Okay, then…You are officially doing this. You are in charge of planning an event. That event, whatever it is, needs a tent ( at least one, hopefully, so that you know that you are in the right place !)

If you have read our previous post, 5 Keys To Choose A Reliable Event Tent Rental Supplier, you know that finding the right tent for rent is crucial.

clear top tent night time with light

After selecting the right tent rental service, the planning begins!
You have selected a supplier. You know what event you are holding. …And you have at least an idea of the number of people expected to be in attendance.
Great! This gives you a number to play with concerning how much space might be required.
So how do you figure out what kind of tent you need? People often think of an old-school tent, like a pole tent, for instance. You may remember them from when you went camping as a child.
They often provided very limited space. Plus they had a center pole obstructing some of the areas under the tent cover. They were usually a bit cramped, but back then, it just seemed cozy.
Tent technology has come up leaps and bounds since those days.
Modern tents are very spacious inside. They have no obstructions and are made with rugged yet lightweight cutting-edge materials.
Of course, you will want to make the most informed decision we can for your event. That being the case, let’s take a look at two of the most common types of event tents for parties and other functions: frame tents and clear span tents.
This way you have all the criteria you need to figure out which is the best for you and your event.

frames tent outdoor

Frame Tents

Unlike a pole tent, a frame tent is a free-standing structure. It doesn’t have obstructions like a center pole that blocks off interior space.
This makes a frame tent fast and easy both to install and take down after an event without tools.
This fast and straightforward setup and smaller size often translate to a lower cost for a frame tent. They also tend to be used for short-term events like weddings and company parties.
Frame tents, with generally a smaller size, compared to some clear span tents may be more susceptible to the outside elements.
You can adapt to this by adding side walls to block out the wind and increase privacy if that’s what you need.
This is true for both frame tents and clear spans as well. You can even add special lighting, drapery and specific flooring to decorate for that personal touch! (For more advice specifically for outdoor weddings, check out our post on How To Choose the Perfect Outdoor Wedding Tent to get more in-depth info. )
You can set up a frame tent easily on a variety of surfaces, for example,
  • Grass
  • Asphalt
  • Concrete
  • Hardwood
These surfaces can function as a patio, a stage, or even a dance floor. To deal with uneven or muddy ground, you can even request special flooring to make your tent complete.

hip end style clear span tent

Clear Span Tents

Clear span tents are similar in structure to frame tents but have a wide range of sizes, with a professional aesthetic look that enhances any event. They stand up to adverse weather well and are perfect for longer-term and larger-scale events.
Tents are very versatile, so it is easy to change the tent’s dimensions and they can even be made larger, to function as a temporary warehouse or a vehicle storage facility.
They can even be installed on rooftops, patios, in gardens and over outdoor pools! At many events, frame tents are often paired up with clear spans to provide walkways between the larger tents.
Clear spans are much more rigid than frame tents. Their framework of aluminum arches gives it shape underneath a roof made of incredibly durable fabric.
This makes them extremely wind resistant (with some able to withstand winds approaching 80 km per hour with the appropriate anchoring). Not that you would ever need it, (we hope!) but it’s nice to know you have a structure that can hold its own with the elements. While they may require a higher price range than frame tents, the value added is clear, especially for larger events.
Any venue that has special requirements for height, more elaborate decorations, or a higher number of guests would be well served with a clear span.
Clear span tents are very economical compared to the high cost of constructing temporary buildings and can be combined with other structures like frame tents to create waiting areas, entrance ways or walkways.
The possibilities are endless!

Take a clear look at what you (exactly) need

Now that we have covered both frame and clear span tents, a few differences between them appear, differing on the event you may need the tent for.
Generally speaking, frame tents are smaller and easier to install and remove, making them useful for shorter-term events. Clear span tents are more expandable, take a bit more time to set up and take down, but can be used for a longer duration. Sometimes though, it is hard to get the feel for a solution when you are looking at a lot of various factors.
It makes sense to take a look at all the things you might require, then go from there. To that end, we have boiled everything down into the chart below:
Criteria Frame Tent Clear Span Tent
Wind resistance    ★★★ ★★★★★
Interior space   ★★★ ★★★★★
Price range   ★ ★★★
Ceiling Height   ★ ★★★★★
Quick setup? Yes Fast to moderate ( Varies according to the size selected )
Build on any surface? Any surface Any surface
Customization ★★★★★
Long Term Use ★★ ★★★★★
Elegant and professional appearance ★★★ ★★★★★
Are guy ropes needed? No No
Installation Time ★★★★★ ★★★
Is it easy to modify the size? (variety of individual sizes) ★★★★★


The above chart will give you a rough guide on what you are looking at when you’re making your decision. Happy event planning! Now go get ’em!

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