What Material is Best for my Backyard Greenhouse

Posted in: This & That

A greenhouse is a great way to grow your own food, it’s a great hobby and a very peaceful way to spend your time. It’s also a great way to extend your outdoor gardening season.

The design and material you choose can make a big difference to how the food grows and the best use of energy. There are several great options available, so it can be daunting to choose which is right for your project. It ultimately depends on your growing goals, budget, and installation capabilities.


Glass A-frame greenhouse with potted plants around it.

Traditionally, glass panels have been the material of choice for permanent greenhouse structures. They allow the highest percentage of light in, and they look great, as well. Glass greenhouses need ventilation during the hot days as your plants can burn.

Glass can get broken and is one of the more expensive materials you can use. Starting from scratch can be expensive and glass and the frames can be heavy. If you have old storm windows or glass panels already, it can save you money.


Multiwall Polycarbonate

Wood frame greenhouse with multiwall polycarbonate covering

This is a more recent choice for greenhouses, and it is rapidly growing in popularity as it is lightweight and long-lasting. It doesn’t let in as much light as glass, but it diffuses the light and blocks harmful UV rays, which is much better for the plants.

It works well as insulation and retention and is low maintenance. It is not subjected to breakage like glass, so no need to worry about replacing it. It is more expensive than plastic sheeting, but the material is architectural grade and will last at least 10 years.



Quonset greenhouse in the snow covered with clear fiberglass panels

Fiberglass is less expensive than glass or polycarbonate, but it will yellow over time.

Fiberglass panels will allow a lot of light in, the same as glass, but they are stronger and can withstand extreme weather changes. It is easy to install and replace and is much less expensive than glass.

However, It will yellow over time, and that will start to block out the needed light. Fiberglass is more porous and can also be flammable. Once it starts to yellow, it is difficult to clean. It will have to be replaced more often than multiwall polycarbonate.


Plastic Sheeting

Greenhouse with wood frame covered with plastic sheeting

Plastic sheets are a fraction of the price of other more solid panel materials but are only good for the season. Thicker sheets will withstand storms and they are ideal for allowing the optimum amount of light in.

These can be found with UV protection and infrared inhibitors. These help your greenhouse retain heat and keep the plants from becoming damaged. For the price, you can also double up the sheets to provide more protection and security.


Greenhouse Materials

Before you buy, consider what you want from your greenhouse. If you just want a small hobby greenhouse, the less expensive materials that can be replaced each year are fine.

If you want something more permanent, think about heat retention, light penetrations. Durability, scratch resistance, and other factors. The weight and cost will also need to be factored in.

A greenhouse is a great way to enjoy your backyard and be rewarded with the fruits of your labor. Consider the frame you are using and find the best panel covers to go with them.

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