The Inside Story

March 11, 2002
Multifaceted Performance From Wall Treatments
By Sarah TholenToday, more than ever, owners and facilities managers need choices in wallcoverings that add high value to the entire building envelope. Products and systems that are truly relevant in commercial spaces must deliver several functional, economically viable, and environmental attributes as well as aesthetics. Glass textile wallcoverings offer attractive characteristics that can meet and exceed these desires.Specified in Europe for over four decades, these wallcoverings are engineered fabrics woven in various patterns – from a traditional classic herringbone to more exotic constructions – to suit a variety of design sensibilities. Weave can vary, ranging from fine linen to a heavy tactile berber twill. Custom capability also exists to execute brand logos from digital art to dramatize corporate accent walls.Adhered to the wall and then painted, these materials achieve an enhanced dimensionality with infinite color possibilities. A flexible palette is particularly useful with restoration and remodel projects.Exceptional good looks often overshadow the more important practical and functional nature of glass textiles. Ease of installation is a key criterion to building professionals who must fast-track every change. Decision-makers should be comfortable that a product system will promise simple application, as well as competitive initial and life-cycle cost, and be durable enough to sustain future maintenance objectives.Typically, walls are preprimed and an adhesive is rolled directly on the wall to accept the wallcovering, then paint is applied. The process is very uncomplicated and efficient. With the exception of a few textures, there is no pattern match required; therefore, no double or reverse cutting is necessary. In addition, some products are precoated and preglued, saving even more time and labor.The history and romance of glass textile wall treatments began in Sweden and then gained huge popularity elsewhere as the ability to cover cracked plaster walls with an appealing reinforcing surface was recognized. While the United States does not commonly use plaster, any problem wall can benefit from a material that can span over imperfections and be repainted as necessary.Concrete, plastered masonry, drywall, and plywood can all be effectively covered, giving buildings with different interior surfaces structural uniformity. After surface preparation, glass textiles can cover irregular surfaces and can bridge existing joints and cracks, as illustrated (over old paneling).Glass textile wall treatments fulfill a complex matrix of features: Some patterns, when applied over fiber glass board substrates, can add acoustical sound absorption characteristics; all provide for mold and mildew resistance as the fabric breathes and allows moisture dissipation in humid environments.These products are the culmination of extensive experience with woven glass technology. The glass yarns are strong and flame retardant and do not release harmful substances into the environment. Indoor air quality is an important consideration in today’s world. And, as the trend for “green” systems continues upward, building owners are demanding affordable, environmentally friendly materials, with glass textiles as an ideal solution.Sarah Tholen is business manager at Denver, CO-based Johns Manville Glass Textile Wallcoverings (

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