PTFE Membrane: Why Choose It For Your Structure?

Looking for a new material to create your shade structures out of? One that is sure to withstand any weather conditions while also retaining its strength across large shade structures? Then PTFE membrane may be the material you have been looking for.

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membrane is a long-lasting and popular shade solution for various climates. From the hottest summer days to the coldest winter nights, PTFE membrane is the choice for your future structure.

If you don’t take our word for it, read on to learn more about the material and its various benefits. Including its adaptability for a range of shade structures and environmental consciousness.

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What is PTFE?

PTFE typically uses a woven fibreglass cloth as its base material, which is coated in a silicon layer to prevent moisture absorption. After which, a liquid form of PTFE is added to the material, granting a range of benefits. Some of the more notable shade structure benefits of PTFE applications include:

  • UV protection
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Waterproofing
  • Gas filtration
  • Low water vapour permeability
  • A degree of fire-resistance

The combination of fibreglass mesh and PTFE coating creates structures that are not only weather-resistant, but also low maintenance and aesthetically pleasing. This makes it an appealing choice when looking into the creation of shade structures, especially since some structures allow for the addition of translucent cladding, which adds to the architectural and aesthetics of a structure.

What structures can you add PTFE fabric to?

There are multiple different shade structures that PTFE-treated fabric can be added to, offering its unique strength, durability, and ability to provide translucency. Depending on the type of architectural style, level of UV protection, and waterproofing, among other features your establishment requires, you can choose one of the following structures.

basket ball court cover

Shade Structures

PTFE can be added to a range of shade structures, regardless of their size or purpose. The membrane offers improved durability to most shade fabrics, including resistance against high temperatures and varied environments.

The membrane’s high levels of UV protection mean that PTFE-treated shade structures can keep the harmful rays of the sun away from the public. This makes it appealing for venues such as hotels or hospitality outdoor dining, commercial car parks, and even COLAs (covered outdoor learning areas) for educational facilities.

Since it is also naturally hydrophobic, the PTFE membrane creates commercial waterproof shade sails to keep individuals dry and enjoying the outdoors, even on heavily rainy days. This degree of climate adaptability is why many choose to add it to their shade structures.

Membrane Roofing

Beyond its durability and climate adaptability, the translucent aesthetics and self-cleaning properties of PTFE membrane make it a great choice for roofing. Particularly for large outdoor venues such as stadiums, sports courts, retail centres, or bowling clubs.

Interior Facades

While PTFE membrane is generally best suited for outdoor shade solutions, its sound absorption and fire-resistant features make it a common choice for interior facades. These facades are often architecturally striking due to its capability of translucency, but PTFE’s offering of effective light transmission and heat control are just as beneficial.

Awnings

PTFE membrane is also useable for smaller shade structures, specifically retail or public walkway awnings. Designated rest areas, storefronts, and walkways can enjoy complete protection against UV rays with the addition of PTFE to its tensile membrane structures. The fact that PTFE membrane can also be added to mesh for high porosity, low translucency, or complete blackout functions offers complete architectural design freedom.

What are the benefits of PTFE Membranes?

It is clear that PTFE membranes, no matter the structure they are used in, are incredibly adaptable and durable. The benefits of using this material for shade structures do not just stop there, however. There are further benefits to explore and consider utilising for your next shade solution.

Strength

Laminated PTFE filters are woven with fibreglass, providing incredible mechanical strength to any shade structure of your choice. This strength remains consistent across large distances with minimum secondary polypropylene support. Thus why it is commonly used for large lightweight shade structures with great success.

Longevity

On top of its strength, PTFE membrane filters are durable. Such durability allows for shade structures made with the material to last a long time with minimum maintenance.

One of the most notable reasons for this longevity is the fact that PTFE is chemically inert. This means it will not degrade or age under prolonged UV exposure, and there is no bubble point for heat. This means that shade structures treated with PTFE can be used in any climate, all while keeping the fabric bright and colourful.

PTFE membrane can even last in incredibly cold climates. The treated fabric will remain just as strong and flexible in negative degrees Celsius as it does in scorching heat.

High translucency

Although PTFE membrane offers UV protection, it can still be adapted for fabrics with high translucency. That is because a PTFE membrane filter allows for up to 14% of natural light to pass through. This reduces the need for artificial light in shaded areas while also creating an environment with natural colour correction that is free of sun glare.

The high translucency of PTFE membrane is also useful and night when artificial lighting is required. Uplighting the shade structure allows for the membrane’s reflectivity to create even under-canopy luminance, helping to illuminate the space.

Comfort

Since PTFE reflects most of the sun’s energy, the space beneath its shade often sits at a cooler air temperature than other conventional roofing materials. When used in the more densely populated inner-city areas, the addition of air venting applications also reduces the overall heat that tends to collect in urban areas.

The high translucency associated with PTFE membrane filters also means that structures coated in the material enjoy reduced shade lines and true colour perception. This allows individuals under the structure to experience a day without glare but with a steady distribution of natural light.

Maintenance

PTFE membrane boasts an incredibly low friction surface, meaning there is a minimal capacity for dirt and debris to sit. While this already makes maintenance of the material incredibly easy, the fact that PTFE is also hydrophobic also means water naturally beds on the surface. Any particulate matter that has managed to stick to the shade structure is thus run off by the water, creating a completely self-cleaning structure.

Fire performance

A PTFE filter or membrane is made with fibreglass, which is a noncombustible substance. This means any shade structure coated in PTFE will have a high melting point (around 327°C). With such a high melting point, it is difficult to find a climate or situation where the structure would be damaged by heat.

The high level of fire performance extends to the fact that the membrane filters will not present burning or flaming droplets. Thus, the material will not add to flame propagation. The combination of these characteristics makes PTFE capable of exceeding most global fire codes.

Sound absorption

Unlike most filter aqueous solutions, PTFE membrane offers both flexibility and increased air venting. Sound waves are thus absorbed rather than reflected into the area below the shade structure. This makes even the busiest or loudest events manageable in terms of sound levels.

This absorption is extended to even external noise. Events under a PTFE-treated shade structure can be enjoyed without disruption as any noise or reverberations of its surroundings are reduced and filtered.

Cost comparison to other fabrics

PTFE membrane seems to offer a significant amount of benefits and adaptability that makes it appealing for use across most shade structure projects. Thus, why is it not always used?

The cost comparison to other materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) polyester may indicate why it is not always the first choice.

Fabric Cost Application(s)
PTFE A high-performance material, making it many times more expensive than your average shade structure fabric.
  • Design life of around 50 years
  • High levels of light transmission
  • Soundproofing
  • Weatherproofing
  • Fire-resistance
  • Dirt and water-repellant for easy maintenance
  • An inert substance, meaning it has strong levels of UV protection
  • Strength can stretch across large shade structures
PVC Generally affordable, making it one of the most commonly used shade structure materials.
  • Medium level of light transmission
  • Dirt repellant for easy maintenance
  • Lower level of UV protection
  • 20-25 years of durability
  • Weatherproofing
  • Adaptable to a range of tensile membrane shade structures

Environmental considerations

Although the longevity of PTFE membrane structures means that fewer materials are required for replacement or reconstruction, there are still some environmental considerations associated with the material. While most of these concerns are rooted in PTFE’s usage in Teflon pans, shade structures still have some prominent considerations.

PTFE may be fire-resistant, but it still may release a strong organic acid known as TFA when it hits high temperatures. Once TFA enters the atmosphere, it can be brought back down in the form of rainwater and cause minor irritation in rare cases.

Beyond this, PTFE is a highly specialised and durable material. This makes it difficult to dispose of since it does not break down. Its high levels of specialisation also make it hard and expensive to recycle, causing many to dump the material incorrectly. Burning it also causes toxic gases to be released, resulting in a need for careful disposal processes to ensure environmental safety.

Huxley Wallace | Project Consultant

Build your next shade structure with PTFE Membrane and Greenline

Are you ready to install a fabric shade structure you know is going to wow the public and last for decades? Work alongside Greenline, the shade solution specialists, to design your dream shade structure with PTFE membrane.

Whether you are looking to build a structure large enough to cover a stadium, or for everyday use in school, Greenline can help with their expertise in PTFE membrane. With over 20 years of experience in shade solution design, we can walk you through the entire process to reach your shaded goal; consultation, design, and then construction.

Contact us today to set up your initial consultation and learn how PTFE membrane can bring your shade structures to new heights.

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Frequently asked questions

Is PTFE membrane hydrophobic or hydrophilic?

PTFE filters are naturally hydrophobic, meaning that they repel water for self-cleaning purposes. This means easy maintenance for any shade structures made with PTFE.

Can water pass through a PTFE filter?

Since PTFE filters are hydrophobic, no water can pass through them. Individuals under a shade structure coated with PTFE can enjoy the outdoors while remaining completely dry, even on the rainiest of days.

How durable is PTFE membrane?

PTFE is a high-performing fabric, capable of lasting outdoors for around 50 years. This makes it incredibly durable. Combined with its resistance to various weather climates and fire in general, PTFE is one of the most durable materials available for shade solutions.

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