A Life inTents bell tent looks elegant on its own, but placing the tent on wooden platform makes it shine like no other. But it is not only about the appearance, it’s also about function. Building a platform for your bell tent is the #1 recommendation to keep your investment in great condition for many years.
A waterproof bell tent can be set-up for a couple of consecutive weeks without requiring much maintenance. But if you plan on keeping your bell tent up for several weeks/months then you will want to take precautions to make sure that it is well protected from standing and running water. One of the best ways to accomplish this is build a bell tent platform.
A tent platform keeps your tent off of damp ground, speeding up the drying process of the canvas - discouraging the growth of mold in locations where the sun has difficulties reaching. The platform also helps to encourage air circulation around the lower walls and the floor to help dry out damp canvas.
This insurance does come at an added cost, but it is well worth the extra time and investment.
Selecting a Tent Platform Design
Platforms can come many shapes and sizes, and no one design is particularly more advantageous than the other. The most popular shapes of a 16-foot (5-meter) wood bell tent platform are that of 20’x'20’ square, 20’x30’ rectangle, hexagon, hendegon (11-gon), or dodegon (12-sided) - each with or without decks.
The design decision for you will be determined based upon your desired function, form, and finances. The three main drivers behind the cost of a platform are: materials, labor and design.
The larger the platform, the higher the material cost.
Hiring a carpenter certainly requires a higher cost vs. a DIY approach.
The more eccentric your design, the more time it will take to build (see bullet #2).
You may also need to add footings to your platform if your site is not level, possibly even requiring the addition of a stairway to get to the front door.
Tent Deck Material Considerations
Your platform will be exposed to extreme weather conditions that will vary by your location. Sun, rain, snow, and humidity can each erode the condition of your platform over time. It is recommended to use treated lumber and fasteners that are fabricated to withstand changing weather conditions.
Cedar and redwood are two of the better wood choices for bell tent decks, followed by the more economical option of pressure treated wood.
Depending on the size of your platform, quality of the wood, and your location, you can expect that materials could cost between $2,500-$5,000 (depending on what the current market is demanding). Labor will also be variable depending on several factors, but this could range between $1,500-$3,500.
Securing Your Tent Properly
Setting up your tent on the platform generally follows the same process as when putting it up directly on the ground. However, you will want to strategically decide how you will secure the guy lines and the floor of the tent directly to the platform itself.
Securing the floor:
Once you place your tent on the platform, your next step will be to securely fasten the floor to the deck at each of the corners – making sure that the floor is tights and free of wrinkles. Instead of using ground pegs, you will want to use a bolt or screw to anchor each corner of the tent. To ensure that each corner does not slip over the screw or bolt, we would recommend using a washer to hold down the D-ring of each corner of the groundsheet. Another option is to consider a heavy-duty screw hook.
Securing guy lines:
Approximate suggested deck pole location for guy lines
Having a plan to properly secure your guy lines is very important to help maintain the integrity and functionality of your bell tent. We have seen people simply extend their guy lines from the tent and secure them directly into the ground just off of the platform. We caution against taking this approach. Bell tent guy lines are designed to be extended at a very specific angle off of the roof seams when they are set-up on solid ground. The added elevation created with a platform can create unnatural extension of the guy lines, which then may create incorrect pressure on the seams that could result in damaging your tent.
We suggest tying off the guy lines to posts added to the deck. These posts can be 1-2 feet from the wall of the tent, standing about 2 feet tall. This will allow you to extend the guy lines at their intended angle, and also eliminates a potential tripping hazard. For the guy line attached to the door, you could install a taller post, or add a second guy line above the door and tie each off to the posts directly to the left and right of the door.
Bell Tent Platform Design Plans by Life inTents
We have developed some fairly extravagant bell tent plans that you could consider using for your deck. Our tent deck plans are shaped perfectly to the design of a 5-meter (16-foot) and/or a 6-meter bell tent and include a porch off the front door for an awning, stairs, and strong footings. We’re happy to share these for free with purchase of a Life inTents bell tent.
Life intents 5M Bell tent platform plan rendering
Alternatives to a Glamping Tent Platform
If you can’t afford to physically build-out a platform, or would like a quick protective ground barrier, then you could create a raised and flat rock bed to erect your bell tent on top of. We’d suggest using finely ground rock such as decomposed granite or ¼ minus gravel. Frame it in with edging that is about 2 feet off the outside walls of the tent. Then lay down about 1.5”-2” of the material, periodically packing the rock down with every 0.5” layer. This option could be done affordably, with only between $300-$600 worth of material.
Feel free to share your ideas and feedback with us!
Photo credit: Vashon Adventures