The Advantages And Necessity of Using The Right Greenhouse Film

by Jerrico_Usher

Greenhouse film traps heat in (that plants need), allows sunlight in, and incubates the internal environment from harsh external weather...

When it comes to a green thumb, many think it's just plant and grow, but there are a lot of intermediate steps from planting in the right soil to building the right environment (greenhouse) to incubating growth. You're not born with a green thumb or not- it's simply a skill set you build up and fortify by experience. A Greenhouse is a powerful and fun environment to learn the trade and grow some fantastic things regardless of outside weather!

These controlled environment greenhouses start out basic and as you learn and grow in your experience you can expand and automate more of the process. Knowing the fundamentals of temperature, moisture/irrigation, and even what type of film to put over the greenhouse frame (basically the structure is one big set of windows made often of greenhouse film/polyurethane. Maintaining a consistent and optimal temperature and environment ripe for growing is essential to success.


Greenhouse Film
Greenhouse Film




When you start and maintain a greenhouse for a while, you come to learn everything you never knew but thought you did about botany!

Greenhouses are a great deal of fun, with as much work too, but it doesn't feel like it if you build it up slowly over several weekends and gradually learn the vocation.

Once you get better at understanding how the particular plants or other plant life you want to grow thrive, you will start to tweak the various parts of your greenhouse to foster a better more potent environment specific to what your growing.

Part of the learning curve is understanding how the external environment can damage or affect plant/flower growth and what you can do to harmonize it. Luckily, in today's advancements in greenhouse science, there are very little limitations to how much you can learn in a years time!

As you go through the various stages of your greenhouse build/nurturing you will start to realize how certain things are very important while others can be neglected. One example is your irrigation and temperature control needs to be good. Bugs need to be controlled or eliminated and the very covering that allows light and heat in while trapping bugs and rough weather out.

One of the most important infrastructural pieces you need to be aware of is the greenhouse film.


Plants Most Valuable Source Of Growth- The Sun!


One major component of a greenhouse is the windows/panes that let light in but also trap heat and moisture. This greenhouse film is as important to the health of your plants as the heater in your home is on a -21 degree below zero day.

Greenhouses are used to grow flowers, plant life, herbs, fruits and vegetables, all of which are organic and nutrient rich.

Any time you have nutrient rich food growing you know your going to be having bugs for dinner. They may not call or write, or even let you know they're coming by- but you'll know they were there when you neglect to protect your garden!

(one thing a greenhouse is great for is incubating your plants from the problems of the outside world).

There are many bugs that would love to find nourishment in eating your greenhouse contents!

The need to have a covering that is clear and allows the nutrients of the sun to flow through but that will block out access to these pests that could either damage or infect (with disease) your garden is vital.

There are several different kinds of coverings that you can install on a greenhouse frame. These coverings include polycarbonate, polyethylene film (poly films), fiberglass, and acrylic panels.


The Film Types And Uses


Greenhouse films or poly films are often used because of their affordability, but these types of films are not used for any long term installation. This film is also referred to as agricultural plastic.

It is popular because of its strength and flexibility. Greenhouse Film is available in several different thicknesses ranging from 2 up to 11 milliliters.

The thicker the film that is used, the more strength and durability it will have. This film will transmit the needed light throughout the structure, but will block harmful UV rays given off by the sun.

In many ways this film acts as a filter much like the filters you put on water faucets help block bad bacteria but let the good stuff through.

The sun contains both good and bad rays, and this film effectively blocks the bad variety while letting the good stuff in to nourish your plants.

Plants require sunlight to grow and thrive, as they literally take the suns rays and convert this through photosynthesis into plant matter!

Thermal film is a great choice, usually coming with a 2-4 year warranty. This film is equipped with infrared heat retention. This also helps to reduce dripping, and it gives a 91% light transmission.

This film has a width of 50' and a length of 110' and costs around $170.00. Many large garden greenhouses use David's Garden Tools Clear Film (right under the title in the image).

You can get UV protected Greenhouse Film sold by the linear foot. Each linear foot costs about $9.00 on average. This film is 6 millimeters thick and is available in 40' wide sheets. The length can be cut up to 200' long. This film also often comes with a 4 year warranty and is great for transferring sunlight properly.


Greenhouse Film "Shelf-Life"


Greenhouse Film tends to have a short life span, usually around 4 years. It is, however very inexpensive to replace so it is very popular for do-it-yourself'rs.

This is also a good thing to replace often due to the oxidation effect the sun has on the film itself. Using oxidated film could, in a longer term option like film coated glass or tinted glass, cause it to become less effective as a filter of the UV rays.

Many elect to use windows and/or cover the whole thing with the plastic film. It's much less expensive to replace than glass or other options, and gives your plants the best protection they can get.

Most gardeners don't mind changing the film every 4 years, that's actually a pretty good amount of use, especially for the highly affordable cost of the film. Gardeners often do the full maintenance on their greenhouse in order to make sure it is doing its job properly every year and a full "house cleaning" or "updating" every 4.

The film used in greenhouses comes in a variety of different types, brands, shades, and can vary in construction for different types of greenhouse growing. Greenhouse film is a very significant part of the infrastructure in much the same way filtering water coming from various sources is significant for your health!


Why Not Just Use Glass?


As you begin to imagine your greenhouse, most recall the traditional glass covering. While glass has long been used to cover greenhouses effectively , it may not be the best choice for every situation.

Glass itself doesn't insulate very well and actually is a perfect option for heat and cold transfer. When using glass you have to use double or triple glass panes.

This increases it's ability to effectively insulate the greenhouse. Another problem with glass is it's potential to break easily and pollute your plants or even create dangerous situations, especially if you have kids playing around the greenhouse.

Due to the variety of reasons surrounding the need for an effective, safe, efficient, and translucent material greenhouse film (often made from and called generically "polyethylene film") was born.

Polyethylene greenhouse film has become so popular that even commercial greenhouses incorporate its use in their businesses regularly. The first benefit is that it's safe to use. It's also easy to install and is a virtually maintenance free. 


How Much Is Enough?


LBM Poly 6x14-b "Poly-film" Polyethylene Sheeting 14x100' - Black

"POLY-FILM" POLYETHYLENE SHEETING Width: 168" Length: 100' 6 Mil - Black Roll . Tough jobs in construction made easy by Seamless plastic. Full weight with thickness. marked on e...

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Clear Polyethylene Sheeting, 20X50 4MIL CLR POLY FILM

Lowest cost all-purpose protection against water vapor and foreign matter. Tough, strong body, yet soft pliable. Lightweight with excellent durability, no cracking, peeling, rot...

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C.A.P. Blocker/Shield Reflector - 25 Foot Roll

A revolutionary new security product, Block-IR is made from NASA developed Infra-Red blocking technology. The two outer layers of Block-IR material reduce thermal imaging heat s...


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Lbm Poly 4X84C "Poly Film" 4mil Polyethylene Sheeting 8.3x100ft - Clear

"POLY FILM" POLYETHYLENE SHEETING Tough Seamless plastic for tough jobs Full weight with thickness marked Complies with ASTM D-4397-84. Brand:"POLY-FILM" 4 Mil - Roll Wdth. x Lg...

Only $50.29

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Covalence Plastics 6ML CLR 10X100 10-by-100-Foot 6-Mil Clear Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting

CFHK0610C Features: -Use for an equipment cover, vapor barrier, insulation, paint protection, or moisture barrier.-6 millimeter.-Clear.-10' x 100'.

Covalence Plastics
$73.27  $48.99

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Berry Plastics ACE776 Polyethylene Sheeting Poly Film Clear 6 Mil 10'x25'


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A single layer of polyethylene film is a great solution to cover cold frames or starting seeds.  

Polyethylene film is available in a wide variety of thicknesses to cover a variety of gardening needs. 

This type of cover maintains optimal growing conditions better than glass and can help reduce the cost of heating. It can be used effectively in concert with glass if you insist in using glass (there are reasons glass is a good idea too!).

Using a polyethylene or greenhouse film cover is a cheaper alternative to glass as well. 

While this is a viable option for greenhouse covers, polyethylene greenhouse film does have a limited lifespan. Directly related to the thickness of the film, one will have to replace it every three to five years still (but it's still cheap).

The benefits of low cost, heat retention and light transference out weighs the negatives for most nursery owners. 

In addition to large nursery uses, polyethylene greenhouse film can also be a great option for the hobbyist. Many portable and smaller scaled greenhouses are composed of this type of coverage. If you are using this type of film, you will need to replace the film about every four years.

As you begin the task of trying to find replacement film, make sure that you are purchasing a polyethylene film intended for use in greenhouses.

Another great reason to upgrade and look for a better film is that technology is advancing incredibly fast and in 4 years they may have created a longer lasting or simply better concept.

Many less expensive versions are intended to be used as vapor barriers in construction and do not offer the necessary UV protection.

If your not using the right film you could actually damage your plants instead of protect them. If you use construction plastic, for example, too much sun could come in while blocking the nutrients (good stuff blocked bad stuff let in).

Do your homework when shopping around for this film, it's easy to find and a powerful ally in your greenhouse building.





Don't underestimate the power of a well built greenhouse! This requires not only that you learn why things are needed but what the best materials will be for your particular growing needs. I hope this was informative and helpful in your quest for the perfect functional greenhouse! 

Updated: 08/14/2012, Jerrico_Usher
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WriterArtist on 08/13/2013

The greenhouse cover is definitely the most important part for sustained growth - very well written and explained.

Jerrico_Usher on 08/15/2012

Make sure you get to Amazon through my page *Smiles* if you do decide to purchase online wink wink.... can i show you something in a $6,599.23 greenhouse fully equipped?

We're starting very small- like seedlings barely sprouted into plant life (tomato, echinacea, basil, Aloe Vera, and various baby house plants (spider, vine, bamboo etc...). We're renting a two story townhouse so a greenhouse outside is out of the question but we're planning on moving into a house soon and I want to get one going... it's a fun and surprisingly active sport- botany is....

We have a spare bedroom we could use but we have to lock up the cats at night so they don't tear the house up, eat the plants, and make lots of noise running up and down the stairs :) and our landlord forbids letting animals outside, cats in particular- we can have em but can't let em loose...(part of it is we have coyotes that love to eat cats I hear so I'm cool with complying).

My first experience with gardening was a corn yield (6) and cucumbers I grew from seeds. Only one cucumber survived and 1.5 pieces of corn Ah the bugs killed 3/4 of my crop (whew not the last cucumber!)... (I was 8) I took the leftover pickle juice and did the mason thing with the cucumber using pickle juice as the magic brew- it came out like a pickle, delicious and fresh (thumps chest)...

There's something to be said about growing your own herbs and vegetables, fruits, - food basically, because you know with every fiber in your being that it's not tampered with, chemically enhanced, 4th generation seed infused pesticide, and so on. It tastes "safe" basically, and that's delicious! I want to play around with hydroponics and garden vegetables in the living room.

Did you ever hear about those banana trees and there was one more I can't remember what fruit/veg it was... The oxygen it would produce alone would be highly beneficial

katiem2 on 08/15/2012

I want a new green house, I'm currently researching the details. I grow as much of my own food as possible and am always looking to expand both my growing knowledge and capability. Thank you for some amazing info on greenhouse planning. Who knows maybe one day I'll be operating my own organic farm.:)K

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