What is a Fabric Duct?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Fabric ducts are air ducts that are made from specific blends of fabrics rather than from metal or plastic. The typical fabric duct is composed of polyethylene or some type of polyester blend. In order to ensure safety, the material is treated to be both heat-resistant and flame-retardant. Ducts of this type can be used as part of air conditioning systems in the home as well as in other types of buildings.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

There are several advantages associated with fabric ducts rather than ducts made of some other material. Unlike metal, there are never any worries about rust or corrosion. While the moisture content may be somewhat high at certain times of the year, a fabric duct is also resistant to rotting, which means it can easily last as long as any metal ductwork.

A fabric duct also offers ease of installation. The material is lightweight, so it is much easier to work with than bulky sections of metal ductwork. In addition, the process of trimming and tailoring the ductwork to fit into the space is extremely easy. Often, there is no need to trim at all, since the fabric duct is usually configured to contract slightly if needed. The end result is less time spent cutting the sections to fit and less waste during the installation process.

There is also a considerable cost savings generated by choosing to go with a fabric duct over other types of ductwork. Some manufactures are able to offer their various types of fabric ductwork for less than half the cost associated with metal ducts designed for the same purpose. Along with saving on the initial cost, the shipping costs associated with ductwork made from material are much less than the shipping on the plastic or metal equivalents.

It is important to remember that the right fabric duct can be used for many different purposes. The type of airflow is not really a factor, since the material can easily accommodate heated and unheated air, as well as cooled and dehumidified air. In areas where the climate is dry, this type of ductwork also works well with systems that infuse the interior of the home or other building with a small amount of humidity.

Not everyone is aware that fabric ducts can be punched or unpunched, much like any other type of ductwork. For transfer-only systems, the unpunched is the duct of choice. However, small holes can be punched into the material with relative ease to allow distribution of air along the length of the ductwork if desired. At each end of the section of duct, the material is outfitted with a series of grommets that make it easy to snap the duct into place. This feature makes it possible to install a section of fabric duct in just a few minutes, rather than requiring the half-hour or so that is more common with metal ductwork.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


In addition to the comments on this article, a good fabric duct manufacturer will help design or recommend a layout for your application with software that will predict airflow patterns and air speed at a given distance from the duct, and also make sure it is optimally sized correctly so it does not look like an inflatable failing arm tube man you see at a car lot.

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