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Building a Hexayurt for Burning Man? Be Sure to Use the Right Tape

Burning Man, the art festival focused on self-expression, community and self-reliance, doesn't begin until August 30 this year (it runs through Sept. 7), but many are already planning their stay in the Northern Nevada desert.

This year's theme is Carnival of Mirrors and is described by press materials as "a kind of magic show that takes the form of an old-fashioned carnival." Last year, more than 66,000 people attended. Each year, the desert city - called Black Rock City - pops up from the ground, and disappears after the festival. One of the ten principle's of the festival is "leave no trace," so all structures are packed up and hauled away by participants after the fun is over.

While many live in RVs and tents over the course of the week, an eco-friendly alternative is the hexayurt. Originally designed by Vinay Gupta for a contest sponsored by Treehugger and CurrentTV (Gupta won), this shelter is now used for disaster zones and refugees. Gupta put the plans for the hexayurt in the public domain, so all the details are available for easy reference on this wiki.

There are several benefits of building your own hexayurt for Burning Man.

  • It's sturdy (75-mile an hour winds are normal in the desert).
  • It's cool and dark in the daytime.
  • It's warm at night.
  • The tape seals it from dust.
  • It's eco-friendly.
  • It's easy to pack up.
  • It embodies the spirit of self-reliance, another of the 10 principles of the festival.

Building a Hexayurt

The do-it-yourself structure can be created for less than $500 (depending on size), using some common building materials. The full list is available here, but includes sheets of insulation boards, PVC pipes, tent pegs, rope and tarp - and, of course, pressure-sensitive adhesive tape. It takes about 8 hours to build the hexayurt at home and another 1-4 hours to assemble it on the desert.

There are two types of tape you'll need for your hexayurt.

JVCC 762-BD Bi-Directional Filament TapeThe first is a 6" bi-directional tape from JVCC - the JVCC 762-BD Bi-Directional Filament Strapping Tape. This is a fiberglass reinforced polypropylene tape with a 155# tensile strength in both directions. It won't break or tear even under intense conditions, making it an ideal tape for holding together a living structure like the hexayurt. The 762-BD bidi tape also helps to reduce the amount of tape needed for your project since it has filaments in both directions of the tape; traditional filament tape is one directional only.

JVCC AF20 Aluminum Foil TapeThe second type of tape is a 3" or 4" aluminum foil, which is used to protect the bi-directional tape from UV damage. It also decreases fire risk. Our JVCC AF20 Aluminum Foil Tape is an all weather aluminum foil tape for general purpose use. It is a dead soft high tensile 2 mil thick aluminum foil coated with an aggressive acrylic adhesive system on a removable paper liner. Its malleable foil conforms well to irregular and curved surfaces, which makes it perfect for covering and sealing the seams in Hexayurt shelters. It performs well at both low and elevated temperatures and is designed for heat reflection and dissipation.

Both types of tape will withstand the sometimes extreme conditions on the Nevada desert. We don't recommend using duct tape at all in building your hexayurt. It can't withstand the heat, and you'll soon have a messy problem on your hands.

Gupta provides many detailed building plans on his wiki for hexayurts of all sizes. His wiki also has a handy tape calculator worksheet to help you determine how much tape you'll need to purchase.

But plan ahead and buy early, so you have the tape you need well in advance of building your structure.

If you need a bit of inspiration and want to see Vinay Gupta talk about hexayurt shelters, check out this video.

https://youtu.be/cIcuhF2urFo

The Tape I Used Last Week

So my family is always making fun of me for insisting we use adhesive tape to solve every problem, so I decided to actually document what tape I've used over the last couple weeks to see how excessive I've really become.

  1. Polyken 510 Gaffers Tape I used some black Polyken 510 gaffers tape to hold the power cord in place on an air compressor. Comes off cleanly and doesn't dry out like rubber bands do.
  2. JVCC DC-UHB40FA-C Ultra High Bond Double Coated TapeRecently put in a new sliding glass door and it came with a molding piece which was to be put on as finish to the side of one of the doors. I assume it was meant to be glued on (the instructions didn't say), but I used some JVCC DC-UHB40FA-C ultra high bond double-sided tape to mount it (I also used some white gaffers tape to hold it in place while the adhesive bond was setting).
  3. Shurtape JLAR Tape (Permacel)On a day-to-day basis the tape I probably use the most is Shurtape JLAR. My 3-year old son is always tearing or ripping something in one of his books and this is great for book repairs. I still have some old rolls left over from when Permacel still made the tape and what I love about it is that they crush-cut the rolls so you could just pull on a length of the tape to break it by hand (no scissors needed). Now that its made by Shurtape is razor-cut like most tape so you can't do that anymore, but hopefully my supply will last a while longer.
  4. 3M EC100 Rite-Lok Instant AdhesiveI've been using 3M EC100 super glue all week to fix ornaments like the purse on this snow-lady. One thing I really like about EC100 is that it doesn't seem to clog up and become unusable after you use it a couple of times like I've had happen with other super glues.
  5. Scapa 225 Gaffers TapeI've been using a lot of gaffers tape over the holiday season to hold down cords - here I've used some 4 inch white Scapa 225 gaff tape to cover a green extension cord on my front door. It's a bit wrinkled since I probably should have gotten some help putting it on (it's a little hard applying wider width gaffers and duct tape alone), but you should get the general idea.
  6. 3M 109 Double-Sided Poster Tape3M 109 double-sided poster tape is great for putting up your kid's artwork on walls since it easily removable. In this case I even used some to hold the 109 dispenser up to the wall so I could take the photo.
  7. JVCC GLW Glow In The Dark TapeI'm a big fan of the JVCC GLW Glow-in-the-Dark tape and use it on electronics all around the house. I'm always a little surprised when I see reviews of glow tape say it's not very bright. It's definitely not a high-powered light source and wouldn't compare in intensity to say a flashlight, but to darkness-adjusted eye it works great to help you find a remote control in the middle of the night in order to turn off the TV you left on. I haven't mastered the art of photographing a glow product in darkness yet so this is just showing the product in daytime light - pretty boring.
  8. Polyken 105C Double-Sided Carpet TapeBesides the Shurtape/Permacel JLAR, double-sided carpet tape is the other type of tape I used the most often probably. Here I've used some Polyken 105C to hold down the mat rug on a landing outside in the garage.
  9. JVCC FELT-06 Black Polyester Felt TapeI was having an issue with some file drawers I had on some shelving downstairs. When you pulled the drawer completely out it would overhang the shelving and cause the back of the file drawer to pop up and the heavy drawer overhanging the shelving would then pull it off the shelf (not a very good storage system). I used some extra 2 x 4 pieces to brace the Vaultz File Drawers in place, but I first lined it with some JVCC FELT-06 felt tape to make sure it didn't dig in or scratch the drawers.
  10. Wooster Caution Non-Skid CleatsWe just got in some of these Wooster Caution Non-Skid Cleats and figured they would work great on some outside steps I had in the garage. I was going to use the glow-in-the-dark cleats we got in from Wooster instead, but the area I used them on in the garage is pretty dark so I didn't think they would get enough light-activation to work properly. Figured the "Caution" cleats would actually be more visible.
  11. Polyken 231 Duct Tape and JVCC 762-BD Bi-directional Filament TapeTo repair a big crack in my garbage can I used some JVCC 762-BD bi-directional filament tape as the first layer and then overlapped it with some wider width Polyken 231 military-grade duct tape. I should probably just call the trash pickup company to get a new receptacle, but this is way more fun.

So not too excessive - is it?