A Note on Greenhouse Materials

What your greenhouse is made of is an important factor in durability, how much heat your structure can retain, and how expensive it may be to keep your greenhouse warm during the coldest months. Here, we’ll discuss the most common materials for frames and covers and their advantages.

When buying your greenhouse, you should think about how easy it will be to expand or add additions on to your greenhouse. With the exception of small portable greenhouses and greenhouse kits, wood is great choice for your greenhouse as it is easy to expand and manipulate. You can easily add boards, attach hooks, etc. Wood will also provide a strong and durable building material. If you use wood for your greenhouse frame, keep in mind that it will need plenty of maintenance to keep the wood strong against the constant moisture and pests that might find the wood a tasty treat.

Metal frames such as galvanized steel are a good choice if you want to worry less about maintenance. Metal is very durable and will hold up well to the weight of your panels or covering material. You may notice however that your greenhouse is a little harder to heat as the metal will hold in the cold.

PVC or plastic frames are a good choice for smaller greenhouses as PVC and plastics are very durable and lightweight materials. PVC pipes can hold up a decent amount of weight, but wood or metal is a better choice if you’re going to build a large greenhouse.

As far as coverings for your greenhouse, glass panels, fiberglass, polythene plastic sheets, and polycarbonate are some of the most common materials you’ll find. Each kind of material works well and has its own strengths and weaknesses. Of course, some coverings are better suited to the hobbyist’s budget.

Fiberglass, polycarbonates, and glass are all good choices for the casual greenhouse gardener. Plastic sheets are common for large commercial greenhouses but are not as durable as other materials and may need frequent replacing. Glass is a very attractive choice, especially if you’re concerned about aesthetics. Glass also allows a large quantity of light to penetrate. When using glass, make sure you have a sturdy greenhouse frame and foundation. Be aware that a glass greenhouse with a metal frame may be more expensive to heat as these materials absorb the cold during the winter. Fiberglass is a good substitute for glass and lets about the same amount of sunlight penetrate. Of course, it is not as attractive as glass and may change color over time.

Polycarbonate is not quite as attractive as glass, but it is more durable. It won’t let as much light in, but an advantage to this is that the sunlight will be slightly less concentrated so your plants won’t receive the intense sunlight that glass greenhouses allow. If you want to reduce heating costs, double or triple polycarbonate sheets work great for keeping the heat in.

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