Greenhouse frames can be constructed of several different types of materials.
If you’re building a greenhouse, choosing which type of frame to use will be one of your first decisions.
And obviously it will be an important decision, too, since the frame supports the entire greenhouse structure.
Several variables come into play when choosing between the different types of frames used in greenhouses. Appearance, cost, ease-of-construction, durability and strength are all important considerations.
But deciding which of these are the most important to you will help you in choosing the type of frame your greenhouse will have.
For example, if you live in an area where heavy snowfalls are likely, then strength will be quite important as you plan your greenhouse. But where I live in Texas, the ability to bear a heavy snow load isn’t quite as important, so greenhouse strength isn't as critical (though nature still has a habit of dishing out nasty surprises!).
So let’s take a look at the different types of greenhouse frames commonly used, and examine their respective strengths and weaknesses.
The very earliest greenhouses were constructed with wooden frames. And though wooden frames have been somewhat eclipsed in favor of more modern materials, wooden frames are still very much in use.
Arguably, wooden framed greenhouses are the most beautiful and elegant of greenhouse designs. Along with the aesthetics, wooden frames offer other advantages – and a few disadvantages, as well.
Steel frames are the most commonly used type of frame. Steel frames are used in greenhouses ranging from tiny hobby houses to huge multi-bay commercial greenhouse complexes.
Steel frames are usually constructed of galvanized steel pipe. Pipe offers great strength and is relatively easy to form into a rounded bow or arch.
An aluminum frame is light and easy to handle. It won’t rust like steel, rot like some types of wood, or degrade from sunlight like PVC.
But aluminum is not a perfect material for frames in greenhouses; it comes with some disadvantages.
Building a PVC pipe greenhouse is a very easy, very quick, very inexpensive way to get yourself a greenhouse. But is a PVC pipe greenhouse a very good greenhouse?
Not really. But it just might be good enough.
It all depends upon what you want out of a greenhouse, and the options you have to choose from. One thing’s for sure: a PVC greenhouse is much better than no greenhouse.
When it comes to hobby greenhouses, modern technology has blessed us with lots of options. When you’re choosing the type of frame to use in your greenhouse, carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each type against your needs.
Most likely, one type of greenhouse frame will emerge as your best choice.
Then you can decide upon a greenhouse design, the type of covering, ventilation and heating options, and… well, one step at a time!