How to Design a Custom Tension Fabric Structure That Meets Your Needs


Tensile fabric structures have gained immense popularity due to their versatility. Known for their rapid installation, energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and easy customization they are just as impactful as a covered walkway at a train station as when used as a canopy for an athletic competition. When it comes to selecting the perfect custom tension fabric building, it can be a daunting task, but fear not. The experts at Tensile Structure Systems are here to guide you through the process and discuss how we can assist you!

Why Choose Tension Fabric Structures?

Tension fabric structures and tensile canopies are innovative architectural marvels that have revolutionized the way we think about design and construction. These fabrics are often made from woven fiberglass, PVC, PTFE, and ETFE films. The fabric is anchored to steel cables and frames and used to create flexible membranes that create an aesthetically pleasant appearance while also offering good structural support. 

Property owners regularly choose these structures because they are designed to be lightweight, strong, and weatherproof. In turn, they have become increasingly popular compared to traditional construction materials due to their versatility and cost-efficient materials. 

Not sure where to begin in your design process? Check out the essential steps to get started on designing a tension fabric structure that precisely meets your needs.

6 Steps for Designing a Custom Tension Fabric Structure

  1. Define Your Purpose: The first step in designing a custom tension fabric structure is to define your purpose. What will the structure be used for? Will it serve as an outdoor event venue, a carport, a covered walkway, or a shade structure for a playground? Clearly defining your purpose helps you to determine the size, shape, and features your structure needs.
  2. Choosing Durable Materials: Selecting the right fabric material is crucial for the longevity and functionality of your tension fabric structure. Tension fabric structures are typically made from high-quality materials like PVC-coated polyester or PTFE (Teflon) fabric. These materials are known for their durability, UV resistance, and fire retardant properties. Make sure to choose a fabric that suits your specific needs and environment.
  3. Consider Environmental Factors: Your location and environmental conditions should heavily influence the design of your tension fabric structure. For instance, if you’re in an area prone to heavy rainfall or snowfall, your structure should have a steeper pitch to allow for efficient drainage. Wind speed is another crucial factor to consider, as your structure must be engineered to withstand the wind loads in your region.
  4. Customize the Design: Now for the fun part— customizing the design of your tension fabric structure! Be sure to work closely with a professional architect or design team to create a structure that reflects your vision. You can choose from a variety of shapes, including hyperbolic paraboloids, cones, and more. Don’t forget to incorporate branding elements if the structure is for commercial use— this can be a great way to make your business stand out.
  5. Structural Engineering: Obtaining structural integrity of your tension fabric structure is one of the most important steps in the design process. An experienced structural engineer who specializes in tension fabric structures can perform necessary calculations to ensure your structure can bear weight. This step is critical for safety and compliance with local building codes.
  6. Installation and Maintenance: Once your custom tension fabric structure is designed, it’s time for installation. Choose an experienced installation team to ensure a seamless setup. After installation, it’s important to establish a routine maintenance schedule to keep your structure in top condition. Regular inspections and cleaning extend the structure’s lifespan and maintain its visual appeal. Full-service inspection of your structure, roof, and facade for insurance purposes, new roofs and facades, replacements for our oldest structures and all types of membranes are all maintenance precautions Tensile Structure Systems can provide.

Design Your Own Tension Fabric Structure With Tensile Structure Systems

Even with all of these steps laid out, it can be difficult to narrow down your design choices when it seems like the options are practically endless. At Tensile Structure Systems, we offer assistance with the permit application process, manufacturing oversight, building codes compliance and guidance, installation and more. Our team of experts is dedicated to helping you craft a masterpiece from beginning to end and turning your vision into reality. Contact us today to discuss your project and take the first step toward creating a one-of-a-kind tension fabric structure that sets you apart from the rest.