Beth Kirtland: It’s actually a safety hazard in some aspects.

Danny Lipford: This Gulf-coast home belongs to Chad and Beth Kirtland, who share it with their two daughters, Hanna Grace and Sophia.

Chad Kirtland: We moved into the house about a year ago and we love the neighborhood, it’s a great location, lots of kids and lot of families in the neighborhood.

Beth Kirtland: The girls like to do lots of things outside. For example, they have a trampoline outside. They both into gymnastics.

When we purchased the house, the place was roughly ten years old. And so through wear and tear, it needs some paint. It needs lots of tightening-up, and fixing-up.

Hanna Grace Kirtland:Yeah. So, you know how this is super, super, super loose?

Sophia Kirtland: Yes

Hanna Grace Kirtland: Now there are nails poking out.

Sophia Kirtland: Hello.

Hanna Grace Kirtland: And this board is loose right here.

Sophia Kirtland: Yeah.

Hanna Grace Kirtland: Peel it off… Watch out. And there are sharp nails poking out.

Beth Kirtland: It’s actually a safety hazard in some aspects.

Hanna Grace Kirtland: I don’t go very high on the swings because I’m afraid they could just fall down.

Sophia Kirtland: Yeah

Chad Kirtland: The girls go to a school where their mascot is a pirate, so when we start talking about what type of place that they wanted, they talked about a pirate ship. So we’d like to build them something that is sort of a pirate ship theme.

Danny Lipford: Okay, so you’ve been talking to the girls and figured out exactly what they want.

Chad Kirtland: They want to make sure that they have a club house for their friends, they want two swings, a trapeze bar…

Hanna Grace Kirtland: Well, we drew some pictures, and we had like a tower…

Sophia Kirtland: We want a cargo net… A cargo net right?

Hanna Grace Kirtland: Yes.

Sophia Kirtland: Yes.

Hanna Grace Kirtland: Cargo net so that we can climb…

Sophia Kirtland: Cargo net… Yes.

Hanna Grace Kirtland: And some rings to do gymnastics on… And swings…

Sophia Kirtland: Yes.

Danny Lipford: I’m sure you’ve been looking online. Everybody looks online. Lord! But there’s a million of them online that you can choose from. Find anything there?

Chad Kirtland: Well, I’ve looked at a lot of the kits online and at the Home Center, but they don’t have everything that we want.

Danny Lipford: Okay.

Chad Kirtland: Because, in addition to the play-set, I’d really, really would like some place to store my riding lawnmower, so I can get it out of my garage.

Danny Lipford: Well, that can’t take the place of the club house now.

Chad Kirtland: No, no. We have to work all in together.

Danny Lipford: Okay, so any ideas how you want it put together then.

Chad Kirtland: Actually, don’t laugh but…

Danny Lipford: Oh, no…

Chad Kirtland: We put together a drawing.

Danny Lipford: Oh, Hanna and Grace did a good job on this.

Chad Kirtland: Oh, yeah, of course she did. So we’ve got the club house, and the swings, and crow’s nest to get that pirate-feel, cargo net…

Danny Lipford: Oh…

Chad Kirtland: And over here a little storage for us.

Danny Lipford: That looks pretty good. I think we can do that. And… Tell you what, we can do a little bit of measuring here to make sure we get the right length that you want. It’s materials here, that’s not a biggie-problem.

Chad Kirtland: Great.

Danny Lipford: You… How’s Beth’s with hammering and..

Chad Kirtland: Oh, she is really good with hammer.

Danny Lipford: She is really good with the hammer?

Chad Kirtland: Yes. Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Oh, awesome. That’s perfect. When the materials arrive, we have clear skies but extremely hot temperatures.

This is going to be a hot one. We got plenty of water, we need to drink a lot of water. Sunscreen’s going to be very necessary.

Allen Lyle: All right, let’s see, Chad, I’m going to give you the mold.

Danny Lipford: Oh, that’s good.

Allen Lyle: And you take the ax.

Danny Lipford: All right.

Allen Lyle: So you have two to work there.

Danny Lipford: One for each hand.

Allen Lyle: Beth you got the altitude adjustor.

Danny Lipford: There you go.

Beth Kirtland: All right.

Allen Lyle: Use that on Chad.

Danny Lipford: So with that the demolition begins… Ooh… Almost got him.

Allen Lyle: Danny, you know, I’m on the top of this, right?

Danny Lipford: Oh… In my defense, this thing is coming apart so easily, it’s hard not to go fast.

Allen Lyle: Wait a minute. We didn’t give the tenant enough notice to vacate.

Danny Lipford: In almost no time, we got the old unsafe play-set completely demolished. Man, it just shows how rotten that thing was.

Chad Kirtland: Yeah, I’m glad to get it out of here.

Danny Lipford: Now it’s time to layout the new structure.

Chad Kirtland: What do you think about coming back this way a little bit with this tree here. I’d like to bring the tower this way a little bit, so we block the view into our neighbor’s yard. Would that work?

Danny Lipford: Oh, I got you. When they’re up there, the kids aren’t peering in on…

Chad Kirtland: Yeah. Exactly.

Danny Lipford: We begin by driving stakes to identify the positions of the post that will support the framework.

Chad Kirtland: So, Danny, what you doing here?

Danny Lipford: We’ll getting this diagonal measurement. So that’s about 102. And if this is the same, then there’s no doubt that this is a square.

When the locations are perfect, we give Beth her first introduction to a postal digger. Okay, Beth, you like black or red?

Beth Kirtland: Red.

Danny Lipford: Try to start going straight down.

Beth Kirtland: Okay.

Danny Lipford: Pull it apart. Set this aside and do it again.

Beth Kirtland: About how far down do I want to…

Danny Lipford: Oh, I don’t know. About here No. No. We’ll only go two, two and half feet. Something like this.

Beth Kirtland: I’ll have this done in no time.

Danny Lipford: Good. Good.

Allen Lyle: Good job, you all. Doing good. Looking really good over there.

Beth Kirtland: I’ll be done about Friday.

Danny Lipford: While we get this project rolling, why don’t you check-out this week’s simple solutions.

Joe Truini: A reciprocating saw is one of the most versatile power tools you can own. It can cut virtually any building material. But it’s also great for trimming tree branches.

Now you can use a standard reciprocating saw blade to cut tree branches, but you’ll get much better results if you use a pruning blade. Most people don’t realize that they sell pruning blade specifically for the reciprocating saw.

And let me show you how it works, first using the standard blade. Let me put on my safety glasses. OK, here we go. There you go.

Now, that was pretty quick, right? May be eight or ten seconds. Well, let me show me how much quicker you can go using the pruning blade.

OK, here we go. There you go. A nice clean cut, in a fraction of the time.

DANNY: After the break, find out which weekend-warrior gets wounded first. So, Beth, all you got to do is just hold it like this, push that in, pull the trigger one time. All right. Good luck. And I’ll go get the first-aid kit.

Danny Lipford: Chad and Beth’s daughters needed a new playset. But Chad needed some extra storage to relieve a packed garage. So, we’re combining both projects into a storage shed, playhouse, swing set with a pirate theme.

Chad Kirtland: I’ve definitely learned a lot about what we are going to have here already. On the first day I’ve learned several techniques that I never would’ve brought to myself, and probably would’ve done things the wrong way and ended up doing them over again. So, good thing that these guys are here to show me how to do it.

Danny Lipford: So we have our plan, and our team is motivated. The only drawback so far, is the heat. Well, at this point, the heat really hadn’t been that much of a problem, everybody’s drinking water and staying cool, but middle of the afternoon, when the heat index hits about 108, we’ll start seeing some people fading, I think.

Right now we’re fresh, and there’s a lots of material to move. The pressure treated lumber we’ve chosen for this project is from YellaWood. And it’s UL Greenguard Gold certified. So not only will it stand up to the weather, it’ll be safe for the kids and the environment.

Well, we’ve got all the demolition taken care of. That really wasn’t much of a job at all. And then we’ve been able to dig all of our post-holes, get all of our four by four posts in. All right, do you think that’s tall enough for them?

Chad Kirtland: I think so.

Danny Lipford: And Allen, Chad and Beth are in the process of putting the concrete around the first post.

Allen Lyle: So this is a critical one. It’s making sure we start with one that is plum on both sides.

Danny Lipford: What I’m doing is cutting a few purling pieces that’ll actually nail to the side of it that not only will it provide the support while the concrete dries, it’ll also end up being what we nail our fence boards to.

Allen Lyle: In this new facet, in what they have, we always mixed it in a wheel barrow.

Chad Kirtland: That’s what I have always done.

Allen Lyle: Yeah. You don’t have to with this. It’s a special formula. You pour it in there, just like that.

Chad Kirtland: Wow, that makes it lot easier.

Allen Lyle: Got to find my jugging stick. And we’ll put some water in and then you just jug around with it.

Chad Kirtland: It’s pretty good.

Allen Lyle: All right.

Chad Kirtland: And how long does that have to set?

Allen Lyle: You know, they tell me that within an hour it is good but actually it sets a lot faster than that. I’ve had these set up within 20 minutes.

Chad Kirtland: Wow.

Danny Lipford: In this heat it may be dry already. The folks at Quikrete designed this stuff to make jobs like this easy. So, I’m recruiting Hanna Grace and Sofia to prove how simple it is.

So you take one, you take one. Okay, you see what he’s got there. I want you to jug it. Go like this. All the way around it. So, just jug around on all sides. All the way around. Isn’t that fun?

Sophia Kirtland: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: Yeah!

Allen Lyle: Tell him there is no such word as joogin.

Danny Lipford: I made it up. And since the kids are trying new things, why not Mom too? So, Beth, all you got to do is just hold it like this, push that in, pull the trigger one time.

Beth Kirtland: All right.

Danny Lipford: Good luck. And I’ll go get the first-aid kit.

Allen Lyle: Oh, it’s my foot.

Danny Lipford: There you go. Oh, you got your foot. Got him in the foot again.

Beth Kirtland: Don’t do that to me.

Danny Lipford: The post that will support the swing set beam, is little more difficult to set and align.

Walk it up. Don’t let go. Ready, go. Yeah!

That’s the closest thing to a hug he’s had in a long time.

With all the posts set and dry…

Perfect! Perfect!

The horizontal two by fours, go up quickly, followed by the floor joist for the second level. We’re shimming the cinder joist to create a slight arch in the floor, so water will run off the treated plywood floor we install next.

While I’m cutting the second piece of plywood, Allen gets started installing the fence boards that will act as our siding. Later we’ll cover the dog-eared tops with horizontal pieces of scrape.

Next, we mark the eight by eight and cut it to height.

You got a pencil? I got one…

Before notching it out to support the four by six beam, that will carry the weight of the swings.

Allen Lyle: Look at it!

Danny Lipford: How ’bout that? That’s beautiful. Once that’s in place, we let the girls check out the view. Is it big enough?

Sophia Kirtland: Yes.

Danny Lipford: Good. Now it’s time for the best new product. I’ve been doing a little personal testing on this one. Just wonder how long I can do this before Allen even notices.

Jodi Marks: When you’re working outside on those warm days, whether in your garden or out on the job site, there are essentials that you need, of course, to have on hand—lots of water, sunscreen, and now this.

This is a misting fan by Arctic Cove. It serves not only as a fan, but also as a water mister. Well, how does this work? Well, it works in number of ways to get the water misting.

First of all if you don’t have access to a garden hose, you can just simply fill up this five-gallon bucket, drop this little hose down in there, and now the fan fits perfectly over there. Turn on the switch, and it’ll start pumping the water through the fan.

If you do, however, have access to a garden hose, you could just simply attach the garden hose right here, and that will feed the water through the fan.

Now the nice thing about this too is that you don’t have to have electrical power, because it runs on a 18-volt, lithium-ion battery that pops in right here. And it’s compatible with the Ryobi One+ battery.

So if you are working outside and you want to stay cool, this is the perfect solution to do just that.

Danny Lipford: The combined playset and storage shed we’re helping Chad and Beth build, is coming along nicely. And so far there is only one big obstacle. We found out that the heat index got up to over 105 yesterday. Everybody started fading a little bit, late in the afternoon. I was little bit worried about Allen.

Beth Kirtland: It was definitely hot yesterday, but everyone pushed on and kept things going, and a lot was done. More than Chad and I could do on our own.

Danny Lipford: All right, I’m going to get started on this little roof for the girls. It’s going to be a simple little gable roof. We’ll leave this open, so…

And we’re going to be shaped like this on one side and back down the other. While I’m taking care of that, Allen’s got the easy work downstairs putting all of the fence boards on.

Once I get my measurements, I can start making trusses that will support the roof. Gluing and nailing plywood gussets to the side is the best way to do this.

Meanwhile, Allen is continuing the fence boards up the sides of the playhouse. We’re leaving a gap on two sides so any water can run off through them.

Once I have the trusses complete, I add some horizontal supports, so we can attach them to the structure. I planned this so that each plane of the roof is exactly one sheet of plywood. And it seems to be working out just right.

The next big job is building a door for the storage area. We lay out and construct what essentially is a big gate over in the shade before we all lift it into position.

With that done, Chad can add gravel inside the storage area, while I get started on the platform for the crow’s nest.

The trim that goes around the new door and mask the siding seams is simply more fence boards that have been ripped down to a smaller width on the table saw. Roofing the playhouse is saved for early morning of day three when we’re nice and fresh.

First we’re applying roll-roofing over the plywood to make it watertight. Then we attach more fence boards on top of that to tie it in to the rustic feel of the structure. Now it’s onto the details, like the crow’s nest.

Think that’s big enough for the girls to get through?

Beth Kirtland: I think so.

Danny Lipford: That way, the little rope ladder that we’re going to build will come right up here, and go right in. Meanwhile, Allen and Chad are adding strength to the structural joints with lag bolts, and getting started on the ladder that will give the girls access to the playhouse.

Allen Lyle: The line up here, the back corner, this corner here, is the one you want flush with the back.

Danny Lipford: Now, which one of your girls do you find to be most ambitious? Which one will end up in this crow’s nest first?

Beth Kirtland: Sofia, she’s my daredevil.

Danny Lipford: Oh, is that right? And she is what?

Beth Kirtland: Six

Danny Lipford: Six? All right.

Beth Kirtland: She is six and fearless.

Danny Lipford: Six and fearless. That sounds like a… Doctor visit every now and then.

Beth Kirtland: Yeah, we may have to put some laws down on this one.

Danny Lipford: Well if Sofia, is the daredevil, she’ll love what Allen and Chad are working on next.

Allen Lyle: All right, so climbing wall’s ready to go. Using the same fence boards.

Chad Kirtland: Yup.

Allen Lyle: To match everything, so it’s going to look good. Uh, let me ask you this. What are you putting on here? Are you…

Chad Kirtland: Those plastic rocks, yeah. Plastic things

Allen Lyle: Okay. Well, let’s do this then. We’ll start at the top because I don’t know where we’re going to fall at the bottom. If we have a split board, we’ll leave that at the bottom.

Well, we’ll start up here. An even overhang. Make sure we’re level across here first and then we just rock and roll all the way down, what do you thing?

Chad Kirtland: Okay.

Allen Lyle: Okay.

Danny Lipford: Inside the house, Beth and the Girls have found a cooler spot to begin work on the rope ladder we opted for instead of the cargo net. They are threading rope through the pieces of two by two that Chad had drilled out earlier.

This will hang from the crow’s nest that Allen and I are putting in place. To hold it secure, I’m driving long lag bolts through it into the swing set frame. This pirate theme is really coming together. But why do I keep hearing barn-yard animals?

Hanna Grace Kirtland: Oink! Oink!

Allen Lyle: All right. Where we go with these?

Hanna Grace Kirtland: First one goes… Right here.

Sophia Kirtland: Yeah!

Allen Lyle: That’s a long way up to bring your leg. Are you sure?

Hanna Grace Kirtland: Right here.

Allen Lyle: All right, hold it where you want it.

Danny Lipford: Next, there were tons of holes to mark and drill, so each of the handholds can be mounted.

Sophia Kirtland: Right here.

Hanna Grace Kirtland: That high?

Danny Lipford: There are also lots to drill so we can hang the swings and the gymnastic rings. Up in the playhouse, Allen is installing some inexpensive vinyl flooring, to create a smoother surface for the kids, and keep the water out of the storage area below.

Speaking of that, Chad is finally ready to start stocking up the storage area with all of his lawn and garden tools. Not the least of which is his riding lawn mower. Finally when Sofia, plants the flag in our crow’s nest we know our work is complete.

Danny Lipford: When people are building pressure treated decks, they often ask whether they should space the boards apart or butt them tightly together. The answer really depends on the type of wood you’re using.

Regular pressure treated wood tends to be somewhat wet when it’s new. That means, as it weathers in the sun and the heat, it will dry out some and shrink slightly.

For this reason, I usually butt deck boards as tightly together as possible, so that they’ll leave a slight gap when they do shrink.

If the wood has been kiln dried after treatment, also called KDAT, most of the moisture has already been removed in a controlled environment, so very little shrinkage will occur after installation.

In this case, some space between the boards is a good idea because the wood can actually expand slightly over time. The folks at YellaWood, recommend using an eight penny nail between rows to create adequate consistent spacing.

Danny Lipford: Chad and Beth’s girls started the week with a dilapidated play set that was more hazard than entertainment. That’s been replaced by a bigger, safer and much more attractive structure that not only offers more variety of options for play, it also includes some much needed storage for dad. Plus, it just looks cool, and we did it all for about a $1,000 of materials.

Beth Kirtland: I know the girls are going to be really well entertained. There is so much for them to do. And as a parent, I’m really happy that it is safe now. I didn’t realize how much rot we had, and so now the structure is solid… Real happy about that.

Chad Kirtland: The process has been a lot of fun for me. You know, I said, going in that I could do this kind of project over a few weeks. It would’ve taken me a few months. And we moved so fast through all this… This big project with all of these different pieces, and I’ve learned a lot working with all guys. It’s been great.

Danny Lipford: More importantly, Hanna Grace and Sofia, seem to love it. And so do their friends. Whether they’re climbing Mount Everest, playing pirate, dancing in the playhouse, or swinging on the swings, there’s plenty for them to do. In fact they might even make a gymnast out of Chad.

Well, it has been three very, very hot days, with a lot of work going on around here. But when you see the kids having fun like that, it makes it all worthwhile.

You know something that we don’t tell you near enough is how much we appreciate you watching our show each week. I know there’s a lot of shows out there, but we really appreciate you spending a little time with us. And we want to hear from you. We make it really, really easy with a 1-800 number. 1-800-946-4420 is the Today’s Homeowner hotline. Or todayshomeowner.com/ask.

Tell us what type of show you would like to see, or if you have a question or maybe, you have a tip that we can share with the audience. We’d love to hear from you.

Hey, I’m Danny Lipford, thanks so much for being with us here on Today’s Homeowner, we’ll see you next week.

What? I got something on me? There’s something crawling on my back right now. What is it? There was something that crawled up my back, I’m telling you.



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