When determining what kind of roof or cover to put on your geodesic dome, you must consider several factors. The purpose of your dome, your geographic location, and the amount of protection you need will heavily impact the material you use. A greenhouse dome will have a very different cover than a complete home dome build-out.
Keep reading to learn about several options for materials and roof styles for your geodesic dome.
Which Material is Optimal for a Geodesic Dome?
The optimal material for a geodesic dome will be waterproof, dustproof, and durable. While many materials have some of these properties, choosing which material is optimal will come down to personal preference, purpose, and budget.
Geodesic Dome Roofing Systems
The first step in choosing a roof for your geodesic dome is determining how permanent you want your dome to be. Is this a temporary tent dome that you plan to take down and relocate, or are you building a dome home that you will be living in? The permanence of your geodesic dome plays a large role in what roofing system you choose.
Temporary and Removable Dome Coverings
Tent domes, glamping domes, and event domes are all examples of domes that can be temporary. If you wish to have a roof or cover that you can remove, the best material is an architectural fabric. There are several types of fabrics that can be used. Here are some popular options:
- Parachute Silk Covers- This is a simple and inexpensive way to cover a geodesic dome. This material is lightweight and typically looks very nice; however, it does not stand up well to high winds, rain, and dust. This is best used for shade in temporary domes.
- Airtex Lightweight Cover- Airtex covers use a thin but durable fabric rated for 3/5 years of continuous outdoor use. This cover is most commonly used for event domes.
- Clear Vinyl- Clear vinyl covers are typically made from marine-rated fabric. Even if high-quality vinyl is used, it has a minimal life expectancy and won’t stand up to extreme weather or freezing temperatures. This is meant to be used for a very temporary cover.
- Tyvek- Tyvek is made from high-density polyethylene fibers. It is reasonably priced and available at most construction stores. Tyvek is water-resistant, dustproof, and windproof. If you need larger sections, you can connect individual pieces of Tyvek with Tyvek tape.
- Canvas- Canvas is very popular for camping and glamping domes. It is not as durable as PVC and needs to be properly cared for, or it could start to rot. Canvas is not as waterproof as other materials on this list.
Before you can get serious about choosing the perfect roof for your geodesic dome, you need to build the frame. Read our article about the best geodesic dome kits to help you decide which kit is right for you.
Semi-Permanent Dome Covers
Some glamping domes and greenhouse domes are considered semi-permanent structures and will need a more durable roof system than a temporary structure.
- PVC Covers- PVC is durable and UV and weather resistant. It comes in many different colors, you can easily add window and door options, and most PVC covers are rated to last for 10-15 years outdoors. This is one of the most rugged options for a temporary cover, but it is heavy and bulky. PVC covers are most commonly used for glamping domes.
- Shelter System Fabric- This material is stronger than clear vinyl and Tyvek because it has ripstop nylon interwoven into the vinyl. This clear material is very durable, and the translucent material is made specifically for greenhouse domes and allows 90% of light through.
- ETFE- This material is more like a film rather than a fabric. It is growing in popularity as an alternative to structural glass. ETFE will transmit more light than glass, provides insulation, and is relatively inexpensive to install.
Is your glamping dome built, covered, and ready to start renting? Before you book your first guest, be sure to check out our list of the 47 best glamping accessories.
Permanent Dome Covers and Roofs
If your geodesic dome is a permanent structure like a home, shop, office space, or higher-end glamping dome, then it will need a durable and permanent roof. These structures will face harsher weather and elements and need to be structurally sound.
Some popular options for permanent roods include:
- Expanded Polyurethane- This is a type of insulation that is both lightweight and strong, making it perfect for a geodesic dome roof. It can be sprayed on a cloth cover with metal mesh to bind it together. The foam can be painted to protect it from the sun and give your dome your desired look.
- OSB or Plywood- OSB boards and plywood are typically used for the first layer on a geodesic dome roof. This gives you plenty of options to add paint, insulation, shingles, or concrete.
- Concrete- Some dome owners choose to cover their dome with Gunite which is sprayed concrete. This is an extremely durable roof option.
- Aluminum Composite Panels- These panels are aluminum sheets that are frequently used for facades of buildings or signs. They also happen to make very strong, waterproof, durable roofs. Aluminum is rust and corrosion-resistant, so it is meant to last a long time.
Shingling a Geodesic Dome
Shingling, a geodesic dome, is a type of permanent roof system, and it is relatively common. Dome owners can choose from asphalt shingles or metal shingles.
- Asphalt Shingles- If you choose to use shingles on your dome roof, you have to ensure that you are using high-quality shingles. The shape of a dome roof makes shingling difficult, and if not done correctly, you could experience leaks. Shingles are water-shedding, not waterproof, so you should have a waterproof layer under your shingles.
- Metal Shingles- Metal shingles are more expensive, with the higher-end choices being copper or zinc. Metal roofs last a very long time and are good for an area that may experience frequent lightning.
Many people choose to build a geodesic dome home because it can be much more inexpensive than a traditional home. In addition to saving on building costs, many people save on energy costs in these energy-efficient spaces. If you’re curious about how much it costs for a total dome home build-out, check out our article about geodesic dome home kit costs.
Glass Roofs for Geodesic Domes
There are several glass-like materials that are commonly used for geodesic roof covers. Glass roofs are very sleek and stylish and will make your dome look modern. People who purchase dome kits for greenhouses and sunrooms will typically choose a glass cover.
- Tempered Glass- Tempered glass is five times stronger than regular glass, so it is durable and safe. If it breaks, instead of shattering into sharp shards, it crumbles into granular chunks. Tempered glass comes in different thicknesses, so you can choose which type is best for your dome.
- Acrylic Glass- Often called Plexiglass, acrylic glass is transparent, lightweight, shatter-resistant, and a very safe alternative to glass. This is a great low-cost way to add a glass cover to your geodesic dome.
- Twinwall or Multiwall Polycarbonate Sheets- This is the most commonly used type of polycarbonate and is perfect for greenhouses and gazebos.
- Solid Polycarbonate Sheets- This is the strongest and most durable glass option available. This roofing system is virtually unbreakable, so it is popular for emergency shelters. These sheets are transparent like glass but also UV protected, so they are often used to cover skylights and panoramic windows in a dome home.
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Geodesic Dome Roofing Cost
The cost of a geodesic dome roof will vary based on the material you choose. Budget is often a large factor when a dome owner is choosing a roofing system. For temporary and semi-permanent geodesic domes, owners can use canvas or parachute silk covers to save money; however, these covers will not be as durable as PVC or ETFE, which will cost more. It is important to remember that the more durable, longer-lasting roof systems will be more expensive.
Overall Thoughts on the Best Roof for Geodesic Domes
Dome owners have a ton of options for covers and roof systems for their domes. They can use architectural fabric, glass alternatives, or even shingles. When choosing a roof, you must consider how much insulation you need, whether you need the cover to be transparent or opaque, and what your budget will allow.
It is also possible to combine several options on this list to produce a very durable, long-lasting dome home roof that will stand against bad weather in all climates.
While some materials are considered better or more high quality than others, choosing the best roof for a geodesic dome really comes down to personal preference and the purpose of your dome.
The materials used to make a geodesic dome vary based on the company. Frames are typically made out of rust and corrosion-resistant metal. Many manufacturers consider the strength-to-weight ratio of a dome structure, so strong lightweight metals are the best building material.
If the roof on your geodesic dome isn’t installed properly, you could have leaks. Using high-quality materials and choosing a builder who has experience installing dome roofs will help reduce the chances of leaking due to a faulty dome roof.