Difference between a Pole Tent and a Frame Tent

One of the most frequent questions we receive from customers is, “What’s the difference between a pole tent and a frame tent and how does this affect the price?” With this post, we hope to clear the fog around this common confusion!

To begin with: what’s the difference between pole tents and frame tents? The difference can actually be found in their names. Pole tents, also commonly called “circus tents,” have large poles in the center of the tent that help hold up the tent top. These poles create the swoop effect commonly seen in circus or fair tents:

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Frame tents, on the other hand, are built using a steel frame which supports the tent. This eliminates the need for poles in the center of the tent, leaving a large open space for you to play with on your layout:

The next question we always hear is, “Well, which tent is the better option?” This question is often difficult to answer because it truly depends on your personal preference for your event. In theory, frame tents are considered superior to pole tents because of their lack of obstructing poles. One downside of having poles in the center of the tent is that it restricts your layout. When thinking about your table placement and dance floor/stage placement, you have to keep in mind the space the poles take up. This can sometimes make the event layout process more difficult for people. Frame tents on the other hand, give you no restrictions in terms of the space inside the tent. It is yours to play with!

However, pole tents are increasing in popularity because of their classic “tent” look. The tall spires and swoops pole tents create are aesthetically pleasing to many brides and event planners. Another benefit to pole tents is their cost. Pole tents are often slightly less expensive than frame tents because they require less man power to assemble. If you’re on a tight budget for your event, but desperately want a tent, a pole tent could be the best option for you. To help you in making your decision, we’ve created a quick cheat sheet on the pros and cons of each tent option:

Frame Tents

Pros: No poles in the center of the tent = no difficulties when planning layouts; frame look is pleasing to the eye for those who like clean lines

Cons: Can be more costly than pole tents; don’t have the “swoop” effect commonly associated with party tents

Pole Tents

Pros: Less expensive option than frame tents; swoops and spires are pleasing to the eye and are commonly associated with party tents

Cons: Poles in the center can impede people’s line of vision and prove difficult when planning layouts for the tent

Ultimately, the debate between pole tents and frame tents rests on your personal preference.