Price is a big consideration when shopping for a new carport, shed or garage. Many people concerned with getting the most out of their money are led to consider fabric buildings - structures with a metal frame, but with walls and a roof made of heavy-duty fabric. So how do these fabric structures stack up against more traditional outdoor buildings, and should you consider one yourself?

Why Fabric Buildings are Popular

Fabric buildings- also known as tension fabric structures - are a common sight in many industries, especially in agriculture and ranching. Why? Here are a few of the reasons people consider fabric buildings:

  • Simple Construction - Fabric buildings are easy and fast to construct, making them popular when you need a fast storage solution.
  • Low Cost - Fabric buildings have very low material and construction costs, making them affordable even at large sizes.
  • Natural Light - The fabric used in tension structures is thin enough to allow light to pass through, cutting down on energy use and electrical needs.
  • No Planning Permission - In most cases, fabric buildings don’t require a permit since they aren’t engineered. Note that your municipality might be different.

In short, fabric buildings provide simple and straightforward protection for animals, feed, and farm equipment. But the real question is, do fabric buildings provide a better investment than more traditional steel buildings?

Comparing Fabric and Steel Buildings

Not sure what kind of building fits your needs best? Both fabric and steel buildings have their uses - but in most cases, steel buildings are superior. Here are a few reasons steel buildings are a better choice almost every time:


The biggest drawback of fabric buildings is their durability. While the fabric used in these structures is very strong initially, it degrades quickly with exposure to the elements. UV radiation, moisture, and thermal expansion and contraction all damage fabric much more than steel. This gives most fabric buildings a useful lifespan of only seven to ten years, in contrast to the decades of useful service from a steel building.


If you are planning to use your building for housing animals or storing temperature-sensitive material, steel might be a better choice. That’s because steel buildings can be fully insulated and offer more temperature retention than fabric. Fabric buildings don’t offer much protection against the outside atmosphere, and in the summer they can actually trap heat like a greenhouse (since they allow some solar light inside).


It’s true that steel buildings are more expensive than fabric buildings. However, this is only for the initial cost of each. When you consider maintenance and replacement costs over time, a steel building can actually be a much better value. Steel buildings need very little in the way of maintenance, and they are easy to repair if damaged. In contrast, fabric buildings need frequent maintenance to keep the fabric in good condition. They are also much harder to repair. If the fabric rips or tears you will need to replace that section entirely. This makes the cost of fabric buildings much higher over time. In most cases, the cost to maintain and replace a fabric building is often just as high as the initial cost of a steel building.


Since steel buildings are so much more durable and long-lasting than fabric structures, it’s natural to suspect they would take longer to construct and install as well. However, this is actually one area where steel buildings and fabric structures are comparable. Both steel and fabric buildings are quick and easy to install, with most installations only taking a day or two. This makes steel buildings just as good a choice when you need a shelter or storage solution quickly.

Learn More About Steel Buildings Today

Want to know more about how steel buildings get you the best value for your barn, shelter, or storage needs? Contact or visit us today at Bargain Barns USA. We offer steel buildings to fit any need or circumstance at the best prices around. Call 405-872-0338 today to learn more or visit our Facebook page for more ideas and tips.