Marquee Weighting Guide

January 20, 2020
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Marquee Weighting Guide

Over the last 15 years, we've seen a lot of marquees get damaged in weather. However, interesting the majority of damage (well over 95%) that we've seen has been because owners have not properly secured their marquees to the ground - not because the structures themselves have failed.

It is extremely important to secure marquees correctly with one of the following methods and more weight is required depending on the wind speeds that the marquee is being used in.

Cast Iron Plates

Folding Marquees With Cast Iron Weights
The cast iron plates can be stacked to provide as much hold down as required for the wind speed

Pros

Known weight - excellent for council events
Hard wearing
Easy to increase weight
No maximum weight

Cons

Most expensive weighting solution
Expensive to freight

Cast iron leg weights are our preferred method of weighing a marquee down and will always be our recommendation. These are what will be required by councils and markets as there is no dispute about their hold down equivalent.

Our leg weights are sold in 15kg sets, but made in two 7.5kg plates to meet OH&S carry limits. They also have a built in carry handle that makes transporting and loading of the leg weights easy. 

Simple and easy to use

There is no sand to find, or water to fill, these are a simple and easy method to weighing your marquee down.

Just set up your marquee, and then slip these over the feet. Stack each second layer at a 180 degree turn to interlock the weights over the foot plates. 

Stack multiple plates together

You can use as many cast iron leg weights as you need. Unlike all the other weighing systems, these don’t “max out” because you just keep on stacking them higher and higher until you reach the requirement for the wind speed zone you’re in.

A Circulex® set up in approx 80 km/h winds with 60kg of weight stacked on each leg

Sandbags

Folding Marquees With Sandbag Weights
Sandbags installed on a folding marquee

Pros

Relatively low cost around $25 - $35
Cheap to freight nationally
Light to transport if empty

Cons

Sand not included
Not very high in mass when filled
Can get messy if sand leaks
Limited to approx 8kg per bag

Sandbag marquee weights are also a really popular method to weigh marquees down. They’ve been around for years and are simple enough to use.

Sand is not included

We don’t include, or even know of anyone that includes sand with their sand bags. You need to purchase additional sand (you cannot take it from a beach - that’s illegal!) to put into your bags.

Wear and tear

Obviously these are used on the marquee legs, and the marquee feet sit on concrete and other hard surfaces. As the sandbags age, they will wear, and have the potential to spring leaks.

This means that you’ll need to use another bag inside your sandbag to hold your sand together, but really it can start getting a bit messy. 

Pegs & Ropes

Folding Marquee Pegged And Roped
An example of a well pegged down marquee

Pros

Generally included with marquees
Relatively simple to use
Low cost

Cons

Not all brands supply good pegs & ropes
Ground conditions are variable
Potential trip hazards
Large footprint once installed

Pegs and ropes are a tried and tested method to secure a marquee to the ground but there are a lot of things to consider when using them and to a degree requires a little extra care and attention by the user compared to all the other systems. 

The soil conditions

First and foremost, you need to be using the right type of peg and rope for the particular conditions you’re in. A peg for sand is very different to a peg for soil or clay. 

Then, if you are setting up on soil or clay, you need to consider what the weather has been like lately. For example, if it’s been raining for the last 3 weeks, and the ground is soft, a peg that might normally work may not be adequate in those conditions. 

The best solution here is to ensure you get a marquee with the largest and strongest pegs - although they still might not work in sand!

Getting the right angle

A peg needs to be driven into the ground at an angle that’s perpendicular to the direction of the rope. 

We recommend that the ropes that come off the marquee are set up at an angle between 30 and 60 degrees. A good balance is driving in the pegs at a 45 degree angle. 

If the angle is too steep, it won’t go deep into the ground (which is also generally where you find the harder soil), and if the angle is too shallow it won’t provide enough resistance on the rope to hold the marquee down.

Don't even use cheap pegs & ropes

In our opinion, if you have low quality pegs and ropes, we wouldn't even bother to use them. All they'll do is provide a false sense of security and an unexpected wind may turn an otherwise happy situation very sour.

What to look out for:

  • Thin steel used in the peg
  • Short length on the pegs
  • Light gauge rope/string
  • Missing spring and toggle which prevents being able to tension the rope after install

The pegs & ropes included with our Circulex® frame are all commercially rated.

Water Weights

Folding Marquees With Water Weights
Water weights being used on a marquee at a market

Pros

Cheap to buy
Cheap to freight nationally
Available at lots of retailers

Cons

No water included - not always available
Generally not UV stabilised plastic
Likely to crack & leak
Can only hold approx 10kg per leg

Marquee water weights are readily available at many retailers, and at first they might seem like a great option, but we’ve never produced, nor ever intend to produce water weights as in our testing they’ve not proven durable enough for our customers. 

Prone to cracks and leaking

These marquee weights are cheap for a reason. Typically, there are no UV stabilisers mixed into the plastic which means that over time the plastic will become brittle.

Additionally, if these are dropped or dragged, they can develop leaks which prevents them from staying full and providing any hold down weight to the marquee. 

Their weight density is low

The density of water is approximately 1 gram per cubic centimetre, compared to cast iron being approx 8 grams per cubic centimetre.

What this means is that a water marquee weight will be approx 8 times larger than a cast iron leg weight for the same amount of weight. This makes them very bulky on a marquee leg if they’re going to provide any significant weighting.

In Conclusion

We believe that the best and only solution that should be used with marquees are cast iron weights.

They're simple to use, hard wearing, and a known weight meaning that there is no variability in the safety they provide in weighing a marquee down. When you put 60kg on a leg, you know it's 60kg and can reference what wind speed that's safe for. There is no question as to soil conditions, rope strength, and other factors.

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