Skip to main content

When you need to shelter your operations or events from the elements, Allsite tension fabric structures (TFS) offer unmatched strength, stability, and versatility. Unlike tents, tension fabric structures can stand up to long-term use, protect from virtually all weather conditions, and provide generous interior space for almost any application. And, while their uses and reliability go far beyond what tents offer, they don’t take a whole lot longer to set up. In fact, thanks to the TFS’s engineered aluminum frame (lightweight but with the strength of a steel frame), standardized parts, and overall modular design, you’re looking at just a few days to install from start to finish.

Installing a Tension Fabric Structure

The TFS can be as large as a regular building, but it’s surprisingly quick and easy to set up for immediate occupancy. What’s the installation process like? Here’s what you can expect during your tension fabric structure installation.

Arrival: Delivery of Tension Fabric Structure Materials

Once we’ve worked with you to finalize your fabric structure configuration, we’ll gather the component parts. The frame will be loaded on a tractor trailer for delivery straight to the installation site. Since the frame is made from lightweight aluminum, it’s easier to transport and costs less to ship than steel. Once the truck gets to your location, the crew will unload everything using a forklift. They will then take a quick inventory to confirm that it’s all ready for the install.

Ground Game: Perimeter and Base Plate Layout

Setting up base plates for summit structure

Installation starts by laying out the perimeter. The crew uses the 3/4/5 square method to line up all the side and gable base plates for each section. This creates a precise footprint for your fabric structure, making sure it will be perfectly aligned and have the strength to withstand local weather conditions.

Once all the base plates are in their exact positions, the crew anchors down all the side base plates using four stakes each. Depending on the site characteristics, they may need to do a pull test first to confirm the plates will hold fast, especially in high winds. There are a number of different anchoring options. The best anchoring solution for your coverall building will be determined ahead of time, based on terrain, slope, weather conditions, and other factors. Typically the type of anchoring is based on ground conditions or requirements from the client such as not penetrating the ground.

Frame-up: Building the Frame

The next steps are to install and secure the arched frame of the structure. The frame is built flat on the ground. Using the side base plates as a guide on positioning, the crew works on building each arch. They begin by attaching the curve to the raising pin on the side base plate. The rafter goes up next.

This is followed by adding any extension beams if needed to match your configuration, plus the peak slice at the apex of the structure. Working in this manner, they add a matching extension beam, rafter, and curve on the other side of the peak. That side gets attached to the opposite side base plate raising pin. The crew repeats the arch creation process for each pair of base plates in the build. Next, the purlins, or supporting beams of the arch, are bolted to the rafter and extension, with the exception of the two near the bottom of each curve. They then add eyebolts, cables, guy ropes, ratchet straps, and anchor stakes as needed for the next steps.

Skyward: Raising the Arches

Raising aluminum frame arches for large fabric structure on urban lot

Once the arches are built, they are ready to be raised into place. This is done using either a reach fork or crane. The need for a crane and size of crane depends on your structure size, site specs, and total reach needed to complete the build.

In either case, the crew attaches the equipment to the peak of the first arch and gently lifts it up into a vertical position. They will then completely tie it off before releasing it so they can lift the second arch into position. A crewmember will then ride a man lift up to attach the purlins that go between the two arches. The peak purlin goes in last to prepare for the membrane panel installation.

Cover Up: Installing the Membrane Panels

Crane in the snow installing modular fabric panels on Allsite tension fabric semi-permanent building

The crew then works together to pull the first membrane panel, your tensioned fabric cover, over the first pair of arches. The panel follows tracks on the curve to keep it level and square. As two crew members manually guide the membrane, a forklift operator skillfully glides the membrane over the arches using a pull bar. After that, they use a hydraulic jack to fully tension the panel horizontally and lock the purlins to hold it in place. The crew repeats this process down the entire length of the structure to match your configuration. As they work, they will add cable bracing to further increase the strength of its build. Once the entire frame is built, they will remove the temporary anchoring solutions before placing the gable upright beams and panels.

End Game: Placing Gable Upright Beams and Panels

The gable upright beams and panels go on both ends of the structure to complete its build. Using a forklift, the crew attaches the upright beams to the gable brackets and base plates. Then, they install the horizontal purlins before lifting the gable panels into place. Like the other membranes, these panels feed into a track on the curve, so they go into the right position. Tension bars allow the crew to pull the fabric tight before they lace the gable panels together. After finishing both gables, the crew works around the perimeter of the structure to add weight bars. These bars attach to the bottom of each doorless membrane, allowing the crew to tuck the extra material out of the way. With the membrane panels in place and tensioned over the high strength frame, the arched building locks in with superior stability and is set to provide safe and secure service for as long as your project is in place.

Installing Add-ons and Final Inspection

Installing ventilation fan in interior of high ceiling fabric building

After building the tension fabric structure in its entirety, the crew can focus on the final touches. The next steps depend on how you will use our building systems.

Based on your needs for the structure, they may install:

● Cargo doors
● Personnel doors
● Lighting
● Ventilation

Upon finishing all that work, the crew leader will inspect the build, and then have you come take a look. You’ll then go on a walkthrough of the structure, so you can verify that you’re satisfied.

Allsite for Fast Fabric Building Solutions

If you are ready to get started on your quick building solution for almost any application, just give the team at Allsite Structure Rentals a call at 1-888-532-0472 for a free quote. We’ll walk you through the quick and easy process to configure the right building solution for your needs. Before you know it, you’ll have a tension fabric structure installed and ready to go to work on your project site.

Author Jason Cromwell

Jason Cromwell is the General Manager of Allsite Structure Rentals. He has a degree in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Jason is a 12 year veteran in all matters related to Tension Fabric Structures with Allsite Structure Rentals and has over 20 years of sales, operations, and management experience. Read more about Jason and the rest of our team at

More posts by Jason Cromwell

Leave a Reply

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Request A Quote

Request A Quote