In September 2022, I sent my guys to West Des Moines, Iowa, to install metal cladding on a dome home with historical significance. The home, dubbed Stonebridge, was built in 1980 by Jack Boyt, Monolithic Dome Airform pioneer and original owner of Precision Air Structures.
My dad and Jack worked together for many years, collaborating and improving Jack’s original Airform manufacturing methods. When Jack retired, Dad bought Precision Air and moved the company to Texas, where it was ultimately renamed Monolithic Airform Manufacturing.
The house has 2,184 square feet on two floors spanning two of a three-dome cluster. The third dome is a 604-square-foot garage.
Stonebridge dome had had the Airform peeled from the exterior back in 1980. We used to do that back in the day. We thought we could save money by reusing the Airforms. We quickly learned that Airforms need to be custom-made every time and will rarely fit a second project. We also discovered huge benefits to leaving the Airform on the dome. The Airform acts as a single-ply roof membrane and protects the polyurethane foam from UV rays and environmental erosive agents. Without the Airform, water will eventually saturate the foam and leak into the concrete. The rebar in the concrete will rust if it comes in contact with water, and the foam will deteriorate into nothing.
At some point, someone applied an elastomeric coating to the dome. It probably looked great for a while, but it had totally delaminated and was coming off in sheets when we got the call that Stonebridge needed renovating.
Metal cladding is great for a job like this, where the Airform is nonexistent or mostly worn away. The shingles protect the foam from further erosion while allowing any water trapped in the foam to evaporate. Plus, the finished project looks beautiful and will last for many, many years to come.