You’re well aware that the glazing of your greenhouse can be of different materials. From plastic to glass to polycarbonate, different materials have their pros and cons and so using a specific material will depend upon what you deem fit.
Coming to choosing materials for a greenhouse, there’s a question that popped up in my head the other day; Can you use plexiglass for greenhouse and if so how do you go about using it?
The short answer is yes, you can use plexiglass for building your greenhouse. Plexiglass will be the material for what we usually call glazing. There are some major benefits of using plexiglass for a greenhouse, which I will explain further in the article.
Short Introduction to Plexiglass
For the uninitiated, plexiglass is a transparent petroleum-based thermoplastic product that looks very much like glass. Hence the term, plexiglass. However, unlike glass, it is not brittle and can in fact be very sturdy.
Because of its durability, it is used in a wide number of applications. A few examples of those are windows, bath glass, balcony railing screens, greenhouses, medical equipment and airplanes to name a few.
It has excellent transparency which is why it used a lot in windows, furniture, screens and even solar panels.
Why is Plexiglass Used in Greenhouses
Now that you’re well aware of the properties of plexiglass and its usage in different applications, let us understand why plexiglass should be the preferred option for building a greenhouse.
Plexiglass, also called as polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) or even more commonly Acrylite is derived from a complex chemical procedure that involves casting liquid methyl methacrylate (MMA) between two glass panels. Once the MMA polymerizes in a temperature-controlled process the pure methacrylate (PMMA) panel cures producing outstanding quality, which is more durable and shatter-proof. (Source)
Since the process involves combining two panels together with a trans-polymer and then treating them in a temperature-controlled environment, it is offers a dual-layer protection that is not only more sturdier than glass but is also virtually shatterproof.
So if you live in an area which is prone to receiving hailstones, it makes sense to build the greenhouse of plexiglass rather than glass, as a hailstorm can shatter the glass of your greenhouse.
In fact it offers the strength and durability of acrylic or polycarbonate with the clarity of glass.
Another reason to prefer using Plexiglass instead of the other plastic alternatives like polycarbonate are the excellent translucency it offers. It is highly transparent and offers better luminescence and lighting to the plants inside the greenhouse.
And this transparency and clarity lasts for years, say a minimum of ten years before starting to fade a little. On the other hand, polycarbonate starts losing its transparency in a few years which can affect the light offered to the plants and can impact the health of the plants.
Another factor that works in favor of plexiglass to be used for a greenhouse is its ability to trap more heat inside the greenhouse, offering better insulation. So in winter, the heating required will slightly reduce if you’re receiving good sun during the day.
Here’s a video describing how the benefits of Plexiglass and how you can install it on your greenhouse.
Making a DIY Plexiglass Greenhouse
If you’re a DIY kind of a person, your first instinct will be to build the Plexiglass greenhouse all by yourself. While it may involve more effort and take more time, it will definitely cost you much less and can overall be a good enjoyable experience.
The steps involved in making a Plexiglass greenhouse are not much different from say, building a glass greenhouse.
- First select a suitable site for your greenhouse considering all factors such as the direction of the sun, the ground upon which to be built and the type of greenhouse that you will build.
2. Next, ensure that the ground is flat and leveled. A flat surface is necessary because the greenhouse frame and the base needs to be built on a flat surface for greater stability.
If it is not flat, either change the site of the greenhouse if you can or make arrangements to flatten the surface.
3. Build the base of the greenhouse. The base can be from lumber, soil, different flooring solutions like concrete, pea stone gravel among others.
4. Next start building the frame of the greenhouse. Use lumber of metal rods and blocks to build the frame of the greenhouse. To ensure that the rods fir perfectly in the dimensions that you have marked, keep a saw handy to cut off the extra material.
To keep the rods and blocks in place, you can use nuts and bolts and tighten them at the intersections using a screwdriver of fastener.
5. Once the frame is built, you can start fixing the Plexiglass on to the sides as well as the roof. You should already have an idea of the size of the greenhouse you’re going to build so that the Plexiglass doesn’t go waste or you don’t fall short of it.
6. Next work on the indoor settings of your greenhouse such as the flooring, the heating, the cooling and the ventilation. Once that is done, start deciding the type of soil you would want to use for your plants and then you can begin the satisfying process of growing fruits and vegetables in a greenhouse!
Here’s a video that illustrates a DIY greenhouse with great detail.
Finally, if you look at the cost involved, though Plexiglass costs a bit more than glass if you look at the overall durability and the life of Plexiglas, in the long run, it really makes sense to build your greenhouse with Plexiglass.
Not only does it ensure greater transparency and durability for a longer number of years as compared to glass, but it is also a good alternative to polycarbonate which fades away with time and loses its luminescence.