A screen house is a great addition at the camp when the flies get bad. Having a screen house can extend the time you spend outdoors, especially in the evenings when the mosquitoes and blackflies get really numerous and aggressive. With a screen house you can sit outside in the evenings and enjoy listening to the call of the loons on your cottage lake. I’ve noticed a lot of screen houses showing up on cottage decks these days as they are a practical way to provide shade and protection from the bugs.
A screen house such as the Swiss Gear Smart Shade 10- by 10-Foot Screenhouseshown in the picture to the right or a gazebo come in many different styles and with different features, such as screened sides, no sides, water resistant covers etc. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering what type of screen house is right for you.
1) Consider the square footage of the screen house you require. Length by width will give you the square footage. I recommend no smaller than 10 foot by ten foot, 12 foot by 12 foot is even better. That will give you room for at least four camp chairs and a table. The height should also be considered, with a minimum 7 foot at the entrance being nice and at least ten feet of inside center height to avoid a closed in feeling.
2) Leg design is also a consideration as some screen houses have straight legs while others have slanted. You will lose some inside space with the slanted type, but they can be a little more stable. I have found the straight leg style to be ok for most applications.
3) Look for a screen house that offers UV protection. These days Ultra-Violet rays from the sun are not good for your health, nor are they good for tents etc. A screen house should have some form of UV treated material on the roof.
4) Directions for setting it up. If you are like me, the easier the better when it comes to assembling your screen house. Most of them have poles that go together into brackets and the tent/screen house is stretched overtop. Some have an accordian style frame that goes up rather quickly. I like those.
5) Openings. I like screen houses that enable me to open it on whatever side I like. Therefore zippers on each side are a plus. If you buy just a gazebo top, that is, a roof with no sides, you can usually buy sides that clip on at a later date. I suggest you buy one with four screen sides in the first place, it’s buggy out there….Look for fine screen mesh that will keep out the tiniest of insects, no-see-ums, blackflies and mosquitoes.
6) Some screen houses have included options or accessories you can purchase like lights and solid sides, awnings or shade sunscreen.I recommend you add the solid sides as there may be times when being able to close a side or more in to protect you from wind, rain, or to provide privacy. The lights are not as important, although they are a nice feature. You can always hang a battery lantern or drop light inside the screen house if you require lighting. Particularly nice for camping when a light inside at night is nice.
7) The feet of the screenhouse should have flanges with pre-drilled holes to allow you to easily screw the screen house down to a solid base like your cottage deck if a semi-permanent set-up is required.
8) Use paint or colored tape to color code the frame pieces for easy identification during set up. Instruction papers get lost over time, but color coded pipes are a fairly intuitive way to remember how it goes together. Trust me…if you only put it together once a year, some directions are nice to have.
9) Look for a screenhouse made with a metal frame, and something fairly substantial. I am not suggesting it need to be made from heavy metal, but it needs to be strong enough to withstand some wind and if someone falls into one of the pole supports.
10) Dark colors attract heat, light colors reflect heat. It may not matter, depends on where you use it, but in the summer sun, a light color roof will help to reflect some of the heat away from the screen house. On the other hand, the darker colors blend in and make the structure less obtrusive and noticeable.