Red Sky Shelters is committed to offering materials that yield the best performance, durability and safety with the least environmental impact. Close to a decade ago we phased out the use of PVC-coated fabrics for our Yome coverings. This decision left us with very few options and we have had to pioneer and develop our own alternative materials. From our silicone Legacy roof fabric to our new Frontier 100% hemp sidewall fabric, we have developed a set of fabric options that are suitably durable and functional yet environmentally friendly.
What roof fabrics does Red Sky Shelters use for the Yome?
Our standard roof material is our Legacy silicone-coated polyester roof covering. For do-it-yourselfers, we offer a Yome kit where our Voyager ceramic-acrylic based roof coating is applied by the Yome owner.
What is silicone?
Silicone is a polymer made from silicon, oxygen, and various organic compounds. Silicone is unaffected by ultraviolet radiation, oxygen, ozone, or high temperature – all these agents that degrade most other polymers. Furthermore, silicone filters out harmful UV-B rays, the type of UV rays that damages materials including our skin.
As far as we know, pure silicone is a completely environmentally “green” substance. Not only is silicon the most abundant mineral on earth, but throughout silicone’s life cycle, from its manufacturing to its disposal, no harmful byproducts are produced. Unlike PVC, silicone when burned (at high temperature, given its high flame resistance) produces merely an ash of silica dioxide, a.k.a., sand.
If silicone is “green,” why does it have a bad environmental reputation?
It is possible to dilute silicone rubber in its liquid state with solvents. Years ago, in many processes involving silicone, these solvents were allowed to escape into the environment. It was these solvents that cause environmental concern. Although there are now solvent recovery systems, these are technically-complicated and it is not necessary to use solvents at all when coating with silicone. We use only solvent-free silicone with 100% rubber solids to coat onto our roof fabric .
What is your silicone-coated Legacy roof material?
For our Legacy roof material, we start with an extremely tough, plied-polyester base fabric (the same fabric used for conveyor belts) and incorporate a newly developed, environmentally-sensitive, flame–resistant compound. We then bond a heavy layer of silicone rubber to the exterior and our ceramic-acrylic coating (see below) on the interior. The result is an extremely durable and strong material that keeps the weather out. This material will out-perform any PVC-coated architectural fabric in its class in strength, tear-resistance and longevity.
If silicone coated fabric makes such a great architectural material, why isn’t it used more often?
Good question! The main answer is probably the cost. Silicone coating is 5-6 times more expensive than PVC coating. However, if PVC’s true environmental cost were factored in, silicone would be considered a bargain.
What about the Voyager ceramic-acrylic-coated roof?
This is a do-it-yourself option for Yome kits. We start with a roof material made out of Sunforger-treated polyester-cotton fabric. Upon setting up the roof frame on the ground, two coats of Voyager ceramic-acrylic coating are applied to the roof by the Yome owner. This coating seals and protects with millions of tiny hollow ceramic beads suspended in it giving it a hard yet flexible weather-resistant finish.
What is the ceramic-acrylic coating made of?
Our ceramic-acrylic coating is an engineered combination of solar-reflective ceramics suspended in a hybrid emulsion of acrylic resins in water. This low VOC reflective coating incorporates top quality elastomeric polymers and unique ceramics that have been recycled from fly ash.
Do you have to coat the Sunforger-treated fabric in the do-it-yourself kit with the ceramic-acrylic sealant?
No, in dryer environments it is not necessary. Sunforger-treated fabric is already both water and mildew resistant and has been used for years in camping tents and tipis. However, in wetter environments which experience a lot of rain or snowfall, we recommend applying the ceramic-acrylic coating. It not only seals the roof but also extends the life of the material.
Why can’t you offer a silicone coating that can be applied by the customer for Yome kits?
The process silicone requires isn’t really suitable to be applied by the customer. While the ceramic-acrylic coating can be brushed on like thick paint and will air dry, silicone is a liquid rubber that requires a unique and controlled application and curing process, so much so that we don’t do it ourselves in-house; we have it done for us .
What sidewall fabrics do you offer?
Sunforger is our standard wall fabric. We also offer Sunglow, our acrylic-coated option, and Frontier, our premium hemp fabric. All three materials are fire, water, and mildew-resistant. Our Sunforger and Frontier fabrics are both breathable, and all three are translucent. Their natural color allows filtered light to enter and bathe the Yome in a rich and elegant glow. It’s like living in a cloud !
What is your Sunforger wall fabric made of?
The Sunforger treatment (formerly known as Vivitex) has been used for decades and has proven itself to be a utilitarian material that offers great value. Water and mildew-resistant, it has a 3-10 year lifespan, holding up longer in dryer conditions than wetter ones. The fabric’s natural off-white color changes somewhat unevenly over time, but this does not affect its lifespan. We add an environmentally-friendly fire-resistance treatment to make our sidewall material safe.
What’s special about your Frontier hemp sidewalls?
Hemp is not only very environmentally-friendly, it has a number of amazing properties that make it a suitable sidewall material. The chief disadvantages of hemp, as a suitable sidewall material, is that it is naturally neither fire nor water-resistant. However, by tightly weaving the hemp in a twill pattern, we’ve achieved a fabric that is quite water-resistant. A durable, environmentally-friendly, non-halogenated treatment also renders it flame-resistant. The resulting fabric, with its natural unbleached light beige color, provides our most breathable option.
What about your SunGlow sidewall option?
Our other premium sidewall option is a polyester material that has been coated on both sides with an acrylic. Off-white in color, it is comparable in weight and feel to PVC-coated fabric, yet it is completely PVC-free. Being completely synthetic yet also flame-resistant, SunGlow does not breathe like our other alternatives, but it is more mildew-resistant and very cleanable, making it a good choice for high moisture conditions.