Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) coated polyester, is the most commonly selected material for tensile membrane structures. PVC is chosen for its excellent strength, water proof properties, flexibility, transparency, and durability. It is the most cost-effective and versatile tensile fabric, and meets a large range of colour and application needs, both permanent and temporary. PVC is treated to be stain, fire and UV resistant.
The approximate design life of PVC coasted polyester fabric is 15-30 years, depending on grade of PVC selected, location, and exposure to environmental pollution. PVC fabric warranties can range anywhere from 5 to 15 years, depending on the supplier and application.
PVC fabric reflects around 89% of solar energy, allowing 9% visible transmission through the fabric. The rate of transmission is dependent on the colour of the fabric, coatings, printings and environment. These coatings can contain anti-fungicides. Therefore, the stronger the self-cleaning properties of the fabric, the less light transmission is interrupted by dirt adherence and aging of the fabric.
PVC polyester is used on structures all over the world and in every environment. Applications include: covered walkways, car park structures, entrance features, outdoor classrooms, play areas, sport court enclosures, swimming pool enclosures, and event spaces.
PVC is a strong fabric that can be folded, making it ideal for retractable and temporary structures such as tents, warehouses, remediation, and mining structures, which need to be demounted and stored often.
With the ability to print on the fabric with ease, PVC is often used in projects where branding is important.
PVC can be altered to manipulate the sound absorption rate of the structure. Various coatings can be applied to PVC dependent on the requirements of the structure. For example, an indoor aquatic centre will use PVC that has been specifically treated to absorb as much sound as possible, while a small room or area will benefit from strong acoustic retention.
PVC coated polyester is low maintenance, although it requires more frequent maintenance than self-cleaning PTFE and ETFE. Frequency of cleaning is dependent on the location of the structure, exposure to environmental pollutants, and the coating on the fabric. Lacquers and other coatings can be added to the fabric to significantly increase the lifespan, and decrease the need for maintenance.
PVC is classed as a recyclable fabric, and is therefore an increasingly popular choice for green building as an alternative to rigid roofing. Although there are many processes of recycling PVC, the most common practice involves melting down the fabric to be reproduced. The process does not affect the lifetime of the recycled PVC.