The Effects of Environmental Loads on Fabric Buildings

Fabric structures are often erected in some of the world’s most remote areas, where harsh weather is a constant concern. Even areas with generally temperate climates are occasionally hit with storms and other extreme weather. Tension fabric structures have the strength and proven engineering to withstand the forces of extreme weather.

Wind Events

When heavy winds blow over the peak of a building, the winds cause suction on the leeward side of the roof. In monocover buildings, this outward pressure causes unsupported fabric to lift off the frame, placing additional stress on the fabric at the building end frames. This suction is one of the most common causes of fabric tearing and failure of monocover fabric structures.

Engineered structures use narrow roof panels individually attached to the framing members with a keder rail. These roofs are designed to withstand the forces of wind. Individual panels have smaller surface area and are attached along the length of the panel. This keeps the roof in place, even during sustained high winds.

In areas vulnerable to tornadoes and hurricanes, building owners should verify that their building meets the federal standards for those storms before construction.

Heavy Snows

Heavy snow sitting on the roof of any structure is a common cause of structural failure. The roof pitch of a custom engineered building is designed to slide snow harmlessly off the roof. The narrow roof panels of a kedered roof system are supported at regular intervals, absorbing some of the force of the snow. Properly installed fabric structures are designed to meet or exceed the building codes related to snow and snow-on-ice codes.

UV Rays

UV rays are a major source of damage to fabric. Constant sunlight exposure causes the woven scrim of fabric to degrade and break down over time. Unlike other environmental dangers, there is no way to engineer the building that mitigates the effect of UV rays. However, architectural fabric manufacturers use a chemical compound on the exterior coating of the fabric that absorbs or reflects UV rays, preventing the rays from reaching the inner layer of scrim. This coating is a permanent part of the high-tech fabric and provides lifelong protection for the fabric scrim.

Quality Testing for Structural Fabric in Extreme Weather Conditions

Fabric manufacturers use weathering machines to test the effects of wind, snow and UV rays. These machines simulate the impact of years of weather damage. All fabric structure manufacturers should be able to produce the test results for their high-tech fabric.

Fabric structures have been erected for permanent and temporary uses on all continents and in all conditions. While there is no building material that is completely immune to the impact of extreme weather, fabric building owners can have confidence in the integrity and longevity of their building.

Legacy Building Solutions custom engineers each fabric structure to ensure it will stand up to applicable environmental factors. Request a quote to start designing your building today, or visit booth 25039 at MINExpo to see for yourself.