Why Choose Fabric Buildings Over Traditional Structures

GTX fabric building installed on rolling rail system

Alaska Structures Fabric Buildings

From commercial industries like construction and aviation, to industrial mining and arctic exploration, fabric structures offer some significant advantages over brick-and-mortar buildings. In addition to providing long-lasting shelter and space for operations or storage, a fabric building is preferred over traditional structures due to the reduced costs and increased efficiency and portability of these versatile structures.

When comparing a fabric building to traditional structures, industrial and commercial operations can appreciate the following advantages of tension fabric structures:



Fabric buildings are engineered from tensile polyvinyl chloride (PVC) fabric that is stretched over galvanized steel or high-strength aluminum frames. Depending on the application, the structure may have a concrete foundation, or the building may be secured via other methods in cases where the duration of the project makes a full concrete foundation unnecessary. The materials and prefabricated nature of these buildings make them incredibly transportable and easy to relocate.

Fabric structures are far more portable than brick-and-mortar buildings, and relatively easy to relocate and transport from site to site. The foundation requirements are minimal with fabric buildings, often foundation blocks can be transported as easily as the fabric membrane and frame materials. These structures can be quickly and easily installed on virtually any level surface, including precast or cast-in-place concrete, wood platforms, screw piles, helicals, and more. Fabric buildings can even be installed on an existing permanent foundation, and then dismantled later for relocation.


Fabric building used as vehicle maintenance building

Fabric Building Used as Vehicle Maintenance Facility.

The wide variety of products and sizing options available with fabric buildings make them incredibly versatile and ideal for nearly any application. Not only are they engineered for decades of use in any climate -- even extreme environments and weather conditions such as high winds and heavy snow loads -- they are effective buildings for a variety of common and unique commercial and industrial uses. Alaska Structures® fabric buildings are ideal for storage and warehousing, vehicle maintenance facilities, operational and office space, workforce housing and camp systems, arctic exploration and research facilities, and even movable airplane hangars.

We offer these structures in hundreds of sizes, styles, and standard packages, with add-on systems for HVAC, environmental control, power generation and distribution, and more. The common building customizations include specialized dimensions, an elevated or offset peak, and/or adjustments to roof pitch. Our building specialists can also help to create fabric buildings that are designed specifically for more creative applications and odd-sized lots. All of our structures can be fitted with any combination of our product options, including heaters, additional insulation, lighting and electrical systems, rail-based rolling systems, special flooring and foundations, restroom and shower facilities, and even furniture and equipment packages.

Maximum Useable Space

Fabric Structure Sports Arena

Alaska Structures' Fabric Building as Sports Arena.

With a tensile fabric structure, there are no internal posts, pillars, columns, or beams. The high ceilings and clear-span design of a fabric building’s interior creates the maximum useable space. There is plenty of clearance for storage of strangely shaped equipment or machinery such as a helicopter or tractor, in addition to more stacking space if the building is used for warehousing. The absence of internal pillars or posts in a truss-arch fabric building also creates the most floor space for operational use.

Most brick-and-mortar buildings require rigid support posts inside to support the heavier roofing materials required to shelter these traditional structures. Pillars or columns, and sometimes additional beam supports are necessary to keep the roof from collapsing. Since fabric buildings are lightweight and made from materials that don’t require this kind of support, there is no need for internal posts or columns.

Reduced Construction Time

Conventional building construction projects generally require weeks and even months to complete. Since there are far fewer materials involved with installing a tension fabric building, and because the structure is engineered for quick and easy setup, fabric buildings require far less lead and construction time.

When your building takes days instead of weeks to construct, your construction time and costs are radically reduced. With fabric structures, there is the advantage of the opportunity to get your operations running far sooner to capitalize on this efficiency. Alaska Structures' building systems are designed for extremely rapid setup, and can be fully operational in less than a week and only a couple of hours in some cases, depending on the size and scope of the structure. Additionally, they do not require skilled labor or special equipment to install, further reducing construction costs.

Energy Efficiency

Sunlight entering translucent roof of fabric structure building

Natural Light Illuminates Fabric Buildings.

Fabric structures are far more energy efficient than brick-and-mortar buildings. Our buildings can be fitted with our proprietary Environmental Control Units (ECU) to provide ideal climate control and optimize energy consumption. While traditional buildings can be difficult to heat or cool, fabric structures naturally stay approximately 10 degrees warmer than outside temperatures during cold times and nearly 20 degrees cooler than outside temps during the heat of summer -- and that is without HVAC! Additionally, we offer EnerLayer and SuperLayer insulation to increase the building’s energy efficiency even further.

The different materials used for fabric buildings are more environmentally sustainable than those used for construction of traditional buildings, and some can even earn LEED points. PVC fabrics are considered to be low in toxic emissions, providing an additional environmental benefit to fabric buildings over traditional structures. The PVC material of fabric buildings also offers translucency of up to 12 percent, which helps cut operating costs and energy consumption for electricity and lighting because the natural light can permeate and illuminate the space. Skylights can be incorporated into your fabric structure’s design to add even more natural light.

Durable & Corrosion-Resistant

Tension fabric buildings offer enough strength to support heavy snow loads and high winds. The frame of these structures is either galvanized steel, or high-strength aluminum for applications that require a more lightweight design. Regardless of the frame material chosen, the engineering of our structures can accommodate additional loads from added systems including conveyors and cranes. The galvanized or powder-coated frames are resistant to rust and corrosion, and even deflect the materials and processes that promote rust, such as salt, fertilizer, and compost. The PVC fabric membrane is resistant to UV radiation, and can be treated with an additional coating to further protect the building from sun damage.

Fabric buildings buried in deep snow

Fabric Buildings Withstand Heavy Snow Loads.

Longevity and durability are key advantages of Alaska Structures’ buildings, which are independently tested and verified for proper design and construction, and have been proven in the field to withstand extreme weather and climate. Additionally, our fabric structures are designed to meet or exceed local and regional building codes for additional reliability as durable shelters and/or operational facilities.

When used for either temporary or permanent applications, these fabric structures will reliably withstand high winds, heavy snow loads, and other elemental impacts. Their durability can be relied upon for decades, whether they are installed permanently or relocated frequently.

Fabric structures offer a clear advantage over brick-and-mortar buildings, due to their increased durability, efficiency, cost-savings, versatility, and portability.

For more information or to order your Alaska Structures fabric buildings today, call +1-907-344-1565, email inquiry@alaskastructures.com, or contact us online.