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Not All Tents Are Created Equal – Part 2

Kathy A. Newby, Sr. Event Consultant – The Stuart Rental Company 

Not every tent style can be used for the same event.  Being well informed when you speak with your client and tenting company is very important.  Yes, you are hiring a tent professional for our expertise, but you should be well informed to make sure that the style tent meets the needs of your client.

In this series we will look at Tension / Pole tents, Clear Spans, and accessories such as flooring, fabric décor and ceiling treatments.

Tension / Poles tents have a series of center poles in them.

  • 60’x have one row of center pole in the middle
  • 80’-100’x have two rows of center poles
  • 120’x have three rows of center poles
  • Center poles are 6” or 8” diameter x 25’T
  • White & Canvas top available – no clear

They feature stunning high peaks with graceful contours of the fabric creating a smooth, tight surface.  Tension & pole tents offer an airy interior with expandable designs and must be staked into the ground to anchor it.

Rigging lights and décor must be carefully calculated by your tenting professional to ensure the weight loads are evenly distributed between the center poles. 

The smooth interior surface of the ceiling allows for light projections to be seen throughout the tent.

Clear Span Structures – European & American

The term “clear span” does not mean there are no center poles in the middle of the tent; it describes the style of tent.  The difference between the two styles of structures is the shape at the top or crown.  The European version comes to a point and the American version is rounded.  Both styles come in either white or clear tops and have gable ends.

European Structure

American Structure

European structures are measured in meters and American in feet. These structures are a series of arches which are joined by the vinyl skins which are pulled through channels that create the ceilings.  They come in various widths which determine the girth of the beams.  The beams are called mini, mid and maxi beams depending on their sizes. During installation a boom-lift or crane are needed to raise the arches while they are connected with pipes called purlins.

Like any other tent your rental professional should review the rigging points and weight loads with you.

Flooring – There are many different types of flooring options for tents and event. 

The most common are:

  • Beam & Plywood
  • Biljax stage pieces
  • Durable plastic floor
  • Scaffolding

Check with your rental professional for which one will work best for your event.


Beam and Plywood




Fabric décor & ceiling treatments – Again the décor options are endless.  Your local rental professional can help you decide what works best with your budget and event. The most common are:

  • Pre-Fabricated ceiling liners & wall pole drapes, the pleats are pre-sewn into the fabric.  They attach to the crown of the tent and along the eave line.
  • Custom fabric ceiling liners & wall pole drapes, pleats are created onsite one-by-one.  These can be either a full liner or partial swags, pleated or smooth.
  • Velon or convention taffeta, flame retardant PVC product approved by the fire marshal and looks like fabric.

Pre- Fab



Smooth Liner