Guest Post: DIY Haunted House Tips and Tricks

Hello everyone, hope you are all very frightened. Today we have a guest post by fan of the show Dylan Snyder. Take it away Dylan:

DIY Haunted House Tips

Halloween has evolved into the second biggest commercial holiday in the United States with about 90-percent of all households participating in Halloween activities. While it’s often thought of as a holiday for children, in reality the most common age demographic to participate in Halloween events, parties, and haunted house experiences falls into the range of 18 to 34-year olds. When planning a DIY haunted house geared toward that older demographic, it’ll take more than bed sheet ghosts and a spooky soundtrack.

Haunted House Themes: Gore or Creepy?

Planning a DIY haunted house designed for older teens and adults begins with choosing a theme. Themes almost are limitless but the size and location of your haunted house space will play an important role in your decision as will budget and time to complete the construction. Popular themes range from Insane Asylum (can be gory, creepy, or both) to a Horror House (gory) where a madman has traps and chases his “guests” or a classic Haunted House populated by wicked spirits and chilling surprises.

When planning any type of haunted house in a residential area, it’s important to check with the local homeowner’s association and/or city to ensure there are no restrictions or permits needed.

DIY Decorations for a Haunted House

The decorations for the haunted house are determined by the theme. Plan to create several scenes, tied together by the central theme so the haunted house has a cohesive feel. It’s scarier if there’s a narrative to follow as that provides a connection for visitor. Always have a separate entrance and exit when possible – how the path is determined will likely be based on the design and layout of your home.

One of the easiest DIY decorations for a haunted house is the ghost or apparition. There are many tutorials available throughout the internet but basic materials include cheese cloth or a medium-weight gauzy fabric that’s semi-translucent. HGTV offers one tutorial for a ghostly figure to place outside — a basic form that can be tricked out to appear scarier and more gruesome with a little creativity and luminescent paint.

Experts recommend playing off any existing creepy factors of the haunted house’s venue. For example, an old and gnarled tree out front becomes the perfect backdrop for a freshly dug grave with creature beginning to emerge. Another option is to place a hanging body from one of the branches. Create the body using old clothes stuffed with newspaper or fiber fill and place a white pillow case over the “head” and angle it as if the neck is broken.

Use plywood to make a drop-down panel to create what’s considered a startle-scare, the type of surprise scare that makes visitors jump and shriek because it’s unexpected. Heavy-duty sheets of plastic are perfect for blood-spattered backdrops and even wall partitions when creating a maze-style haunted house.

DIY haunted house material must-haves usually include but are not limited to:

  • Heavy-duty sheets of plastic (clear and black)
  • Plywood
  • Cheese-cloth or other types of gauzy materials
  • Old mannequin parts or full bodies (if possible)
  • Fog machine
  • Fake blood or ingredients to make fake blood
  • Cobweb material

As you delve further into the creation of your haunted house, consider attending a trade show or event hosted by the Haunted Attraction Association (HAA). Trade shows like the TransWorld Annual Halloween & Attractions event provides the ideal opportunity to network with professional haunted house operators and designers, discover new ideas, and even purchase products that can help elevate your creations to the next “horrific” level.

Lighting Tips and Tricks

The right lighting sets the mood. From classic strobe light effects to eerie moments created by combining a violet light with fog machine effect, your lighting design can enhance the fear factor exponentially. Don’t underestimate the power black lights have to make a haunted house look and feel freaky and horrific at the same time — picture a black light illuminating a small, bloody hand print on the wall. When possible, tie the lighting design digitally with any audio being used. If you can control the lighting and audio features (as well as any animatronics) with a computer or even a tablet, it will make things easier.

The sky’s pretty much the limit when planning a DIY haunted house. Incorporating live actors to create jump-outs or act as chainsaw-wielding madmen is something else to consider as well.

Item of the Week

Hello everyone. It’s now time for the item of the week. As always, each item featured here is either owned by, or has been used by, one of the Scarydads. This Dewalt Jigsaw is the same one I’ve used to make just about all of my Halloween decorations. It’s also one of my first tools, aquired nearly ten years ago when we moved into the original Castle Scarydad. In addition to many, many holiday projects, I’ve done a lot of home repair using this trusty gadget. In fact, I just now realized how long I’ve had this thing and how it still works as well as the day I got it. Wow.

If that isn’t enough to get you to click the link and buy one, I don’t know what will.


Scarydad’s Haunted Market

Click Here!

Happy New Year my good and faithful minions! I trust you survived 2016 if you’re reading this right now so it’s time to get scary! Last night I spent hours cultiviating some of the finest books, films, apparel, and haunter’s supplies available and compiled them into our new Amazon Store. Click on Frank’s face above or on any of the red words in this post to be whisked away to a magickal world of pure awesome.

How does it work? We are an Amazon associate. That means we get a small commission if you click through our site and buy Amazon stuff through our store front. Our store is full of wonderfully frightening things, but you can buy anything you want on Amazon and we’ll get a commission as long as you clicked through us first. 

In addition, our newest feature on the blog is going to be a featured item of the week where either Swampy or I will extoll the virtues of something we love. These will be personal endorsements of products we either own or have firsthand experience using so you know they’re good.

Thank you so much for supporting us now and in the future. Now click on Frank’s face and get to shopping!


Hawkgirl Costume for Spawn


Little Spawn was down for a couple of days and while she was on the couch the two of us marathoned Justice League on Netflix. She got real into Hawkgirl and asked if I could make her a costume for Halloween. Well, we had Comicon coming up shortly too, so I got to work.

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Refurbish old tools

IMG_1294 I found an old bucket full of my grandfather’s and dad’s old tools (except for the large axe head I got at an estate sale for free). They were chipped, rusted and useless until I got a hold of them.  Continue reading



Hey there my good and faithful. I’m back!

I’ve been a bit busy with multiple projects of late so this one is a throwback. I made a bunch of stuff back around Christmas and thought I’d lost the sd card. Well, I found it so game on. Anyway, this is a wood-burnt Krampus plaque I made for my buddy Chris. Not sure who Krampus is? I say you should Google him an be amazed. This was part of a challenge to do the most awesome present you could possibly do for less than $2.

I won.

Custom Powered Pedal Board for Austin Hot Mods SXSW Exhibit

IMG_1290 Good evening Minions. I trust you’re up to no good. Tonight I present a collaborative project with my friend Chris from Austin Hot Mods: a custom powered pedal board for his South by Southwest exhibit.  Continue reading

Scarydad Project: Wonder Woman Shield



What happened was, a few months ago my daughter’s little friend across the street got some Ninja Turtle stuff for his birthday. Among other gear, he received two foam swords and some masks. When Spawn went over to play, she was handed a sword and a mask and told to get ready. Within a few seconds she was chasing him around the yard with his own sword. I was so proud! I decided then and there that she needed her own sword and shield set. One made of nice, high-quality materials; an heirloom piece, if you will, hand-carved by her Daddy.

Well, that idea lasted about 3 minutes. After Bride of Scarydad chased down our berserker warrior princess and made her apologize, it was decided that a pointed wooden stick was probably not the best toy to give a three-year-old.

I could think of no reason why she shouldn’t have a shield, though, and when it was decided that the theme of her birthday party was Wonder Woman, I suddenly had a project. Continue reading

Vintage Clock for the Laboratory


Hello Minions. Man, let me tell you that these past few days have not been the best of times. First, someone hit my car and took off, then Sequel got shots and the subsequent grumpy face that goes along with that. Then Bride got sick, then the computer crashed, then Spawn and I got sick. Then it was Monday again. So, how was your week?

I did manage to get one good project done this week and am all the more happy I can share it with you. You see, a few months ago I acquired a vintage Stromberg school clock for free from a guy who was cleaning out his garage. It was a very old electric model.

It worked when I got it and I hung it proudly in the lab over the resurrection bench. It kept time well and I used to gleefully imagine all the poor children who watched that second hand go around so very slowly in endless days of monotony.

Well, then it broke. I’m not sure why, but it stopped working one day. The scary part was that it kept humming and sucking electricity without actually doing anything so I feared it was plotting a fiery something or other for me. I looked into getting it fixed but the one guy who fixes electric clocks in my city lives about an hour away from here in a rather ungood area of town. So I decided to take matter into my own hands.

Before anyone gets upset at the destruction of this piece, I assure you I looked into every avenue to ensure there was no collector or other value before I began my modifications. Three different clock places told me to just throw it away and buy one that was battery-operated.

I did one better…

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Some Random Stuff I Made out of Scraps

IMG_1077 Hello there everyone, I hope you are well. Tonight I was cleaning out some folders and I found a couple of little projects I did around Halloween. I thought I had lost the pictures but since they’re here, I’ll tell you about the projects!

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