Ideas for storm-proof covering on hoop house used as greenhouse

Asked November 13, 2013, 12:40 PM EST

Your colleagues at the Fairmount Park Conservancy believe that at least one of your staff knows EVERYthing... I built a hoop house (8 x 12, rebars, 7 PVC hoops) that performed well until Sandy took it apart. Seams and accidental holes in the transparent plastic (3 something or other) were taped with duct tape from both sides. But the storm tore the assembly to shreds.
I would like to cover the skeleton with appropriate material to make it functional again. I investigated keder, but my budget doesn't allow for it. Please give me your suggestions for a storm-proof covering! The main question is how to secure the ends and how to install an entry in at least one end.

Philadelphia County Pennsylvania

1 Response

I'd appreciate an image of what you already have in place.
There are a few points that may help just to get this going:
1) PVC reacts with poly films to rapidly degrade the plastic. They should never come into direct contact. Same thing goes for pressure treated lumber. Where treated lumber and plastic film touch, the film will degrade quickly
2) Are you using greenhouse grade poly film? The type of film that you purchase at home centers and hardware stores is only good for about 3 months in the sun as they have minimal UV inhibitors. Great for very temporary uses, but lousy for covering hoop houses, greenhouses and high tunnels. Greenhouse grade films are generally good for 4 years +, but cost about 10x what home center plastic costs.
3) Duct tape when used outdoors is only a temporary bond. It will just not keep holding for more than about a month when exposed to sun, wind and rain. You can purchase poly film repair tape from greenhouse suppliers that is very permanent and comes in a variety of widths.
4) There is a reason that metal tube houses are the norm. Whether galvanized steel or aluminum, they provide low friction plastic support that you can install standard wiggle wire channels on to hold the plastic. Metal tube frames are not expensive, it's everything else (heaters, fans, benches...) that costs so much for a structure.

I hope this helps. I've got an older article on keeping poly films from premature degradation that you are welcome to, just email me at smb13@psu.edu