Yurt 101

What is a yurt, anyway?

A yurt is a circular structure with a dome, fabric roof and walls, and collapsible wood lattice.

Read more about ancient yurts.

Read more about modern yurts.

Architectural Digest called them an “architectural wonder,” because they rely on tension and compression to create a strong and efficient structure.

The compact space offers a variety of uses, including:

  • Campground Rentals
  • Guest Rentals
  • Ski Resort Hut
  • Camps
  • Temporary Housing
  • Fitness and Retreat Centers
  • Seasonal Worker Housing
  • Ecotourism
  • Meeting Facility
  • Office
  • Spa Enclosure
  • Meditation/Fitness Room
  • Photography or Artist Studio
  • Permanent Housing



The yurt’s dome serves as a skylight for your yurt, allowing natural light to pass through and brighten up your yurt’s interior. Rainier yurts come standard with a clear, fixed dome, but can be upgraded to a tinted dome and/or opening and closing dome. Typically, for an opening and closing dome, a small hand crank can be used to adjust the dome from floor level.


A yurt’s roof is made of durable fabric that’s stretched over the rafters and attached at the top of the yurt walls. If roof insulation is desired, it is installed between the rafters and the outer fabric layer


The compression ring is the yurt’s focal point, but more importantly, an engineering component that secures the top ends of the rafters. It also serves as the base for the dome.


The rafters are wooden beams that connect the lattice to the compression ring. They provide the frame for the roof as well as structural support for the entire yurt


Lattice is the wooden accordion-like wall structure for the yurt that stretches around the circumference of the yurt, attaching to the platform and roof structures.


Yurt walls are made of a durable fabric supported by the lattice. They can be lined with a layer of insulation if desired.


Yurt windows can come in a variety of sizes, styles, and materials. Soft windows are are built into the exterior wall fabric, while hard windows are set in wood and built directly into your yurt frame.


Your yurt door is always built into the frame. The size and model of your yurt will determine how many doors, and what door styles can be installed.


Your platform structure is covered with a layer of plywood, cut to the same diameter as your yurt. The bare plywood can serve as your interior flooring, or you can install custom flooring on top of it.


Without an in-ground foundation, yurts are always supported by a platform, which is typically anchored with concrete blocks and raised off of the ground with wooden posts.

Want to learn more?


Living in the Round by Becky Kemery
The Complete Yurt Handbook by Paul King
Practical Yurts by Steven W. Hatch
Circle Houses by David Pearson
My Year in a Yurt by Jen McGeehan
So, You Want To Live In A Yurt? by Erin Kelly

Websites, Articles, and Online Resources

“How Yurts Work” on howstuffworks.com
“The Many Benefits of Yurt Living” on colorfulplaces.com

Yurt Forums

Yurt Yahoo Group
Yurt Forum on Reddit


  1. Carrie James says

    I will never be able to afford a traditional house but for $20,000 I could afford a yurt, but don’t have any property to put it on. What should I do? I live in Oregon and it’s become very expensive to live here. I am in Corvallis and need to stay here a couple more years for school. Thanks.

    • jennie says

      Carrie –

      Thanks for your comment! Dana is going to send you more detailed information, but a small yurt could be a great temporary housing solution for you. The yurt kit and platform leave a small footprint and are easily taken down for relocating, so you could set up in a friend or family member’s backyard, and then pack up the entire kit for a lower cost of living area after you finish school.

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