Tensile Structure FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions About Tensile Fabric Structures
What are the charges and costs of tensile structure
The making of any tensile membrane installation project is unique and subjective to the project requirement and scale of the tent. Ekra Decor, our team of tensile roofing experts continuously strives to provide our clients with the best quality of tensile roofing solutions at honest prices. The costs implications vary based on factors like
Design of the supporting structure
Style/ shape/ design elements chosen
Area to be covered
Steel facades and skeleton requirements
Which type of Fabrics can be used for Developing Tensile Membrane Structures?
The Two most standard Tensile Fabrics used are
PVC coated polyester
PTFE coated fibre glass
Both are excellent and water tight materials that can be used for a large range of applications. They differ in translucency, color options and durability & load carrying capabilities. The kind of material you will choose will depend on your design and engineering requirements. Other factors like size and cost also need to be taken into consideration while choosing the fabric.
Can Tensile Fabric Structures be repaired?
All tensile fabrics are extremely durable and resilient and are capable of withstanding immense amount of tension. The kind of damage and the structure type determine whether a structure can be repaired or not. A minor cut or puncture to the fabric can easily be patched but bigger damages and older structures pose significant problems.
What colors are available?
Tensile fabric structures and tents look most elegant and stand out in variants of white. However, if the client is looking for a specific color for their structure, then PVC on polyester provides a variety of options.
PVC on polyester is a better option comparatively as it protects the polyester fibers from the harmful effects of the UV rays. They also affect the light transmission properties of the fabric. For structures that require lightweight fabric, a wide range of colors is available.
What are you prepared to do for free?
We are really pleased to work with potential clients in
developing initial ideas and also providing outline costs. If, for instance, you can supply a drawing or even
a rough sketch of the area you want to cover, we can give you a budget estimate for a tensile fabric
structure usually within 24 hours. We can also provide examples of similar canopies we have created and
we’ll follow this up with a sketch of how your canopy might look.
On larger projects we may undertake some preliminary analysis without any forward commitment, to
provide you with some feedback on shape, loads and costs that you can build into your proposals.
How long will a tensile structure last?
This will depend on the materials used. So 35-40 years if you
specify a PTFE or silicon coated glass cloth - otherwise 15-20 years for PVDF coated membranes. The
structural steel frame and cables should perform upwards of 40 years. To keep the structure looking at its
best and operating safely, some routine bi-annual maintenance will be required.
What about wind and snow loads?
Every structure we design satisfies International and National
Codes for wind, snow and seismic loading. We also take into account its location, height and surrounding
buildings and if it is designed for permanent or just seasonal use. Please be aware that some companies
offer sail shade structures that are inevitably lower in cost, but are not engineered for year-round use. If
this is what you require, this will need to be incorporated into the specification.
Are tensile structures expensive?
A useful comparison is with other types of translucent roofing. A
fabric structure over a retail center, courtyard or sports facility could be half the cost of a glass roof -
particularly as the steel frame can be much lighter. However, custom tensile fabric structures would not
compete with inexpensive polycarbonate. The overall cost needs to be compared with the application and
the aesthetic appearance.
Can you describe the fabric membranes available?
This will be determined by the application. For
large scale external structures we work with PTFE (Teflon) coated glass, Silicon coated glass, TENARA
(PTFE coated PTFE) and PVC coated polyester. We also offer a single skin ETFE framed ‘glazing’
system. All are fire rated and all the external fabrics are supplied with the manufacturer’s warranty.
What does your service include?
We offer a one-stop shop - from design, manufacture, installation
and maintenance support. We can supply everything above foundation level - i.e. the steel frame, cables
etc. and even glazing and cladding if these are closely integrated in the design.
What about lighting?
One of the key benefits that a tensile structure provides is the ability to make it
really stand out with architectural lighting systems. We can work with your lighting designer or offer our
own services to maximize the visual impact. By either back lighting or front/up lighting you can achieve
some remarkable effects.
How green are tensile structures?
Tensile Fabric structures are probably the most efficient method
of achieving long span enclosures. Compared to conventional steel frame and glass alternatives the
embodied energy is significantly less. One of the biggest environmental contributions tensile membrane
can make is in the over cladding of structures where savings of up to 40% in the energy required for
cooling have been recorded.
Can you have insulated canopies?
Yes you can - using two layers of fabric with a suspended
insulation layer in between. Nanogel insulation allows the natural light to filter through.
What about vandalism?
Fabric can be cut however that is why we design our canopies to be
sensibly out of reach if they are in vulnerable sites. Most fabrics can be patched and repaired in place or
can be designed in modular panels that can easily be replaced.
What warranties do you offer?
All fabric manufacturers offer fabric warranties which can vary from
a standard five years up to a 15 year warranty. We will be happy to discuss all options to provide the best
overall value for your project.
So what’s new in the wonderful world of tensile architecture?
Well here are just a few things we
are excited about: A new family of high translucency PVC /polyester fabrics has just been launched. They
offer around 30-40% transparency and can be used on their own or integrated into a fabric membrane to
form varying translucencies. Fabric facades… over cladding an existing façade can transform a building
visually as well providing massive energy savings.
Do you work overseas?
Yes we do. We have an strategic alliances in all areas that cover UK,
Europe, the Middle and Far East. Where possible, we will utilize local resources for steel manufacture
and skilled labor to reduce costs and our carbon footprint. All installation work would be controlled by
trained site supervisors.
Where does ETFE fit into the scheme of things?
ETFE foil has made a huge contribution to the
architect’s palette of materials. We see its major potential in the future not so much in the form of
inflatable pillows, but mounted as a single skin in framing systems as a substitute for traditional glass
(glazing) cladding. ETFE is the material of choice if you need high visibility as opposed to just
translucency in a lightweight design.
How often and how should you clean tensile structures?
Translucency is one of the major
benefits of tensile structures, so keeping them clean has to be an advantage. But compared to glass, the
cleaning regime is substantially less demanding - usually amounting to an bi-annual wash down with
soapy water and soft brush.