Greenhouse Coverings for your Greenhouse Project

Greenhouses can be a beautiful and functional addition to your home, whether you want to grow lush flowers and foliage, delicious and organic produce; or maybe you just want an attractive entertainment space or beautiful pool enclosure.  Greenhouses add value and appeal to your home, so it’s important to choose all the right features for your intended use as well as your budget. 

One of the most important features of a greenhouse is the covering, also known as glazing.  Choices in greenhouse coverings provide function and aesthetic appeal.  Let’s discuss the various options briefly, and then in the following months, we will dive into the details of each covering choice.


Glass greenhouses are luxurious and beautiful, and for many, an iconic choice.  Glass will not likely need to be replaced over the life of the greenhouse, making it an appealing and mostly permanent choice.  Glass transmits almost 100% light and will maintain that clarity for a lifetime with regular cleanings.  Glass greenhouses are also generally stronger because the framing must support the weight of glass.  Glass is non-combustible, resistant to UV radiation and air pollutant degradation, and maintains radiation transmission if regularly cleaned.  Although glass is vulnerable to inclement weather and storms, replacement panes are easily installed and fairly inexpensive.  While it costs more initially, the durability and long life of glass make it an excellent choice.  Options include single layer, double layer, Low E, and diffused.  Each option offers important functions for differing needs.

Poly Films:

Poly film is comprised of polyethylene/EVA copolymers with other materials and additives that provide important properties.  Poly film is available in several quality grades as well.  Costs are low because the greenhouse framing can be much lighter, making this choice one of the most budget-friendly.  Although light transmission is comparable to glass, the life of the poly film is limited to degradation by sunlight and heat.  Light transmission varies from about 77% to 91% depending on thickness, additives, and degradation.  Poly film is a temporary choice and is typically warranted for about 4 years.  It is mostly available in 4 and 6 mil thicknesses.  Gothic Arch Greenhouses offers several different choices in the poly film depending on your need for light transmission, durability, and heat retention/loss. 


Polycarbonate is the perfect lightweight, cost-effective glazing for your greenhouse.  It is virtually unbreakable and features a surface treatment that provides resistance against degradation caused by sunlight and UV radiation.  It typically comes in widths of 4’ and 6’.  Polycarbonate is also much stronger than glass with greater impact resistance.  It allows light transmission of about 80% and also has significant heat retaining properties. It is easy to transport and assemble in comparison to glass.  Although polycarbonate can scratch and build up algae, dust, and condensation, you can keep it in near-perfect condition with regular cleanings. Polycarbonate is a great budget-conscious choice for greenhouses while still providing a nice clean aesthetic appeal.

Shade Cloth:

While shade cloth isn’t technically a greenhouse covering, its function is very important in conjunction with coverings.  Using shade cloth is one of the most common and economical ways to keep a greenhouse interior cool and cut down on solar radiation.  In all-around warmer climates, and during hot summer months, shade cloth can help your greenhouse cooling system work more efficiently, thereby saving you money.  Shade cloth can be installed on the outside of your structure or just inside the roof.  Shade cloth helps to block out a percentage of the sun’s rays, depending on which thickness you choose.  You want to choose shade cloth according to the size of your greenhouse and what plants or products you are growing.  If you have an existing greenhouse, shade cloth can be easily retrofitted.  Gothic Arch Greenhouses provides a wide variety of shade cloth, available in different percentages of sun blockage, and in different colors to help promote the growth of certain plants. 

Insect Screen:

Here again, insect screens aren’t technically a greenhouse covering, but their function is so important in every modern greenhouse.  Insects can destroy your greenhouse production efforts, making screens a necessity. Insect screens are strong, UV stabilized, lightweight, easy to install, transparent, and easy to clean.  Correctly installed, they prevent insect penetration while still providing maximum possible airflow.  Screening your intake vents will produce dramatic results, but ALL greenhouse openings should also be screened.  Anti-insect screen choices are differentiated by hole size or mesh size. You should choose mesh size according to the insects prevalent in your area.  You want to target mesh size choice according to the smallest pesky insect.  The higher the mesh percentage, the smaller the insect prevented from entering your greenhouse.  An added bonus with insect screens is some degree of shading.  The highest mesh percentages available can provide as much as 50% shade. 

So now you have a complete overview of greenhouse coverings to help you make the best choice for your new greenhouse project or to add to an existing structure.  Gothic Arch Greenhouses provides a full selection of glazing and coverings to fit every taste, function, and budget.