Bringing the funhouse slide home... without the splinters?
July 17, 2006 12:26 PM   Subscribe

I want to build the ultimate indoor slide [for kids, not adults]... help me plan it out.

We're getting new neighbors. They have three kids and want me to design an indoor slide for them to use in a wide stairway. At this point, we're beyond the "Are you freakin' crazy? How safe can that be?" questions, and onto the "How will this work best?" questions. All the online resources I can find are for pre-made, plastic, outdoor, composite-type slides that fit other kits. This is what we are NOT looking for. We want it to fit into the general feel of a 75-year-old craftsman-bungalow-esque house. We want this to be the ultimate kid item to help a 6-, a 4-, and a 2-year-old embrace this new house!
So, I'm hoping the hive mind can contribute to the following: materials to use / design ideas / permanent vs convertible / kewl extras / what-to-watch-out-fors. I've designed and built custom furniture before [that's how i got roped into this] but this project isn't your average piece of carpentry.

The stairs are about 5 feet wide, 7 inches tall, and 11 inches deep [rough]. Wooden staircase. 17 total stairs.
Where do i go from here?
posted by rubberfish to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
carefully treated, fitted, and polished hardwood planks coated with a little EndDust would be an attractive and removable (though not cheap) solution. What's the look and feel of the landing?
posted by mrmojoflying at 12:33 PM on July 17, 2006

What about bamboo? Smooth, light, pre-curved.
posted by mikepop at 12:38 PM on July 17, 2006

When I was a kid, we slid down our stairs on a very long stuffed snake. I'm not sure what it was stuffed with, but it must have been a solid piece of foam-like material. It formed to the (carpeted) stairs pretty well on the bottom, but stayed pretty flat on the top. I think maybe we sat in pillowcases to slide down it. It would have been perfect if it was covered in something sort of slippery, like satin.

This makes me think you might be able to pull something together with some sturdy foam covered in slippery material. You could make it in sections to accommodate different lengths and to make it easier to store. Maybe wood, covered with a foam top covered with a slippery material would be more durable?

posted by dpx.mfx at 12:47 PM on July 17, 2006

I recall seeing one of these installed in a house we visited when I was very young. It had a surface of polished wood like a bowling alley, and it was just about the coolest thing I had ever seen up until that point.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:47 PM on July 17, 2006

when my parents had their custom house built, my mom specified that the bannister be sturdy enough to slide on. the end result is that whenever my son came over, he always slid down the bannister. maybe you could reinforce theirs?
posted by lester at 1:13 PM on July 17, 2006

Maybe you could buy/build something like this sturdy wooden slide.

Also take a look at the giant slide here (Smith Memorial Playground in Philadelphia) -- the sloping, polished surface would be amazing if fit into a home.
posted by superfem at 1:44 PM on July 17, 2006

Be sure to build in a soft landing at the bottom.
posted by Sara Anne at 2:49 PM on July 17, 2006

Old metal slides are the absolute best if they're indoors and the edges are rounded over.

Then again, my dad built one off the top of my loft with sheet metal, so I'm biased.
posted by Gucky at 4:36 PM on July 17, 2006

the landing will be hard wood, so i'm trying not to get the kids going toooo fast when they hit it.
any thought on how to make a slick wooden surface? i'd love this to be an all-wood contraption... what are the pitfalls going to be?
posted by rubberfish at 6:11 PM on July 17, 2006

IANACarpenter, but I think you would want to start out with a dense grain wood with few knots (which really can't be smoothed that well), have the sliding surface planed as finely as possible. From there, perhaps a gloss urethane that is then buffed with 00000 steel wool. Second coat. Rebuff. That would make it pretty slippery if a rug was used to ride on. If you wanted to "kick it up a notch," you could use a small amount of dust polish rubbed on. For maximum danger, dry silicon lubricant. I think the pitfalls of this approach are cost (a lot of very expensive wood), time, and permanence. You might be able to get away with buying the traditional 1/2 in tongue-and-groove unfinished flooring (not the kind in Lowes) and work from there.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:00 AM on July 18, 2006

I had so much fun sliding down our stairs on top of the top of a plastic toybox. I used to make walls of cardboard bricks at the bottom to crash into. Loads of fun.

btw this is matkline, i'm just to lazy to sign out of my dad's account and into mine
posted by dkleinst at 5:04 AM on July 18, 2006

You've got about 220 linear inches of slide (assuming straight thru for all 17 steps. I'd build a trough 16" wide. The bottom would be 5/8" plywood dadoed into the sides. The sides would be some 2X6 material picked to match the material of the stairs. I'd form a bull nose on side of the material pointing up. I'd then glue down a floor laminate (again chosen to match the stairs) over the plywood using construction adhesive. Laminate is quite slick and the top coatings are very tough. In the unlikely event of serious scratches and/or damage repair is as simple as gluing down another layer.

Remember to have a straight section at the end of the slide as a deceleration area and to prevent ankle trauma (see every slide on every playground).

Also you'll need to leave a bit of space between the wall and the side rail of the slide to allow hands to grab the side rail.

Finishing the ends and attaching the slide to the stairs is an exercise left to the finishing carpenter.
posted by Mitheral at 8:45 AM on July 18, 2006

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