Architectural Netting




Where can I put one of these?

The most common locations for tensioned architectural netting are in spacious docks, open decks, or an airy loft. Anywhere with open air underneath allows it to breathe which lets the beauty of the net's comfort shine. When you have a location you believe will be a good fit, you need to consider the framing. The physics of a tensioned net mean that the net exerts a fair amount of force along the border of the net when installed, and this is significantly magnified when a load is applied in the form of a person on the net. We build our nets so that they won't fail, but without a sturdy frame it is easy for the frame the net is attached to to flex which results in greater sag in the net...and the greater the sag in the net, the closer it is to a saggy hammock which is exactly what you're trying to avoid. A good rule of thumb is to design the frame so that you have a 4" x 4" piece of lumber border supported/braced every 4'. If this is not feasible, you can span longer spans unbraced with stouter lumber. A 4" x 6" section is typically sufficient across 8' spans...and so on. It is also possible to put the net in a metal frame. In most cases, the contractor working on your deck, dock, or home can design the frame seamlessly into the remainder of the installation if you work with them ahead of time. We often work with architects and contractors during the design phase of these projects and will be glad to discuss the requirements with your contractor.


How big can it be?

Really big. As the net grows larger the material selection becomes more important. Elasticity is magnified with size so as nets grow large (>120sqft) we start discussing material recommendations a little more with our customers. The elastic 3/8" Offshore can still be a great fit, but customers should realize that they will sink down more when walking on the net. For large nets that will be walked on we really recommend the 1" Webbing Nets and the 1" Dyneema nets. We have made nets over 600sqft that deflect only several inches when properly framed, designed, and tensioned. In general, we would recommend discussing your options and design with us prior to making a final decision on nets over about 120sqft as we can help you determine the best solution for your application.


What if I can only frame on 3 sides?

No problem. Some of our largest customers (mostly high end resorts in tropical locations) commonly order nets that only have supports on 3 sides. We can design a "tensioned leg" on one side that distributes the tension across the unsupported side using a catenary curve and a high-performance tensioning line. While these nets will not be as tight as those in a 4 sided frame they can offer a wonderful openness to whichever direction they're facing. In design, it is important to note that the locations where the tensioning line anchors on either side of the catenary curve will see elevated forces so design considerations at these points are important. We supply a special pad eye for our customers when they purchase this design.


Attachment Methods

While you certainly need a sturdy frame as the basis for creating a properly tensioned net, the attachment design and method plays a simple, but critical role in having a comfortable taut net. The method of attachment to the frame (frame hardware), lacing line used to tie the net to the hardware, lacing pattern and spacing designed into the net frame and hardware, and lacing gap between the net and the frame all play a role in a complete net design. As you consider your design you must remember that the forces applied inside your frame's attachment points can be significant. Due to the physics of a tensioned net the force applied to the edges is significantly higher than the weight of the person on the net. A good rule of thumb is that the interior of the frame will see a distributed load of 4 times the weight of people on it, so each side of a 4 sided net will see a load on it equivalent to each person on the net. On the more technical side, the elasticity of the net determines how widely the load is distributed. A very stiff net like dyneema will transfer more of the load to the closest anchoring point while a more elastic net will spread the load across more of the beam. All this is not to say that the frame and hardware designs are difficult, just that care is needed to make them strong so that you achieve all the benefits available from a well-designed tensioned net.

Hardware: The hardware is what attaches to your frame and becomes the interface between your net and the frame. A Key consideration is to ensure that the hardware is made of Stainless Steel (SS) or anodized aluminum so that it can survive the elements while remaining aesthetically attractive. We offer two standard pieces of hardware for net frame attachment points. While these are proven solutions as attachment points, our customers have certainly come up with other highly functional alternatives unique to their installations. A Stainless pipe welded on the edge and tied into the frame every few feet works great if you are already having metal fabrication done so that the pipe can be designed into a larger, cohesive design you might have. At the end of the day the hardware should allow the net to be laced every 5" in order to maintain a tight border and each lacing point should be designed to be able to hold 200lbs of force.


 

Stainless Eyestraps: Constructed of marine grade SS we recommend these be spaced no more than 5" apart. We provide installation drawings showing the exact locations for all of the eyestraps so that they line up with the grommets of the nets we build for your space.

 

Bolt Rope Track: We can sew a rope into the border of our nets to allow the net edge to slide into this track. The two types of track are available to allow you to mount the track either inside your frame (hull track, on the left of the photo) or on top of the upper edge of your frame (deck track, on the right of the above photo). The advantages are that you have a seamless border with no lacing gap on the edge. However, as this method does not allow any tensioning on this side, you must leave the opposite side with a standard border so that the net can be pulled tight. In practice, this means that we recommend no more than (2) sides should be bolt rope and they should be (2) adjacent sides.


Lacing Line: Another critical link in the chain is the lacing line. With lacing line the critical considerations are strength, durability under UV exposure, elasticity, and the frictional coefficient. Standard safety factors show that the line should have a breaking strength of 5 times the anticipated loading, and it is certainly OK to exceed this design factor significantly (we usually do). For UV exposure, it is critical to understand that UV exposure can greatly reduce the breaking strength of any materials in a surprisingly short period of time. Our tests have shown that unprotected materials lose 30-50% of their strength with just one year of sub-tropical solar exposure. All materials (even steel) stretches to some extent. With lacing line, selecting materials with lower elasticity will allow your net to stay tighter for a longer period of time. With any lacing line you will want to re-tighten the lacing line several months after the installation as the net gets broken in, however, subsequent tensioning is reduced if you have a lacing line with low elasticity. With regards to the coefficient of friction on the lacing line, lower is better. The lower the friction the easier it is to pull the line tight through the lacing points... and thus get a tight net faster when installing. Additionally, the lower the friction - the fewer "squeaks" you will hear during the use of your net.


We provide two tiers of lacing line for our customers. For any standard-sized net (< 200sqft) we supply either 5/32" Dyneema or a 3/16" polyester double braid line. The polyester line does the job in most cases, but the Dyneema is better on all major variables and we do recommend it as the ideal choice if budget allows.


What we Provide

While you are certainly welcome to design and attach your net however you might like, we do provide the design work and hardware and lacing line packages for the majority of our clients. As part of the full design / install package you will receive a CAD drawing (similar to that shown below) that allows you to review and approve of the final design prior to manufacturing, as well as clearly laying out the locations for installing the hardware. This ensures that you will be able to install a clean, neat net with lacing line attachment points evenly laid out. When the drawing is followed, this presents a professional net appearance that is a critical final touch for your tensioned net installation.