Yurts have come a long way since their inception in early Mongolia. Originally called “gers,” the Mongols used pliable birch or willow to create the wood lattice frame, and sheep or yak hides to cover the exterior.
Today’s yurt enthusiasts have a fairly large and improved variety of brands, fabrics, materials, and styles to choose from.
Let’s take a look at these new materials and see the strengths and weaknesses of fabric yurts versus wood yurts.
There’s no shortage of fabric yurts on the market today. These “modern” yurts take the original Mongolian ger design and apply new-age technology, fabrics, and manufacturing. The result is a lightweight, circular tent structure that is highly weatherproof and easy to assemble.
Fabric yurts can be assembled by just a few people in one or two days. Since they mostly consist of canvas/vinyl, collapsible wood lattice, and wood rafters, they can be packed down quickly and easily for transportation. However, unless the intended use is portability like the nomadic tribes of the Mongolian steppe, a more permanent fabric yurt installation requires a deck or concrete slab foundation. This step is costly in both money and time. Then, the yurt’s fabric is only built to last 10-15 years depending on the quality of the fabric and the environmental conditions.
Another benefit of fabric yurts versus wood yurts is the cost. The basic kit for a fabric yurt is much cheaper than a wood yurt kit. However, the basic fabric yurt kits come with clear plastic windows that open from the outside, lower quality canvas, no insulation, and no foundation. A permanent deck or concrete slab foundation can be costly in both time and money. To transform a fabric yurt into a comfortable yurt home, many expensive upgrades are required.
Pros of Fabric Yurts
- Lower base cost
- Lightweight / Portable
- Easy to assemble / disassemble
- More similar to traditional yurts
Cons of Fabric Yurts
- Lower durability
- Costly upgrades
- Need a separate, permanent foundation
- Vinyl windows that use velcro/zippers on the outside
- Prone to molding in wet climates
- Difficult to cool in hot climates
- Wood lattice creates difficulties for window openings and is not weight-bearing
- Reflective insulation does not retain heat
- Limited color options
Yurts without canvas walls, also called hard-sided yurts or solid-walled yurts, are a more recent development within the world of yurts. Wooden yurts come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. They can be simple DIY yurt kits similar to a fabric yurt, or they can be fully custom-built round yurt homes.
Some wood yurt kits come as prefab panels, so the structure does not take much longer than a fabric yurt to set up. These panels often come pre-insulated from the manufacturer.
Hard-sided yurts also come with a variety of roofs. Some use a Durolast vinyl fabric for the roof cover, which is the high-quality standard in the yurt industry. This type of roof maintains the traditional yurt styling and allows the roof to be easily installed. More permanent solid-walled yurt homes use traditional house roofing materials, such as metal or shingles.
In general, hard-sided yurts are better than fabric yurts for long-term or 4-season living. The wooden building materials are more durable, and real insulation makes them more comfortable and less expensive to heat and cool in a wide variety of climates.
Pros of Wood Yurts
- 2-3 times more durability / longevity
- Real insulation for better hot and cold weather performance
- Glass, opening house windows
- Wood walls are weight-bearing and useful
- Wood yurt kits can be assembled in a matter of days
- Some kits include an integrated platform
- Unlimited color options
Cons of Wood Yurts
- Less portable / semi-permanent
- Less traditional. Some are more similar to a round stick-built house than a yurt
- More expensive
The Best of Both Worlds
A Freedom Yurt Cabin combines the best features of fabric and wood yurts.
First and foremost, it has an integrated platform system. This reduces the time and expense of building the yurt from the ground up. The platform system is placed upon concrete pavers and fastened to the ground with earth anchors, so it can be as temporary or permanent as necessary.
The Yurt Cabin is the first wood yurt kit to be priced competitively with similarly-equipped fabric yurts. View our Yurt Cost Comparison Chart to see for yourself.
The entire wooden yurt kit can be assembled by 3-4 people in 3-5 days. Then, once assembled, the Yurt Cabin is built to last 2-3 times longer than fabric yurts.
The Yurt Cabin keeps traditional yurt strength and style with its Durolast vinyl topcover, Sunbrella valance and awning, steel tension cable, and 360° opening dome. The standard Yurt Cabin package includes low-e, double-pane glass windows, an insulated fiberglass door, and real insulation in the roof and walls (floor insulation is optional).