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The Differences Between Quonset Huts and Nissen Huts

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While Nissen huts and Quonset huts share a few similarities with each other, there are a few key differences between the two semi-circular structures. 

How is a Nissen hut different from a Quonset hut?


black and white photo of quonset hutNissen huts were created during World War I by Major Peter Nissen of the 29th Company, Royal Engineers. He developed the Nissen hut in 1916 to house troops in the United Kingdom.

Early Nissen huts had dirt or concrete floors with no insulation, and typically had a coal-fired stove for heating. Nissen huts were used by the military as hospitals, recreation spots, and offices. Living in Nissen huts was very common for soldiers and airmen during the war.

The first Quonset huts were produced in the United States by George Fuller Co. The arch-style structures are named from where they were first designed–Quonset Point, Rhode Island. Early Quonset huts used wood endwalls with optional side window cut-outs. 


Nissen huts were very popular in WWI because they were quick and easy to assemble. Nissen huts require an interior frame, typically made of metal, with metal sheeting bolted on top. 

Quonset huts were also popular due to the quick and ease of construction. However, Quonset huts were even simpler to erect because the arches are comprised of panels that are bolted together to provide structural support for the building.  


Nissen huts were typically smaller than Quonset huts and had less curvature in their walls, similar to today’s S-Model Quonset hut. 

During the World War II era, Quonset huts only came in the classic Q-Model and came in several different standard sizes. It is a lot easier to add additional arches to Quonsets to create more square footage, whereas adding on to the framing and using more sheet metal to elongate a Nissen hut is a more difficult process. 

Do they still make Nissen huts?q model quonset building with wooden front end wall, windows, porch

Current Nissen hut prices vary because current Nissen huts for sale are more than likely older structures built decades ago. In the United Kingdom, many Nissen huts were converted into agricultural or industrial storage, and some were demolished.

In the U.S., Quonset huts are now the top choice when it comes to prefabricated, arch-style structures. This is because the design of the Quonset hut has developed over time to increase the quality and include more models and sizes.