How to Build a Tent Cabin

by Shellie Braeuner
Large tent cabins can make family gatherings easier.

Large tent cabins can make family gatherings easier.

A tent cabin is similar to a regular tent in that is it usually made of some kind of fabric, it is lightweight, and portable. However, tents are small. Some are so tiny that there is only room for the camper and the sleeping bag. Even larger models rarely have enough room for the average person to stand upright. A tent cabin is large. Often following the same block construction of a small house, a tent cabin can be large and some even have two rooms. These facilities are big enough to accommodate tables, cots, even indoor lighting. They can be expensive to purchase. But with a little effort, they can be made.

Building the Cabin Frame

  1. Clear a 6 by 8 foot space on the ground. Make sure the area is flat and free from rocks, roots and depressions. Lay one of the 12 by 8 foot tarps on the ground.

  2. Slide two of the T connectors onto the end of two of the six foot pvc pipes. Slip a four foot pipe into the opposite hole of the T joint on both sides. Put two of the 90 degree elbow joints on the bottom.

  3. Lay a 6 by 8 foot tarp on the ground. Place a long piece on either side of the tarp with the free holes of both joints facing upward.

  4. Cut the rope into four equal pieces. Starting at the bottom of the trap, thread the ropes through the grommets on the tarp and around the pvc pipe. Continue to wrap the rope all the way up the six foot pipe. Stop just above the T joint.

  5. Bend the four foot pipes toward each other and connect with the 45 degree joint. Wrap the corners of the tarp around the top of the triangle. Use a bungee cord in each corner grommet and attach to the side of the panel.

  6. Repeat with the rest of the T joints and the rest of the four and six foot pvc pipes to make the second panel.

  7. Stand both panels up and attach them together with two of the eight foot pipes into the empty hole of the T joint. Place two more 8 foot pipes in the empty elbow joints at the bottom.

  8. Slide the last two elbow joints onto the last 8 foot pipe. You can glue these if you wish. Hook the elbow joints onto the peak of the triangles. Bungee the peak of your roof securely in place.

Covering Your Tent Cabin

  1. Cover the side panels with the 6 by 8 tarps. Hang them from the eight foot pipes using the bungee cords. Thread the bungee cords through the rope on the side panels. Leave one corner open, or closed with only one bungee cord to allow people access.

  2. Cover the top with the second 8 by 12 tarp. Bungee the sides to the top eight foot pipes.

  3. For added protection from the wind, pull the bottom tarp up and bungee the grommets from the roof tarp to the grommets from the ground tarp. You will need three and four foot bungees to make a secure connection. Be sure to fold back the tarp near the entrance so that no one trips.

  4. To move your tent cabin, take off the tarps and the eight foot pipes. You can store the side panels already assembled. Or, if storage is an issue, take them apart.

Items you will need

  • 2 8 by 12 foot tarps
  • 4 1-1/2 inch pvc T joints
  • 6 1-1/2 inch pvc 90 elbows
  • 2 1-1/2 inch pvc 45 elbows
  • 5 1-1/2 inch 8 foot pvc pipe
  • 6 1-1/2 inch 6 foot pvc pipe
  • 4 1-1/2 inch 4 foot pvc pipe
  • 5 6 by 8 foot tarp
  • 60 feet of rope
  • 25 - 30 1-foot bungee connectors
  • 20 3 to 4-foot bungee connector (optional)


  • When disassembling the side panels, simply loosen the ropes holing the six foot pipes in place and slide the pipes free. When you wish to re-assemble your tent cabin, it is an easy task to slip the pipe through the rope loops and assemble the pipes.

About the Author

Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.

Photo Credits

  • une tente berbère image by MONIQUE POUZET from Fotolia.com