Why Fabric Buildings Instead of Metal Buildings?

Choosing the right building is essential to the success of your business. Deciding between pre-engineered fabric buildings, metal buildings, or conventional steel buildings can be tricky. Which building style is suitable for your operations and a better return on your investment? What are the initial and long-term costs? Consider building lifespan, maintenance, construction speed, and energy efficiency. Britespan helps building owners make the right choice the first time with fabric buildings.

Lifespan & Warranties


Nearly all steel building or metal building manufacturers provide a 50-year warranty or lifespan on their structures. But their warranties exclude most agricultural storage barns and any commercial ones that store materials deemed as corrosive. That includes a long list of materials like salt, fertilizer, manure and composting, waste, recycling, and environments with excessive humidity or moisture. Britespan's engineered fabric buildings are constructed with durable long-lasting components, have a lifespan of upwards of 50 years, and warranty all building applications.

Building Components


Snow load design

Steel buildings and metal buildings often have rather flat roof systems, putting more snow weight on the roof of the building, requiring more interior steel and engineering to withstand the snow loads. All of Britespan's fabric building profiles have a peaked or domed roof design that easily sheds snow, rain, and ice, improving building longevity.

Corrosion resistance

Metal building manufacturers tend to highlight the longevity of the building. However, these buildings can require much more maintenance over time, mostly due to the steel that starts to rust on every screw hole. UV rays from sun exposure wear down the plastic washers and eventually fall off, leaving the screw head exposed to deterioration.

This challenge alone leaves steel roofs exposed to more rusting in the future. The owner of a steel building can expect to re-screw their steel roof several times during the lifespan of the building. This process can be a big hassle, as all the old screws must be removed, and a new larger screw with the new washer seal in its place. Lots of labor!

Fabric buildings use strong covers that are tensioned over steel trusses without using a single screw to puncture the roof and start corrosion. Our polyethylene fabric covers are non-corrosive, making them ideal for agriculture, commercial and municipal building storage. Our tension membrane fabric lasts up to 25+ years and is fast and cost-effective to repair or replace.

Hot-dip galvanizing

Rusting will never be a problem with a Britespan fabric building. All of our steel trusses are hot-dip galvanized after all fabrication has been completed. This means that the zinc coating is bonded to the steel truss, and all welding is completed prior to galvanizing. When trusses are pre-galvanized before welding and fabrication, the protective coating is burnt off, causing risk for corrosion down the road.

Efficiency & Maintenance


Installation time

On average, traditional metal storage buildings can take twice as long as fabric buildings to complete, resulting in more operating downtime and higher labor costs.

Once foundations are set, Britespan's fabric buildings are installed in as little as one week. There are no tiny screws and fasteners to consume construction time. The legs are installed, trusses come next, the fabric covers are seamlessly pulled and tensioned. Custom components, end, and side walls quickly finish afterward. And, there is no delay waiting for inventory like there is with steel buildings.  Britespan has standard buildings in stock and ready to order.

Watch how fast this 150-foot wide by 234-foot long composting facility for Elmview Farms Inc. went up!

Energy savings

If you haven’t stepped into a Britespan fabric building yet, you’re missing the comfort and illumination that comes from our high-grade fabric and the ambient natural light they let into a building while blocking out UV rays.  Fabric-covered buildings are bright as the day is long. And because of the light-reflective properties of the covers, minimal nighttime lighting is required. Metal buildings with steel roofs create dark interiors and poor ventilation. The sound acoustics are loud and they require the upkeep and expense of a lighting system; day, and night.

Conventional steel buildings tend to absorb heat in the summer, and cold in the winter, often requiring additional heating or cooling methods for comfort, such as fans or heaters. Britespan’s customers have reported cooler, drier environments and more fresh air inside their fabric buildings in the hot hazy summer months, and more comfortable environments in the harsh winter months. Additionally, fabric covers have UV protection and flame retardant properties.

Less maintenance

Every building requires upkeep, yet some can have more over time than what you bargained for. Other than maintaining a tensioned cover, fabric buildings are maintenance-free. Ever get a hole or tear in your cover? Patch kits are quick and easy ways to repair your building. For larger repairs or cover replacements, Britespan's fabric panels can be replaced by the panel or the entire cover.

Metal buildings will require having all of the screws and washers replaced several times throughout the lifespan of the building. And of course, there are corrosion risks that can become a bigger challenge resulting in replacing entire steel roof panels.

Ask for a Local Fabric Building Expert