A greenhouse is a beautiful addition to any residential or commercial property, but building one involves a lot of research and decision making. There are different greenhouse roofing materials available in the market, each one with its own pros and cons, and choosing the right one can drastically change the appearance (and budget) of your greenhouse.
Some of the common greenhouse roof materials used include glass, polyethylene film, (polycarbonate sheets, in general), and fiberglass panels. As mentioned earlier, each one of these has their own strengths and weaknesses, and some fare better in certain scenarios as compared to others. All of these greenhouse roofing options have one thing in common, though – they are all transparent or translucent, meaning they allow sunlight to shine through so that the plants inside them can still receive the light and heat they need to grow.
Glass is one of the more traditional greenhouse roofing materials and is suited for more permanent structures. It is the clearest of all the materials and allows the most amount of light to shine through. Apart from greenhouses, glass can also be used for solariums or sunrooms.
A cheaper and long-lasting alternative to glass is fiberglass. It can be used in permanent greenhouse structures for up to 15 years, depending on the way it was installed and maintained. Fiberglass is lighter than glass, so it does not require the expensive framework glass greenhouse roofing does.
Polyethylene or plastic film is an inexpensive and readily available greenhouse roofing material. Depending on the kind of plastic film you purchase, it can be as transparent as glass, allowing ample light to pass through.
Many engineers and designers like building a greenhouse with polycarbonate panels because the panels retain heat well. In terms of energy costs or insulation, polycarbonate roofing sheets are the best. They can last up to a decade and are flexible enough to be used in curved or arched greenhouses, unlike glass or fiberglass.
Glass generally costs the most to be installed – from the cost of the actual glass itself coupled with the beams and framing needed to support it. It goes without saying that glass is fragile and greenhouses made with glass run the risk of breaking when hit with stray rocks or debris from storms. This is why builders don’t often build with glass anymore.
While polyethylene can give you a pretty good bang for your buck, it’s just a temporary fix because it cannot withstand strong winds, rain, or hail.
This is why many architects, landscapists, and engineers opt to build with polycarbonate. Despite its relatively low-cost, it requires little maintenance and upkeep. Because it is so lightweight, it is easy to transport from the supplier to the main site and does not require as much of the heavy and intricate framework as glass would.
The main downside to polycarbonate sheets is that they can turn yellow over time.