Pleated    Structures

Industrial flapping

A common use of tensile membranes is to insulate buildings while they are being constructed, renovated, or demolished.

The purposes of the fabric wrap include protection of those below from falling objects; preventing objects from being lost over the edge in the first place; providing insulation to the building and the workers - both from the wind and from the weather.

However the tarps frequently seem to be applied with little expertise.

Torn, worn and flapping fabric

The result is fabrics that flap, rip and tear, rapidly wear out and generally fail to do the jobs they were intended to do.

Flapping fabrics make a lot of noise. This fills the heads of workers with noise and irritates the neighbours.

Also flapping and torn fabrics look ugly. They make a poor advertisement for the company doing the work - and can contribute to giving a site a poor reputation before construction has been completed.

A major tear

Another major tear


Small tears

After stepping back a bit

Skeleton on display


As far as I can see, these buildings should all have been pleated.

Pleating scaffolded constructions is about as simple as it can get. Scaffolding typically provides a flat surface with convenient attachment points.

Ridge cables are run over wheels attached around the scaffolding poles.

Pleating stabilises the fabric at regular intervals - and prevents it from flapping around.

There is much less need to puncture the fabric with cable ties and the like. Valley cables are still likely to need to penetrate the fabric, but much less frequently than with practically any other attachment method.

Pleating insulates the fabric from the underlying scaffolding. The resulting pleated membrane is supported practically everywhere slightly off the surface by wires - and is less likely to be torn by irregularities in the surface caused by things like scaffold end tubes.

Pleated buildings tend to look beautiful and neat - compared to some of the buildings pictured here. It is a better advertisement for a construction company to have the sites they are working on looking neat and tidy.


Neither the cables nor the scaffolding wheels are free of charge - but these components are easy to recycle - and can be expected to last for some time.

The labour cost of performing the pleating is very low.

Horizontal or vertical?

Horizontal pleating has the potential to make a better seal at the floors, is likely to present less wind resistance and is more convenient for a single individual to apply. These attributes tend to make it the preferred pleating type for this application in most cases.

Vertical pleating doesn't suffer from sagging cables - and the scaffolding wheels don't work themselves down the vertical poles. It also tends to make the building look taller and narrower.

Tim Tyler | Contact |