DIY Shaded Outdoor Play Area for Kids


 Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #RoofedItMyself  #CollectiveBias

It was 92 degrees today.  92!!!  Our air conditioning doesn’t work in the truck OR the house.  Sadly, it’s hotter in our house than outside and we are all feeling the heat.  The majority of the trees in our yard are pine trees, so they don’t offer much shade and the sun really beats down on our yard.  Year after year we talk about the need for something to give us some shade but we were a bit intimidated by trying to build it ourselves.  Not anymore!  Since I started my craft business, I spend a lot of time with wood and power tools and this year, I am ready.  I’ve been wanting to build the kids an outdoor play center with a sensory wall and a mud kitchen and I’m making it happen.  No more hiding in the garage where there’s no breeze to get out of the sun.  When the weekend hit and we had time, we were getting out there and building our own structure, roof and all.

I’m not going to lie.  The planning for this could have gone better, but just for fun, here’s how it went.


Me:  I want to build the kids a mud kitchen and sensory wall for playing outside so they have some shade.


John:  Fun, I like your idea.  Let’s make it bigger.


Seriously, I was planning this on a smaller scale.  It ended up being 16 ft by 6 ft.  They love it, there’s shade, it’s a win.    We are having some super special weather here in Minnesota lately.  It’s a game of so, so, so hot alternating with severe storms and tornado watches, warnings and fun stuff like that.   No joke – they had the city plows out to clear the hail a few days ago….that’s not weird…in June.  Anyways, if it’s nice {or super hot} out, we will be outside, you can count on it and having a shaded area will be a lifesaver.  I know you are dying for some shade too, so let’s get to it, shall we?  Get your game face on, we’re going to Lowe’s to buy some lumber and Timberline® shingles.


Materials needed:

(4) 4 x 4  posts

(6) 3/4″  plywood

(6) 2 x 6 x 16  pine

(9) 2 x 4 x 8

2 x 2 posts


Timberline® shingles Natural Shadow®

TimberTex® Hip and Ridge Caps

1 ¼” galvanized steel roofing nails

1” – 1 ¼” round plastic cap roofing nail

3″ wood nails

4 x 8 peg board

4-rectangle braces

32 – 90 degree angle braces

Something to remember before you get started.  Measure twice, cut once.  Just because you bought a 16′ or 8′ board doesn’t mean it IS that length.  Most of the time they are just a bit longer than that so you may need to trim up the ends.  My disclaimer: I love to build things but I’m not a professional.  Alright, let’s build!


The frame:

Measure your 16′ boards and cut off any excess.  Take another of the 16′ boards and cut three 69 inch long boards.  Attach one piece to the ends of the 16′ boards to make your frame.  Place the third board in the center.  Using the 3 inch screws, secure each board together with 2 screws in each board.

Now, measure your 4 x 4 posts to make sure they are equal length.  How long you want them will depend on if you are cementing them in, anchoring them some other way or just leaving it free standing.  This next step works way better with someone there to help you out.  Have one person hold a post securely in one corner.  Secure it with screws on both sides.  Repeat this for all four corners.

Take a piece of 2 x 6 and lay it at an angle on one of the corners.  You are going to build some braces for each corner.  I know there’s a fancy way to do the math here and get the angle, but I have three kids and can’t think that long uninterrupted so what we did was use a marker and dry the line across each end where we wanted to cut it.  {Ours were roughly 2′ on the long side and 1′ on the shorter side}.  Next, use your miter saw to cut each of these boards.  Now, screw them in.  There will be two boards for each corner, so a total of eight boards.

For this step, we placed a board from side to side on each end in order to flip it and not have the posts get all bent out of shape {haha} on us.  For some reason, we still haven’t taken these boards off, I’ll have to do that tomorrow.

Each step of the way these shingles are staring me down, just waiting to be put on so I can have a little shade!!!

The center 16′ board will be raised up to form the peak of the roof.  To do this, we three 2×6 boards roughly two foot in length.  Next, using a jigsaw we cut notches in them the width of the 2 x 6 that were about 2.75 inches deep.  We screwed them up, one on each end and one in the center.

Now to cut the rafter boards.  Begin cutting 2 x 4’s into 4′ boards.  You will cut 18 of these, nine for each side.  Now we’ll use my fancy angle technique of holding the wood up and using a marker to draw the line.  Then you can turn your saw to the correct angle and begin cutting one end of each board.  Screw them all up from the center beam out to the edge.  We also secured them with a rectangular brace on each of the four end boards.  We also used an angled brace on every beam on each side.

Yay!  It’s time for the roof, so go ahead and happy dance with me.  Before you get to this next step, I recommend making sure you have some muscle because this was THE hardest part of this entire job.  I want you to learn from our mistakes though, so make sure your 4 x 8 plywood boards are straight, it will make all of the rest of this work better.  Okay, all set?  You are going to lift up one of the plywood sheets onto the roof.  Having at least one extra set of hands to hold it up will make this a lot easier because you need to push the board to the end and line it up so that’s it is straight.  Screw it in, I’d just get a little crazy with the screws and do one every 3″ up and down the rafters.  Now, repeat this with the other three boards.


Now roll out the FeltBuster® High-Traction Synthetic Roofing Felt and cut to fit.  Nail that down using the  1” – 1 ¼” round plastic cap roofing nail.  Get as crazy as you want with the nails.  You just want to make sure that you have it secure enough that it won’t blow off while you are working on it.

Hang in there, we’re almost there.  This is totally doable in a weekend, maybe even a day.  It’s time for shingles.  I have to admit.  I was a little nervous.  I have built some things, but I’ve never roofed anything, neither has John.


Okay, so when you hit up Lowe’s, you’ll love the roofing department because it’s so easy to find everything.  The endcap display makes choosing the right shingles super easy.  I’m all about products I can count on and companies that are willing to stand behind their products.  Not only is Timberline the best selling shingle in North America, but the warranty is pretty great too. Not only does it look good, it’s extremely durable.  We have the same stuff on our house roof and it’s already survived quite a bit.   Now that you know why I bought the Timberline® Natural Shadow® Shingles, let’s check it out.

If you purchased the Pro-Start™ Starter Strip Shingles, start there.  We opted not to because our calculations said we would have enough regular shingles to do the job.  We began by turning one shingle around and nailing it to the roof using 1 ¼” galvanized steel roofing nails.  If you want a straight roof, you will want to make a chalk line across where you want the shingles to line up.  Finish laying your starter row along the bottom of the roof.

Can you see the finish line?  Begin nailing your shingles on with three nails on each shingle.  Continue working toward the top of your peak.  Repeat on the other side.  We opted for an alternating look so we had to go through when we were finished and cut along the sides to make them all even.  I love how it is turning out.  Only one step left!

Now let’s do the ridge caps.  Complete this process along the peak of the roof.  Now grab a chair and have a seat IN THE SHADE!  Enjoy your work for a little while before we get to making the fun stuff that the kids care about.  Okay, okay, just kidding.  They are already in your face because they are so excited for you to put the stuff they have been waiting for in, so hop back up, let’s do this!

You should have two more 2 x 6 x 16 boards left.  Go ahead and measure and trim them up quick.  Now we’ll screw them onto one side of our structure.  Find a spot toward the bottom on each side and screw them in.  Be sure to measure to make sure you get it straight.  Now, repeat with the second board.   You want the top of the second board to be four feet above the bottom of the first board.  Screw that one in place.

Cut a 2 x 4 into a four foot board.  Screw that into your 2 x 6’s midway between the 2 ends.  Take some 2 x 2’s and cut them into four foot boards as well.  Screw them into the 2 x 6’s along one half of the structure.


Screw the peg board on the half of the structure you just put the 2 x 2’s on.  On the backside of this, screw a sheet of plywood.  Now, on the inside of the structure, the side you didn’t put the 2 x 2’s on, screw in your second sheet of plywood.  Tada!  You are pretty much done.  The rest is up to your imagination.

I’m going to share my mistake with you here.  Don’t use the pegboard side for a sensory wall, it just isn’t working well for us.  I’ll probably switch up the two sides.  I thought I could use the peg board hooks to put the funnels, PVC, tubes and gutter on, but that didn’t work.  I had to screw it all in and it won’t last long.  If the kids pull on it, it will eventually come out.  Screwing it all to the plywood would have worked way better.  Build and learn, right?!  Either way, they are having so much fun pouring sand, sawdust, small rocks, sticks, pinecones, flowers, whatever they find outside through the different tubes.  The other half of our structure is the kids’ mud kitchen.  They actually wanted me to EAT the mud cake they made me.  I’ll admit, they worked as a team on it, I kind of wanted to try it…..

Now, bring on the sun.  We have some shade to hang out in now so we are ready.  Your turn, what are you ready to build with GAF roofing to make summertime even more fun?  What have you already built?  I look forward to hearing all about it.  Happy building!



1 Comment

  • When I was reading the article, my kids were watching me. My younger son also started reading it and he already liked the thing. He is insisting me to build it for them on my lawn. Anyway, It looks super cute and quite in the budget.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.