Frame Tent or Pole Tent?

While all our commercial party tents are crafted with the same high quality American made vinyl (from Herculite) and constructed with the same love and care right here in Green Bay, WI – there are some key differences to note when choosing between a pole tent and a frame tent.

A commercial pole tent (also called a high peak tent, tension tent, circus tent) is designed to have center poles that give it swooping peaks and is held up by tension using ratchets and stakes around the perimeter of the tent.  Here are the benefits of a pole tent:

  • Pole tents can be expanded to pretty much any size – as compared to standard (West Coast Style) frame tents which typically top out at 40′ wide and 80′ or 100′ long.
  • Pole tents have a classic tent look – with big peaks and swooping fabric.  Which from our experience, makes pole tents more popular with customers.
  • Pole tents are easier to install with a smaller crew (the head installer for our rental business has been known to install a large 40′ wide pole tent with only 2 people).
  • Pole tents are quicker to setup and takedown
  • Pole tents are typically cheaper to purchase – for example our 20×40 pole tent package is ~$2,000 while the corresponding frame tent is ~$2,500 (as a frame tent uses a large amount of aluminum – which is an expensive raw material).
  • Pole tents have limited hardware on the under-side of the tent – meaning that customers see mostly pretty white vinyl and not lots of poles or clips.  This is typically important for our wedding customers.  However, many wedding planners or brides will order a tent liner or use their own fabric to decorate the aluminum poles in a frame tent – so this isn’t always an issue.

A commercial frame tent (also called a West-coast style tent) isn’t as grandiose as a classic pole tent – but it has several important benefits:

  • A frame tent is composed of an aluminum structure (we use all 2″ diameter, 1/8″ wall anodized aluminum tubing) and metal fittings.  This structure allows for the tent to be a free-span structure – with no center poles in the middle of tent.  Many of our rental customers prefer not to have center poles if they are putting something large under the tent, want to preserve site lines in under the tent or are using it for a wedding ceremony where they don’t want poles in the middle of the aisle.
  • All the ‘effort’ to hold up a frame tent is spread throughout the aluminum structure of the tent.  As such, the number of stakes used to anchor a frame tent is typically lower than for a pole tent (although you should ALWAYS stake a frame tent at every pole).
  • A frame tent can be setup over a driveway or asphalt when staking is not an option.  Instead of stakes, customers will use ballasts such as concrete blocks.

Please contact us with any questions about our pole or frame tents!