December 11, 2015 Under the Top No Comments

When planning a special event outdoors, you need a venue to hold it. Sure, you could just keep everything outside without a tent at all, still that may lead to a great deal of issues. First of all, you want your guests to have a way to get in and out of the sun. Second, if it rains, you need protection from the elements, not only for your guests, but also for your audio and visual equipment. Finally, a tent provides a central location that people can gravitate to for the event, rather than just milling around everywhere.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s look at the different styles of tents you can choose from. The following styles are the most common and readily available.

Canopy (frame) Tents
Canopy frame tents are the most traditional, popular, versatile and affordable tents you will find. These free-standing tents have no center poles, which allows you to get the maximum use of the interior’s unobstructed space. The option not to use sidewalls creates an open, airy, yet covered area that suits a multitude of uses. On the other hand, adding window sidewalls and a tent liner transforms the interior into a elegant environment. The ability to expand the length of the tent in 5-foot increments allows you to have the perfect sized tent for your special event.

Festival Tents
Festival tents add a touch of fun to any event! With 50 percent less parts than other tents, these go up easily and quickly. Festival tents are impressive in that they are engineered to withstand winds of up to 85 miles per hour. You can install festival tents together to create a visually interesting array of peaks, or you can assemble a single tent to create a modern, futuristic feel! Available in many bright colors, the functionality of fitting into tight spaces, along with the ability to add a flag on the peak top allows you creativity when planning your event!

Push Pole Tents
Push pole tents have high peaks and dramatically sweeping slopes, making them the tents that most resemble the traditional circus tent. These tents have large vertical center poles running down the middle of the tent in 20-foot increments, with rounded ends and gracefully scalloped tent topsides. Braided rope attaches the tent top to stakes, which are pounded into the ground every 10 feet along the outside perimeter of the structure. Impressive 4’x6′ flags can be added to the top of the tents where each center pole emerges through the tent top, creating an added display of color.

Structural (clear span) Tents
Structural clear span tents are extremely weather-resistant and are most often used for large events and long-term applications. With no center poles, a side height of up to 16 feet, and a peak height from 22 to 32 feet, the structural clear span tent creates an impressive and secure environment. The strong, expandable and superior design of these tents allows for efficient heating and air conditioning and the ability to handle winds up to 85 miles per hour. Add our storefront-style doors and window walls and these tents turn into semi-permanent or high profile structures! All of these tents exceed national and international building, safety and fire codes.

Tension Tents
Tension tents are visually stunning structures with high, sculpted peaks and graceful lines. The large interior of the tent has a unique ceiling with dramatic peaks and swooping curves. Tension tents have center and perimeter poles and get their taunt smooth look from a system of ratchets and stakes. The high peaks help to redirect rain and wind over and around the sides of the tent, which enables the tent to withstand 85 mile per hour winds and exceed even the most stringent city codes.

Deciding which style tent is best for you
With so many options to choose from, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Don’t worry! Choosing the right style of tent is easy.                                                           There are a few basic questions you will need to take into consideration…

What is the surface type where you’ll be hosting?
Different tents require different surfaces. Are you planning on erecting the tent on cement, asphalt, or grass? If you’re using a cement or asphalt surface, you’ll likely choose a freestanding tent, since driving stakes into the ground is probably out of the question. Cement and asphalt provide plenty of solid footing anyways for the weights and foundational elements that keep the tents in place. On the other hand, a grass area will likely require a staked-down tent.

If you will have to stake down your tent, all of the tent options will work well for you. If staking down your tent isn’t an option, here are the choices you can work with, since they can be secured with either weights or stakes.

    • Canopy frame tents
    • Structural clear span tents

How much room do you have to work with?
Some tents require more space than others. You also need to consider how many guests you’re expecting, so you can ensure you are choosing a tent large enough to accomodate everyone. Measure the space carefully, remembering that if you are using a staked-down tent, you’ll need room for the guy wires leading to the stakes. Need help? We can help you with that, just give us a call after carefully measuring your space.

How much space do you need under the big top?
If you have a particularly large event, you need a tent that will accomodate it. Fortunately, most tent types are available in varying dimensions. For particularly large events, though, your best options include push pole tents, structural clear span tents, or tension tents.

Can you use interior poles?
If you want a clear view of the entire event, interior poles may not be for you. Center poles used by festival tents, push pole tents, and tension tents can obstruct the view, even as they create the beautiful swooping peaks that add such a unique flair to your environment. If you cannot have the view obstructed, you’ll need to stick with a canopy frame or structural clear span tent.

How long will your event last?
This is a key question, since only certain types of tents are suitable for long-term usage. If your event is going to last for less than 1 week, you can easily use a canopy frame tent, festival tents, or even a push pole tent. For longer events, you may want to consider push pole tents, tension tents, and structural clear span tents. Of course, if you foresee your event lasting a particularly long time, or indefinitely, then your best bet is the structural clear span tent. It can be erected semi-permanently.

Hopefully this has given you some valuable information to use when deciding which tent is right for your event. Other than the basic requirements of where your event is being held, how long it will last, how much room you’ll need, and how many people you want to accommodate, the decision will ultimately come down to which style you prefer. Most tents are available in a wide variety of sizes and can be secured either with stakes or weights, so often you can simply choose the tent that best meets your aesthetic desires.

Written by Sarah Duncan