When selecting a salt storage structure, consider the factors most important to your operation. Should it be a permanent structure? How weather-resistant does it need to be? What types of equipment will need access? By planning ahead, municipalities can safely and cost-effectively contain salt supplies. Photo: Clearspan Fabric Structures

When deciding which type of structure to use, there are three primary options. Wood and steel are most common, but can be costly and time-consuming to build. They also require maintenance to prevent rotting, rusting, swelling, and warping. In addition, internal support posts limit space for material handling, especially with larger equipment.

The third option, fabric, has been on the market since the early 1950s and on average is 30% less expensive than wood and metal. With high arches and no interior support posts, fabric buildings provide unobstructed maneuvering room for delivery trucks to dump inside the structure. Natural light filters through the fabric to provide visibility inside and prevent bacteria and mold growth. Fabric structures require little maintenance, as rainwater will wash off dust, dirt, and pollutants from the cover's slick surface. Manufacturers recommend inspecting building components twice a year, and tightening bolts as needed.

Public works agencies can often afford more space for their money with fabric structures, and with larger buildings they can order ample amounts of salt early in the season — potentially avoiding shortages and emergency shipments during periods of heavy demand.

The Salt Institute has developed salt storage guidelines to provide information that can be used to specify a structure. According to the guidelines, the building should:

  • Have maximum indoor usable space and room for expansion to provide easy access for machinery and equipment
  • Be sturdy and long-lasting
  • Offer a well-lit atmosphere to provide good visibility for equipment operators
  • Comply with local zoning ordinances and building codes, so customizable options for the building are key
  • Be easy to maintain, and uphold a neat and orderly appearance
  • Include drainage and ventilation options for containing potentially hazardous runoff and complying with environmental codes.

— Contributed by ClearSpan Fabric Structures, a manufacturer of tension fabric buildings. Visit or call 866-643-1010.