Paint or Stain a Treehouse
Bill Johnson - Groton, CT

Hardwarian Bill Johnson

Johnson True Value Hardware

Groton, CT

Paint or Stain a Treehouse

Level: Beginner

Is there anything more fun than a backyard tree house? A tree house can be the perfect hideaway for kids to play in and use their imagination to make it anything they want — a fort, a castle — anything they can dream up. And customizing one with paint or stain can be a fun project for parents to take on as well.

Get inspired and come up with the perfect color scheme for your kids’ treehouse. Don’t forget to customize it further with decorative touches to make it truly your family’s own! .

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Project Steps
Project Shopping List
    • Step 1. Choose Tree House Colors

      Painting or staining your tree house weatherproofs it and tailors it to suit your taste and your kids’ imagination. Ask your children for color input or consider a color scheme that matches or complements your home. It’s up to you.

      You can try to make your tree house feel like a smaller, second home inside and out. So, when determining a color scheme for the tree house, use the same process you would when painting the inside or outside of you home. Your palette should consist of three colors: a light, medium and dark color. These three colors will form the foundation of your project. Lighter colors should be used as a background. Remember you can also use different color schemes for the outside of the tree house than you would for the inside.

      There are three basic color schemes for the home, which can also apply to the tree house. Each has its own appeal, but it's up to you to decide what you do with your tree house. Let your personality and tastes dictate the scheme you use.

      Monochromatic color schemes use tints and shades of the same color to create a sophisticated and elegant look. Colors from the same color family tend to look great together, such as a neutral color like brown or gray with lighter or brighter shades of these colors used on trim.

      Developed from colors next to each other on the color wheel, analogous home color schemes offer more nuances while retaining the elegance of the monochromatic scheme. Usually, one color is dominant while others are used to enrich the effect, for example, greens and blues or rose and peach.

      Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. These types of color schemes add drama. Complementary colors enhance the temperature of each other, which adds interest and energy when trim complements the background color. To get the most out of this scheme, use a warm color against a cool shade or add contrasting accessories inside to highlight the color of the walls.

      Your local True Value hardware store experts can answer any questions you have about both exterior and interior paint color combinations and point you in the right direction, based on your preferences. So bring in ideas and pictures of interiors and exteriors you like. While you're there, you can pick up a Custom Mixed Color Sample to try a few colors on the tree house walls. You can also pick up Idea Cards that have pre-determined palettes ready for you.

      Or try the Color Selection Tool, which features a color wheel with every color in our paint palette. For more color ideas and inspiration, visit

    • Step 2. Choose the Right Paint or Stain

      It is recommended that you use a latex paint because of the higher durability on exterior surfaces. Latex paint provides better flexibility and adhesion, and better fade, mildew, and chalk resistance. Use True Value WeatherAll® Ultra Premium oil-based primer/sealer on bare wood and topcoat with WeatherAll® Ultra Premium latex exterior paint. You can also skip priming by painting with True Value WeatherAll® Extreme Paint and Primer In-one.

      If you will be staining the tree house, use a quality product from the Woodsman® line of exterior wood protectants and stains.

    • Step 3. Prime/Paint or Stain

      Set up a ladder to reach the tree house if you can’t paint from the tree house platform. When you’re ready, pour True Value WeatherAll® Extreme latex paint and primer in-one into a paint tray and coat your roller. To get the most even coverage, follow the “top-down” rule — work from the top of your tree house to the bottom. Use paintbrushes to fill in cracks and crevices and to reach anywhere a roller won’t reach. Paint those areas with the brush first and then roll back into the paint while it is still wet. Use two coats for optimal results. Plan ahead so that you don’t paint yourself into a corner and that you can paint as much as possible while still on the treehouse.

      fiberglass extension ladder
      Safety Alerts!

      Avoid overextending yourself to reach your targeted work area.

      Don’t ever stand on the top step of a ladder.

      Never exceed a ladder’s maximum load limit. There should only be one person on a ladder at a time.

      To stay on the ladder safely, move slowly and deliberately, stay focused and wear non-slip shoes with an adequate amount of tread. Avoid sandals, flip-flops or flat-soled shoes.

      Never climb a ladder if you are ill, impaired or otherwise in a less than ideal physical condition. If the ladder’s or your condition makes you uncomfortable climbing, trust your instinct and keep off of it. The more distracted you are, the more likely a fall can occur.

      Always place the base of a straight or extension ladder on solid, level ground at a 75-degree angle.

      Never try to move the ladder position while you’re on it and keep your body centered between the rails of the ladder at all times.

      Helpful Tip

      Avoid ridges and lap marks on a flat surface by always stroking into the wet paint, never away from it. As you finish painting one area and move on to the next, blend each new stroke of the brush toward the wet paint previously applied so the layers blend evenly.

      Master Painter premium roller cover

      If you’re going to use stain, start by applying a thin, even coat of stain using a paint roller or stain pad with an extension handle, covering a few feet at a time. Do not allow stain to puddle. Repeat the process until the entire tree house is covered. Use a paintbrush to stain corners and other difficult areas such as steps, railings, board ends and cracks but try to apply stain to surrounding areas before it dries. You can use a solid or semi-transparent stain on the sides of the tree house depending upon how you want it to look. A Semi-transparent stain will color the wood but allows the grain to show through. A solid stain colors the wood and allows the texture to show but will mask the grain. A deck stain should be used on all horizontal surfaces.

      Helpful Tip

      The best temperature range for staining a wood surface is between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not apply stain in direct sunlight — you don't want it to dry too quickly and not absorb properly.

    • Step 4. Add Decorative Touches

      Add final touches inside like lightweight chairs, beanbags or other furniture. Let your kids help with ideas for their new play place. Add light strings and paint the walls and add art and pictures that personalize the space. Paint the inside of the treehouse with WeatherAll Ultra Premium oil-based primer on the bare wood and then topcoat with WeatherAll® Ultra Premium latex exterior paint. This will stand up to the weather better and comes is available in many different colors.

      Get creative and try painting with specialty paints, such as chalkboard paint or magnetic paint on the walls. Each of these types of paint does exactly as its name implies. Chalkboard paint provides a surface that can be written on with chalk and erased with a damp towel. Magnetic paint creates fun walls on which magnets will adhere. Follow manufacturer instructions carefully for optimum results.

      Another fun idea is to let your kids decorate the inside or outside of the tree house with their handprints or let them sign their names or initials with or in the paint (before it dries). Add rugs or carpeting to the floor to soften it and make it comfortable. The options are endless. Have fun and make it your own!

      Great job! Now you have a custom-painted tree house for your kids and the whole family to enjoy.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

    Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.

    You can also shop online for these project items at and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.

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