If you are a home gardener, you will most likely wish to have a backyard greenhouse where nursery beds for seedlings and vegetables can get the ideal environment for their growth. Greenhouse equally gives the gardener leverage on spring planting such that cultivations can be extended into the dry periods. However, the challenge with conventional means of using ready-made greenhouses is that of high cost and big size which does not fit into the home backyard. Worse still, the building materials used are prone to attack by weather elements.
Good enough, here is a do-it-yourself approach to building an incredible greenhouse at home with the use of plexiglass. It is corrosion free and durable enough.
What Type of Plastics Can Be Used for Greenhouse?
Initially, at the mention of greenhouses, you would want to imagine having a room made of glass. Nevertheless, these days, greenhouses are made of plastic rather than glass because plastics are not so heavy, they are easier to construct and cheaper to purchase. The plastic traps the heat and moisture which is retained inside the greenhouse as the frame would have.
However, not just any plastic can be used in making a greenhouse. Greenhouse plastics are usually stronger than ordinary plastics. They are designed in such a way that they can resist harsh weather elements without breaking down. They are quite tractable such that they can be molded into desired shapes.
Some of the plastics that can be used in constructing a greenhouse include:
- Polyethylene: This is the common polythene nylon, a polymer plastic that is available in commercial and utility grades for industrial and home uses respectively. If this plastic is kept well, it will keep for some years. Any tear in the plastic can be fixed using a poly repair gel.
- Copolymer: This polythene is more durable and lasts longer. Although alternate freezing and thawing of ice in it as a greenhouse sheet cause it to become frail and brittle. More-costly ones are usually more durable though.
- Polyvinyl: Polyvinyl is yet another strong and durable greenhouse plastic. When properly maintained, this plastic can last for five years before it loses strength.
- Polycarbonate: Of all the polythene class, this is the most-solid type of greenhouse plastic. It is fabricated using a polythene bi-layer which can withstand the outdoor weather elements for ten straight years. It is equally good for trapping humidity and heat in cold, winter periods.
- Plexiglass Sheet: Plexiglass is a glass-like plastic, a unique building material for greenhouse glass that effectively combines the features of glass with that of plastic. It is resistant to heat and snow, it is lightweight, it is cheaper to buy, and it is easier to handle during construction. Currently, a plexiglass sheet is the best building item for constructing a greenhouse.
What is Plexiglass?
Plexiglass is a transparent acrylic thermoplastic often used in place of glass. Also known as polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), plexiglass is a lightweight, shatter-proof substitute to glass. It is used in making resin casts, coating other materials and in making inks. It is fast becoming a popular construction material in recent times.
Plexiglass is a less-costly substitute to polycarbonate. It has great tensile strength; it is flexible, has a glossy surface, and can withstand UV light rays. Plexiglass sheets are usually preferred as building materials due to its desirable properties, pliable nature, and processing, as well as its cost-effectiveness. When modified, plexiglass can withstand high load and scratches.
Why Use Plexiglass for Greenhouse?
Plexiglass is the preferred building material for the greenhouse because it offers sturdy, dual-layer protection for the structure. Plexiglass features a glossy outer layer with UV-resistant acrylic alongside a corrugated inner part. These two come together to make a 1.5 inch thick of voidness. The void space makes plexiglass a better insulation material with an insulation factor of 3.1, something similar to the glass panels.
Furthermore, the plexiglass sheet makes a better greenhouse covering because the bi-layer polymer sheets admit better illumination and more insulation than the traditional greenhouse material, glass. Besides, plexiglass traps heat during cold weather, so the cost of heating up the greenhouse is substantially reduced when plexiglass is used in its construction. It is, therefore, safe to use plexiglass for greenhouse building. Again, plexiglass is resistant to chemical attacks.
General Steps to Build a greenhouse At Home Using a Plexiglass
Here is a step-by-step approach to building a garden greenhouse using plexiglass.
- Planning Approval
Before you even start planning how to build at all, it is best you check your local building by-laws and know whether or not it permits the building of such property. Sometimes, you might need to apply for a building permit.
- Mind the Orientation of the Sun as You Construct
Since the aim of a greenhouse is to provide a warm, moderately-hot location for plants, it is essential that it is rightly placed in the garden. Find out where the sun rises from and make four big poles for the greenhouse in such a way that the north faces the rising of the sun. At any rate, the greenhouse should receive at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sun daily.
- Build A-frame
Make a frame around the poles, and allow it to run some 0.5 meters above the ground, so you don’t have to cover it all with plexiglass panel.
- Reinforce the Poles with Metals or Polythene
Use horizontal bars of steel or polythene to reinforce the four poles so that you can cover the body with plexiglass sheets easily. Then construct the roof using metal or polythene materials. There are several roofing styles you can use, but I’ll suggest you use the dome-shape as it gives you a high clearance for plant growth.
- Cover with Plexiglass Panel
Flesh the whole structure up using plexiglass panels and ensure that you do not leave any crack or hole for the snow to fizzle in. Tighten using polymer gel and any torn or broken part should be mended immediately.
It is very true that constructing a greenhouse by oneself takes a huge load of work, but then, it is not impossible for any serious-minded DIYer. However, the choice of which building material to use can be daunting, and that’s why this article is compiled to help you decide. Plexiglass panel is by far the best building material for making a greenhouse.