When we tell folks we make fabric buildings, they often get this puzzled look on their faces and ask “what kind of fabric?”. Sometimes, the more we explain, the more questions it prompts. That’s good for us because we like to provide as much information about our fabric—we call it cladding—as we can. Here are some of the questions we answer all the time, from the general to the very specific.
We chose to switch to ExxoTec™ fabric (from polyethylene fabric) a few years back for a variety of reasons. Lifespan was a key factor, as well as toughness. It stands up to enormous pressure and UV rays, and that allows us to extend a 25-year warranty on our 28 ounce (28 ounces per square yard) fabric cladding. This proprietary fabric is made from polyester scrim and coatings. A few years back our founder, Ben Fox, decided to see how tough it is.
With buildings, accidents happen. With a fabric building using our ExxoTec™ cladding, fixing holes or tears is usually a simple matter of getting a matching patch from us, cleaning the surrounding area, and then welding the repair into place. We tried to make a video of it a few months back but the repair was so fast and simple it just didn’t work for video. If the tear in the fabric is extensive, it’s important to remember that we build with fabric panels not monocovers. A panel is simple to manufacture and install (our crews will come out). A monocovers is one big piece of fabric stretched over a frame. The cost to replace an entire monocover is significant when compared to one panel.
Our fabric is fire rated. If there is a fire, the fabric shrinks away, allowing the heat to escape and drastically reducing the damage to the building. The ventilation also provides an escape route for smoke, which is one of the most deadly elements of a fire, minimizing the impact of the heat and smoke on the building frame and contents.
To dig deeper into our rating and more specifications, check our website. In addition to our fabric, our steel structure can be engineered to support a ceiling-mounted fire suppression system.
The fabric is attached to the solid steel frames using a keder rail on the outer flange. Our panels have nylon rope welded to the edges and those edges slide into the keder rail. When we tension the panel, we use a proprietary method that stretches the fabric in a way that works with the cladding’s physical properties. Why so much focus on the tensioning? Often, fabric buildings need to have their cladding retensioned multiple times after installation. Our does not require that retensioning. That’s not just one less maintenance item, it also affects the fit and finish of our buildings. The clean lines, the crisp, bright exteriors and the “look” of a Legacy building speaks for itself.
Many of our buildings employ liners. These are interior walls made of a lighter weight PVC fabric and they do two things. In buildings that have a great deal of corrosive materials (salt, mining extracts, fertilizer), the liner protects the steel I-beams from corrosion by sealing them off from the interior chemicals. In our sport facilities and entertainment venues and any structure that is insulated, the liner provides an air tight vapor barrier enhancing the heating and cooling performance of your building. Legacy liners create a significantly more air tight building than comparable metal buildings, thus reducing cost due to air leakage. Thus, the liner makes the building a year-round structure for any climate.
We often get questions about whether the ExxoTec™ fabric itself has an R value for insulating. It’s 30 mils thick and has very little R value, but it has thermally non-conductive properties. It will not radiate heat on summer days or cold on winter days as is the case with metal buildings. We typically use R30 fiberglass batts to insulate our buildings.
Even in our open air buildings, such as equestrian arenas, customers tell us the fabric makes the space cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. They also tell us it’s quieter, especially during rain showers. Our sports facility customers also report that the acoustics of the fabric are much better than steel-sided structures.
All of our buildings are customized, so cost per square foot usually falls into the “it depends” category. That said, our buildings are similar to steel buildings in terms of cost. Performance is another benefit. Our fabric exteriors create a superior vapor barrier, better weather resistance and almost no maintenance. The glossy finish on our fabric sheds dirt (and snow), is rust free and doesn’t chip or peel or need repainting. If you are comparing us to steel, the long-term efficiencies and savings woven into our fabric structures are clear and compelling.
If you still have questions, or a puzzled look on your face, our product and design consultants can explain our fabric and its properties in even more depth.