Gear: The Ozark Trail Screenhouse

Need instructions? If you have the 13’x10′ model, your prayers are answered! Here is a PDF of the owner’s manual. Commenters report good service by calling 1-800-775-1965 for other models. Commenters have also, in the spirit of empiricism and reverse engineering, written their own instructions for the 14′ x 12′ and the 10′ x 13′ (same as 13×10?).

This seems to be a widespread problem. Since you don’t need to leave a comment begging for instructions, how about leaving one with your location instead? We’ll see how many screenhouses across the country we can rescue. You don’t even have to bother reading the following review, whose purpose in life has become feeding the search engines and getting you here to end your desperate plight in the face of that pile of little white tubes…

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Now and then I walk into a store, it tends to be named ___Mart, and buy something I know is going to bring nothing but grief and heartbreak. But I hope it won’t. Yes, I know it will, so what gives? Is it plain stupidity? A Pavlovian reaction to super-size doses of advertising? Greed, optimism, stinginess, and materialistic guilt thrashing together in a dance of futility that leads straight to the checkout counter? To make matters worse, sometimes I’m so ashamed of the purchase that I can’t even bring myself to return it.

So far this sounds like a poor review, so let me say that, as the picture shows, the product did eventually reach a state of functionality of sorts. I know there is more grief and heartbreak in my future, but hey, I’m using it.

One mad idea often begets another, and that is how this $34.95 purchase came about. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in the blog, I’m getting married in Joshua Tree on August 2nd, outdoors. It occurred to me that if I insist on inviting people into a blazing Mojave inferno in the height of the summer it would be polite to provide some shade. Shade can be a matter of survival there if you’re outside at midday. So the idea was born. Then I started having other wild fantasies, like effectively adding a room to the desert shack where I live by erecting the shadehouse in the backyard. Hope. Optimism. Greed. Stinginess.

When I got the thing home and deboxed it, the reality began to set in. Dozens of two-foot sections of pipe spilled onto the floor with stickers labeling them ‘1B’, ‘4’, or ‘2B’. Or not 2B. Childhood memories of failures with Tinker Toys came flooding back. But, with determined hope, I began to wade through the instructions.

This is one of those products where the instructions are basically a complete fantasy. They make one false unstated assumption after another. And even then, they’re not simple. What you wind up with is a web of pipes and plastic pieces that falls apart at one end as you assemble the other. Then the instructions start to get really funny. ‘Insert the leg poles into the hubs to raise the screenhouse frame’ got the first laugh. The “frame” barely stayed together on the ground. Any attempt to lift a corner and insert a leg pole resulted in pipes flying everywhere. I thought of resorting to duct tape, but since I had none handy, with great finesse I managed to lift each corner one pipe segment at a time. Some middle sections fell out but I had a standing frame of sorts, swaying and wobbling. Then came the real punchline.

‘Drape the screenhouse body over the frames.’ I thought I had never read a more ludicrous suggestion. Drape the body. HA! Not only was the frame more than a little unstable, the body is BIG, and HEAVY. Where would you start draping? At a corner? No way, the thing would explode. The only slight possibility was starting from the inside, in the middle. With great trepidation and many prayers I managed to do some draping. I had to take some pieces out to drape from the middle, hold everything together, drape, and put them back underneath the canvas. I could hardly believe it when I had the entire thing draped. Victory!

The rest of the process was funny too, with wimpy frizzy guylines, and inexplicable bits of plastic that are supposed to tighten them. I had to use every knot I’ve learned from rock climbing. But it went up. It’s pretty nice. There’s shade, and fewer bugs than outside the screenhouse. I do have some reservations left, though. I wonder what will happen when the wind comes. Will I come home and just find the screenhouse gone, or will I see it blowing around in the street, trailing pipe segments? What about the rain, or the potential for 120-degree heat? We’ll see. For the moment, my dream of an extra room in the back yard has come true. Wish me luck putting it up at the wedding.

174 thoughts on “Gear: The Ozark Trail Screenhouse

  1. DON’T WASTE YOUR time buying this screen room. Finally got it up…the next wind, it collapsed, breaking the first part. attached the tent to 4 concrete blocks…next wind or rain…it collapsed again. added a wooden pole to prop it up. it fell again.
    It’s been ‘up’…meaning laying flat on the ground, for 7 weeks, but I gave up. the screen and other material rotted, the tent collects water. It’s going in the trash. what a waste of money and time.

  2. Lost assembly instructions for my Ozark Trail 13 X 15 Polyester Hex Screen House. If anyone has instructions would you please post link here. Thanks.

  3. The day of my daughters 4th b-day party we could not find the instructions. The first link i got on Google was this one. Thank you so much. it was so easy to find and put together.

  4. HI ME TOO!!! LOL I have the Ozark Trail 11ft X 8ft Dining Canopy & need assembly instructions, BADLY!You have no idea how thankful we will be if anyone has these and emails them to me!
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  5. We also got our 10 x 13 screen house at a yard sale, with no instructions. A couple poles had duct tape on the ends…not a good sign. Printed out the pdf file instructions and put them in a page protector for the next time we attempt to assemble it. Thanks a lot!

  6. @Kelly (Comment #150)
    Got a 14×12 on eBay. Unfortunately, we received instructions for a 13×10 (definitely not useful). Just tried to set up my 14×12 using only my “engineering brain.” I got 90% there but couldn’t get the top to stay together (while swatting ~4 mosquitos/min). Your advice on “now here’s the tricky part that messes everyone up” was just perfect! I’ll go back out tomorrow and I know I’ll get it right this time.
    Thanks! (& thank you too Cyber Hobo)

  7. I paid 5 bucks for this jewel! After reading your comments and instructions, I assembled the top of the frame, draped the tent over the top, hoisted it up to the roof of my lower deck where it is destined to live and velcroed the tent top to the deck roof with commercial size bands. I added the other poles just to keep the tent from ghosting around in the wind. Keeps the bugs out and I can was the upper deck without drenching the cushions on the lower deck! A well spent 5 bucks!

  8. Oh, and I did follow the advice of the others and requested the instructions. North Pole got emailed them to me first thing the next morning! (This blog is still a better resource).

  9. I have used the wmt 1390s 10×13 screenhouse often without much difficulty before about 10 years ago when we camped a lot but have since lost the instructions. I printed out the above instructions for the wmt 1390s 10×13 screenhouse and went outside to put the thing together. I have all different labeled poles!!! My poles have numbers 3,4,5,6,9,and 10’s. also I have four four way hubs and two three way hubs. I’m now trying to do this from memory with much difficulty so I thought I’d double check to see if there are other instructions(maybe an earlier model with same number).

  10. Also, my poles are green- not white….I was able to make a nice 10 x 13 frame out of them but the screen will not fit over it at all!!! My screen is the one in the picture but it measures more like 10×10 instead of the 10 x13 it says on the bag…

  11. Decided to go digging under the basement stairs in the camping equipment…found a bag of white poles with the right numbers 2, 2B, etc. also found another nice screen house cover. It’s dark now so tomorrow will try to put the other set of poles up with the above instructions and will try to fit the other screen house on the already constructed frame(have no directions for these either….Put up the three room cabin tent without instructions too. don’t know where all the instructions go….

  12. I need all the other poles for my 14′ x 12′ Deluxe Screenhouse except for the legs. If someone can please email me with the cost of them asap I need them by friday.

  13. I tried for a couple of hours with my sister and no included instructions to erect this insane Escheresque puzzle. It was like the Hydra, set one piece into place and two would pop out. I can imagine how frustrated I would be if I had personally paid for it and if it weren’t the most entertaining failure in engineering and design I’ve ever come across. There was no danger of feeling shame over our inability to achieve success as the screen house was so obviously a planned exercise in letting go of expected outcomes and being in the moment amongst chaos and futility. Thank you Ozark Trail Screen House; I’ve never been more Zen.

  14. @Brit.That’s a great description of the attempt that I, Brit’s Mom, witnessed. I bought the above mentioned screenhouse and it sat in it’s case untouched and stored,for 8 YEARS, after I discovered it had no instructions.This summer we attempted to put it together. The laughs we got were definitely worth the price (just wish I’d made a video!) and it will now be passed along to a young impoverished couple with the caveat to have a bunch of friends and a roll of DUCT TAPE on hand!

  15. i am trying to find replacement poles for my 14x 12 screen tent and un able if anyone has information on where to find these please let me know thanks i really need by sept taking kids camping and misplaced them

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