How to Choose Greenhouse Frames
Greenhouse frames come in a variety of materials, and choosing the right one for your new greenhouse construction is often simply a matter of personal preference. However, there are a few points you should consider before settling a greenhouse frame for your new gardening getaway.
Greenhouse Frame Materials
Most greenhouse frames are constructed of either metal, such as aluminum or steel, or wood. However, newer composite materials are also available that suit a wider variety of construction needs. These new greenhouse materials are a combination of plastics, and are extremely durable and weather resistant. Let’s take a look at the high points of each type of greenhouse frame.
Traditional wood greenhouse frames are affordable and easy to work with. Most people with even limited carpentry skills can construct a greenhouse frame from wood with the help of a greenhouse blueprint and a few tools. However, wood has a limited lifetime, and even treated wood rots eventually.
Another consideration when choosing a wood greenhouse frame is termites. These little critters can eat their way through a structure rendering it uninhabitable before you even know there is an infestation. If you live in termite territory and want a wooden greenhouse frame, you should consult an exterminator or install termite detection spikes around your new greenhouse.
Many pre-fabricated greenhouse kits include a metal greenhouse frame. These types of frames are somewhat flexible, lightweight, and durable. A lightweight greenhouse frame is ideal for gardeners who need a portable greenhouse for seasonal use, and many metal greenhouse frames are constructed for quick and easy set-up and tear-down.
However, since greenhouses are moist environments, rusting of metal supports is always a constant concern. Keeping the metal frame thoroughly coated with paint and in good repair will help extend the life of your metal greenhouse frame significantly.
Metal frames also let in more cold air in the winter and more hot air in the summer. The metal conducts hot and cold. As a test, if you put a metal spoon into a ice cold bucket, the spoon handle will quickly get ice cold too. Now try putting a PVC pipe into an ice cold bucket. Notice how the pipe does not change temperature? Plastic does not conduct heat or cold. Just think what would happen to your plant if it’s leaves were touching the metal frame on a frigid day.
New composite building materials are expanding into all areas of construction; greenhouse gardening included. Composite greenhouse frames are lightweight, strong, somewhat flexible, and very, very durable. These plastic-based materials last much longer than the other frame options, even when exposed to harsh environments. If this sounds like one of those “too good to be true” deals, be aware that there is one serious drawback to composite greenhouse frames: price. Any process that involves recycling plastic into useable materials is very costly, and the production of composite building materials is pricey. For consumers looking for high quality, low-maintenance, and durability, composite greenhouse frames are the winner hands-down as long as you can afford the luxury. One last thing, remember that all plastic is not equal. Plastic must be UV treated to keep it from getting brittle in the sun.
Weather, nature, insects, location, gardening goals, and price all factor into choosing the right greenhouse frame material for your new greenhouse project. No matter what your gardening conditions entail, selecting the perfect greenhouse frame requires a little planning, research, and thoughtful consideration to ensure years and years of gardening enjoyment with your greenhouse.
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