Greenhouse Materials

Recommended materials in greenhouse construction

Foundations

Choosing the correct foundation for your greenhouse is critical. Below are typical Foundation types used to attach/support your Greenhouse:

Greenhouse Foundations

Wood Foundations

Wood Foundations Pressure-treated lumber can be bolted together to form a foundation for greenhouses under 200 square feet, commonly referred to as “hobby-sized.” Greenhouses less than 6 by 8 feet can be constructed on a foundation of one tier of lumber. A 10 by 12 foot structure will require two tiers of lumber to create a solid foundation. Two-foot sections of rebar should be inserted into the ground and fastened to the lumber base for added strength.

Concrete Foundations

Concrete Foundations A stronger foundation is necessary with a greenhouse larger than 200 square feet. Options include a concrete slab, a continuous concrete footing, or a concrete block footing. Footings should extend below the frost line to prevent frost heave. A concrete block footing should extend a minimum of 6 inches above grade to form a knee wall. Tying a greenhouse to a foundation or footing can be achieved by embedding anchor bolts into concrete. It is recommended that a water proof compound be applied as a moisture barrier and surround the foundation with insulation panels.

Knee Walls

Knee Walls Knee walls (sometimes referred to as “base” or “pony” walls) are commonly featured in the construction of greenhouses. Applying a stone or brick veneer directly to a concrete knee wall is a cost-efficient way to achieve a classic aesthetic. Knee walls are typically between 30 and 36 inches tall. Storage pieces, furnishings, and garden tools can be hidden from external view when walls are formed.

Flooring

Selecting flooring is a very important decision in the design of your greenhouse. The floor needs to be comfortable for the gardener, allow drainage, and be sterile. All floor systems need proper drainage and slope to remove excess water. One option is to install a French drain into the foundation as it is poured.

Concrete

Concrete Flooring Concrete is an economical selection for a greenhouse by using your foundation as the floor. It can increase thermal mass storage and does not harbor mold or disease, however, it will require regular cleaning due to soil build up.

Pavers

Pavers Using a paver floor is another economical choice. Pavers are typically used on smaller scale greenhouses that do not require concrete foundations. Pavers should be placed directly upon the soil in a pattern which adds character to the structure.

Tile

Tile Flooring Tile is durable and easy to clean. There are many color and pattern options to achieve a specific design. Use slip resistant or textured tile to help prevent falls.

Gravel

Gravel Flooring Gravel is the most economical choice and easy to install. It reduces the spread of mud and dust. However, depending on the gravel’s density, weeds may sprout, gravel may need to be replaced more frequently than other options.

Framing and Finishing

Aluminum’s durability and strength allows for greater spans and customization than that of traditional wooden structures.

Using aluminum allows for the manufacturing of custom extrusions.

There are eight stock finishes and multiple metal cladding options available. Textured and aged finishes can be added for a historic appeal.

Metal Cladding

Metal Cladding

Cladding can be added to the exterior of a greenhouse for aesthetic purposes and can be used to highlight specific areas. Copper and bronze claddings are popular additions to historically-styled greenhouses. Stainless Steel cladding is appropriate for a modern greenhouse or coastal applications and will not corrode.

Paint Finishes

Metal Cladding

A painted finish is suitable for residential and light commercial projects. All finishes will withstand exposure to the elements and are resistant to impact; our anodized finishes are designed to withstand high-volume use situations and corrosive salt water conditions as well. Custom colors can be created in a high quality fluoropolymer paint finish.

Glazing Options

Glazing choice plays a critical role in determining the performance of your greenhouse, and the selection is both location and design specific.

U-values indicate the amount of heat transferred through glass; lower values indicate the glass acts as a better insulator, which creates a more consistent temperature. Typical glass ranges start around 6.0 for a single pane of glass and reach values around 0.13 for insulated glass with Low-E coatings, Stainless Steel spacers, and argon infill. Low-E coatings allow the sun’s rays to pass through the glass while reducing the amount of heat transfer.

Glass Chart

Glass Types

LoE 340

LoE 340

This glass type is used when the greenhouse needs to be shaded from intense direct sunlight. A coating is applied to clear glass, which blocks the sun and causes a soft blue tint.

LoE 340 insulated glass has a U-value of 0.25, an R-value of 4.0, a visible light transmittance of 39 percent, and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.18.

LoE 272

LoE 272

LoE 272 is the most commonly used glass for greenhouses. It has a very slight green tint that assists in regulating temperatures in the greenhouse, keeping it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. The insulated double pane version has a U-value of 0.25, an R-value of 4, a visible light transmittance of 72 percent, and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.41.

LoE 366

LoE 366

The best insulation values of Low-E glass choices come from 366. It helps retain the greenhouse’s heat in the winter and block the heat from entry in the summer. LoE 366 blocks 95 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays, which will help preserve the color and composition of furnishings, draperies, and wall treatments. This insulated double pane product has a U-value of 0.24, an R-value of 4.13, a visible light transmittance of 65 percent, and a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.27.

Windows and Doors

Choosing the correct opening for your greenhouse is important. Take into consideration, how wide of an opening will you need. Will you be able to easily transport plants in and out of the structure? Will your door selection accommodate all your other needs?

Door Options

Terrace and French Doors

Terrace and French Door

Terrace doors are single swing doors, while French doors are a set of two swinging doors. In greenhouse applications, door heights can be increased to accommodate large plants or equipment. Units can be hinged left or right and swing in or out; sizes are custom designed to suit your structure. The doors are constructed out of aluminum with insulated, double pane glass.

Arch Top Doors

Arch Top Door

An arch top door has a rounded frame and leaf.

Sliding Glass Doors

Sliding Glass Door

Sliding doors—sometimes called patio doors—can be featured in greenhouses.

The doors slide on a track and stack behind a fixed panel or into a pocket.

Panel Options

All Glass

All Glass

This configuration utilizes a full glass panel, alloweding the light to enter the room without interruption. This option accentuates modern, simplistic, and contemporary styles.

Full Grids

Full Grid

This configuration consists of grids throughout the entire panel. Muntins (grids between glass) offer easy cleaning, while SDLS (interior and exterior applied grids) provide visual depth.

Grid and Base Panel

Grid and Base Panel An insulated panel is located at the bottom of the door and is typically 36 inches tall with a raised grid pattern on the panel. Grids are located above the panel and are available in various patterns.

Windows

Windows serve as a point of ventilation for greenhouses. The orientation and number of windows located in your greenhouse should be carefully planned.

Awning Windows

Awning Window

An awning window is the most common type used for ventilation. The window is hinged at the top, cranks out, and can remain open during light rain showers. Any water that hits the glass simply runs away from the structure.

Casement Windows

Casement Window

A casement window is a classic greenhouse choice. This window hinges on the left or right and opens like a book. Casements allow for more air circulation than awnings and can be inswing or outswing.

Hopper Windows

Hopper Window

A hopper window is an operable window typically used above a door or window to ventilate the greenhouse. A transom can also operate as a hopper window, which tilts outward.

Transom Windows

Transom Window

A transom window is located above a door or window and is typically 24 inches high. Transoms are often fixed windows, but they are available in awning or hopper configurations. Grids can be added or the glass can be etched with a pattern for an ornate appearance.

Grid Patterns

Radius Grids

Radius Grid

A radius configuration is characterized by a half round grid located in the upper third of the window. The radius diameter differs based on window size.

Double Gothic Grids

Double Gothic Grid

Double Gothic is a very decorative grid reminiscent of gothic cathedrals. Single Gothic arches are also available.

English Grids

English Grid

The English grid design features two horizontal and two vertical, off center grids. This design complements arts and craft homes as well as contemporary styles.

Traditional Grids

Traditional Grid

The traditional grid consists of multiple horizontal and vertical divisions. The number of simulated lights typically runs between three to five both vertically and horizontally.

Resources

Greenhouse Location Recommendations
Greenhouse Planning Worksheet
Greenhouse Accessories

Contents


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