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Tipi FAQ

General Questions

Can tipis be left up year ’round?
Absolutely. Our 15 ounce TuffStar fabric is your best choice if you are planning on making your tipi a “permanent” structure. It has a durable acrylic coating for protection from sun, rain, dirt, pollution and mildew. It is also flame resistant and marine boatshrunk. From a maintenance perspective, after your tipi has been up for a few months, go inside and push out all of the poles except for the tripod poles. This will keep your tipi cover tight and prevent flapping and wear in the wind. If you see the beginning of any mildew patches, scrub the area with a mild bleach solution (1/4 cup bleach in 2 gallons of warm water). Let stand for five minutes or so then rinse thoroughly with clear water. Make sure fabric is completely dry before storing.

How long will a tipi last?
The tipi poles will easily last a decade or more. The canvas tipi cover is a bit more variable. It could last just a couple of years or nearly as long as your poles. The life of the tipi cover is highly dependent on the quality of fabric you choose, the climate your tipi is located in, how long your tipi is left up and how well you store it when you put it away. Your tipi cover will last longer if it is not in a high UV area or an extremely wet area. It will also last longer if it is not left up year round, but you must be careful to store it completely dry and in a moisture-free area.

Caring for your Earthworks Tipi

How do you store a tipi?
Take down the tipi cover and fold it neatly when it is completely dry in a moisture-free area. Mice and other rodents can make a feast of a stored tipi. You can protect the cover from those little critters by storing it in a good quality plastic trash can with a tight fitting lid. When you store your poles, lay them flat on several boards so they have good air circulation around them.

How long does it take to put up a tipi?
It depends somewhat on the size of tipi you choose, but allow at least 1/2 day to a day with a few friends when you pitch your tipi for the first time. You’ll be able to get it down to a couple of hours after you’ve done it a few times.

Weather and Warmth

Is a tipi waterproof?
Although a tipi is not completely waterproof, the fabrics we use make the tipi cover very water repellent. Our 13 ounce Sunforger and our 15 ounce TuffStar are treated to make the tipi highly water repellent. In addition, the TuffStar has an acrylic coating for added protection. Both are marine boat shrunk which means that they have a very tight weave and shrink less than 2% when your tipi is up. There are a few things you can do to keep things dry. Adjusting the smoke flaps to close or minimize the smoke hole will prevent most rain and snow from entering. Adding an ozan and a liner will divert rain out of the tipi if you need to keep the smoke flaps open for a fire.

Will the tipi withstand strong winds?
The design of the tipi and properly pitching it is generally enough to make sure the tipi stands strong against the wind. The back of your tipi should be pitched into the prevailing winds, typically to the west. The backside of the tipi has a steeper angle–this design creates a brace against the strong winds. If you are in a very exposed area with severe wind, there are a few other things you can do. When you tie the poles together allow the left over rope to dangle to the ground and stake this rope down. You may also want to drill a hole at the bottom of your tipi poles about six inches from the ground. Then drive steel stakes through the holes and into the ground.

Can I have a fire pit in the tipi?
Definitely! A firepit should be located just forward from the center of the tipi, so it is under the smoke opening. You will learn to adjust the smoke flaps (more open or closed, more into the wind or away from it) to draw the smoke best. Think of the smoke flaps like the collar of a coat and angle them to best shelter the opening from the wind. If you plan to have a fire in your tipi, a liner is essential. It works with the outer tipi cover to create a chimney effect to draw the smoke up through the smoke flaps.

Parts of a Tipi

What is a liner?
The tipi liner is an interior cloth wall that insulates and controls airflow in the tipi. A tipi cover alone provides sufficient mild weather shelter but in cool or hot weather a liner is essential. A properly pitched tipi cover is staked a few inches off the ground. The liner hangs from the inside of the poles and extends onto the ground, sealing the bottom of the lodge. Cool outside air is drawn under the cover and channels up through the smoke flaps, taking the smoke out with it.

What is an ozan?
The ozan is an interior drop ceiling or inside rain cover that forms a canopy over the back third of the tipi behind the fire. It holds in heat and shelters the living area below. In the back, it drops down behind the liner to divert moisture out of your tipi. An extended ozan which reaches all the way to the front of the tipi is also available.

How do the smoke flaps work on a tipi?
Both of the smoke flaps have a pocket for the tip of a tipi pole to fit into. These poles may be moved around the edge of the tipi on the outside. This moves the smoke flaps into a position which will enhance airflow up and out of the tipi. You will want to adjust the smoke flaps so that the wind is not blowing into the smoke flap opening of your tipi. So if the wind is coming from the back of your tipi, the smoke flaps and tips of the poles in them should be set so your smoke flaps are open in the same direction as the door. If the wind is coming from the side of the tipi, the flaps should be adjusted to the right or the left so that the wind slides over the flaps instead of directly into the smoke hole.

What are stubbies?
“Stubbies” are large diameter poles that have been cut down. They are intended to keep shipping costs down on larger tipis whose recommended pole length is longer than 27′. They will not stick out of the top of the tipi as far, but will still be safe.

Maintenance

Should the tipi poles be treated with anything?
Treating the tipi poles may extend the life of the poles somewhat. Some people also prefer the look of treated tipi poles. If you are in a low humidity climate, you may paint on a solution made of 1/2 linseed oil and 1/2 mineral spirits. If you are in a humid climate, you may want to substitute a citrus solvent for the mineral spirits. Any commercial wood preservative can also be used to preserve the tipi poles. Some customers like to sand their poles before treating them and smoother poles are better in rainy climates.

Can the tipi cover be painted?
Tipis are often painted with interesting or authentic Native American designs. If you would like to paint your tipi yourself, use an exterior latex paint watered down slightly for ease of painting. If you would like our tipi artist to paint your tipi cover, please call 800.288.3190 to discuss designs and pricing.

What do you do for a floor in a tipi?
The simplest solution for a tipi floor is to just use the ground it is set upon. Most tipi owners, however, choose to place some kind of barier between themselves and the ground. Carpet remnants can be an inexpensive tipi floor cover. The tipi floor cover that you may purchase from us is made from tan khaki canvas that is flame resistant and features a heavy duty mildew resistant treatment suitable for moist ground. Many tipi dwellers prefer to set their tipi up on a deck or with a wood floor inside.

Shipping

How much does it cost to ship a tipi?
The cost of shipping a tipi is dependent on the tipi size you choose and the distance your tipi will be shipped. There are some exceptions, but generally speaking, we ship covers and liners by FedEx Ground and poles by FedEx Freight. They give us a generous volume discount which we pass onto the customer. Tipi fabric items ship out of our shop in Montrose, Colorado for between $40 and $100. Poles usually ship from our Montana pole yard although we do carry a small supply in Montrose. Shipping costs are generally between $100 and $600 for a set, but may run over $1,000 for poles longer than 27′. These require a special truck to accomodate the length. Please feel free to call us at 800.288.3190 for a more accurate shipping estimate.

How long will it take to get my tipi after I order?
Average time between when you place your order and the time we ship the tipi to you is about four weeks. Average shipping time after it leaves our shop is 5 workdays. Most customers will receive their tipi poles a week before the canvas items arrive.

Can I pick my tipi up at the Colorado Yurt Company?
You may pick your tipi up at the Colorado Yurt Company. For most sizes you will need a large pickup truck with a heavy duty steel rack on top or a trailer to accomodate the length and weight of the poles.

 

Call us: 800-288-3190