PVC Pipe Greenhouse Frames: Strengths and Weaknesses
Building a PVC pipe greenhouse is a very easy, very quick, very inexpensive way to get yourself a greenhouse. But is a PVC greenhouse a very good greenhouse?
Here's a look at some of the comparative advantages/disadvantages of PVC pipe frames:
Definitely not a strength of a PVC pipe greenhouse.
A PVC greenhouse (also called a PVC hoop house) can be reasonably functional and lots of fun, but let’s be honest – it’s not going to win any beauty contests.
In fact, next to some of the sleek and shiny kit greenhouses available, a PVC house looks rather drab and utilitarian.
I give you a photo of the PVC pipe house I built as proof:
But as the saying goes, beauty is only skin deep.
And that wise old saying really kind of applies to a PVC greenhouse. Because once you enter the greenhouse, all of the lush and luscious goodies growing inside can look just as impressive as the innards of a more stately and elegant greenhouse.
And depending upon your circumstances, the inner beauty might just be all you’re really concerned with.
There surely is no cheaper means of acquiring a walk-in greenhouse than building a PVC greenhouse.
The frame consists of nothing more than PVC pipe. The 'purlin' of the greenhouse in the photo above is simply strong twine running along the top center of the house and looped around each PVC bow. Some rebar stakes, a bit of lumber for framing the ends, the plastic covering – and that’s it.
PVC isn’t particularly cheap (depending, of course, upon your definition of cheap), but when you’re comparing the cost of a PVC greenhouse to one made of steel, aluminum or wood – no contest.
This is another area in which a PVC pipe greenhouse shines. Among walk-in DIY greenhouses, no type is easier to build from scratch. In fact, building a PVC greenhouse from scratch is probably easier than assembling most greenhouse kits.
Apart from preparing the soil, I built the PVC greenhouse in the photo above in 1 day, by myself (could have used another pair of hands when applying the plastic covering, though!).
Durability and Strength
Here is where a PVC pipe greenhouse doesn’t fare so well when sized up against the alternatives.
A PVC house just isn’t going to last a long time. You can reasonably expect to get several years of use out of it, but don’t hope for too much.
The PVC pipe won’t hold up to that kind of use for a very long time. The sun will take its toll (but you can delay that by using UV-resistant pipe and painting it), and the stresses of wind, snow and ice will eventually cause cracking and breaking.
And of course, a flimsy PVC frame greenhouse isn’t going to take much of a snow load without collapsing (I don’t have to worry much about that where I live).
On the other hand, once your PVC greenhouse is getting long in the tooth, you don’t have to throw in the towel. If you want to keep it going, just remove the plastic, replace the PVC bows with new pipe, and put the plastic back on.
You’ll be in business for another few years at the cost of just a half-day’s work and some new pipe.
A PVC Pipe Greenhouse Isn’t Perfect…
But perfection can be awfully expensive.
If a PVC house will suit your needs, if it will handle the weather in your area, and if you don’t have a pesky homeowners organization that will hound you about the outer appearance of your humble little greenhouse, then why not?