Will Just Any Ole’ Greenhouse Plastic Work for a Greenhouse?

5 types of greenhouse plastic to choose from

Greenhouse plastic is commonly used for covering on a greenhouse. Glass covering is an alternative to greenhouse plastic. Also, there are different types of greenhouse plastic that have varying advantages and disadvantages.

Berry Jerry looks at options concerning greenhouse plastic coverings…

When choosing greenhouse plastic or glass to cover your greenhouse, your climate needs to be considered along with the insulation value of the material you use to cover your greenhouse. The main types of covering for a greenhouse include:


In comparison to greenhouse plastic, glass is the least preferred covering for greenhouses. The insulation value for glass is not very good for greenhouses, plus it is pretty fragile. If you use glass instead of greenhouse plastic to cover your greenhouse, it should be double or triple strength so it won’t break easily and it will provide sufficient insulation. Other disadvantages to glass when compared to greenhouse plastic coverings is that glass is relatively difficult to install and it is heavier than greenhouse plastic, thus it will need a stronger frame.


Fiberglass is a greenhouse plastic that retains heat better than glass, but not as good as other types of greenhouse plastic. Fiberglass is a greenhouse plastic that is fairly easy to install as it comes in rolls, so it is easier to handle, and not nearly as rigid as glass.


Polycarbonate is a fairly new type of greenhouse plastic that is strong. It is available in sheets with single, double or triple walls. For strength, durability and the ability to efficiently retain heat, the multiwall polycarbonates are best.

Fun Fact: Polycarbonate is a material that is used in bulletproof glass.

-Polyethylene film

Generally, commercial greenhouse operators prefer polyethylene film as a greenhouse plastic to cover a greenhouse. In comparison to other greenhouse plastics, polyethylene film doesn’t last as long. It has a two to five year lifespan which is truly dependent on the thickness of the greenhouse plastic, its UV treatment, and the weather conditions it is exposed to. However, it is relatively inexpensive to replace polyethylene film and it is efficient in regard to heat retention.

Standard polyethylene film that is not UV treated is not intended to be used as a greenhouse plastic.

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