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How to Choose Between a Glass or Polycarbonate Greenhouse

How to Choose Between a Glass or Polycarbonate Greenhouse

If you’re ready to start a greenhouse, one of the most important decisions to make will be what to cover your greenhouse with. Both glass and polycarbonate options have advantages, but which one should you choose? Understanding the advantages of each style is a great place to start! Read below to learn whether you will benefit from a glass or polycarbonate greenhouse.

Advantages of a Glass Greenhouse


Glass is the strongest of all greenhouse materials. Partly due to its weight, which makes it strong, glass greenhouses can provide many years of service—40 to 50 years or more! Glass greenhouses are permanent, and though they may cost more than polycarbonate styles, the value they add to your property makes them worth the investment.


Glass greenhouses are prized for their beautiful appearance. For many, they are considered to be the iconic image of what a greenhouse is supposed to look like. One of the many reasons they are so popular is because the clarity of the glass can give the feeling of being outdoors while being sheltered indoors so the beauty of both can be enjoyed.

Light Transmission

Glass greenhouses transmit the most light, nearly 100 percent, and maintain their clarity for many years if cleaned regularly. Single-layer or double- or triple-planed glass is available to help improve insulation and ventilation, making it more competitive with what polycarbonate greenhouses offer.

Advantages of a Polycarbonate Greenhouse


Polycarbonate greenhouses are more durable and 200 times stronger than glass. When polycarbonate needs to be replaced, it’s easy to remove the panels individually to make repairs. Though polycarbonate is durable, it should be treated with UV protectant to prevent it from turning yellow or breaking down. With proper care, polycarbonate can last about 10 years, a fraction of how long glass lasts.

Light Transmission

Polycarbonate greenhouses help diffuse light more evenly than glass greenhouses, which helps plants thrive and even grow faster. Polycarbonate protects plants from excessive sunlight or radiation as it naturally offers UV protection. This material provides better insulating properties, though double- and triple-paned glass can do the same for glass structures.


Polycarbonate costs less than glass, but consider the investment over time. Polycarbonate has a lifespan of about 10 years. Factoring this into your long-term investment plans is important when choosing a greenhouse covering.  Less expensive covering options may require more repairs that will add up to higher costs.


Polycarbonate greenhouses are shatter-resistant, and though glass greenhouses are strong, they can’t withstand impacts from hail, rocks or other hazards. Tempered glass may offer more protection against cracks or breaking, but there is still an element of risk.

Whether you choose glass or polycarbonate, make informed decisions about costs, durability and practicality. For example, glass greenhouses, for example, may be ideal for hobby gardeners, but impractical for commercial growers.

Have more questions? Call Gothic Arch Greenhouses at 800-531-4769, and let our friendly staff assist you in finding the right greenhouse for you or your operation!