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Glass, toughened glass or polycarbonate

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Greenhouse decision:  I ve only ever had glass greenhouses but I am looking to purchase a new greenhouse.  With newer alternatives, I am undecided on Glass,  Polycarbonate or Toughened glass.  I've read the pros and cons but have always had standard glass and wondering if paying the bit extra for toughened glass or poly carbonate is worth it.  Opinions and personal experiences -  good & bad please - especially if you've had both

If it is for an allotment plot you may have no choice - polycarbonate may be a requirement. Even if glass is OK now, the policy may change and it's not impossible (if unlikely) that it would be retrospective.

If you have children / grandchildren who use your garden, you might prefer toughened glass for their safety and your convenience!

If you must have absolute clarity then solid polycarbonate may be more expensive than glass, but if you can tolerate a few % less view then 4 mm twinwall PC is much better insulation in winter & cheaper, lighter, safer (unbreakable) and far easier to cut it to size.

I'd recommend 4 mm twinwall on the north side of any greenhouse (and probably the west side too) - there's less light coming from the north anyway, so in the winter that's where you lose most heat (& where the frost is mostly coming from). I'd also recommend it for any N, W or E roofs, and consider the S ones too (if you really want to see the sky in 4k+you can step outside). A bit more clarity is available from using 10mm twinwall, and 10mm triple wall as almost twice as clear because the ribs are further apart - & fudging the clips for a wider sheet isn't what I'd call Rocket Science.

OTOH The PolyCrub style of all-10mm PC greenhouse is the perfect DIY choice for allotments - it needs no internal bracing or glazing bars, and is better for it (& a hell of a lot cheaper) - they really need that resilience in the Shetlands - that's why it is a charitable community venture there...


Polycarbonate is a good material, but the 2 or 3 mm thicknesses are rather bendy and flexible.  I've seen several cases where in windy conditions panels have blown out and resulted in a lot of damage. If polycarbonate is your final choice this is an additional reason to choose 4mm minimum thickness unless you are in a sheltered position.

I once bought some 6mm polycarbonate for another purpose. I used it to make a couple of transparent and insulating crown boards for beehives. Tough and strong and a brilliant material but correspondingly very expensive.

Tiny Clanger:
We can have what we like for glazing on our site, but glass is a temptation to the "ball bearing nut jobs" with catapults and rocks.  Most have net shields up where they are within shot reach of the public.  When we took over out plot some years ago, it looked like someone had smashed up a green house on the plot.  We are still unearthing broken glass every time we dig or weed.  We have toughened glass in the greenhouse at home.  Polycarbonate greenhouses get fished out of the local canal on a regular basis whenever we get gales and rough weather.  They are just not heavy enough to stand up the weather.


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