In the earlier years of dome construction, it was common practice to remove the
airform® after the dome was complete. At the time it seemed like a good idea.
This saved the customer some money since the cost of the airform® out weighed
the cost of exterior paint. Unfortunately, this left a very unattractive finished
product and waterproofing proved to be a great challenge. If left untreated, exposed
polyurethane decomposes in sunlight at a rate of 1/16th-inch per year.
How To Inspect Your Dome Covering
No matter what covering is currently protecting your dome, a periodic inspection
is required to insure that the polyurethane insulation is not in danger of being
exposed. The following applicable guidelines can be used for the inspection:
- Mechanical Damage: Check for any signs of tears, rips, burns or holes.
- PVC Degradation: This is usually evidenced by a light colored, chalky appearance.
- Seam Failure: Look at each seam paying particular attention to corners where
horizontal and vertical seams meet. If the corners are starting to curl it may indicate
that the vinyl has broken down and lost its plasticity.
- Vinyl Breakdown. The telltale sign of this condition is if you can see the
threads of the polyester fabric.
- Paints, stuccos and other similar coatings. Besides the applicable steps
listed above, check for cracking, flaking or peeling of the coating. Press firmly
on the coating in questionable areas. The foam underneath should feel firm, if it
seems spongy there is a chance that water has migrated into the foam.
- Suspect areas: Press firmly on any suspect areas. The foam underneath should
feel firm. If it is spongy, water has probably migrated under the coating and saturated
- Records Review: Check your maintenance records to see how long the current
coating has been in place versus the manufacturers recommended service life.
Coatings Now Available
For years, we have been researching protective coatings. We place strict prerequisites
on all potential coatings. These include:
- Bondability to the airform®
- Water proofing ability
- Soil resistance
- UV protection
- Warranty availability
Types of Coatings Available
- Paints. We have a wide variety of paints available, ranging in colors and
price. Custom designs are available, and we can even put your logo on the side of
- Stuccos. For the south western look, we have a special elastomeric stucco
available that ranges in texture and can be custom colored to fit your needs.
- Ceramic Tile. This finish is somewhat difficult to apply, but is very aesthetically
pleasing and durable.
- Metal Shingles. Certainly the most durable, metal shingles can be special
ordered to match your color needs. Chemical resistant coatings and custom designs
are also available.