Metal Vs Fabric Expansion Joints: What Is The Difference?

Metal Vs Fabric Expansion Joints: What Is The Difference?

An expansion joint – a device used to hold components together while safely absorbing contraction of materials, vibration, and temperature-induced expansion, or to enable movement due to seismic activity or ground settlement. Expansion joints usually have applications in piping systems, ships, buildings, railway tracks, sidewalks, bridges, and other structures.

Available in different types, expansion joints typically come in countless materials and features associated with each type, so it can be almost impossible to determine which one is right for your application. But among the most common types of expansion joints are metal and fabric expansion joints. To find out what makes these materials distinct from each other, this article lays down the significant differences between metal and fabric expansion joints.


What is a metal expansion joint?

In general, a metal expansion joint is known as the material that is much stronger than others, such as fabric. Due to their strength or durability, metal expansion joints are able to hold up components even during high pressures. Based on the ASME B-16.5 flange specifications, forged steel 150# flanges can hold up during pressures of up to 285 PSIG at 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Aside from their durability, metal expansion joints are also known for their versatility, as they can be used in a wide variety of process conditions. These include air, steam, liquid, and cryogenic. With metal expansion joints, liquids and gases will most definitely not leak – this is a significant advantage of this type of expansion joint, as it eliminates the need for risk prevention.


What is a fabric expansion joint?

Fabric expansion joints are most suitable for applications that involve low temperatures. Nonetheless, it is also a good material for high temperatures. Fabric expansion joints do not have any restraint when it comes to size and are capable of high degrees of movement, including torsional.

Fabric expansion joints are essential components in most industrial plants. They are typically installed as flexible connections in piping systems and ducts to cover or compensate for vibration, thermal expansion, and misalignment. Compared to their metal counterpart, fabric expansion joints are much more affordable and cost-effective. Moreover, they cost less to design and fabricate and can often be delivered faster.


Which expansion joint is right for you?

The choice between metal and fabric expansion joints that is right to use will wholly depend on your applications and needs. If you are looking for an expansion joint with high movement capabilities, can accommodate torsional movement, and has no size restraints, a fabric expansion joint is the material to choose. This expansion joint is also ideal for those trying to cut costs as it is generally more affordable and less expensive to design, fabricate, and repair.

On the other hand, a metal expansion joint is the better option if you need an expansion joint that can be used for high-pressure services and various process conditions. This type of expansion joint can also withstand a wide range of temperatures, from high temperature to cryogenic. Thus, it is the ideal expansion joint to use if you are in need of a material that is completely non-combustible.



Several significant differences between metal and fabric expansion joints make each of them the better option depending on your application and needs. Essentially, knowing these major distinctions between metal and fabric expansion joints is vital in making sure that you choose the suitable material for your money’s worth.

That said, if you require high-quality expansion joints for your business applications, Pharmchem Engineering is here to help you! With a decade of expertise, we are among the most trusted and leading providers of a wide range of industrial engineering supplies in Singapore, spanning from fabric expansion joints and rubber vibration mounts to hose materials and stainless steel pipe fittings. To find the best solutions that address your exact needs and objectives, feel free to contact us today.