Difference Between A Pole Tent And Frame Tent

The number one question we get asked from client’s when renting a tent is, “what’s the difference between a pole tent and a frame tent?” This article is going to give you the full comparison and help you decide the best tent to rent.

If you don’t have much time and you’d like the short answer, here it is. The main difference between a pole tent and frame tent refers to the way the tent is installed. A pole tent uses stakes and must be installed on grass and a frame tent can be installed with stakes or concrete blocks which allows installation on grass or asphalt. But that’s just the beginning. There are multiple pro’s and con’s for both tent styles which we’re about to breakdown for you 🙂

Groom Dancing On His Wedding Day
Photo Credit: Sarah Wockenfuss Photography

Article Shortcuts

Pole Tent Style Overview

Beautiful Ceremony With Tent Reception

In this comparison, we’ll start with breaking down the in’s and out’s of a pole tent style.

Pro’s of a pole tent:

  • Typically more cost effective
  • Provides a clean interior look
  • Features popular “high peak” peaks
  • Has the option of adding sidewalls

Con’s of a pole tent:

  • Can only be installed on grass*
  • Requires more stakes for securing
  • Less durable than frame tents
  • Has “center poles” in the center of the tent

*Pole tents can be installed on asphalt, however this would require the holes to be filled with asphalt plugs*.

If you prefer to watch a quick 2 minute video to learn the difference between a pole tent vs a frame tent, check out the video below.

Frame Tent Style Overview

Next up, we’ll breakdown the most common advantages and drawbacks of a frame tent style.

Pro’s of a frame tent:

  • Can be installed on grass or asphalt
  • Allows for an “open floor plan”
  • More durable and secure
  • Can be installed for long periods of time
  • Has the option of adding sidewalls
  • Has adjustable leg heights*
  • Uses less “side legs”

Con’s of a frame tent:

  • Typically costs more than a pole tent
  • Features visible poles in top of the tent

*Not all frame tent styles have adjustable legs. You’ll want to double check with your rental company to determine the manufacturer of the tent you’ll be renting.*

Style and Look Comparison

One of the key comparisons, especially for special events, is the style and look of each tent.

You’ll notice in the images below, we’ve compared the inside and outside of a pole tent versus a frame tent based on their style and look. Most pole tent styles feature “peaks” which is where it gets it’s name as a high peak pole tent. Another style of a pole tent is just called “classic”. Whereas the frame tent style is a more secured structure and features more visible poles in the top of the tent. The style and look of your tent will completely depend on your taste. While our pole tent style is more popular, it’s not unusual for a client to request a frame tent.

Comparing The Inside

Inside A Pole Tent
Inside A Frame Tent

Comparing The Outside

Outside A Pole Tent
40 x 60 Frame Tent Installed On Grass
Outside A Frame Tent

Also, two things to note from the pictures above. In the pole tent, there are what’s called “side legs” that are spaced every 10ft. Whereas the frame tent has “side legs” every 20ft which provides a more open style and look.

Having less side legs on a tent is very useful when you’re expecting a lot of people to attend your event. The second thing to note is, our pole tents are only 7ft at the side perimeter, whereas our frame tents are offered in either 7ft or 8ft in side height. Not a big deal but perhaps you might prefer one height over the other.

Full Comparison Chart

Unless you’re a tent-nerd like us, we’ve broken down the pro’s and con’s so that you can see them side by side. The biggest key to note that we forgot to put into the list is the option of an open floor plan.

What does an open floor plan mean?

We’ll answer with an example. Say you’re renting a tent and you would like to add a dance floor rental that you’d like to be installed dead center of your tent. With a pole tent, there will be a center pole right in the center and would prevent you from being able to have your dance floor dead center.

Whereas a frame tent does not use center poles and therefore, dead center of the tent will be wide open and it will allow you to have your dance floor dead center. Does that make sense? If not, watch the video above and we explain this in more detail.

  • Pole Tent
  • Frame Tent
Features List Pole TentFrame Tent
Features List
Installs On Grass
Installs On Asphalt
Variety Of Sizes
More Cost Effective
More Durable
Allows Sidewalls
Easier To Decorate
Starting Rental Rate$225 and Up$295 and Up
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Which Tent Do We Recommend?

So, after everything you learned, if you’re still undecided then we will give you our recommendations. Sometimes, when choosing your tent rental it might come down to personal preference or it’s an easy decision based on specific limitations, etc.

Before we share our recommendation, it’s important to note that both tent styles are a great option. It’s not like you can go wrong with either style so hopefully we can clarify the answer for you based on the below examples.

"I'm having a small party in my backyard for my son's birthday. I'm on a budget and just want extra space in case it rains."

"I'm having a small wedding in my backyard with a dance floor. I want enough space for everyone to spread out."

"I'm planning a large corporate meeting at our corporate office. The tent will go in our parking lot out front of our office."

"I'm planning a 50th wedding anniversary in my backyard. I want it to look elegant and beautiful.

Now… if you’re STILL undecided, just go with a frame tent. You can’t go wrong with a frame tent style and there are more pro’s versus con’s with a frame tent. We always say “if it’s my event, I’m going with a frame tent”. But ultimately, the decision is yours 🙂

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