The idea behind greenhouses is to maintain consistent levels of temperature and humidity. This lets you plant seasonal crops all year round. You don’t have to worry about rain, drought, frost, or sleet interfering with your planting schedule or messing your harvest timetable. Plus, you can get your favorite fruit or vegetable, even when it’s ‘out of season’.
Traditionally, greenhouses were covered in glass or fiberglass. Sometimes, the glass was tinted green. These days, we use clear plastic sheets because they’re cheaper, more versatile, and more convenient. Let’s discuss some top contenders as we seek out the best greenhouse plastic.
Not every product is reversible, and that can be confusing. Especially if you’re installing see-through greenhouse plastic. And when there are so many brands to choose from, the little things make a difference. Little things like SHANS printed directions, showing which side faces out.
This matters because – for example – anti-drip coatings are generally on the inside while UV coating is on the outside. Anti-dust coating can be on both sides. Point is you don’t want to lay your plastic inside out, and those four printed words could save you thousands in repair costs.
SHANS plastic film is transparent but foggy, with extended durability and superior strength. This plastic roll weighs 8.5 lbs. It doesn’t have anti-drip or anti-dust coatings, but it has UV protection that keeps the plastic intact for half a decade, as per the 5-year-warranty.
If you’d like a thick, largely see-through greenhouse plastic with proven durability, get a SHANSA. It comes in large rolls with a protective UV coat to make it last even longer.
Each roll is 12 feet wide, with length options of 25, 50, and 100 feet.
The plastic is 6 mils thick.
It has UV protection and a 5-year guarantee.
It’s pretty thick, so your greenhouse may need a cooling fan during warmer months.
This plastic sheet is 6 mils thick and measures 12 feet by 25 feet. It’s moderately transparent, providing a slightly misted view. The plastic has a 4-year warranty but has been used successfully for over 8 years. It helps if you clean it regularly with soap and water.
The reason it lasts so long is its UV coating, which slows the natural pace of disintegration. The greenhouse plastic also has an infra-red coating. This raises the temperature inside the greenhouse by about 20°. Both these additives make the plastic unsuitable for tropical climes.
The plastic weighs a little over 2 pounds, and it’s a good idea to pair your purchase with see-through duct tape. This makes your greenhouse cover easier to install. Buy something wider than your required dimensions. You need an overlap for effective installation.
Grower’s Solution has designed the perfect plastic for your greenhouse. Read the fine print though: If you don’t prime your PVC frame, you’ll void your product warranty.
It’s UV treatment and infra-red additive extend its lifespan.
It comes with a 4-year guarantee.
It has heightened light transmission.
Shipping can take up to two weeks, and if you’re using PVC pipe as your greenhouse frame, you’ll need to pad the pipe or coat it with primer.
For areas with strong wind, heavy rain, or bulky snow-fall, a plastic sheet may not be enough. The weight of water and ice may dent your plastic or collapse it completely. In such cases. Macrolux Polycarbonate is a better purchase. Plus, the dual layers retain heat better.
Each Macrolux panel measures 48 inches by 48 inches. Individual sheets are 8mm thick, and the hollow wall is 3 inches thick. The standard color is clear and transparent and lets through 87% of the light rays that hit it. You can buy translucent tinted versions in bronze or opal.
You can also pick a customized color of your choice, though translucent greenhouse covers let in less light. These greenhouse panels have a 10-year warranty. The panels are lightweight, with all four pieces weighing a total of 35 pounds. They can withstand high impact and harsh weather.
When you’re looking for a greenhouse cover that’s ‘virtually unbreakable’, consider Macrolux. You can buy a colored version if your garden has light-sensitive plants that need less sunshine.
You can easily cut it into your preferred shape.
The double-wall construction provides added stability.
It has an R rating of 1.87 and a warranty of 10 years.
Stiff polycarbonate panels occupy more space than rolls of plastic, so your Macrolux greenhouse plastic will be more expensive to ship.
Rolls of plastic sheeting are easy to use. You can conveniently unfurl the exact amount you need. Sunscover greenhouse plastic rolls are either 15 feet or 25 feet long, and their width ranges from 12 feet to 40. The sheets are pliable see-through pieces with a foggy outlook.
The polyethylene is made of five layers, giving it extra strength, stretch, and durability. It’s treated against UV damage and lets through increased amounts of light. The plastic is ionized to make it dust-proof, and its manufacturing process uses metallocene technology.
Sunscover sheets weigh 8.5 lbs. With clear sheets, it can be tough knowing which side goes where. This product is helpfully labeled ‘inside’ to show you which section faces in or out. The plastic is 6 mils thick, and the product is proven to last 4 years or more.
This greenhouse plastic is treated against cloying dust and solar deterioration, so you’ll be covered for several seasons, no matter how bad the weather gets.
The plastic sheets are UV-treated and have an anti-dust coating.
They’re designed using a five-layered structure.
They come with a 4-year guarantee.
Their maximum length is 25 feet (though width goes up to 40 feet). So if you need wider coverage, you’ll need some clear duct tape to combine multiple rolls of sheet plastic.
With many greenhouse plastic brands, one side of the sheet is shiny and the other side is dull. With Farm Plastic Supply, both sides seem the same, and not every box comes marked. If you’re lucky, yours says ‘this side in’ as a hint. But even if it doesn’t, there’s no harm done, since the sides of this product are identical. And yes, the plastic underwent UV treatment.
The plastic roll comes in multiple sizes, from 12 x 28 to 24 x 100, all in feet. The polyethylene sheet is 6 mils thick, so it’s great for retaining heat. But while it’s not as clear to see through, it transparent enough for 90% solar penetration. And it has UV protection to slow sun damage.
Farm Plastic Supply sells a good product. Its warranty lasts 4 years and the plastic sheets are easy to install. But remember to pad your PVC frames, or insulate them with masking tape.
It’s a 6 mil plastic sheet.
It has a 4-year warranty.
It has UV protection.
Some pieces are marked ‘this side in’ while others are left blank, so you can’t be sure.
Greenhouses aren’t exactly private spaces. Not unless you’re growing contraband crops. So while most greenhouse plastics are transparent, they’re not as clear as glass. Instead, the priority is on letting light through. GT4’s version has been tested and proven for 91% penetration.
Visually, the effect is closer to translucent. You can see shapes and silhouettes, but no clear view. But it does keep heat in and bad weather out, which is its mission in life. The sheets are 6 mils thick, 20 feet long, and 25 feet wide. You can get other sizes too, as low as 12 feet and as high as 100 feet. GT4’s greenhouse plastics are stronger and tougher than similar brands.
In a tear-test, GT4 performed 164% better than competitors. Its UV protection is superior too, and it slows solar deterioration by 33%. And because its light plastic, you can easily cut out windows, doors, or trim it to fit awkward corners and curling curves. It has a 4-year warranty.
GT4 greenhouse plastic guarantees superior performance, and it has the stats to prove it. It’s easy to install and allows maximum light to pass through without damaging the plastic itself.
The plastic is 6 mils thick.
Its advanced UV treatment extends its lifespan by 33%.
It has 164% more tear-resistance than other brands.
Like many polyethylene sheets, mounting it on unpadded PVC pipes will void your warranty. Preferred padding options are knitted cotton, cheap felt, or masking tape.
Bootstrap farming doesn’t necessarily have to dilute the quality of your produce. And in this instance, the Bootstrap Farmer has released a decent greenhouse plastic product. It’s 6 mils thick, 24 feet wide, and 80 feet long. It’s made of polyethylene, so you have to cover any PVC framing with masking tape or primer. Otherwise, your greenhouse cover will tear too soon.
This plastic sheet has polymers that let in maximum light while retaining heat for longer periods. This creates ideal greenhouse conditions. To prevent condensation problems like mold and over-watering, the greenhouse film has anti-drip protection. It also has UV coating to slow deterioration. The plastic offers premium protection for your plants, with added durability.
At 62.6 pounds, Bootstrap Farmer’s greenhouse plastic is on the heavier side. But it delivers superior performance and doesn’t need much maintenance beyond soap and water rinses.
It has UV coating and anti-drip protection.
It has built-in polymers that let in more light.
The plastic sheet is 6 mils thick and has a 3 or 4-year warranty, depending on which model you buy.
You can’t lay your plastic directly on the PVC piping frames. You have to coat the PVC with cotton, masking tape, felt fabric, latex paint, or older layers of plastic sheeting.
For ordinary greenhouse plastic, the maximum thickness is 6 mils. But this Watershed sheet isn’t exclusively designed for greenhouses, so it’s a superior 11 mils thick and has UV protection on both sides of the plastic. It also has a mesh weave to reinforce the plastic sheet.
The plastic is made of sturdy material that weighs 5 ounces per square yard. All its edges are hemmed and finished with rope edging. The corner seams are strengthened to prevent ripping. For easy installation, the sheets have aluminum grommets spaced 18 inches apart.
The HydraTarp is 100% waterproof, and the grommets are rust-proof. The entire tarp measures 16 feet by 20 feet. Its warranty lasts a year, but if you need to take it back within the first 30 days, you get your money back, no questions asked. The tarp also resists rot and corrosion.
If you’re looking for a multipurpose greenhouse plastic, get the HydraTarp. Its mesh weave and strengthened corners will keep it in good working condition for seasons to come.
It’s 11 mils thick.
The woven mesh helps the sheet resist tearing.
Both sides of the plastic have UV protection.
The 1-year warranty is on the shorter side, considering most of the brands we’ve looked at have 5 to 10-year warranties.
Greenhouse plastics have certain features that are common across brands. That sometimes makes it tricky to distinguish one from the other. A&A Green Store has a product that matches many others on the market. While greenhouse covers filter heat and sunlight, they can get damaged in the process. Especially by UV rays that make the plastic disintegrate faster.
That’s why A&A has UV protection built in. It’s meant to protect the plastic, not the plants. The plastic is foggy rather than glassy, but it’s still clear enough. It lets in lots of light, preserving the heat and humidity levels inside your greenhouse. The plastic film weighs 5.7 pounds.
When you’re looking for effective greenhouse covers, buy the 6 mil A&A version. It’s waterproof, weatherproof, rustproof, and UV-proof, so it’ll boost the health and growth of your plants.
It resists ripping and bad weather.
It has UV protection so it lasts longer.
It measures 12 feet by 25 feet.
The plastic has no labels to show which side faces in and which one faces out.
A lot of the products we’ve looked at are unsuitable for California. This might be due to Prop 65, or sometimes due to water conservation regulations. TRM Visqueen is safe though because it’s manufactured in Corona, California. This translucent film is 6 mils thick and weighs 7.4 lbs.
It measures 10 feet by 25 feet, and while it’s weatherproof (they describe it as weatherall), it has no UV protection to slow down its natural deterioration. This is a US-made brand that you can order individually or by the carton. It’s darker than the usual greenhouse plastic though.
This plastic sheet is made of far lighter material, so it will wear out faster. Especially without the requisite UV coating. You can use it for a greenhouse, but only as a stop-gap.
It’s made from recycled materials.
It’s 6 mils thick and measures 25 feet by 10 feet.
It’s suitable for all weather conditions and can withstand rough conditions.
Even if you order TRM as part of a group shipping, the rolls always ship separately. There’s no extra charge for separate shipping, but it may affect your shipping schedule.
Greenhouse film is an acceptable way to diversify your farming activities. And while some people use any old plastic, it helps to buy something specifically designed for greenhouse gardening. So how can you be sure you’ve bought the best greenhouse plastic?
Greenhouse plastic is measured in mils, where 1 inch equals 1,000 mils. The plastics are generally 3, 4, or 6 mils, depending on your needs. You might say thicker is better because it will retain more heat. But your decision is based on your requirements.
For example, areas that get icy winters may want thicker plastic. But only if you’re willing to replace it with something thinner for summer and spring. Thickness also influences transparency. Higher mil-figures will prevent some light and heat from passing through.
Consider the general weather patterns around your farm or garden. For tropical regions that have sunshine 360 days a year, lighter mils are best. But for blizzard-prone areas, get thick plastic and tightly-spaced from. Shorter gaps will improve the weight distribution of rain or snow.
In most products, UV protection is intended to preserve the contents of your item. For example, an umbrella with anti-UV is intended to filter potentially harmful rays from reaching you. UV rays don’t harm plants, so the produce inside the greenhouse doesn’t need that barrier.
But UV rays can disintegrate the plastic cover itself. So UV protection helps the plastic last longer. If you’re farming in wintry areas, you can add infra-red coatings. They slow the escape of heat from the greenhouse. Then there are anti-dust coatings that ionize static electricity.
These ions stop dust and other dirt particles from clinging to the plastic. It’s helpful for dry areas where dust storms are common. Finally, consider anti-drip protection. You can’t stop condensation, but hydrophilic radicals (-COOH) prevent formed droplets from falling.
If these droplets fall, they will mess with your perfectly calibrated moisture settings. The anti-drip coating keeps the drops in place, allowing them to evaporate from the surface of the plastic. This way, humidity is retained without interfering with your greenhouse conditions.
Not all greenhouse plastics are equal, and there are four main types: polyvinyl, polyethylene, polycarbonate, and copolymer. Polyvinyl (PVC) is the cheapest and thinnest, while polycarbonate is on the premium end of the spectrum. You also need to consider construction.
These greenhouse plastics can be woven, rolled, or paneled into place. Woven plastic is the highest quality. Find a type of plastic that’s easy to install and long-lasting. Cheap greenhouse covers last a year or two, while others last as long as ten years. Maintenance matters too.
If you keep your greenhouse covers clean and dry, they’ll last longer. Ensure the sides are well angled to discourage snow and rain from piling up – the excess weight could rip through your plastic. Find out how much weight the cover can hold, and how this affects translucence.
This may not seem important, but large plastic rolls are easier to maneuver. You can cut them into the size and shape you need. But roll sizes that for your greenhouse dimensions. Otherwise, you may have to tape, glue, or screw pieces together, and each seam is a potential weak spot.
Seams are vulnerable because tears can start from there. Seams also create pockets where dirt, moisture, and even plant pests can hide. So pick a size that offers as much smooth, uninterrupted plastic as possible. Plus, you might get a wholesale pricing discount!
Ease of installation is a sizing factor as well. You want plastics that effectively wrap around your greenhouse frame without pickling or wrangling. And you want the plastic to be as clear as possible. With greenhouses, privacy isn’t an issue, and maximum light permeability is essential.
Many buyers overlook this feature. Some types of plastic are easier to lay, but that’s not the only considerations. Certain frame types react badly with plastic. For example, PVC pipes wear away certain types of plastic film. It’s especially unwelcome for polyethylene, which degrades faster.
In this case, you may need different frames, or you might have to pad your pipes so they’re not in direct contact with the plastic. Alternatively, opt for polycarbonate, which comprises double woven layers of polyethylene. The padding may still be necessary, even with thicker plastic.
Wrap old t-shirt strips, rags, or bits of cotton fabric around the pipes, particularly in places where the fabric touches the greenhouse plastic. You can also pad the pipes with cheap felt or masking tape. Ask your vendor whether your chosen plastic sheet can withstand your frames.
Now that we’ve run through tips and tricks to help you get the best greenhouse plastic, which brand wins? We recommend the film from Farm Plastic Supply:
It’s the maximum available thickness of 6 mils.
It’s treated for UV radiation.
It weighs a little under 30 pounds.
It has widths of 12 to 40 feet and lengths of 25 to 100 feet.
It has a 4-year warranty.
What kind of greenhouse plastic are you using at the moment? Take some photos and share them with us in the comments, we’d love to see how your garden is doing!