How to (using Techniques-ish) Make a House of Cards

Introduction: How to (using Techniques-ish) Make a House of Cards

How to make a house of cards. I've noticed most sites on the net give a very vague description of their construction and don't offer any real advice, so after having learned the hard way, I'm going to show how to make a tower or house of cards, of any amount of storeys, construction wise and using techniques. Sort of.

-Apex : an individual triangle of cards shaped like this - /\
-Storey: a "floor" of cards, a five storey card house has 5 rows of cards on top of eachother
-Card: what you use to build the house. I take that you know this already. I reccomend NON GLOSSY regular playing cards.

Step 1: Construction Up to a Two Storey Tower and Tips for Building

To start off, i cannot stress enough a few factors, most importantly NOT to use glossy cards, as they slip off eachother VERY easily. Also a lot of people say that new cards work best, but these are usually glossy and the ones i use are a few years old, but tend to work better than new ones.


this is quite simple, firstly you have to make what is called an Apex. To do this, place two cards against eachother with the playing faces pointing inwards in a triangle shape like in the picture. It would be ideal to make a line of these before going any further, without them falling over. you can line them up like dominoes and push them over when ready to proceed. this is a frustrating step, so it's good to get practise.

when you think you're ready to go further, build two apexs next to eachother, so you can "roof" them.
This is a lot simpler than it seems.
Take a card to be the "roof" piece, and place it (in the air, above the two apexes [apexs, apexi?] ha) hold it and lower it til it is about a milimetre or two above them, then let go. DO NOT PLACE it on, as this is far more likely to collapse it.

-Once the "roof" piece is on, it may have adjusted the apexes which support it. It is now safe to adjust these with gentle movements, as you will find roofing it makes it much more versatile. It is VITAL when you make larger towers that after every collapse on an upper storey, or placing of a roof, that you adjust the apexs below accordingly.

FINALLY! to make a two storey tower, the one you see in the picture, take your roofed apexs and make a third apex. As this is the only apex on this storey, you can hold it with both hands as you put it in place. As with roofing it is essential that you do NOT place it on, as this will put pressure on the rest of your tower, but drop it from about a milimetre above, guiding it with your hands, then very gently making a balance on it. If it collapses, adjust the apexs on the bottom storey , as they will have most likely moved.
Placing will have less effect here as it is only the first apex on the second storey, but i suggest you do the 'drop' method to get the hang of it, as it is essential later.

I recommend making a few of these two storey towers to get the knack of placing an apex on an upper storey.

Step 2: Constructing a 3 or More Storey Tower, With Essential Tips.

When you have made a two storey tower, as in step one, most places will tell you you can now just add another storey. I find it a lot easier to start from scratch.

The three storey tower will look like the image shown when complete.

To build, make three apexs as your base. After making the first two, immeadiately roof them to add support. Make another (I do to the right) to the side of this and roof it to the one next to it, so the two roof cards overlap.
This is your base. For a four storey tower, build 4 apexs in this way, 5 : 5, 6:6, etc.

To continue, build another apex above two of these, so it looks like a row of bowling pins from above :

/\ /\ /\

You will find this quite simple if you practised the two storey enough, as a 3 storey has a more supportive base.

To add the second apex, you must place the cards using ONE HAND, to avoid knocking the first over. I use the index finger of my other hand to very gently guide the apex's cards into balance. Once again, more importantly in these stages, DO NOT APPLY PRESSURE, as your card house's death will follow, allow the apex's cards to drop from about a milimeter above, and as i have mentioned, guide them into place. You'll now have this:

/\ /\
/\ /\ /\


Congratulations! you now are just one placement away from a basic tower of cards!

You may find this the easiest or hardest step, depending on how you do it. You may wish to take a break before adding the final apex to any tower as it will allow your hands time to calm, as they will no doubt be shaking a lot trying this.

Make your final apex. As you have no others on the top level, you can place it with two hands. This time you must MAKE SURE that the second storeys cards are strong enough, meeting at the EDGE, not one resting against the others face. Drop the apex, as you usually would, this time from the lowest height possible, and shape it with THE most gentle motions you can physically muster. I might be exaggerating for a three storey but it's not nice when you get to 6 or so storeys and reach this bit.

BEFORE you drop it, also make sure your card tower isn't leaning. if you have placed the cards further back on each level, and the tower is leaning backwards, place the top apex as far forward as possible to counteract this.

If you pull this off, congratulations, you have a 3 storey house of cards!
You most likely won't though, for a good few attempts. This requires a lot of patience. After a while you'll be able to assemble these a lot better.

Step 3: Cheats, Further Ideas, Ways Around Problems

-If you have trouble balancing, start off by making your base on carpet, or if you're really struggling, a large green lego sheet to hold your cards in place.

-If you ONLY have glossy cards, for each storey, add a long piece of paper cut to size on top of the roof to make it harder for the next storeys cards to slip

-If you feel like going for more than 7 stories , you'll need more than one deck of cards.

-experiment! in the picture you'll see a differently worked idea for a base.
If you get really good, maybe this could be for you:
(you'll need several thousand decks of cards though)

-at the end of the day, it's just addictive fun, and though it takes a while, you will always get better, so don't go shredding your cards up if you can't get it first go..

thanks a lot for reading my instructable :D

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    13 years ago on Introduction

    card houses are awesome especially these ones I just started on card house building so its a little difficult:)


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable :). I always build them when I'm bored, unfortunately I never have enough decks of cards to build massive ones :(.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome. I do this in class all the time when we can, and I make mine HUGE. Nice job!


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    thanks :D.. i just started a bigass one but ran out of cards so i'm looking to buy some more in the next week .. :P oh well