Designing Your Yurt

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Designing Your Albion Yurt

Article accredited to Boldscan

If you’ve had a copy of our Yurt Buyers Guide you may have more questions than you started out with, which is where this next guide may help.
The idea is to talk through the various ideas, adaptations and add-ons we can offer you to design your yurt to suit you.
Lets start from the ground up and go from there.

Custom Yurt

Where and how are you going to use your yurt?

Yurts can be permanently sited, completely mobile for camping or used as exhibition stands stalls, mobile theatres and many other things so you need to work out how you want to use your yurt and design it accordingly.
If permanently sited, its position needs to be carefully thought out. Under trees it’s always damp and reduces the life of the canvas. Continuing with the damp theme, avoid siting your yurt too close to rivers and streams or even hedges, even dips in the ground can hold the damp.
Exposure to the full elements can be a problem, on the sea front for instance or the crest of a hill. Yurts are very stable but still can be blown over in very strong winds without additional guying. Decks work best in exposed situations, with the stanchions concreted in and the yurt securely attached to the deck, keep the deck low in these situations too.

Deck or Groundsheet?

Decks can be expensive to build correctly, but are very worthwhile. Groundsheets are an instant easy to transport, relatively cheap flooring system.
You can make a deck to the size of your yurt or larger to give a seating area. If you make a large deck you will need some way to prevent rain water running into the yurt, the simplest way to do this is to use a groundsheet with a welded wall. This means you can also take your yurt away with you if you wish.
Decks made to size need to be sealed from the ground to prevent boards opening up and allowing warm damp air to be drawn up into the yurt. Its best to use marine grade ply for this and perhaps insulate the floor as well – the old camping principle of more insulation under you than over you equally applies here.

Size of Yurt?

Think carefully about the size you would like, and remember that going up in size from 12ft diameter to 14ft diameter say is not simply an additional 2ft, but another 40 square feet of area. See the chart below to compare some common sizes; this chart is based on Albion yurt dimensions which are fairly standard British Yurt dimensions.
It’s also worth considering purchasing the next size of yurt up from the one you think you could manage with, there’s nothing worse than wishing you had just a little bit more space!

Yurt Diameter Area
No 10 3.2 m 10ft 6” 8 m 2 86 ft 2
No 12 3.74 m 12ft 3” 11 m 2 115 ft 2
No 14 4.27 m 14ft 14.31 m 2 154 ft 2
No 16 4.8 m 15ft 10” 18 m 2 200 ft 2
No 18 5.35 m 17ft 6” 22.5 m 2 240 ft 2
No 20 6.14 m 20ft 2” 29.6 m 2 315 ft 2
No 21 6.3 m 20ft 8” 32 m 340 ft 2
No 22 6.67 m 21ft 11” 35m 2 380 ft 2
No 24 7.32 m 24ft 42 m 2 452 ft 2
N0 24 6 7.47 m 24ft 6” 44 m 2 472 ft 2
No 26 8 m 26ft 3” 50 m 2 541 ft 2
No 28 8.55 m 28 ft 57.4 m 2 616 ft 2
No 30 9.1 m 29ft 10” 65 m 2   700 ft 2

 

Height and Headroom

Most people are going to be happy with a standard height yurt, giving about 5ft 8 inch clearance across the space (1.725m) and a similar door height. For commercial yurts its worth upgrading to a higher walled yurt. A simple 8 inch (200mm) increase in wall height gives 6ft 2 inch (1.88m) clearance for door and headspace, a further 8 inches (200mm) gives a huge 6ft 10 inches (2.08m) clearance, obviously the overall heights will increase accordingly. The reason for the 8inch (200mm) increments is down to the setting of the trellis which is based on our standard  16.5 inch (420mm) frequency trellis. Closer set trellis can be made for stronger, heavier yurts, which will also increase the amount of roof ribs.

Doors

Albion Canvas supply a variety of doors and doorways to suit your needs. Standard doors are 2 trellis widths wide (16.5 inches x 2 = 33 inches) and 5ft 6” high (clearance). Higher doors need to have a higher trellis to prevent too much distortion in the roof line.

Door width can be increased to a 3 x 16.5 inch = 49.5 inch wide door. The wider doors are great for commercial use, allowing two people to pass in the doorway. An even wider door frame can be produced, but hanging doors on this frame can be too bulky, if you need more door space, add more doors.

Additional doors are useful for traffic flow and as fire exits. We recently designed a yurt for Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall which was for use as a stall. It had a single rear door access and then twin wide doors at the front set about 3 metres apart. This was to allow for a flow of customers through the space with a central dividing counter. The 3 metre width of wall also had a large window as a shop window (high walled yurt).

The door frames can be simply covered with a zipped canvas door, or have wooden doors and locks fitted. We usually advise twin leaf doors, but single doors are fine in standard width door frames. The canvas doors are simple and light to transport, but the wood doors add a real feeling of security. Wide door frames can only have twin leaf doors fitted.

Some people like to have stable doors, but I find this puts too much strain on the doorframe and can push it out of true making closing the door difficult.

Most of our doors are fitted to open internally, although we can make them externally opening if you wish, but you will need to make some provision for securing the door when open to prevent the wind banging the doors about.

Joining Yurts

We have joined many yurts together over the years to give additional rooms without breaking up the beautiful circular space. Having an additional smaller yurt joined to a main yurt gives you an extra room ideal as a bedroom for children if you are renting your yurts out. This means Mum and Dad can put the kids to bed and sit up enjoying a quiet evening with friends without disturbing the children –  a big seller if you’re on a fixed site.

We have joined yurts as bedrooms, bathrooms, and even built an entire yurt ‘house’, with bathroom, kitchen, two bedrooms and a living room.

Any sized yurt can be joined to any other sized yurt, and can be joined directly or with a corridor

Type and colour of canvas cover

Standard colour is ‘natural’ an unbleached white and has a number of advantages over the coloured canvas. In short the white canvas allows more light to pass through, is cooler in the hot weather and can be easily decorated. The negatives of the white canvas is it does show the dirt, but there are various cleaning products that work extremely well and are canvas and environmentally safe.

The next most popular colour is ‘sand’, a mid brown canvas, and then there is the ‘olive’ canvas. Both the olive and the sand tone the appearance of the yurt down but do make the inside very dark and hot in the sun. The heating can be reduced by the use of insulation and the light can be improved with a white liner and additional windows. Other colours are available to special order subject to a minimum run of 1000 metres – so you need to order a few yurts to achieve this!

The canvas is available in two types – pure cotton and 50/50 polyester cotton. The colours sand and olive are only usually available in polycotton, but olive is occasionally available in pure cotton and we do have the sand made up in cotton if there is a large enough order.

The cotton is softer and easier to handle and ‘seals’ quicker than the polyester cotton. When we make up a canvas cover we pierce it with thousands of little stitch holes. These seal up when the tent has been wetted and then dried but may cause an initial leak. In cotton this happens after one wetting, with polycotton this can take several wettings to achieve. This can be speeded along by painting the seams with Nikwax Cotton Proof to seal them.

The advantage of the polycotton is that it is stronger for its weight than cotton is, so useful in larger yurts.

The cotton is also available in two weights – standard 12oz (393gsm) or 15oz (509gsm). All prices are for standard 12oz canvas which is a good all round canvas. However for longer term use the 15oz is stronger and more durable and less likely to ‘wick’ when used in conjunction with liners. More on this under ‘liners’.

All our canvas is sold with a 3 part proof as standard.  Water resistant proofing, rot inhibitor and fire retardant. The fire retardant is there for your safety and to protect your investment. Non fire retardant  canvas will burn at 3 mph on a dry day, that may not seem very fast but that’s a 6 metre yurt in about 3 minutes!

Windows

We can fit various styles of window in your yurt. The simplest is a straightforward clear PVC window material sewn into the canvas. Curtains can be hung on the inside. Any shape or size you like – we’ve done round windows, long rectangular picture windows, heart and moon shapes, and even gothic arches!

Then there is the opening netted window. This has a mosquito net sewn into the canvas, with a zip down outer flap. The flap can be rolled up or pegged out to allow airflow on a wet day without letting in the weather. This flap can be plain canvas or can have a clear PVC section sewn in so that it still works as a window when closed.

The fanciest window is a framed opening timber window. This has a wooden frame and fits into the trellis wall the same as a door, but it has a twin opening window with acrylic glazing.

Porch

The addition of a porch makes a real difference to the whole door area and warmth and use of the yurt. Even the simplest porch protects the door area in wet weather and means you can leave the door open if it’s warm and wet and get no rain in (provided it’s not blowing straight into the door). They also help prevent turning the area in front of the door into a quagmire in wet weather. Simple rough timber duckboards are also a big help.

Complete box style porches give you somewhere to store your wet gear and boots, and have a zipped door into them.

All porches are easily fitted and removed with zipped roof attachments, which are angled and shingled to shed the rain.

Liners

The beauty of the yurt is the ability to insulate and line the structure to give added colour and warmth.

We offer a number of liner options from simple coloured cotton liners through to full felt liners.

Before talking about the different types of liner I want to go back to the issue mentioned earlier about the ‘wicking’ of canvas. If an absorbent non proofed fabric is against an outer proofed fabric and the inner fabric becomes damp, it will ‘wick’ water straight through the outer layer despite the proofing. This is why it’s important to check your liners regularly particularly in long term poor weather. To help prevent this happening I recommend using the heavier 15oz canvas with liners. Its extra thickness reduces the chance of wicking enormously. I also recommend you re-proof your canvas yearly with a permanently sited yurt, and consider a ‘winter cover’.

Felt Liners are a thick ‘felted’ wool fabric that give amazing insulation and are the traditional covering of yurts in Central Asia. Our felt is British wool and manufactured in the UK using a machine process called needle felting. This gives a beautiful even thickness creamy white wool fabric which we cut and sew to fit each individual yurt. The felt is about 12 – 15mm thick (½ inch) and is very bulky so not for use with a very mobile yurt. I recently fitted some felt to a yurt and with the temperature outside of about – 5 degrees we were snug inside with a temperature of around 23 degrees (wood burner heated). Each liner is made in separate overlapping sections to make it easier to handle.

The felt can be a little fluffy and dusty for some people so we also offer lightweight cotton liners to place inside the felt and keep the wool fibres out (this isn’t a big problem). The cotton liners are available in 30 different colours and we can also offer an organic cotton liner.

Serge liners are a woven wool liner, thinner than the felt (about 2 mm thick) but lighter and more portable than the felt. The serge is available in 22 colours from ‘natural’ through to gorgeous deep blues and crimson. The beauty of the serge, other than the colour, is its portability, so you can take it away with your yurt. It’s mainly used to reduce the light passing through the white canvas but without making the yurt too dark. This can be backed up with modern reflective silverised bubble wrap style building insulation between the serge and the canvas for added insulation with long term sited yurts.

Winter Covers

The good old British winter can really take the toll out of a canvas tent so we have come up with a protective layer for the winter months. Albion Canvas are the only yurt company to offer this innovation (as far as I am aware!). In short the winter cover is a simple one piece lightweight pull over cover. It is a man made fabric dark green in colour and breathable. We make it over large to allow air to circulate between the layers and recommend you check regularly for no build up of damp. The fabric is extremely water resistant and easy to fit – about 10 minutes to put on and 10 to take off, and can be made as a simple bag cover or with access doors. This cover when used correctly will extend the life of you main canvas considerably. Windows can be fitted to line up with existing windows in your yurt.

Wood Burning Stoves

Probably the single greatest selling point and attraction of the yurt is the wood burning stove. To be able to spend time in your yurt whatever the weather with your feet up in front of the fire, a good book and cup of tea (or something stronger!) well it’s hard to beat.

There are all sorts of types and prices of stove available but you need to make sure you get the right size and type for your yurt.

If you are mobile with your yurt you want an efficient but lightweight stove, and our stoves fit the bill. Made by hand locally from new and recycled steel they are relatively light and will stay in overnight (except the mini box and twig stove which are too small to stay in).

In a fixed situation we offer the same quality of stove but with the addition of a brick lining. This makes the stove heavier but more efficient and longer and steadier burning.

The position of the stove in your yurt needs to be considered carefully with regard to the way you intend to use your space.

A centrally placed stove is the simplest, safest and easiest to do. This is because the flue (or chimney) needs to be higher than the yurt to prevent down drafts blowing smoke back into your yurt. With the stove positioned centrally the yurt itself can support that long length of pipe, the heat will be radiated evenly and the stove is the maximum distance away from your frame.

The problem with the centrally placed stove for some people is it breaks up the central space, so they want the stove over to one side. We can do this with a specially angled flue collar to take the flue out through the yurt roof closer to the wall. You will need to either guy the flue out externally or screw the flue to the stove and the stove to the floor slab. This is to prevent the long external section of flue acting as a lever in high winds and pushing the stove over. You will also need a protective backing for the stove to prevent heat damage to your yurt. This can be done simply with a steel plate or fire proof board, which you can then paint or tile decoratively. This will also help reflect heat back into the space.

Carpeting

We can offer two options on carpeting at the moment, either our lightweight jute camping carpets or the heavier coir matting.

The jute is relatively light, folds up easily and is very portable, giving a quick finish to your yurt. The jute can be tucked under the trellis to fix it into place.

The coir is only really for permanent situations, it is heavy bulky and very tough but does look fantastic on the floor, although it can be a little difficult to clean.

Well thats about all for now that I can think of. I hope you find this article useful. If you would like to talk to someone about your yurt plans, do please give us a call on 01364 649101 for advice or to discuss a potential order. No pressure sales, just lots of enthusiasm and knowledge from 15 years of trading and a lifetime of camping.