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Greenhouse Information
Greenhouses for your backyard are easy to build. The costs can be inexpensive or very expensive depending upon the type of greenhouse and materials you choose. A simple framed greenhouses with plastic sheet covering is inexpensive while a masonry walled greenhouse with glazed glass is a very expensive type. For a backyard do-it-yourself project the framed greenhouse will probably be your choice.

What are the different greenhouse coverings available?  
The least expensive covering is roll sheet plastic that is commonly available at your building supply store in 3 to 6 mil thickness. Like anything "least expensive" plastic sheet also has some drawbacks. The life of roll plastic is short, probably 1 to 3 years depending upon your weather. It also transmits the least amount of light compared to all other type coverings. Roll plastic sheeting also does not offer any structural strength. The roll plastic cost for an average 10x12' building is about $50 to $75.

Corrugated PVC plastic or fiberglass sheets are next on the expense list of materials commonly used for greenhouses. They have the advantage of adding significant structural strength to your greenhouse, are easy to install and readily available at most building supply stores. The material cost for a 10'x12' greenhouse is roughly $250 - $350 for fiberglass or corrugated plastic. Corrugated plastic sheets are also available in Poly carbonate plastic, which looks the same as PVC plastic but is a tougher material not as easily damaged as PVC or fiberglass sheets. Poly carbonate cost is about one and a half times more expensive than PVC or fiberglass.

The next level of covering used is smooth double wall poly carbonate plastic. The primary advantage of this material is the double wall that provides additional insulation properties beyond the single sheet materials. Structural strength of corrugated and double wall ploy carbonate is about the same as, however, double wall is more rigid that single corrugated sheet poly carbonate. The cost again goes up to about $450 - $550 for a 10'x12' greenhouse with double wall poly carbonate. Double wall poly carbonate is also not as readily available as the single sheet materials.

Glass is the most expensive material. The expense of glass is not only in the material cost, but the glazing cost to install it. It is also the easiest to damage and the most expensive to repair. It is not used much for backyard greenhouses.

In summary the shingle PVC or poly carbonate sheet is commonly available at a reasonable price. PVC is my personal choice of covering using rubber washered screws for installation.


Comparing the different framing materials
For the simple backyard greenhouse there are three primary types of framing material used: Wood framing, metal framing and plastic framing.

Metal, weather steel or aluminum provides a very strong and durable frame.   Aluminum is especially durable since it does not rust and as a bonus is very light weight. The primary drawback of this framing materials is the need for the do-it-yourself person to have welding skills and access to welding equipment.

Plastic framing, which is often in the form of PVC plastic pipe, is inexpensive and easy to assemble. Plastic also has the advantage of being light weight and therefore easy to move around the yard. The down side of plastic framing is that it does not make a very rigid greenhouse frame and will not support shelving or doors very well. Plastic pipe also breaks down quickly from exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light, unlike plastic sheet which has uv protection.

Wood framing is rigid and easy to assemble. Wood is somewhat more expensive than plastic and about the same cost as metal. Pressure treated lumber is preferred since it will not rot or mold when exposed to the high humidity of a greenhouse. Wood framing can be cut and assembled with the common hand tools most do-it-yourself people have around their workshop. As a bonus a wood structure can easily be modified. The weight of a wood structure is typically heavier than plastic or metal. While not as easy to move around the yard as the other materials, it also will not move as easily due to a wind storm. Readily available, wood is my personal choice for the backyard greenhouse. Be sure to use galvanized nails or screws to assemble your frame.


Quality tools and a detailed set of plans will help you build your greenhouse and save you time. Checkout out our greenhouse plans and tools for a great value.

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