What is a Screen House?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A screen house is a structure with walls made from screens and a shade canopy as a roof. These structures are designed to keep out insects and to provide shade, creating a shelter which allows people to enjoy the outside world without exposing themselves to insect bites or strong sun. Screen houses are designed for summer use in many climates, or year round use in the tropics, and they can be utilized in a wide variety of settings.

A screenhouse typically includes netting to prevent insect bites.
A screenhouse typically includes netting to prevent insect bites.

One of the classic uses of the screen house is in camping, where a portable screen house can be used as a tent in warm climates which stay warm at night. The screen house allows lots of air circulation, which can be useful in hot climates, and it keeps people sleeping in the screen house sheltered from bugs, in addition to protecting food supplies. Screen houses can also feature fold out awnings which will extend the shade provided by the structure for additional shelter.

People also use screen houses for outdoor entertaining and recreation in the summer months, in which case the screen house may be large so that it can comfortably accommodate a crowd. These structures may also be more heavy and permanent, with features like canvas instead of nylon roofing, and heavy construction materials which will help the screen house resist wind.

Many outdoor supply and camping stores carry screen houses which have been designed for camping, along with accessories such as clip on awnings and ground covers. For a screen house which will be used for entertaining, home supply and hardware stores can be a good source. It is also possible to build a structure to custom specifications, with a gazebo being an excellent framework for screening to create a shelter for outdoor entertaining.

Some things to think about when purchasing a screen house include how it is going to be used, where it will be used, and how easy it will be to take apart and store. If a screen house is being used for camping, it should be lightweight and easy to assemble, and ideally waterproof to protect from unexpected downpours. Screen houses which will be installed in fixed locations like a yard over the summer don't need to be as portable, but they should be designed in a way which will allow people to break them down and store them through the winter months, when the structure could be damaged if it is left outside. Residents of the tropics may opt for a more solid structure which can easily be reconfigured or repaired so that it will last through years of use.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@ocelot60- I think that you should shop for the materials you need for your screen house when they are on sale. Hardware, camping, and home improvement stores run different types of sales frequently throughout the year, so you should begin shopping around now.

Comparison pricing when you look for your screen house materials will also help ensure that you get good deals. Don't buy from the first place you find that carries this type of equipment. Instead, you should compare prices at different stores to get the most for your money.


@ocelot60- Last year I fixed several of my window screens by taking out old screen material and putting in new. When I shopped around for it, I noticed that there are different kinds available at a range of different prices.

Based on my experience, I think that you could save a lot of money on your screen house by using inexpensive screen material. That is the kind I chose to repair my window screens, and I'm very happy with it. Though it's not as durable as the more costly kind, it will do the job you need it to do because it works just as well for keeping out bugs.

Another benefit of cheap screen material is that you won't have to spend a lot of money to replace parts of it if it gets damaged. I recommend keeping some on hand so you will have it ready to use if or when you need it.


I entertain a lot in the spring and summer months, and I have a large yard. Since me and my guests are always fighting off mosquitos and other insects, I'm thinking of building a customized screen house. I have friends who will help me do this for free, so now I need to save money on the items to build it. What are some good tips for building a screen house on a budget?

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