Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info.
Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Steal the Style
When it comes to setting up a greenhouse, the choice of glazing material can dramatically affect its performance. This glazing determines how much light and heat enter the greenhouse, impacting both the growth and health of the plants inside.
Over time, various materials have become popular due to their unique advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dive deep into the world of greenhouse glazing, examining the pros and cons of different materials.
In This Post:
Glass: The Traditionalist’s Choice
Glass has been a time-honoured choice for greenhouse glazing for generations. It offers excellent clarity, allowing maximum light penetration. This provides plants with ample sunlight for photosynthesis. Moreover, a well-sealed glass greenhouse retains heat efficiently, ensuring a warm environment during cooler months.
Glass, being brittle, can break easily, especially during high winds or under heavy snow. It’s also typically heavier than other glazing materials, making installation a bit more challenging. Plus, glass greenhouses tend to be more expensive both in terms of material costs and installation.
Polycarbonate Panels: Twin-wall Excellence
Polycarbonate panels, especially the twin-wall variety, provide a good balance of light diffusion and insulation. By diffusing the sunlight, they ensure that plants aren’t scorched by direct rays, while the twin-wall design offers an insulating layer of air, maintaining the internal temperature of the greenhouse.
Over time, polycarbonate can become discoloured or yellow, reducing its light transmission capabilities. While it’s more durable than glass, it can still scratch or dent if not handled with care.
Polyethene Film: Flexible and Cost-effective
Polyethene film is lightweight, making it easier to install than rigid panels. It also offers a cost-effective solution for large greenhouses as it can cover vast areas without breaking the bank. UV-resistant variants of this film can last several years without significant degradation.
Polyethene is less durable compared to glass or polycarbonate. It may need replacement every few years, especially if it gets torn. Additionally, single-layer films provide minimal insulation, although double-layer options can offer increased heat retention.
Shade Cloth: For Controlled Light Diffusion
Shade cloth allows gardeners to control precisely how much light their plants receive. They can be particularly useful in regions with intense sunlight, ensuring plants don’t get overwhelmed. These cloths come in various densities, offering flexibility in light control.
As a standalone glazing material, shade cloths don’t provide much insulation. They’re best used in conjunction with other materials or in areas where temperature control isn’t a primary concern.
Acrylic Panels: The Lightweight Champion
Acrylic panels are similar in appearance to glass but are significantly lighter. They also offer excellent light transmission and are more impact-resistant than glass, making them a safer option in areas prone to hail or heavy storms. Companies like Simply Plastics have been known to offer a range of acrylic panels suitable for greenhouse applications.
While acrylic is more durable than glass, it’s not scratch-resistant. Over time, abrasive particles like sand can cause wear, reducing its clarity. Moreover, acrylic can be more expensive than some of the other synthetic glazing options.
Selecting the right glazing material for your greenhouse depends on various factors, including your budget, climatic conditions, desired longevity, and specific plant requirements. While traditional glass offers clarity and heat retention, modern materials like polycarbonate and acrylic bring additional benefits such as impact resistance and light diffusion.