Blog: Dome Stories

How fabric domes get tough

Like so many other cultural phenomenons, fitness has its trends. Aerobics gave way to yoga. And rugby and lacrosse are the current stars of field sports. As the sports and fitness sands morph and shift, the design of fabric domes is changing too.

Aerial view of an inflatable fabric dome

Most domes are white. Like big puffy cumulus clouds, these white domes cover tennis courts, golf ranges, athletic fields and pools. White was most often used because it helped with natural lighting and there was no coloration that would fade.

Color choices for air dome fabric

But advancements in dome fabric technology are changing that trend. Designers are opting for pale grey domes leaving a softer, gentler impression on the surrounding landscape.

This fabric’s got chemistry

Turns out there is a whole lot of science behind domes — which are built from architectural-grade, structural fabric.

Rolls of red fabric for an inflatable dome

“It starts as a continuous strand of polyester, with no breaks in it,” explains Frank Brandenburg of Seaman Corporation. A scientist and 36-year veteran of the architectural-grade fabric industry, Frank knows his stuff.  “The yard has 200 filaments and has very high strength. Like the strength of a rope.”

The fabric has strength, but to get it to hold up against beatings from the sun, wind and rain, it requires a cocktail of coatings. “The surface is plasticized PVC. But that’s not really good for shedding dirt or snow,” Brandenberg said. He’s a big fan of a coating called Tedlar. Tedlar is to domes what Teflon is to cookware. It’s protective, slippery and resists fading.

The Yeadon difference

Yeadon offers Tedlar as an optional coating to its domes. It’s costly. So some clients choose to forego it.  “I understand the science behind it. And I understand building codes,” said Brandenberg. “Anyone who’s owned a building with Tedlar wants it again. They’re not unhappy with Tedlar,” he said.