When building a greenhouse, you need to have greenhouse plastic unless you’re building a permanent structure with solid-sheet panels of glass, acrylic, or polyethylene plastic. So what should you use? How do you figure out how much you need, and what’s the best greenhouse plastic for your needs?
Today we’ll dive into the world of greenhouse plastic, both greenhouse film and semi-rigid or rigid, and discover some of the options available to you. There’s a lot out there to choose from!
|Best OverallSunview Greenhouse FilmBest Overall||Check Amazon Price|
|Best Single-SeasonTRM Manufacturing Visqueen Plastic SheetingBest Single-Season||Check Amazon Price|
|Large GreenhousesFarm Plastic Supply Greenhouse FilmLarge Greenhouses||Check Amazon Price|
|Best ValueECOgardener Greenhouse Clear Plastic Film, 6milBest Value||Check Amazon Price|
|Best Hoop House PlasticYowlieu Clear Greenhouse Plastic SheetingBest Hoop House Plastic||Check Amazon Price|
|Best Corrugated PanelDynaglas 5pk Corrugated Polycarbonate PanelsBest Corrugated Panel||Check Amazon Price|
|Best Twin Wall PanelSilk Road Greenhouse Twin Wall 8mm Polycarbonate PanelBest Twin Wall Panel||Check Amazon Price|
|Best 9 Mil SheetingGrow1 Clear Woven Greenhouse Plastic Film, 9 MilBest 9 Mil Sheeting||Check Amazon Price|
|Best 8 Mil SheetingFarm Plastic Supply 8 mil Clear Greenhouse Plastic SheetingBest 8 Mil Sheeting||Check Amazon Price|
|Perfect RepairsGrower's Solution Poly Repair TapePerfect Repairs||Check Amazon Price|
Best Greenhouse Plastic Reviews
1. Sunview Greenhouse Film
- One roll of clear plastic film 12ft. x 25ft.
- Superior Strength and Toughness. UV Treated.
- Higher Light Transmission for optimum plant...
This 6mil greenhouse plastic film has been treated to reduce infrared and ultraviolet sunlight. At 6 mil thickness, it’s certainly sturdy enough to hold up to the weather. It’s mostly clear to offer good light transmission to the plants underneath, while providing good diffused light.
The manufacturer says that it will last about four years, and can last longer if regularly cleaned. They offer a limited warranty, but warn that the warranty will be voided if you use it against bare PVC. Be sure to put something between the greenhouse plastic and the pipes! All in all, this is a great solution for most gardeners to choose, and should hold up to the task well.
2. TRM Manufacturing Visqueen Plastic Sheeting
- Plastic sheeting for use in many applications
- Your purchase keeps landfills clean, TRM uses...
- Made in the USA
If you live in an area like California where a greenhouse is mostly for pest control and fine-tuning the climate, you really don’t need much more than this visqueen plastic. This utility-grade polyethylene is 6 mil, which gives it a little more durability, but it’s not made to be in the sun for months and months on end.
If you’re using it for a single season at a time and then cleaning it and storing it, you may get a couple years out of this plastic. If it’s in the elements for more than a few months, it’s only good for a single use as it’ll begin to deteriorate via UV degradation and elemental exposure.
3. Farm Plastic Supply Greenhouse Film
- Plastic Greenhouse Cover - Our 6 mil clear plastic...
- Greenhouse Plastic UV - Farm Plastic Supply's 6mil...
- Superior Light Transmission - Our clear plastic...
If you are constructing a really large greenhouse or are doing a controlled growing environment, this plastic will be great. 6 mil thick and UV-protected, it will hold up well. It’s very slightly more diffused light than the top pick, but otherwise is comparable. For the money, you’re getting an excellent size of fabric which should cover even some of the largest greenhouses with no problem.
4. Best Value: ECOgardener Greenhouse Clear Plastic Film – 25’ x 10’ 6mil
- GREENHOUSE – This seamless Poly is 6 mil (0.006...
- EXCELLENT LIGHT TRANSMISSION – To maximize the...
- UV STABALIZED – Our Plastic Film has been UV...
While this plastic is 6 mil, it will last you many seasons and can be adapted to many different shapes. You can even use it to cover plants in intense cold, simply draped over supports affixed to or within beds. ECOgardener also gives you plenty of size options, making use of one sheet for a large structure possible.
This sheet’s UV stabilization and condensation resistance ensures it will last you a long time. With its current price point, this is potentially one of the best deals on this list!
5. Best Hoop House Plastic: Yowlieu 12′ x 25′ Clear Greenhouse Plastic Sheeting
- 6 Mil Clear Greenhouse Plastic Cover: Our...
- Higher Light Transmission: Our green house plastic...
- Anti-drip & UV-resistant: Yowlieu greenhouse...
If you are looking for a roll of greenhouse plastic especially designed for hoop houses, check out the Yowlieu clear sheet! It allows light to move through the plastic, giving your plants plenty of access to the UV rays they need.
The 6 mil thickness of this polyethylene plastic sheeting can also protect plants in extremes, both cold and hot. It’s tough, and will last you multiple seasons.
6. Best Corrugated Panel: Dynaglas 5 PK Corrugated Polycarbonate Panels
Maybe greenhouse plastic sheeting isn’t durable enough for your greenhouse, and greenhouse paneling made of polyvinyl carbonate is better. Dynaglas corrugated polycarbonate paneling is a great option. It has high-light transmission as well as anti-drip reinforcement — just like the plastic sheets we’ve mentioned up to this point. These panels are a sizeable 26″ wide by 6′ long, giving you plenty to work with.
What sets the Dynaglas apart from our previous mentions is not just that it’s more durable. This particular pack of 5 panels comes with a 10 year warranty. So if something happens in the time these panels adorn your greenhouse, you can have them replaced.
7. Best Twin Wall Panel: Silk Road Greenhouse Twin Wall 8mm Polycarbonate Panel
- Make sure the side marked with UV Protected faces...
Simlar to our last item on this list, this is another polyvinyl carbonate greenhouse panel. However, it has a twin wall design that is 250 times more shatter resistant than glass. Gardeners in areas that get hail or high winds during rain storms will benefit greatly from this pack of paneling.
Silk Road Greenhouse offers multiple sizes, and will create custom panels for gardeners who know what sizes they need. Larger pieces have to be picked up, however, from Del Sur, California.
8. Best 9 Mil Sheeting: Grow1 Clear Woven Greenhouse Plastic
- EXTRA-TOUGH 9-MIL THICKNESS – The 9-Mil...
- MADE FROM REINFORCED POLYETHYLENE – Made of...
- PATENTED CLEAR WOVEN DESIGN – Our clear woven...
We’re back in the greenhouse plastic sheeting category, but with much more reinforcement at 9 mil (as opposed to 6)! The commercial-grade polyethylene sheeting offered by Grow1 comes in many different sizes, and it offers all the UV and condensation-resistance the other models on this list do.
With this durable greenhouse plastic sheeting, you’ll have years of protection. It has even temperature distribution as well, giving each plant the same input. This plastic makes a great solution for gardeners who want a material that will last a long time.
9. Best 8 Mil Sheeting: Farm Plastic Supply 8 mil Clear Greenhouse Plastic Sheeting
- Extremely Durable - Our 8 mil UV Resistant Clear...
- Greenhouse Plastic UV - Farm Plastic Supply's 8mil...
- Superior Light Transmission - Our clear plastic...
For those who want similar durability to the 9 mil Grow1 plastic, but want more size options and a lower price point, Farm Plastic Supply has a great 8 mil roll of polyethylene. It has an ultraclear composition that allows plenty of light through for your plants. It includes anti-aging additives that ensure the greenhouse plastic sheeting lasts for a long time.
Definitely worth the money, try a higher thickness if you’ve had a hard time with 6 mil or less greenhouse plastic sheeting.
10. Bonus: Grower’s Solution Poly Repair Tape
- ✅ Durable - Our repair tape has the toughness to...
- ✅ Strong Adhesion - This adhesive ensures a...
- ✅ Multiple Applications - Our clear poly repair...
Let’s face the facts: no greenhouse film will last forever. Inevitably, there will be something that causes tearing of the plastic film. And nobody wants greenhouse plastic with big holes in it.
Thankfully, Grower’s Solution has a solution for that, too. This poly repair tape is six inches wide and easy to apply. It can be used to quickly repair most light damage to your greenhouse plastic. It’s not going to make your greenhouse covering last forever, nor will it protect from more damage. But it certainly may extend the lifespan by another year or two.
What Kind Of Greenhouse Plastic Should You Use?
There’s a lot of factors to take into consideration when choosing the best greenhouse plastic. Among these are longevity, UV shielding (or lack thereof), IR shielding, and thickness. Let’s examine some materials and determine what you’ll need.
What Are Your Weather Conditions?
First off, let’s discuss how your greenhouse is going to be used.
If your area is wet and cool during the winter, but not prone to hard frosts, you can get away with something fairly lightweight. You may not even need a greenhouse, although for early seed starting it does help!
Suppose your area is wet and cold and you get hard frosts. Then, you’ll probably want something that’s thicker. You probably are going to be using your greenhouse every year, so thinking about the longevity of your plastic is important.
If your area gets light snow, you’ll need to consider whether the snow can slide off your greenhouse easily and which has enough thickness to offer good protection against the chilly air. You’re probably also going to want something which can help ensure that sunlight can reach your plants easily. You should still be able to use flexible greenhouse plastic sheeting still, but you may need to add some form of insulating internal layer to help keep the chill out, perhaps even a secondary layer of plastic.
Finally, if your area gets heavy snow, you really need to think about the weight of your average snowpack. You’re going to need to clear the snow off your greenhouse regularly to allow the sunlight in, but you’ll also need warmth inside. Something heavily insulated and rigid is probably your best bet.
The least expensive choice and the one that most greenhouse builders choose is polyethylene. There’s a lot of variables in terms of polyethylene, both in greenhouse plastic sheeting and in panel form.
The most common polyethylene plastic sheeting available is utility grade copolymer. Found at most hardware stores, this greenhouse plastic is extremely inexpensive. In this case, you get what you pay for. This 3mil, 4mil, or 6mil plastic usually won’t last more than a year, and depending on how bad the weather gets, it might not last longer than a single season.
You can (and likely should) opt to look for agricultural plastic or greenhouse plastic instead of the utility grade. Agricultural or greenhouse plastic tends to last for much longer periods of time. It can survive for 3-5 years in many cases, and there’s many choices of features for agricultural plastic. However, it does cost more than utility grade.
Anti-drip or condensate control greenhouse plastic sheeting is an option. This helps reduce the condensation that will block sunlight. It also prevents moisture dripping onto your plants, which can cause disease issues such as powdery mildew. It can be incorporated into the plastic as an internal layer, or sprayed onto the plastic before use.
Heat management is important when dealing with greenhouse plastic sheeting as well. You want to reduce nighttime heat loss. This can be accomplished by using a polyethylene with an IR layer, as it will redirect the heat inside of the plastic.
You don’t want to cook your plants, though, and some environments have much warmer daytime hours. In that situation, an infrared-reducing layer is available on the exterior of some greenhouse plastics that will reduce daytime heat gain.
If you have a very large greenhouse and plan on using bees as pollinators inside, you will need a greenhouse plastics that allow ultraviolet rays through. Bees require UV light to find the flowers. However, if you’re not using bees, selecting a plastic that blocks ultraviolet light will help reduce many fungal infections and pests. Some of the pests that can be avoided with this method include thrips, whiteflies, and aphids.
Some polyethylene plastic has increased light diffusion. This will help allow light to reach throughout the interior of greenhouse plastics, but will help prevent plant scorching. Plastic like this is especially beneficial for people growing taller plants, as it lets light reach the lower leaves without burning the plant top.
One note about polyethylene that you absolutely need to know: if using it with PVC pipe, you need a barrier between the pipe and the plastic. Polyethylene greenhouse plastics have a reaction to PVC pipe which can cause the plastic to degrade if directly exposed to PVC and sunlight for too long. Most people use fabric, such as inexpensive felt or old T-shirt material around the pipe. Masking tape applied to the pipe will also work.
If you’re looking for something that’s rigid or semi-rigid, and that isn’t glass or acrylic, you will want polyvinyl carbonate. Most commonly, polycarbonate panels are two polyethylene plastic sheets with a corrugated polycarbonate layer between them. These plastic sheets provide insulation while still allowing light through.
Much like polyethylene sheeting, polycarbonate plastic has a number of options available. These are typically the same sort of variables as available in polyethylene greenhouse plastic. However, because it’s rigid or only slightly flexible, polycarbonate will last for much longer, and provides more protection in colder winter environments.
Polycarbonate is also fantastic for use when building a cold frame, so it’s something to consider.
One other type of plastic which is used occasionally for greenhouse plastic is polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This is the same plastic used to make pipes. While this plastic is extremely durable, it’s also generally only available in shorter lengths than polyethylene sheeting, and it costs significantly more. It’s far more common to find this as an option for greenhouse kits than it is to find it in a long enough length to use for building a polytunnel or other greenhouse.
What Mil Plastic Is Best For Your Greenhouse?
If you’ve decided on polyethylene sheeting, there’s usually three thicknesses of plastic available. 3mil, 4mil, and 6mil are generally the options. For most single-season applications, 3mil or 4mil is just fine. It’s a great choice for high arched structures, overwintering plants, or single-season use.
However, when you’re building a greenhouse that needs to withstand multiple seasons, you’re likely going to want the heavier option of 6mil plastic. Stretched taut over your greenhouse framework, a 6mil plastic will provide good rainshed qualities and act like a much more rigid structure. It will hold up to most light winds. Heavy wind conditions may require extra precautions to be taken to ensure your greenhouse’s stability.
How Do You Measure Greenhouse Plastic?
First, measure the length, width, and height of your greenhouse. Then measure from the ground on one side up over the arch or peak of the roof and back down to the other side. Make notes of all of these measurements.
Your required length and width for the plastic that you need for the top will be the length of your greenhouse plus the over-the-top measurement, plus a foot in every direction. So, for instance, if your greenhouse is 6 feet long and has an over-the-top measurement of 11 feet, you’ll need something that’s about 8′ x 13′. The extra greenhouse plastic ensures you have enough to secure it durably to your frame.
The width of the greenhouse and its height, plus a foot in every direction, will be the size of the plastic you’ll need for each of the end walls. So if your height is 5 feet and your width is also 5 feet, you’ll need a 7′ x 7′ piece of plastic for both ends.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s the best plastic to use for a greenhouse?
A: A polyethylene plastic will hold up best over time.
Q: How thick should my greenhouse plastic be?
A: Anywhere between 5 and 9 mil is perfect for home greenhouses.
Q: Is clear or white plastic better for greenhouse?
A: It depends on what you need. If you need a lot of sunlight, clear plastic is great. For less sunlight, white translucent greenhouse plastic sheeting may be better.
Q: What is the difference between greenhouse plastic and regular plastic?
A: Greenhouse plastic sheeting is usually treated with additives that control UV transmission, and uphold the integrity of the sheeting over time.
Q: Is 4 mil or 6 mil plastic better for greenhouse?
A: While both work, plastic sheeting with a higher thickness, like a 6 mil sheet will hold up longer.
Q: How long does 6 mil plastic last on a greenhouse?
A: Depending on conditions, most 6 mil greenhouse film plastics last at least 4 years.
Q: Can I use Saran Wrap to make a greenhouse?
A: You can, though this isn’t a long-term tactic. Saran wrap may not last a full season. Instead, invest in one of the greenhouse films we suggest above.
Q: Which is the most inexpensive covering material in greenhouse?
A: Plastic sheeting is much less expensive than plastic panels. Any one of the options of greenhouse films above works!