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Thread: Commercial/Agricultural Plastic vs. UV Rated Polyethylene Film Greenhouse Plastic

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
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    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    Commercial/Agricultural Plastic vs. UV Rated Polyethylene Film Greenhouse Plastic

    This is a difficult subject, and there are varied experiences and opinions. I am sure that many will disagree with me. Yet, I would like to take the time to express my opinion and discuss my experience..

    My greenhouse is made of treated wood frame with corrugated fiberglass. It is small, overcrowded and 15 years old, has withstood several hurricanes and floods, but I have to admit that no hurricanes as strong as Hurricane Frederick has hit our area since my greenhouse has been built.

    My experience with different types of plastic sheeting has been the use of such plastic to enclose my screened in patio which faces north and is part of our main structure (roof) of our home. For many years, I used the multipurpose commercial and agricultural grade plastic sheeting which specified on the end of the box that it is clear and not for greenhouse use. In the summer, the lower sections which were left to prevent excessive rain received very little sun due to the shade of adjacent 50 year old pecan trees which are deciduous.

    However, this plastic, although it lets some light in is not at all clear and is not very flexible. When I left some sections on for more than one year, it became brittle and shredded to pieces when I attempted to remove it despite the fact that it received very little direct sun.

    Then, I discovered another plastic which rated for greenhouse use and is uv rated. It is available in very clear or less than clear (I am not sure of the proper term). It is also available in 3 ml or 6 ml. The 3 ml is gauranteed for at least 1 year, while the 6 ml is gauranteed for longer. I visited BWI in Semmes, AL to check out this greenhouse plastic and was demonstrated the stretchability of the non-clear plastic which is normally used on greenhouses in our area.

    I chose to purchase a 3 ml 12' X 100' roll ($30) of the uv rated clear greenhouse plastic to replace the commercial grade plastic for my patio for 3 reasons. Number one, it let more light in during the winter when more heat and light is needed. Number two, I wanted to be able to use spline and Screen Tight tracks to install the plastic, thus allowing it to be easily removed in early summer and replaced in the fall. The third reason is because I was tired of being awakened during those cold, hard north winds which caused the agricultural and commercial grade of plastic to pop with a loud sound each time the wind blew hard. My bedroom is adjacent to this patio and only separated by sliding glass doors. To put it simply, I was tired of being awakened by these loud sounds.

    For all of the above reasons, especially the uv rated ones, I recommend the use of uv rated plastics that are specifically made for greenhouse use and not the multipurpose plastic found in retail stores which states on the end of the box 'not for greenhouse use'.

    As to shade considerations, there are many choices available. The nursery behind my house uses a shade fabric on the greenhouses they use for shade loving and less heat and sun tolerant plants. Most of theirs, however, is the non clear greenhouse plastic. There is also a special greenhouse paint that can be applied which will provide for less light and heat in the summer.

    Of course, in our area, shade cloth is used for propagation to let rain come through, but prevent excessive sun light. This is not a greenhouse structure, but rather an arbor type structure with the shade cloth on top and on some of the sides (can be raised during spring and fall). This is a total different type of shade cloth use than that described for greenhouses.

    Anyone else want to discuss their experience and knowledge of different types of 'greenhouse' plastics?
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Posts
    443

    Ann did her homework well

    Hi Ann
    you did your homework well.
    your are so very correct about the commercial (visquene is what its called around here)
    i use to enclose my south faceing porch with it to keep firewood dry and get solar gain.come april ,1st of may i needed to get the garbage bags out and start tearing it down or i would have a mess to clean up.and it wasnt fun.
    the commercial plastic is a very temporary fix for keeping material dry in inclement weather.
    if its used for GH your throwing good money away.
    besides right when you need it to cover the most it will fail you
    and ruin your crop because it exposed to the elements at 3 in the morning.
    go uv GH plastic.
    as far as seeing through the GH plastic dont count on it if you are in a climate that requires you to put on a double layer.
    one other thing i might add for you southern folks is roll up sides
    on your greenhouse. for cooling .and dewitt makes a shade cloth that has aluminum in for reflecting and diffuseing the suns powerful rays. you may want to give this some thought.
    shepp in cold ohio tonite.in the teens.Brrrrrrrrr

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
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    Homework

    Actually, it wasn't really homework. It was 15 years of not knowing any better. Now, I do, so I just wanted to pass the bad, as well as the good experiences along.

    We also call it visquene, but I never really knew how to spell it.

    The clear 3 ml uv greenhouse plastic is really and truly clear. It looks like glass. I don't know whether it would still look clear with 2 layers, and I rather doubt that 2 layers of 6 ml would be clear at all.

    I will have to check on that special shade cloth. That sounds very interesting and useful!

    Thanks, Shepp!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    Kirbyville,Texas
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    156
    Shepp,You are right about the constrution plastic It don't last long an you are probaly throwing your money away.But it works for me I have a 12 by 30 greenhouse made from pvc pipes I buy a roll of 20 foot by 100 foot roll for 30 bucks cut it in half and make two seasons out of it. It'll only last 4 to 5 months and it's tears when ittears it's usaully time for it to come down.It get very hot down here. But it works I met a grower that told me he would sell me some cheap cheap I might take him up on that one day. Gene
    Gene

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast
    Posts
    9,934

    Differences in Stores

    I have learned that there are many different products sold at the various retail outlets. We have 3 Lowes and 2 Home Depots, and I don't even bother to keep count of the Walmart and Kmart stores. Each one carries different products depending on the demand of their specific community. And the differences are even greater from city to city and more so from state to state.

    That is why I decided to make this post. Our Lowes and Home Depot does not carry any type of plastic specified for greenhouse use, but yours may very well. Just as with pesticides, it is important to READ THE LABEL on products that you purchase and know what you are purchasing. It is also important to know the specific needs and requirements of the area in which you live.

    There is no problem using the 'not for greenhouse' use plastic, but the consumer needs to be aware of the possible consequence of using this type of plastic.


    Thanks everyone!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


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