Treehouse Attachment Comparison

Screw, bolt, threaded rod, nail, stilts, clamping or cables – what is best?

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How do you securely fasten a treehouse in a tree without damaging the tree? In our big comparison we show the best fastening techniques for tree house construction and for heavy installations in aerial forest parks, tree adventure courses and tree top trails!


One thing should be clear: the tree comes first! It is not only the pillar that supports our treehouse, it is above all a valuable organism that should not be harmed unnecessarily.

Trees live, trees grow & trees want to move!

This is the essential difference between building a treehouse and building a “normal house”. If you want your grandchildren to still enjoy the treehouse, we should not permanently damage the tree. Therefore, it is important to know exactly the different fastening techniques and their area of application. Damage caused by incorrect fastening often only comes to light decades later!

1. Treehouse Screws – State of the Art

The first “tree screws” were introduced to the market about 30 years ago under the names “Garnier Limb” and “Treehouse Attachment Bolt” – this is how the success story of modern treehouse construction began. Nowadays, thousands of treehouses and adventure parks are built worldwide every year with Treehouse Screws!

Here is an example of a modern Treehouse Screw – GTS Allstar 2.0:

German Treehouse Screw - GTS Allstar - Technische Details

The idea of the screw is to imitate a natural branch. The injury caused by the drilling is punctual and similar to that of a branch break, i.e. the tree knows exactly how to react to an injury of this kind: it seals the wound, stores fungus-inhibiting substances, and forms stronger reaction wood. The “artificial branch” continues to grow year after year, and over time the screw becomes a permanent part of the tree.

As you are creating a wound, the tree should have a good wound response. More info here: Choosing the right tree to build a treehouse

Studies on treehouses and climbing forests have shown that bolting methods cause less damage to the tree in the long run than wrapping and pressing methods (rope & clamping technique).

Examples of treehouse bolts and screws:

 Advantages of the Treehouse Screw:

  • Well-proven & field-tested fastening technology since > 30 years
  • Tree can grow freely – no crushing and constriction
  • High load-bearing capacity – Loads are introduced directly into the trunk
  • Low to no maintenance
  • Many Screw Accessories
  • Independent of tree growth – Large variety of platform design
  • Failure is slowly becoming apparent through deformation in wood.
  • Aesthetic imitation of branch


  • Load capacity can vary with type of wood – see graphic
  • High cost

Field of Application:

  • From trunk diameter > 30 cm (12 in) (GTS Top, Friend, Free, Side); from > 40 cm (16 in) (GTS Allstar)
  • For permanent installation > 20 years
  • Maximum safety with maximum load


You will find more information about our Treehouse Screw here:

2. Rope Attachment – Hanging your treehouse

A very elegant & low-injury method is to suspend the platform with steel ropes. The system consists of three parts:

  • Tree slings (also called “tree protection belt”, “tree guard cable”, “tree loop”)
  • Cable & turnbuckle (steel or Dyneema)
  • Anchorage on carrier beam (e.g. ring nut + carriage bolt)

The tree sling is placed around a twig (preferably a U-twig) or a stable branch forking. The rope is tensioned by means of a turnbuckle. The anchor point should be located as centrally as possible on the main trunk, so that the loads are introduced directly into it, and the construction does not begin to sway in the wind. Avoid large lever arms and ensure that the rope course is as vertical as possible.

Well suited are trees with a thick, robust bark (dead bark), e.g. oaks and chestnuts. Beech trees are less suitable because their very thin bark offers little protection against abrasion.

Examples of treehouse rope and cable attachment:

Advantages of Hanging Technique:

  • No open wound
  • Low cost
  • Very high load capacity with direct introduction into the trunk (4 – 8 tons)
  • Tree can move freely
  • Subsequent height adjustment via turnbuckle possible
  • Can also be retrofitted


  • Rope routing can be annoying
  • Can swing strongly during storms
  • Failure of cable or broken anchor point can happen abruptly, without visible advance notice (Treehouse Screw Attachment, on the other hand, indicate their failure by slow deformation).
  • According to DIN, tree loops must be replaced every 8 years.

Field of application:

  • Anchor point is an external branch fork or V-twig –> low loads
  • Anchor point is directly at the main trunk & U-twig –> high load possible
  • Good alternative to Tree Screws for very soft woods (willow, …)
  • Excellent for temporary installations

3. Cuffs and Clamping – Be carful with long term damage!

Cuffs usually consist of a two-part steel ring that encloses the tree trunk; the technique works similarly to a belt, using contact pressure and compression. Steel profiles are welded to the sides, to which the support structure (wooden beams) of the treehouse is attached. In order to prevent slipping, the collar can additionally be fastened to the tree with screws.

To prevent the tree from being strangulated, the steel ring must be adjusted to the tree’s thickness growth every few years. Cuffs are particularly interesting for single trees whose trunks no longer grow much in width.

Examples of treehouse steel cuff and clamp:

Advantages of cuff attachment:

  • No open wound (if no securing screws).
  • Load is transferred directly into the trunk
  • Very high load possible


  • Assembly requires a lot of experience
  • Expensive special design by locksmith
  • Log should be very round
  • Tedious readjustment every 3–5 years
  • Danger of flat crushing on the main trunk → complete pipe system impaired, predetermined breaking point
  • Studies have shown that after 10–20 years there are often massive problems with the clamping technique!

Field of application:

  • Treehouse in straight tree with round trunk
  • Mature tree – trunk diameter does not increase much more
  • Tree with robust bark
  • As an alternative to rope suspension, and screw in very soft woods (if no suitable attachment point for tree loop available)

4. Build treehouse on stilts – On the safe side

Stilts are used when there are concerns about the load-bearing capacity or health of the tree. To avoid overloading the tree, a combination of stilts and other fixing methods is often the only sensible thing to do. Depending on the dimensions of the stilts, high loads can be supported. This in turn makes it possible to use heavier materials, which are particularly attractive in luxury areas (stone slabs, solid wood, bathtubs, …).

Of course you can also build your treehouse on a tree stump? You can find instructions in our FAQs under: “Can I build my treehouse on a sawn-off tree trunk?”

Examples of treehouses on stilts and posts:


  • Simple assembly
  • Load capacity virtually unlimited –> heavy construction possible
  • Tree trunk is not injured
  • Statically easy to calculate and very safe –> optimal for public projects
  • Less objections from nature conservationists


  • No “real floating treehouse”
  • Supports and stiffeners disturb aesthetics
  • Root damage due to earthworks & concrete foundations

Field of Application:

  • Stilt houses can be erected around any tree
  • Wherever the tree is too small, too crooked, too old, too weak
  • For very soft woods (willow, etc…)
  • In combination with other fixing methods

Attention with the foundation work! Even if it happens below the ground, root injuries are at least as bad as sawing off branches. Root damage should be avoided above all in the immediate vicinity of the trunk (1 – 1.5 m) (3-5 ft)!

5. Through-Bolting – Alternative Rope Attachment

The technique of bolting through is popular with treehouse builders as well as in tree care (tree crown protection). Depending on the load, a 20–40 mm (0,8-1,6 in) hole is drilled through the entire trunk or branch. Then you push a suitable threaded rod through the hole, and attach a large washer & nut to one side, and a ring nut to the opposite end – this is the anchor point for the rope.

Examples of treehouses trough-bolt attachment:


  • High pull-out resistance
  • Is well overflowed by tree growth
  • Low costs


  • The thicker the trunk, the more complex the assembly: very long drill required, difficult handling
  • Core is drilled through – core rot can spread in two directions

Field of application:

  • Light, horizontal rope and cable attachments

6. How NOT to do – damage due to incorrect fastening

Examples of bad damaging treehouses attachments:

Normal screws

Stay away from nails, normal wood screws or similar from the DIY store with a diameter < 20 mm (0,8 in) ! These are not designed for the high alternating load in the tree and can suddenly fail. We also strongly advise against replacing the quality of the screws with quantity – the tree will thank you!

Clamping and wrapping techniques

Also avoid clamping techniques where support beams are pressed directly against the bark. This leads to bruising, impaired growth and predetermined breaking points. Waterlogging can collect at the contact zone – the wooden beams will rot and a weak point will develop.

Caution: The direct clamping technique with beams – which is still very popular in tree adventure parks, aerial adventure parks and treetop trails – has been proven to cause damage to trees when installed over the long term!

Wrapping rope and loop steel cables

Crushing is also caused by wrapping ropes and steel collars that are not regularly readjusted. The result is a disturbed water and nutrient supply to the tree, and in the worst case the tree dies or breaks off at the constriction.

Laying wooden beams directly into the tree

Another possibility is to lay the beam directly on a branch fork or a twig – but this construction is only suitable for smaller loads. The fork must be very stable. Remember that crushing, waterlogging and bark abrasion can also occur here.

We recommend all these methods only for temporary installations < 3 years!

7. Table – Treehouse fastening techniques in direct comparison

The following table shows the evaluation of a survey of 16 professional treehouse builders and 2 tree biologists (Bachelor thesis Onja, 2017)

Cable suspension with tree strap
Treehouse Screw (GTS Allstar)
Free thickness growth
Easy installation
Stability + Safety
Design possibilities

8. Conclusion – Choosing the right treehouse attachment

There is no “perfect fastening technique” in treehouse construction – each technique has its clear advantages and disadvantages. Often a combination of different fastening techniques is the best solution for treehouse and tree!

Although “non-injurious” clamping and wrapping methods are at first glance gentler on the tree, there is always the danger of large-scale constriction. If the technique is not monitored and readjusted, the tree will suffer serious damage after 10–20 years.

Injurious methods (e.g. tree screws or bolts) initially seem daunting, but are more sustainable and safer. Trees have developed strategies over millions of years to deal with such wounds. The great advantage is that the tree firmly integrates the steel screw into its living situation. In addition, the wound is directly sealed – in contrast to a branch break.

In fact, Treehouse Screws (aka. Treehouse Attachment Bolts or Garnier Limbs) have established themselves in professional treehouse construction worldwide! They are considered to be permanently safe, gentle on trees and low-maintenance! This makes them ideal not only for tree house construction but also for permanent installations like platforms in tree adventure parks, aerial forest parks, high ropes courses and tree top paths.

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Hi treehouse friends!

We will be happy to help you! Please check our FAQ section first – there, we have already answered the most common questions for you.

In order to be able to advise you optimally, we need:

  • Sketches (drawn by hand is OK)
  • Position and height of the platform
  • Position and size of the treehouse
  • Photos of the trees
  • Tree diameter ø at the height of the platform
  • Tree species
  • Distance between trees (if more than one)
  • Use of the treehouse (many people, public, …)
  • Particularly stormy or snowy region?


“Since I often hang in trees or work with loud machines, it's best to contact me via email. The more concrete your idea and the more detailed the description, the better I can help you – thank you!”

Vitus Wahlländer - Owner of TheTreehouse.Shop

+49 17623339648

Dürnbachstraße 16a, 83727 Schliersee, Germany

Kontaktiere uns!

Gerne helfen wir Dir weiter. Bitte check vorher unseren FAQ-Bereich, dort haben wir die gängigsten Fragen bereits beantwortet.

Um Dich optimal beraten zu können, benötigen wir:

  • Skizzen (gerne von Hand gekritzelt)
  • Lage und Höhe der Plattform
  • Position und Größe des Baumhauses
  • Fotos von den Bäumen
  • Baumdurchmesser ø auf Höhe der Plattform
  • Baumart
  • Abstand der Bäume (falls mehrere)
  • Nutzen vom Baumhaus (viele Personen, öffentlich, …)
  • Besonders Sturm oder Schneereiche Region?


„Da ich oft in den Bäumen hänge oder mit lauten Maschinen arbeite, kontaktiere mich am besten via E-Mail. Je konkreter Deine Idee und je detaillierter die Beschreibung, desto besser kann ich Dir weiterhelfen – Danke!“


Vitus Wahlländer – Chef 

+49 17623339648

Dürnbachstraße 16a, 83727 Schliersee, Deutschland

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