Wall and roof coverings — coupled with the proper equipment — are the keys to creating the ideal greenhouse environment, since they admit natural light. What’s needed is a covering of transparent or translucent material that will allow optimum light to enter. Since different plants have different light requirements, the kinds of plants you plan to grow in your greenhouse could affect your decision.
There are other considerations besides the light you need to concern: your climate, the budget, and the durability of the material. Weigh carefully each possibility in relation to your particular situation. Glass, rigid plastic, and soft plastic are the most frequently used materials for covering greenhouse walls and roofs. Occasionally, these materials are used in combination.
Fiberglass and other types of rigid plastics are easier to cut and less subject to breakage. The light transmission through rigid plastic is good for most plants. Rigid plastic modifies the light, so no direct sunlight comes through.
Polyethylene, Mylar, and other soft plastics are the least expensive greenhouse coverings. Available in a variety of sizes and thicknesses, they are usually purchased in rolls. Though soft plastic provides good light transmission, this may decrease with age because of yellowing or dust accumulation.
A soft plastic covering is not permanent. Life expectancy of soft plastics can vary from a few months to a few years. One of the benefits of soft plastic is that it’s so easy to replace. Many handmade greenhouse owners who start out with a soft plastic covering replace it with rigid plastic when it wears out.
Glass is a durable covering, but subject to breakage. If hail or heavy wind storms are common in your region, a glass roof could be a problem. Glass is the most expensive material you can use. Local building codes may require the use of these special glasses if your greenhouse is attached to your home.
By combining some of the covering materials, you can effectively use their advantages and minimize their defects. A rigid plastic roof over soft plastic walls would produce a more durable structure than a greenhouse covered solely with soft plastic. A greenhouse with glass walls and a rigid plastic roof would allow you the pleasure of a glass house with the durability of a plastic roof. Glass and soft plastic are rarely combined.
Double Walls for Insulation
You can save on heating costs by using double walls in your greenhouse. A double wall between the greenhouse interior and the outdoors forms a dead air layer that serves as an insulating barrier. Whatever type of double wall insulation you choose — this should be an effective method of cutting heating costs in cold climates.
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