So what is the difference between pole tents and frame tents?
This question is one we get from time to time and we are ready to set the record straight. Without getting into industry standards, and engineering specs along with all the other technical differences here is the answer.
Tents that are held up by the tension put on the tent top via stakes, side poles and center poles. These tents MUST be staked at precise locations and can not be weighted using any other means besides anchors in the ground. The stakes or anchors (which can be in concrete pads or specialty anchors for soft soil or permanent installations) have a distance from the tent, determined by the manufacture, that must be followed to insure proper installation. Pole tents often have elegant peaks and sweeping lines which make them more appealing and attractive for weddings and formal events. Pole tents are often cheap to purchase and easier to install thus leading to a cheaper rental price for the customer.
Tents that are self supporting structures constructed of steal or aluminum poles to give the tent its shape. Frame tents should be staked for maximum safety, however stakes can be placed at varying distances and locations along the tent to achieve anchoring. Frame tents can also be weighted by concrete blocks or weights where staking is not an option however a large amount of weight is required to do this. Companies that use little weight or even water barrels are putting people's safety in jeopardy when doing so. Frame tents have a higher acquisition cost and are also a bit more labor intensive resulting in a higher rental fee.
The picture to the left is representative of a pole tent with high peeks. You can see the white straps around the perimeter of the tent attached to the stakes creating the tension on the tent.
The tent on the right is a common representation of a classic frame tent. Although this tent is staked in grass the stakes could be moved and placed in different areas along the perimeter to archive proper anchoring.
The picture on the left show hows poles are used to create the structure which a tent top is place over. Notice there is no center poles used to hold the middle of the tent up everything is free standing.
The picture on the right shows how center poles are used to hold the tent top up on a pole tent. The poles are is specific locations and can not be moved or removed after a tent is up.
Let this be a guide to helping you determine the difference between frame tents and pole tents, but please let your tent rental expert be the judge on determining the best tent for your event. Each style tent has its advantages and disadvantage and knowing what they are is where being an expert pays off. Either way, tents can add value to your event no matter which style you choose.