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what would be the best/cheapest material to use for the outside of a yurt? this is for burning man if that helps. Answered

I'm going to burning man this year and i plan on making a yurt that is 16' in diameter. i have my wood and my polls and all that stuff but i can't seen to get a strait answer on what is the best material to use for the out side of the yurt. as i mentioned before this is for burning man so i need something that well stay cool in the day and warm at night and is easy to sew together. people have been saying things like vinyl and canvas work but with vinyl i don't know how well that would keep us warm or cold. and with canvas well that stuff is just plain way to expensive. i mean if it comes down to it i could spend the money but i working with a budget of about $100 for the outside. any help would be much appreciated. thank you


you should try to find an old army mess tent, like Korean war era, that's what I'm planning on using for mine, and I got it at a reuse center for $25 because some of the poles were missing. the material is canvas with like a rubber seal coating. the tent its self has 7ft tall walls and the roof covers an area that's about 18-20ft to a side.  check ebay, craigslist, army surplus stores, for $100 you should be able to find something like that

Best of luck!

For anyone interested in this very old thread.... I had the same dilemma last year. I chose atticfoil www.atticfoil.com vapor barrier material. Used monofilament tape and added nylon web strapping and grommets at stress points. I will be using the same cover again this year, though it has started to show signs of wear, with some damage to the reflective surface due to folding, etc. the underlaying plastic tarp material is still solid and in good shape.

My Yurt at BM 2016 small .jpg

1 year ago

Hello future from the future. I am leaving this link here for you. I think I may have found the perfect solution to the Yurt exterior covering delima. We need something that wont cost us our entire savings, is tough that can meet the rigors of the outdoors, and then there is the insulation factor. Well, this stuff meets all three of those with flying colors. It is called Silvertanium reflective Attic Insulation made by Reach Barrier. Home depot as of this date listing here, has it for 169.00 for 250ft, that is enough for any reasonable sized yurt. I think that it could be painted with latex paint on the exterior(maybe?) And with a cotton sheet covering on the inside you would be right as rain. So I am going to give it a try, this stuff is tough as nails, it is not a woven material so it should be waterproof. Check it out here.


A google search turned up this link to Walmart, so this stuff should be around for a while.


The product # is 3023. They make a whole line of products, but I think the one that would be worth looking into is the 3023.



Looking for roof fabric for my small yurt. Can any one help me? My name is Mark.

i have an old (Korean war i believe) mess/bunk tent I'm trying to sell if any body is interested. $100 if it goes to a yurt maker. message me. let me know.


8 years ago

Have you considerd painters drop cloths ? They aren't exactly cheap but they arent all that expensive either and the come in various sizes 4'x15', 5'x20',10x10' etc. You could try posting in the wanted section of craigslist and maybe get lucky to get some already "waterproofed" with different colored paints...

 I just came across this site while in search of a completely irrelevant product, but I think you may do well to give them a call:

Ask them or a local shop if they have something that's maybe discolored or smells funny,  whatever, perhaps you can get some material that will excel at a price that won't interfere with your stress level.

Oh, here is a picture of our yurt:


My husband and I built a yurt with salvaged materials except for the outer cover.  We spent 600 on canvas, which required sewing on an industrial machine.  The outer cover caused a very huge gap in the yurt's completion, having to find a machine.  I understand the difficult position you are in now.  Canvas is the best material to use because it is water-proof and strong.  I can give you a list of places to purchase the specific canvas needed if you decide to go that route.  The canvas is not the same canvas that one can find at a fabric store.  Leaving the roof white keeps the yurt from overheating during the day.

I know of several different people that have covered their yurts with tarps, held on with bungee cords.  They chose to do this temporarily for reasons of urgency.  Tarps do tear easily and they are very noisy in the wind.  A yurt covered in a blue tarp gets very hot during the day.  Tarps do not breath, causing humidity to build up in the yurt.  But they are not expensive and can be cut and reused for something else after they tear. 

I like the bubble-wrap idea!  I think it would be easier to not have bubble-wrap flap in the wind than it is with a tarp, just because it is in smaller pieces and could be more form-fitted.  Clear bubble-wrap on the roof would be good for keeping the heat down during the day.  I'm not familiar with burning man to know what the weather conditions are like during the event.  The only problem that I see is that humidity would build up in the yurt with bubble-wrap if you cook inside the yurt or the weather is wet.  If you only have the yurt up for a short period, perhaps it does not matter if it is humid?

 I lived in a yurt like that one for a few months. It was really pretty nice. The outside covering was a rubberized canvas: waterproof, with very high tensile strength.

So, tarps are out, since they tear too easily. Some bedsheets might actually be strong enough, though. Maybe linen, with high thread count, would have the highest tensile strength.

Since it's Burning Man and historical accuracy is not a concern, maybe you could try bubble wrap. It would definitely help to insulate the yurt, and you'd make lots of friends because people would come by just to pop bubbles for hours on end. Added bonus: No sewing, just a roll or two of duct tape.

Another vote for the bubble wrap.  It's a great insulating material.  Cover the walls over with something opaque and leave the roof covered with just bubble wrap for skylight.

+ 1 Rip stop is exaclty what I came to post !



8 years ago

If you're not too particular about the color, I've seen rip-stop nylon fabric in bulk rolls on eBay  for about three to four dollars a yard.