1 May 2024

Signs Your Fabric Structure Needs a New Cover

fabric covered magnum series building process

Over time, any structure will need some attention to its exterior as weather and normal wear and tear damage it. Fabric structure re-covering is not uncommon, but it should be done with specific care to your individual property’s needs and the applications you use for that space.

Knowing what signs to look for that indicate it is time to recover fabric buildings is a strong first step. Like with all types of fabric structures, any signs of damage should be addressed right away, as the sooner you do, the fewer the complications are likely to be.

Age of the Fabric Cover

While you do not have to invest in fabric structure recovers just because of age, most high-quality systems should last 25 or years. If they are not, that could be due to the use of inferior materials or, in some cases, poor preventative maintenance. If your structure’s cover is older than that, it’s time to consider the benefits of a fabric cover replacement.

Noticeable damage

There are instances when a damaged fabric building requires immediate attention, while many of the fabric structure designs available from Britespan are highly durable and can withstand many types of damage, there are times when they can deteriorate rapidly. This could include equipment impact accidents with the structure or falling heavy objects on the exterior of the building, such as wind-borne debris, leading to lacerations of the fabric. Lightning and fire can also create noticeable damage requiring replacement.

Significant structure repair is taking place

If you need to complete significant structure repair, that could be a good time to replace the cover on the fabric building. Doing so at this time allows you to create a strong and solid foundation for your new cover and gives you a like-new level of functionality.

Extensive wear points

Fabric membranes can develop wear points or areas in which the fabric is thinning due to age. Most fabric membranes are pulled tant to hold them in place and create ample protection for the building. If those points where it is being pulled begin to wear thin, that can lead to a failure of the structure.

To find wear points to determine if they warrant replacement, look at:

  • Transition points, especially truss-to-leg positions where the most tension is on the cover.
  • Attachment points of the tensioning hardware to the fabric membrane
  • The radius of cable devices around the structure that hold the cover in place with tension.

These are the most common areas for the first signs of wear to begin to develop because there is the most pull of the fibers at these points. However, wearing can happen in other areas as well, such as when one area is rubbing against any other material.


Another time to consider fabric-building recovery is when you begin to see pin-sized holes develop in the structure. These tend to be very small at first and most obvious at night when light shines through them. This is called star-lighting because it looks like small, dim stars across the inside of the fabric structure.

These are very tiny holes, but that does not mean the structure is going to leak. Sometimes, it may not even separate much. However, star lighting typically occurs before these other types of more aggressive failures begin to occur. These are typically areas where the membrane has been worn by natural erosion, especially of windborne debris.

If you see more than one spot form, that’s a good indication that fabric structure recovering should be a priority for you. The more you see, the more weak spots are developing.

Loss of cover or a detachment

Fabric structure recovers are necessary if, for any reason, the structure loses that cover. The most common reason for this is high wind events. In a windstorm or thunderstorm, just the right movement of air through the space can cause the fabric membrane to lift off the structure.

There are also times when this can happen just partially. When it detaches from the framework, this creates a significant breach. It is best to have a damaged fabric building repaired by a company that can replace the membrane properly, ensuring the same level of protection originally desired.

In some situations, advanced composite structure fabrication and damage repair are necessary after a serious storm. Fabric structure repair should always be done by a trusted, licensed company with ample experience in this area. With any fabric building change like this comes some risk of injury if the structure is not assembled properly or, in some cases, too much or too little tension is put in place to hold the new membrane securely.

Note, too, that there is a risk of a partially detached fabric cover snapping due to the tension in place. This can lead to serious injury if someone without experience tries to fix it.

Let the Team at Britespan Help You

If it is time to get new fabric on your structure, the team at Britespan can offer the help and services you need. With our fabric building change of membrane, we will ensure that the entire structure is durable and properly in place, minimizing any risk of damage to the structure or, even more importantly, to your livestock or other assets within.

During this process of changing the fabric covered building out with a new membrane, we will ensure there the entire structure is safe and protected. Our team is always available to help estimate your needs and create a plan for fabric cover replacement that fits your needs.