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April 30, 2021Best In Tents

Different Types Of Party Tent Fabrics

What material is a tent made out of, you ask?

Well, there are plenty of materials available, and it can be helpful to know the differences when planning an event with a commercial tent. All have different qualities, and all serve different functions suited for various applications. Here are some of the pros and cons of different types of material so you can find the best fit for your occasion.


Nylon Tent Material

Nylon is a lightweight fabric popular for backpacking tents. While nylon can be susceptible to rips from wind and debris, backpacking tents are small enough to maintain strength. Nylon offers enough stretch to allow for stress distribution on the small tent panel, making it less likely to tear. Overall, nylon is a good material for small tents but is not a strong choice for larger commercial tents.

Polyester (PVC)

Polyester PVC Tent Material

Like nylon, polyester has a slight stretch; however, it is a stronger material. This strengthened ability to stretch makes it more resistant to the outdoor elements. While polyester is relatively durable, you will still want to think about waterproofing and thread count options based on your planned use. Luckily, these setbacks can easily be solved by coating polyester in PVC (also known as polyvinyl chloride), a protective layer that increases the tent’s protective capabilities.

Ripstop PVC

Ripstop PVC Tent Material

Ripstop PVC is typically seen in commercial tents because it is one of the toughest materials on the market. The scrim fabric is woven together, creating material reinforcement and making ripstop PVC a reliable party tent fabric that will keep everybody at your event protected.

Additionally, the polyvinyl chloride coating increases weather resistance and creates a nice shiny seal, more so than polyethylene tent material. Polyethylene (PE), while a common tent material coating, is lighter weight and does not protect against UV rays as well; that being said, PE is considered a safer plastic environmentally.

Coated Vinyl

Coated Vinyl Tent Material

Vinyl is probably the most commonly used commercial tent material. Coated vinyl results from dip molding, which forms the protective layer over the vinyl with corrosion resistance and greater stability. Vinyl is most often coated in either PVC or PE. Compared to other fabrics, it is the most waterproof option making it ideal for tents to stand strong through inclement weather. While coated vinyl is a pricier option, it can be worth it if your tent will be exposed to the outdoor elements for the long term.

Laminated Vinyl

Laminated Vinyl Tent Fabric

Laminated vinyl is exactly what it sounds like —  vinyl covered in a laminate. The scrim is placed between layers of PVC film then fused together in a laminating machine through heat and pressure. This lamination process increases material weight, UV protection, abrasion resistance, and glossiness. It is fire retardant, water-resistant, and is less costly than coated vinyl. Because of these incredible qualities, laminated vinyl is the most common material you will see used at American Tent.

Cotton Canvas

Cotton Canvas Tent Material

While cotton canvas was relevant years ago, it is far less common to find this material being used in commercial tents today. Cotton is natural and more environmentally friendly than other synthetic materials. The thickness of the cotton creates insulation against outside sounds; however, untreated cotton is not weather resistant, requiring additional precautions. Untreated cotton is a dense, heavy option that can make your set-up and transportation process a bit more difficult than lighter fabrics, but if that is not an issue for you, then the rustic charm of the cotton canvas could do the trick.

Coated Cotton

Coated Cotton Tent Material

Coated cotton, also known as polycotton, has a lot of the same qualities as regular cotton. It is thick and durable, with added insulation and waterproofing capabilities from the coating. Woven cotton is coated with a protective layer either during the creation of this material or afterward. This is a heavy-duty tent fabric, making it much heavier (like untreated cotton) and, though the coating offers weather protection, it is still less water-resistant than other options.

Which Fabric Is Better For Your Tent?

Which Fabric Is Better For Your Tent

It is important to do your research when thinking about what material will best suit your tent needs. The lifespan of tents can depend on the materials used to create them, so knowing the options can be crucial! If you are looking for a good backpacking tent fabric, nylon will be just fine!

However, if you are looking for a commercial-sized tent, you will want stronger material for its larger size. Though strong, uncoated fabric, like cotton canvas, is more susceptible to weather damage. So, if you need your tent to withstand wind and rain, you are definitely going to be best off choosing a coated or laminated material.

At American Tent, we are partial to laminated vinyl due to its trustworthy weather and fire-resistant capabilities, and its beautiful finish; you can’t go wrong!

How To Take Care Of Your Tent Fabric?

How To Take Care Of Your Tent Fabric

Of course, you want to keep your tent in tip-top shape. Make sure you save the box in which your tent came for easy and safe storage later on. At American Tent, we send tents in a special bag for this very purpose!

When you are setting up your tent, lay down a drop cloth to avoid rips from dragging on the ground. Once your tent is up, check the panels for any pinholes or snags. If you notice one, don’t fret! American Tent will send a free patch kit for any blemishes that catch your eye.

Keep your event tent fabric looking meticulous by keeping it clean. Lay your tent down on the dropcloth to brush off dirt and debris, and then simply hose it off! You can create a DIY cleaning solution by mixing four parts warm water, one part vinegar, and light soap as needed.

When your tent is out of commission for a period of time, roll it up like a sleeping bag to slide right back into the protective bag in which it arrived — easy as that! Make sure your tent is completely dry before putting it away for safekeeping, and you are sure to see positive impacts on the longevity of your tent fabric.

Why Choose American Tent?

Quality is of utmost importance when you invest in an event tent. The materials used for your tent will determine how well your tent works, how it looks, and how long you will be able to use it for events. At American Tent, we use the highest-quality fabrics to ensure our party tents are the perfect choice for whatever event you are planning. Buying your event tent from American Tent means you will be getting a high-quality tent that will last years, and you will be able to work with our team to find or create your perfect, custom event tent.


Now that you know more about what a tent is made of, you’ll want to keep your options in mind when purchasing for your next event. If you want to know more about the material offered by American Tent, visit our website and get in touch with us! We can send a Sample Material Kit of our vinyl, colors, graphics, and finishes so you can see for yourself!

P.S. Stay tuned...American Tent will be offering more options soon!

Tony Ehrbar's headshot

Tony Ehrbar

Owner & CEO

Tony's entrepreneurial spirit is woven into the fabric of American Tent (an Inc 5000 company), shaped by his experience running a successful event venue & tent rental service. His recognition as the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019 is a testament to his impact & dedication to his community. As the Co-founder and CEO of Renegade Plastics, Tony is leading initiatives in the tent industry to integrate eco-friendly, recyclable materials. Contributing as a board member for the Advanced Textiles Association (ATA) & the Green Bay Area Public Schools Foundation and being featured by Entrepreneur, Oracle, & Modern Weddings, Tony plays a pivotal role in enhancing the growth and success of the textile industry.

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