Instructables
Picture of Hidden Cave / Play room fort
When I was a kid, we made a fort out of everything. We built a play house / fort in the woods with random stuff we found. We put together a cardboard box car, rocket ship, building, whatever. But we never had a play room to ourselves......

So, now that I have a son, I wanted a playroom or permanent fort just for him. The fun thing was figuring out where to put it and I found the perfect space, A triangular section above the dining room that is 3 feet at the highest point in the center and 11 x 14 feet overall. The problem was, to get to it, you had to crawl through attic space, over wires and open studs, and into a space with no lighting, windows, ventilation, or floor for that matter. Plus there are nails sticking through the roof sheathing..... So lets fix that.
 
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Step 1: The before picture

Picture of The before picture
This is what the space looked like before.

Step 2: Materials and tools

Tools needed:

Circular Saw
Cordless Drill
Shop Vac
Jig Saw
Sawzall
Hammer
Level
Tape Measure
Sharpie marker
Foam spraying equipment (just hire it done)
Ladder
Temporary lighting
Electrical tools
Knowledge of electrical systems
Knowledge of supporting walls

Materials:

Plywood
Foam tiles
Paint
Spray foam
Great stuff foam
Screws
Window
Window weather proofing
Permanent lighting
Electrical boxes/ switches/ outlets/ wire/ breaker
Electrical tape
Wire nuts

Safety gear needed:

Safety glasses
Safety goggles
Ear plugs
Gloves
Respirator - dust mask and a half face OV/HEPA cartridge model
good shoes
knee pads are helpful
and Bandaids.....
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Awesome project! I love how much planning and thought went into each aspect (i.e. insulation, ventilation, fire escape, etc.). As I was reading I suddenly thought, "But what if he leaves the lights on all the time?". Lo and behold the next paragraph down you had a plan covering just that situation.

I feel like a ladder or some kind of low structure to jump onto is a good idea for that 8' jump, but other than that I don't get all of the "Oh no, fire!" people. Houses are flammable, period. Matches aren't good for small kids to play with, period. This doesn't change if the foam is flammable. The wood it's attached to is flammable anyway. The important thing in any room of the house is having a good fire escape and being able to use it.
I love the project and the results, but as a foam installer, I do take issue with not covering the foam. Unless the foam company used Class A rated foam on install(doesn't appear so, Class A is almost always tinted for ease with the fire inspector) it's not up to fire code. The common requirement is for a 15 minute fire barrier. The best thing I could suggest is to add another layer of paint, making sure that it's an intumescent coating, like CP5901 INSL-X Fire Retardant Paint (INSL-X is a benjamin moore sub-brand).
Haunted Spider (author)  thunderchyld1 year ago
Thank you for the suggestion on the paint. You are correct that in order for the code to be correct, I need an intumescent coating or even 1/2 inch drywall. But that is if I try sell the home and use the space as a selling point of usuable space. It doesn't meet the codes for a usable space in so many other ways as well, ceilings at 7 feet, HVAC run to the room, etc. It is covered by a barrier though when the little door is closed as the area below and walls surrounding have a coat of drywall. Also being a century home, the majority of the home is not up to code. With these in mind, and knowing the rest of the rafters are not coated either but connected to the crawl to the cave, I chose not to paint on the intumescent coating.
Crotus2k1 year ago
Fantastic. I new even before the last page that your son must be "new". I'd guess probably your first, as well. Congratulations. I can read the pride you have, every time you wrote "my son". I know exactly how that feels. Cool cave. Keep being a good dad.
Haunted Spider (author)  Crotus2k1 year ago
Indeed he is my First. His name is Asher. I almost made the green foam into an A on the floor but then decided if I had another child, they might not understand why they didn't get a letter in the cave. :)
will you adopt me please ? very cool project

This is too cool. Keep the kids jumping around in the attic and not on and off the sofas :)

AgnesMarin2 months ago

I love that! Once I've tried to make one of [url=http://interbeds.com]bunk
beds[/url]but I could do it. But I love your project and everything.

Tazmjm696 months ago
Great idea, you're a very cool dad!
Haunted Spider (author)  Tazmjm696 months ago

Thanks, I am trying to be a cool dad. Right now though, I am un cool if I walk out of the room to get something, or set my son down because I just can't hold him any longer. Ah, an 11 month old will do that to you :)

Lol - "and Bandaids....."
Haunted Spider (author)  usMudack19981 year ago
:) a very important item to have on hand. I should have stock options in a company by now.....
blkhawk1 year ago
Fathers like you make the rest of us to look lazy and deadbeats! Congratulations on your project. :-)
Davesp1 year ago
Nice idea but as your adventures confirm this looks like a toxic play house. Apart from your comments about fire exits for your son I wonder what the foam will be giving off in the way of fumes?

I don't want to be negative, I liked the concept, when I looked at this it looked cool, I actually thought the ceiling was some kind of paper mache or recycled cardboard of some type and the floor was the paper packing you see sometimes in the bottom of fruit boxes, made from paper pulp.

Out of interest did you research any of these options?
Haunted Spider (author)  Davesp1 year ago
As I studied Chemistry of Hazardous Materials in College, am a safety manager in real life, and have done my research into all insulation options available, I am well versed in the dangers, options, and strategies in this build.

The foam will burn when heated hot enough, but with a torch it only smolders so the worry about my son lighting a match and causing a fire is minimal. In fact, all insulation burns at a certain temperature minus aircrete which can not be put in ceilings, and is basically talc powder when touched. If the home was to catch fire, the fumes from furniture burning, carpet below in the dining room, and paint that covers the walls in the rooms below would overcome any living thing prior to the foam ever catching fire, or even being kissed by the flames. You see, a fire code requires the foam to be covered if it is livable space. This space is not, it is a play fort plain and simple. The drywall on the ceiling below and the drywall on the outside of the closet for access do meet the code. The fire would have to break though both of these prior to getting to my son.

The insulation used is the best insulation for a home with limited space to install it. As the rafters are only 4 inches thick, it gives about an R 28 rating, where as dense packed cellulose would be much less. At the same point, dense packed cellulose has a fire inhibitor in it but it wears off after a few years as the chemical dissolves. When this happens you now have a flammable substance in your ceiling, and have you seen how messy that stuff is? Not the best stuff to breathe in for a play area.

The floor is foam squares like you would find in most playrooms and daycare centers. It is antimicrobial and designed for kids to play on, or for your feet in a kitchen if you have to stand for a long time. It also does not burn well but smolders. But underneath, it is backed by 1/2 inch plywood giving even a further barrier to flames.

I understand your concern but calling my playhouse toxic is not very nice and does not fit very well with the "be nice" policy. Since this foam is installed in homes across the country and in open attic spaces which many store things in and kids probably play hide and seek in, I imagine it is safer than you think.

I hope I answered your concerns and you can sleep better at night. I certainly sleep just fine and will be very comfortable with the risk I am putting my son in by allowing him to play in a space I designed to keep him safe, while building his imagination and mind.
bfk1 year ago
I too, would like to be adopted. Excellent project, and thank you for adding the escape window. Too many children are lost due to being trapped when the unthinkable happens. If the window isn't located over a porch roof or first floor entrance, you may want to plant some soft, low bushes under it (for safety & looks) and add a rope ladder your son could use to play "pirate" with as well as giving yourself a little peace of mind.
loafers1 year ago
This is amazing, you've done a bang up job mate!
Hiyadudez1 year ago
This is great! Awesome effect with the spray foam.

Could also be used as a p[anic room incase of some emergency :-P
Jetpack51 year ago
I had wanted to do this to my parent's crawl space when I was a kid. Thank you for showing me how cool it could have been! Well done and the best to your son!
shazni1 year ago
oh this is just perfect for a kid! it's a great hideaway place to dream and imagine all sort of play...just love it...hope you win :-D
Aaronius1 year ago
Fantastic! I appreciated the thoroughness on making sure he was safe, well ventilated, and had an escape route!
sabu.dawdy1 year ago
this is sooooooooo beautifulllllllllll
milesnorth1 year ago
Dang, I am entering something in this contest but I couldn't help voting for you anyway :-) Very NICE indeed! Lucky son!
Awesome comment. This is what makes contests on Instructables so much fun: sportsmanship. Also: sweet forts.
Haunted Spider (author)  wilgubeast1 year ago
I agree. Contests on here are fun and people are competitive but sportsman at the same time. Anytime I put an instructable in a contest, I always make sure to first not vote for mine, and second to vote for two others that I think are awesome as well. Good luck to all the entries.
angpal591 year ago
Makes you wish you were a kid again.
krimmy1 year ago
I really admire your dedication towards your family! Top stuff!
Jeez people calm down about fires he will be fine
Haunted Spider (author)  swim_guy51501 year ago
:)
Quester551 year ago
I didn't notice any mention of FIRE alarms, And you might Check into a Baby-Cam at amazon, they can be gotten cheap & come in Wireless or Wired, helps the NERVES(YOURS) If he gets too quiet .
Haunted Spider (author)  Quester551 year ago
A smoke alarm/ CO2 alarm will be installed on the back wall when he is old enough to play in there. As they have a limited lifespan on the sensors (CO2 being less than 5 years and still be effective), I am waiting to purchase and install. We do actually have a Baby Cam in his nursery at the moment. This will likely be moved into the room when he is a bit older.
I couldn't help notice that the ridge board seems to have been cut out inbetween all the rafters. Is something else doing that duty or is it normal in that type of contruction?
Haunted Spider (author)  Eric Sullivan1 year ago
The Ridge beam or board never actually existed. I didn't cut it out. When it was built, they put a small wedge of board in where they met and then sheeted the top of with whatever they had. Some boards are 12 inches wide, some 16 and some 2. as it has stood over a hundred years, I didn't want to mess with the integrity and add in the beam and take a chance of shifting things. The foam should strengthen it a bit more as well.
Just wondered. i guess with all that boarding it would be pretty solid. Your son is very lucky I hope he enjoys it.
robdotrob1 year ago
This is so cool, Awesome job!
devineDIY1 year ago
How much did they charge to spray the insulation?
Zaqq1 year ago
This is an awesome idea. Does it have electrical outlets up there? I didn't see any in the picture and I was just wondering.
Haunted Spider (author)  Zaqq1 year ago
There is one outlet. The lights and fan plug into it. If they ever needed another plug, they could always use a grounded power strip. The wire feeding the outlet is 12-2 so it is plenty strong enough for a power strip with several things plugged in. I didn't want to have outlets though that were easily accessible for my son to stick things in.
Reminds me of batman! Go to the bat cave !!!!:p
You are a great dad for taking this amount of time and effort exclusively for your kids enjoyment.
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