2023 Ultimate Guide to Durable Warehouse Buildings: Big Tents, Army Tents & More


Table of Contents

In today’s fast-paced industry, the demand for durable, efficient, and cost-effective warehouse buildings has never been higher. Whether you’re a business owner looking to expand your storage capabilities or a project manager in charge of setting up a temporary construction site, the type of warehouse building you choose can make or break your operation. This comprehensive guide aims to walk you through the various types of durable warehouse buildings available in 2023, factors to consider when making your selection, installation and maintenance tips, and some case studies that demonstrate successful implementations.

Types of Durable Warehouse Buildings

Several common types of durable warehouse buildings are detailed in this section:

Big Tents

One of the most cost-effective and versatile options for adding warehouse space is commercial-grade big tents. These large tent structures provide spacious interiors at a fraction of the cost of conventional construction. Big tents can be set up quickly on vacant land or parking lots near your existing facilities.

Made from durable vinyl-coated polyester or PVC materials, big tents are designed to withstand heavy winds, rain, and snow. The fabric itself is fire retardant and UV-treated. With around-the-clock temperature control and lighting, your inventory is well protected. Most big tents have minimal columns inside, maximizing usable square footage.

Army Tents

Army tents are a military-grade option for extremely rugged and secure field warehouse structures. These tents are engineered to meet the harsh demands of military operations in difficult climates.

The thick canvas fabric of army tents is highly tear and abrasion-resistant. Thermal coatings and multiple staked tie-down points provide stability in storms. Army tents come equipped with heaters, ventilation, and power distribution. The interiors are adaptable with shelving units and partitions to suit your storage needs.

With their rugged builds, army tents are ideal temporary warehouse buildings for remote areas or disaster relief situations. They provide reliable and protective storage space.

Steel Buildings

For a permanent, durable warehouse solution, steel buildings are a top choice. Pre-engineered steel buildings are designed for quick and economical construction. The structural steel frame assembles rapidly, and the metal exterior finish is highly customizable.

Steel warehouses are engineered to be incredibly sturdy, meeting snow, wind, and seismic codes in your area. The rigid steel structure requires less maintenance than standard warehouses. With adequate insulation, steel buildings maintain comfortable interior warehouse environments.

Though steel buildings have higher upfront costs, their durability provides lasting value. They can expand your operations for decades to come.

Fabric Structures

One innovative modern option for durable warehouses is tensioned fabric structures. They provide large, column-free interiors at competitive costs.

These buildings consist of a rigid steel frame and a tensioned outer fabric membrane. The fabric is durable, UV-resistant PVC. Since fabric structures have no interior columns, they maximize usable floor space. Daylighting panels allow abundant natural light throughout the interior.

Fabric warehouses require minimal foundations since the fabric membrane bears the weight. The structures can be permanent or temporary, providing adaptable warehouse space. The lightweight materials and modular design also simplify relocation.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Durable Warehouse Building

Material Quality

The quality of the materials used in the warehouse building is critical for durability. Look for commercial or industrial-grade fabrics, steel, and other materials designed to withstand the specific climatic conditions of your location. The materials should resist degradation from ultraviolet light, moisture, high winds, and large temperature swings. Fire retardancy is also essential for safety, so choose materials that meet local codes. Pest control can be a concern in warehouses, so materials should limit infestation risks and be non-toxic. Consult with qualified suppliers to select materials with warranties that provide lasting protection against the elements.

Size and Scalability

Carefully assess both your current and future space needs when sizing the warehouse structure. Providing some room for growth can prevent the expense of relocating in just a few years. Look for modular or expandable systems that allow gradual, incremental expansion. For example, additional big tent segments can join the main structure. Some steel and fabric buildings are designed for straightforward expansions as well. Starting smaller also conserves initial costs. Just ensure the chosen building can scale to meet realistic volume growth for your business.

Local Building Codes

All warehouse buildings must comply with zoning laws and building codes for your location. Industrial structures often have specific regulations that factor into the design. Your supplier should ensure the construction meets all wind load, seismic bracing, fire safety, energy efficiency, and other requirements. Some buildings, like tents, may face restrictions or permit delays. Plan for extra lead time and costs to obtain permits and inspections. Working with an experienced industrial building company simplifies compliance. They’ll handle permitting to deliver a turnkey-certified structure.

Budget Constraints

To choose the most suitable warehouse building within budget constraints, get accurate cost estimates for all aspects of the project. The building itself is just one component. Other costs include site preparation, foundations, delivery, utility hookups, doors/windows, insulation, fire suppression systems, and lighting or HVAC systems. Don’t overlook the costs for permitting, construction, and ongoing maintenance. Compare total lifecycle costs between options like tents, steel buildings, and fabric structures. With realistic budgeting, you can select the building that fulfills operational needs with the best return on investment.

Case Studies: Successful Implementations of Durable Warehouse Buildings

Big Tents for Seasonal Overflow

A major retailer struggled with overflow inventory during holiday peaks. They opted for big tent structures to rapidly expand operations in November and December each year. The extra 120,000 square feet oftentimes meant the difference between delighted customers and missing out on sales.

After researching suppliers, they chose a series of high-quality vinyl tents. With expert crews, the tents were up and operational within a week. This agility allowed scaling up precisely when needed. Once peak season ended, the tents quickly came down until the next holiday rush.

Steel Building Expansion

A small Indiana manufacturer was growing rapidly. They wanted to double the size of their facility from 50,000 to 100,000 square feet. Exploring options, they chose prefabricated steel buildings for the expansion. This allowed for the additional cost-effective, modern warehouse space in just months.

Working with an experienced steel building provider, they erected a state-of-the-art facility adjacent to their existing plant. The durable steel structure will serve their manufacturing needs for decades to come. The rapid expansion supported increased production and profits.

Army Tents for Hurricane Relief

After a major Atlantic hurricane devastated Haiti, relief agencies required immediate warehouse structures. Army tents provided crucial, secure, climate-controlled storage for food, water, medical supplies, and shelter.

The rugged military-grade canvases withstood ongoing heavy winds and rains. The flexibility to partition interior spaces allowed for efficient organization of inventory. When the recovery transitioned to permanent rebuilding, the army tents were disassembled and shipped to the next crisis area.

Fabric Warehouses for Cost-Effective Expansion

A Tennessee auto parts distributor needed to expand during the busy summer months leading up to the fall manufacturer ramp-up. Seeking affordable solutions, they chose tensioned fabric structures to add climate-controlled space.

Working with a fabric building provider, they quickly erected 30,000 square feet of new warehouse adjacent to their main facility. The lightweight PVC materials reduced construction timelines and foundation needs. After seasonal use, the fabric warehouses can be disassembled and possibly relocated to other sites as needs change.

Installation and Maintenance of Durable Warehouse Buildings

Proper installation and ongoing maintenance are crucial to maximize the performance and lifespan of your durable warehouse structure. The installation process and maintenance needs vary by building type:

Big tents: Installation and Maintenance

For big tents, a level site is required, with reinforced concrete footings to anchor the tensioned guy wires and frame securely in place. Experienced crews can fully install a commercial big tent structure in 2-3 days. Larger tents may require 4-5 days for complete installation. Consult your building provider for any special equipment required on-site during installation, such as cranes or forklifts. During the installation process, all components are tightened and tensioned to specification to ensure wind resistance. All fabric panels are also thoroughly inspected for any flaws or damage. For maintenance, wash the tent fabric every 1-2 years using commercial-grade cleaners and water. Check closely for any abrasions, lesions, or UV damage during cleaning. Re-coat the fabric with flame retardant treatments as needed per the manufacturer’s specifications. Inspect the structural framework yearly for any signs of bending, corrosion, loose fasteners, or related issues. Address any problems immediately to avoid structural failures.

Army tents: Installation and Maintenance

Army tents require a level site with surface grading and gravel or timber foundations. Concrete footings are optional. Installation time ranges from 5-7 days for a complete assembly and fit out, including interior storage components. Larger complexes may take 2-3 weeks to be fully installed. The heavy canvas materials are tightly stretched and secured to specification. All liners, insulation, and accessories are installed by trained crews. For maintenance, re-treat the canvas with high-quality water sealants every 2-3 years to maintain water resistance. Check for any mildew or leaks during the treatment process. Inspect the ropes, tie-downs, poles, and other structural components at least annually for any wear, damage, or corrosion issues. Replace any compromised elements immediately. For integrated heating and electrical systems, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines for vent cleaning, filter changes, inspections, and related servicing.

Steel buildings: Installation and Maintenance

Steel buildings require reinforced concrete slab foundations and footings poured to specification first. The steel frame and roofing panels are then bolted into place and aligned squared. Wall panels, insulation, and accessories follow. Doors, windows, and final fittings are installed once the main structure is stabilized. Total installation time is usually 4-6 weeks. For maintenance, inspect roof and wall panels yearly for any leaks, loose fasteners, surface rust, or related issues. Reseal or replace compromised sections as needed. Lubricate and tighten any loose bolts or fasteners on the building framework. Check welds closely for cracking or weakness. Repaint as needed to protect the exterior steel from excessive sun and moisture exposure over time.

Fabric structures: Installation and Maintenance

For fabric structures, compacted gravel pads or concrete perimeter strip foundations are typical for anchoring. Once poured, the steel frame is installed, followed by tensioned fitting of the fabric membrane panels. Total install time is 2-4 weeks. Maintenance involves cleaning the membrane yearly with commercial-grade cleaners and then reapplying UV and water-resistant treatments. Inspect fabric panels closely during cleaning for any tears, seam failures, UV damage, or other flaws. Patch or replace compromised sections immediately. Check the interior and exterior steel components annually for rust, bending, loose connections, or related issues. Address any problems promptly to avoid structural failures.

Following the manufacturer’s maintenance guidelines carefully is key to maximizing the lifespan of any building. Keep detailed logs of all inspections, repairs, and treatments performed. This provides insight into maintenance trends to prevent major issues proactively. Investing in proper installation and scheduled upkeep will extend the service life and return on investment of your durable warehouse structure.


Durable warehouse buildings enable businesses to optimize fulfillment as market needs shift. As your operations grow, structures like big tents, army tents, steel buildings, and fabric warehouses offer versatile, high-performing solutions.

With creative utilization of these buildings, you can maximize productivity and profitability during periods of intense consumer demand. Carefully research options and providers to choose buildings with the right specifications, quality, and value. Investing in the ideal durable structures will support your long-term goals for scalability and lasting growth.

Consider the unique advantages of each building type as you evaluate options to expand warehouse space. By understanding these fast, flexible building solutions, you can acquire the facilities your business needs to thrive now and for years to come.

You'll enjoy these posts

Shelter's 30x30m transparent event tent in Georgia, a harmonious blend of aesthetics and durability, offers an immersive experience, crafting timeless memories under the star-draped sky for weddings and celebrations.
Shelter's 20x30m event tent in Mexico creates opulent environments for 400 guests, embodying versatility and crafting memorable moments in the vibrant cultural tapestry.
Taiwan's FamilyMart revolutionized retail with a 12x15m event tent—a blend of transparency and security. Adaptive, immersive, and impactful, it crafted a lasting community legacy, redefining retail dynamics.
Looking for the best wedding tent supplier? Consider Shelter Structures, a trusted brand offering a variety of tents including big and durable options. With experience in supplying army tents, warehouse buildings, temporary structures, and airplane hangars, they have the expertise to meet your needs. Check out their blog for more information.

Explore our other product series

Send Us a Message

We are not only a supplier, but also
experts in space solutions

Contact Us

Drag files here or browse for
the above files

Make On-Demand Space Solutions Easier, Faster

SHELTER has a great team of skilled architects ready to support your project or Event at any time.

When you’re ready to start your next business, get in touch with us now, and our architects will get back to you with a quote as soon as possible.

Phone Number