Style and Design
An attractive, quality wooden playhouse with loads of features to keep children occupied, the Clubhouse Hideaway sports an outdoor bench, window boxes, stable style front door, serving hatch style window with wooden shutters and a little back door with postbox to the side for important deliveries. It has a good internal play area and a nice, bright interior to keep children occupied for hours in healthy, constructive outdoor play.
The playhouse is constructed in 12mm tongue and groove cladding with a roof of overlapping timber from which water is easily shed. The roof of the 'lean to' portion of the building is finished in mineral felt for water resistance and the floor is manufactured in robust 14mm boarding. The windows are glazed in plexiglass with the unglazed serving hatch secured by shutters. All wood is pressure treated for longevity.
The Clubhouse Hideaway measures 8' wide by 4' deep (2.42 x 1.62m). The external height at the roof ridge is 5'9'' (1.75m) with a maximum 5'4'' (1.62m) and minimum 3'5'' (1.03m) internal height. The front door opening measures 3'4'' (1.02m) high and the back door 3'5'' (1.04m). Both doors are 1'8'' (51cm) wide.
The timbers of the playhouse are pressure treated for a long life. It is recommended that a further decorative/protective finish is applied by the purchaser to maintain the playhouses's appearance.
The playhouse is delivered with full instructions ready for DIY home assembly.
See the details of sellers and prices given above.
Rowlinson have a good record of producing quality garden features and buildings and we think their Clubhouse Hideaway playhouse in general maintains their reputation. It's built to a good specification with its 12mm tongue and groove cladding providing a good, weather resistant finish and the 14mm boarded floor better quality than you'll find in some cheaper buildings which often rely on solid sheet osb to keep the price down. A solid sheet floor will just about do the business, at least at the start of a playhouse's life, but it generally lacks the strength of real wood and is more open to damage by moisture and early deterioration than properly treated timber. The wooden framing to the windows too is an attractive touch and helps to maintain the quality feel.
The only slightly negative point we'd raise in relation to the construction is the uncovered, overlapping style of the apex section of the roof. The lean-to section of roof is felt covered which should give good weatherproofing but we think that the uncovered nature of the remainder, even with the overlapping design, might be susceptible to water ingress, particularly in windy conditions and if the playhouse is situated in an exposed location. If this does happen you might have to look at rectifying matters by applying a good quality exterior sealant to the overlapping joins. The stable style door and unglazed shuttered window will be susceptible to water entering too, but this is really a design matter and we don't see it as a particular issue.
Safety is dealt with in the shape of the plexiglass windows and the ample finger gaps around the doors and shutters. In addition, the doors are secured by child friendly magnetic catches meaning there's no danger of anyone becoming trapped inside.
Overall, we like the external appearance of the Clubhouse Hideaway. There used to be a couple of other playhouses around with a similar "lean to" appearance but they're no longer available so the look of the Hideaway is fairly unique at the moment. There are a good range of features too. Although the windows are fixed, the split level stable style door will allow good ventilation on a hot day and adds interest along with the shuttered serving hatch. The window boxes and bench add to the appearance and the little post box at the rear is ideal for the deposit of goodies. It's unusual to find two doors in a playhouse this size but we think the addition of the back door with its little framed window adds to the Hideaway's character.
Based on our experience of Rowlinson's products, we don't think you'll experience any great difficulty in assembling the playhouse as long as you have a few basic DIY tools to hand. The timbers come pressure treated which means that it won't strictly be necessary to apply a further preservative at the outset. We'd suggest though that to preserve the appearance of your playhouse you add a further decorative finish such as a good quality wood stain following delivery. This should be done before the playhouse is put together to make sure you decorate those parts that might be difficult to reach later. In particular we'd recommend you turn the tongue and groove panels upside down to make sure the finish penetrates properly into the joins. It's not essential to decorate the building but a properly maintained decorative finish will keep it looking great. If left undecorated, even pressure treated wood will quite quickly take on a worn and weathered appearance when exposed to the elements.
Properly assembled and decorated, we think the Clubhouse Hideaway will give you a great play feature which will last for many years. It's looks like good quality throughout and in our view it compares well with other buildings in its size and price range - and it gives you some great features that you won't find elsewhere as well. We have a slight reservation about the uncovered section of roof and although this costs the Hideaway half a star it shouldn't give you any major problems - 4.5 wooden playhouse stars from us!