Fabric structures

Fabric structures are buildings made of steel structure covered with a durable PVC membrane. The project process is adapted for simpler implementation since all elements of the structure are already finished in the production phase and are only fitted into the final structure of the building on location. The materials and method of execution thus enable us a much faster installation than classic concrete constructions or panel-clad steel buildings. The site and foundation preparations are also relatively simple and affordable.

For companies that are expanding their business and need more storage space as soon as possible, a fabric structure has many advantages due to the speed of implementation, large spans with no intermediate support columns, and long service life.

  • Advantages

    Advantages of fabric structures compared to an ordinary construction:

    – more economical, fast implementation
    – a sustainable solution – long service life of over 15 years (PVC membrane)
    – flexible – expansions and upgrades of the facility are possible
    – mobile – if necessary, the facility can be moved to another location
    – large spans (up to 90 m) without intermediate support columns and usable heights above 15 m
    – minimum maintenance costs
    – the steel used is environmentally friendly and renewable

  • Application

    Fabric structures are a specialized solution that can be used for a number of business activities: Industries Warehouses (storage facilities), Logistics and transport, Wood processing, Waste management, Carports for covered parking lots, Aircraft hangars and Covered sales areas.

  • Characteristics


    Fabric structures are buildings made of a galvanized steel structure covered with a single or double layer PVC membrane. In buildings without heating, the inner membrane has the function of protecting the internal surfaces from condensate and moisture.

    Structure ranges:
    15 m – 90 m clear span welded structure (pitched roof with a 15 – 18-degree slope).

    Structure types:

    • Type WSA and WSC

    Schwarzmann fabric structures WSA and WSC

    • Type WSS

    Schwarzmann fabric structure WSS



    The membranes are made of a strong polyester base with a PVC film and UV protection. Thus, they are ideal building materials for covering the walls and roofs of steel structures and adhere to the most demanding quality standards. Due to their high adaptability, interesting architectural ideas become feasible. Their main advantages are UV and weather protection and – in case of lighter colours – translucent design.

    We usually use a PVC membrane from the Austrian supplier Sattler with the code number POLYPLAN All-In-One FR (weight/m2 = 690 g/m2). It is the most versatile membrane in the Sattler program and is fireproof (code B1) and available in several colours.

    In cases where a PVC membrane with different properties is required, we install other membranes from the Sattler range or use a membrane from the French manufacturer Serge Ferrari. The choice of membrane is usually determined by the purpose and size of the structure.

    The membrane is attached to the structure with metal pipes that are inserted into welded grooves. Threaded rods and perforated strips are then used to attach the tensioned material to the walls and the roof of the structure. The tensioned membranes are able to withstand wind and snow pressures.
    As an additional service, we also offer the printing of signs and text onto the PVC membrane.


    In most cases, fabric structures do not need a concrete foundation. First, steel anchors are attached to the asphalt or hardened sand base. For larger widths or wind and snow loads, it is necessary to prepare appropriate concrete foundations (point or line base). Plans for the foundations are prepared by our technical department. The implementation is either done in-house by the client or by a hired contractor.


    During the preparation of the offer, a list of all necessary equipment will be compiled. This includes doors (Schwarzmann double or multi-winged manual sliding doors; automatic, sectional or roller doors; automatic high-speed personnel doors), ventilation windows, vents, roof and wall fans, light domes, gutters, snow screens, canopies, etc.

  • FAQ

    How much do Schwarzmann fabric structures cost per m2?

    The price depends on the project: since each structure is designed according to the specific requirements of the investor, a general price list is unfortunately not available. The sales team prepares an offer or provides an informative price within a maximum of 5 – 10 working days after receiving all the necessary data for the calculation.


    Is a building permit necessary to set up a fabric structure?

    For a fabric structure, it is necessary to obtain a building permit for a “simple” (non-complex) facility. Drawings and documentation needed can be provided by our engineers. For details and other documentation regarding the installation of a fabric structure on your land, please contact the responsible administrative unit.


    What’s the estimated delivery time?

    The delivery time is determined individually – depending on the current workload of our company and the size of the facility. The usual delivery time for fabric structure facilities is from 45 days to 90 days.


    What fabric structure dimensions are available?

    We offer 15 to 90 m wide fabric structures with a lateral (usable) height of up to 15 m. The minimum structure area is 300 m2. We don’t offer rental options.


    How long are the warranty period and the lifespan of the products?

    The warranty period for construction is 10 years for rust of materials and 5 years for the PVC membrane (10 years for 850 and 900 g/m), while the general warranty period and warranty for installed assemblies and equipment is 1 year.


    What about the distance from other facilities?

    Depending on the size of the fabric structure, usually at least three meters. If the distance between buildings is less and there is a chance of snow accumulation, the snow needs to be removed regularly. Otherwise, the weight of the snow can damage the membrane. Therefore, we often install snow screens on fabric structures of larger widths that keep the snow on the building. Another option would be mono-pitched roofs or the latest fabric structure X with a flat roof.


    How is the ground prepared?

    The terrain needs to be as level as possible. The fabric structure facility can be placed on compact sand, asphalt or concrete. The needed thickness or load-bearing capacity of the ground depends on the width, structure load-bearing capacity and customer requirements.


    How about the foundations?

    Most fabric structures can be placed on metal foundations without the need to pour in concrete. The foundations are designed in such a way as to ensure the proper resistance to snow and wind loads in accordance with that specified in the standards. If facilities require a higher load capacity or there are extreme weather conditions at the location, point concrete foundations may be needed.


    How is the structure attached to the base?

    The metal foundation is attached to the base with metal anchors that are driven into the sand or asphalt. In case of concrete foundations, the foundation plate is attached to the concrete via chemical anchors.


    What is the structure made of?

    The structure consists of welded segmented beams and longitudinal connecting pieces. Welded structures are either hot-dip galvanised in accordance with the SIST EN ISO 1461: 2009 standard (for steel with a thickness of 3-6 mm: 324g/m2) or painted.


    How long is the service life of the structures?

    In our experience, the service life of the structure is not limited or prone to problems, since the components of the structure are galvanised, hot-dip galvanised or painted and can be used for up to 30 years without any problems.


    Where are PVC membranes made?

    Schwarzmann fabric structures are covered with quality PVC membranes made by Sattler Austria or Ferrari France.


    How translucent is the membrane?

    For most cases, we recommend a light grey PVC membrane on vertical walls and a white membrane for the roof. This combination allows enough sunlight into the building during the day to conduct work without additional artificial light, which reduces operating costs. Other colour combinations from the manufacturer’s product range are also available.


    Is there also a transparent membrane?

    There is also a transparent PVC membrane that can be used for partition walls and windows. However, the translucent membrane is more useful, since it has all the properties of the standard membrane and can be installed in the roof or walls as a light strip.


    Is it possible to add an advertising sign or logo to the membrane?

    We are able to add an advertisement (for the agreed price), if the customer sends us an advertising sign or logo in a timely fashion and in the appropriate digital format. After we receive the logo and the desired dimensions, we make a draft, which is then forwarded to the investor for confirmation.


    How costly is replacement of the membrane?

    The cost of replacing the membrane is approximately 30% of the purchase value of the building. In practice, we recommend replacing the membrane after 12 to 15 years.


    What can we do if the membrane gets damaged?

    Hail usually cannot damage the membranes. Other mechanical damage is repaired in two ways: by hot-air welding or special duct tape.


    Is it possible to insulate the fabric structure?

    We can install a double membrane for additional insulation and the drainage of condensed water. For projects that require better insulation, Schwarzmann offers prefabricated halls with insulated panels.


    What about building heating?

    The fabric structure is usually heated with natural gas or heating oil furnaces. If the investor wants to heat the building, we will recommend a facility with a double membrane, which reduces heat loss and prevents condensate from dripping onto the stored goods. We can advise you in choosing the most suitable type of heater and calculate the required strength according to the size of the building and your needs. Heating is easy when it comes to minor demands, say to prevent freezing. For permanent heating installation, the furnace must be installed on the outside of the building.


    How are the fabric structures ventilated?

    The best and most effective way of ventilation is through the door. Most fabric structure facilities are equipped with ventilation windows. Usually the fabric structure facilities are not prone to overheating, and indoor temperatures are similar to the outside temperatures during the summer months. Fans can also be installed for air circulation. On a substrate that lets in large amounts of moisture, condensate can form on the inside of the membrane during the winter months. This problem can partially be solved with the installation of windows and air blowers.


    What about condensation?

    If the equipment and materials stored in the fabric structure will be sensitive to moisture or condensation, we stretch a white anti-condensation membrane across the inside of the structure. Condensate forms rarely and usually in very small amounts, so it dries out quickly on the membrane, with no drainage needed. To a large extent, the amount of moisture in the building depends on the substrate. Up to a certain level, condensation can be prevented with windows and fans.


    What kinds of doors are offered, and where are they positioned?

    The door can be manual or automatic. For fabric structures, we offer high-speed, sectional or roller automatic doors from other manufacturers. Schwarzmann manual sliding doors are available in single or double-wing versions. The galvanised door construction is covered by a membrane, which is attached to the frame with aluminium profiles. We offer several standard sizes. The door can be built into the end or side wall of the building.


    What about grounding?

    The construction of the fabric structure can be grounded with a network of probes. These are installed in close proximity to the building and are then connected to the structure. Another method is to install a rolled piece, if the preparatory construction work for the asphalt or concrete have not yet been completed. The rolled piece is buried approximately 100 cm deep into the soil around the building and is connected to the structure at a maximum distance of 20 m.


    Do you also offer electrical installations?

    At the request of the investor, we also take care of all necessary electrical installations in the building.


    How much does the fabric structure weigh?

    The fabric structure weighs 20 kg/m2 to 40 kg/m2.


    How long does it take to build the structure?

    The implementation depends on the size and type of the facility and is measured in weeks and not months, so these are relatively short delivery times compared to other facilities.


    What are the costs of relocating the fabric structure?

    Despite the fact that Schwarzmann fabric structures are prefabricated structures, they are meant to stay in one location and are not intended for frequent relocation. Fabric structure facilities that are easy to move are usually not fitted for higher wind and snow loads and have an aluminium construction. The cost of relocating our fabric structure is approximately 30 % of the value of the new facility. Moving the hall within one location in less expensive, since massive elevators can be used to move the whole building.


    Are later extensions of the hall possible?

    Extending the length of a fabric structure is easy. During the process, the end wall is removed and relocated to the extended end of the facility. However, there could be a few minor deviations between the colour shades.

Case studies