How to Choose Between an Aluminium Marquee and a Steel Pop-up Tent Frame?

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

Extreme Marquees is known for its heavy-duty, weather resilient tents. The most common question that our customers ask when buying a branded marquee, is how to choose between an aluminium marqueeand a steel pop-up tent frame.

Think of a marquee frame as the spine inside your body. It carries maximum load of the body and acts as the focal strength point for rest of the body. Similarly, a marquee frame should be strong enough to withstand rough winds, harsh sunlight, or pouring rain. It should be robust, heavy-duty, and sturdy – and the material it is built with plays a crucial role here.

More manufacturers offer marquees either with steel or aluminium frames. A typical aluminium marquee ranges in between $800 and $2,500 while a steel pop-up tent frame costs somewhere between $350 to $750. Both steel and aluminium have their own strengths and drawbacks.

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You can make an informed decision after considering the following factors:

  1. Strength

Steel is denser than aluminium. They’re also heavier than aluminium. But a branded marqueehas to be lightweight and flexible. In order to bring down the weight, the legs of a steel pop-up tent frame are thinly walled.

Conversely, aluminium is less dense than steel by about 30%. This means adding more of the metal to maintain weight of the aluminium marquee. Not only does an aluminium frame gazebo have a wider leg diameter, but its thickness is generally twice that of a steel frame.This is why steel legs are not as robust as their aluminium counterparts.

  1. Rust-resistance

Rust-prevention coatings as like vaccinations for a branded marquee. Steel gets powder-coated while aluminium is anodised.

Metal powder coating is a dry finishing process. It uses heat and electrostatic charge for adding a secondary layer of finely grounded pigments and resins to create a protective finish. However, this is not a permanent solution. The added layer is susceptible to chipping or flaking off easily, making a steel tent vulnerable to rust.

Anodizing, on the other hand, is an electrochemical process.The exposed layer of aluminium interacts with oxygen in air to form a natural oxide on outer surface of the metal. This layer is extremely hard. Since it is already corroded, it prevents the layers below from rusting. This entire process is an innate quality of aluminium. It doesn’t chip or flake off since it’s part of the metal itself.

Aluminium Marquee

  1. Frequency of use

How often do you plan to use your tent? There’s no point investing in a heavy-duty branded marquee if you intend to use it just for recreational activities. A steel pop-up tent frame should suffice in this case.

However, if you or your team attend expos and tradeshows frequently, then by all means, go for an aluminium marquee. These are designed for frequent use and can handle everyday wear and tear perfectly.

  1. Investment

As mentioned above, steel frame tents are well-suited for casual events. Steel frames are 3 times cheaper than an aluminium frame gazebo. So, if you don’t have commercial use for a marquee, you can buy a steel gazebo. If you want a marquee exclusively for business, then an aluminium branded marquee is the ideal choice for you.

Sometimes, customers ask us to suggest a marquee that is well-fitted for their yard barbecue parties as well as tradeshows. We always recommend buying an aluminium branded marquee.

That’s because with recreational events, there’s always an option to rush inside the house if weather becomes unbearable. However, things are not that simple when you’re out on road promoting or participating in expo in another city. If you have a similar requirement, an aluminium marquee should be your first choice.

Another thing that we get asked is the difference in cost. Tent prices increase with how much metal is used in constructing the body. Steel is denser, so less of it is used for manufacturing a gazebo. Hence, a steel pop-up tent frame is cheaper. Aluminium being a lighter element is used in larger quantities to make marquee frames. This makes an aluminum frame gazebo more expensive than steel gazebos.

That being said, if you opt for a branded marquee, the cost of custom printing also gets added to the overall marquee cost – raising the prices even higher for aluminium marquees. If cost is the biggest concern for you, consider this.

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Would you like to invest $1500 one-time for a reliable structure or buy a new $400 marquee every three years?

An aluminium frame gazebo might seem expensive in the beginning. However, if you think long-term, it is more of an investment.

  1. Connecting accessories

Connecting elements are like joints of a marquee. The materials with which they’re manufactured play a big role determining the overall strength and durability of any marquee.

Steel marquees are designed to be low-cost solutions, so cheaper plastics are used to make connecting joints. This keeps the costs lower. Aluminium frames also use plastic, but that is usually engineered to withstand greater wear and tear. Such frames are medium duty frames.

Reputed sellers, like Extreme Marquees, are aware of the critical role that connectors play to the marquee’s structural integrity. The strongest marquees come with anodised aluminium connectors that are commercial grade. These frames are categorised as heavy-duty marquees.

If you’re planning to buy a branded marquee to use frequently under inclement weather conditions outside, you should invest in a heavy-duty aluminium marquee.

  1. Marquee warranties and replacement costs

Since aluminium models are stronger, they last longer. They come with longer warranties – you’ll find 5-year, 10-year, or even lifetime frame warranties on aluminium models. A steel pop-up tent frame usually carries a few months’ or years’ warranty because they’re not built to last.

Some businesses are comfortable burning through 2-3 steel frames because it will still be cheaper than buying a heavy-duty aluminium frame gazebo. However, the cost of downtime while finding a replacement should also be taken into account.

If a marquee goes out of commission and a new one will not be available before a few weeks, think of how much brand face-time you will lose. We always ask our clients to shop responsibly – and this begins with realising the limitations of a cheaper marquee.

In a nutshell

Here’s a crux of everything that we’ve learnt in this post so far.

COST Economical; made with cheaper material. Costly; as more metal is used to construct the frame.
AVAILABILITY Available across sports and goods stores. Available across sports and goods stores.
WEIGHT 3 times as heavy as aluminium, so less material is used. This is done to keep the frame from becoming too bulky. Very light, compact, and nearly 30% lighter than steel. This means more material is used to build the frame.
RESILINCE Low Very high; heavy-duty
RUST-PROTECTION Powder coated; prone to chipping or flaking off causing rusting. Anodized; does not flake away; rust-resistant.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT Due to a short life, you might need more than one steel tent every couple of years, raising the overall investment. Longer warranties; some even last a lifetime since the frames are durable and robust.

Hopefully, you’ve got your answers now. Extreme Marquees stocks a wide range of steel pop-up tent frame marquees and aluminium frame gazebo marquees. Order your branded marquee right away!