Wooden vs Metallic Greenhouses

A greenhouse is constructed of a frame and translucent material that allows the sun’s rays to penetrate and heat the interior providing optimal climatic conditions for the plants to thrive. It shields crops from excess cold or heat and unwanted pests and makes it possible to grow crops year-round. The commonly used framing material is either wood or metal. In our case, as Illuminum greenhouses we use the galvanized steel.

Before you settle on either of the framing material which is either wood or metal, it is good to access information about the two items and see what works best depending on your needs

Planting ongoing, in a newly installed wooden greenhouse in Njoro, Nakuru county of Kenya

Pros of a wooden greenhouse frame

  • Bulky

Due to its weight, it is favourable in areas of high wind and heavy snow. The wooden structure is firm enough to withstand the external conditions.

  • Damaged parts are easily replaceable

Wood is likely to experience wear and tear especially due to rotting but these damaged parts are easily replaceable due to the availability of wood. A farmer can easily repair the structure by themselves by adding wood and nailing them together

  • Larger and complex designs can be achieved

Wood is a basic construction material. It is largely used in construction including building of houses. This makes a wooden greenhouse easy to achieve complex designs and is eye catching especially when painted and blends well with garden landscapes.

  • Wood is a natural thermal insulator

Wood tends to naturally keep warm temperatures and takes a longer time to cool. These high temperatures are favourable for the greenhouse.

  • Wood easily secures hooks for that additional storage

With a wooden greenhouse frame, you do not need to have an additional storage space. The farmer can simply add some hooks in the form of nails into the wooden structure and secure their hand trowel, rake, fork and clippers.

The Cons of a wooden greenhouse frame are

  • Increased need of regular maintenance

Wood needs to be treated regularly with a quality preservative and also paint to make sure it doesn’t suffer from any dry rot. This means that there is that continuous cost of maintenance a farmer has to incur to ensure they have a greenhouse. If the farmer does not treat the timber the greenhouse might collapse due to the loose structure.

  • Time consuming

When treating the wooden frame, the farmer needs ensure there are no plants in the greenhouse. This is because the plants are likely to be affected by the fumes. A farmer has to take time off production to treat the greenhouse and ensure it is in good shape. This means that time that was meant for production of crops would go into the treatment of the frame structure hence time will be lost. Remember time is money!

  • Longer construction time

Wooden structures use the nail and hammer process to put up the structure. This takes more time since the wood has to be put together manually for the structure to be complete.

  • Not recommended in a termite prone area

Wood is prone to termite infestation and once the wood is infested, the framing structure wears and tears and may ultimately collapse. To mitigate this, Illuminum Greenhouses recommends application of wooden treatment to repel the insects but this is still not a sustainable solution. The best would be to chemically treat the poles. The cost of this process is equal to putting up a metallic greenhouse.

The best wood to construct a greenhouse frame is cedar which is more durable but costly. It is a better option than softwoods. When considering a wooden greenhouse, it is advisable to prefer cedar over softwoods.

Complete metallic unit at Isinya, Kajiado county of Kenya

Pros of a metallic greenhouse frame

  • Durable

Once a farmer installs a metallic greenhouse frame, the possibility of wear and tear of the frame is low. The frame will remain intact for a long time and they do not incur and extra cost of repairs. The cost therefore of installing the greenhouse is one off.

  • Easily portable

If there is need to move the greenhouse from one location to another. The metallic frame easily allows this to happen. The frame is not easily damaged during the moving process and is easily installed back into the new location.

  • Less maintenance cost

Once a metallic greenhouse frame is installed, there is no further maintenance of the structure. It is already firm and is not prone to rot like its wooden counterpart. This is a plus since the farmer is not worried of any other cost, they need to incur to maintain the greenhouse.

  • Metallic greenhouses can be covered under structural insurance from insurance companies.

With the level of investment, a farmer puts into metallic greenhouse installation, it is safe to secure the investment against acts of God such as wind. Having insurance allows the farmer to lower the risk on your greenhouse farming venture.

  • Shorter construction time

Unlike the wooden framing that uses the nail and hammer process of putting the wood together, at Illuminum Greenhouses, we use battery powered drills and screws to assemble the metal and put up the frame. This takes 50% less time to construct if you compare to a wooden frame of the same size.

The cons of a metallic frame are

  • Expensive

It is costly to instal a metallic greenhouse frame. This is because of the durable nature of the greenhouse. This con is not a disadvantage per sei because once the farmer has put in their investment in constructing a metallic greenhouse, there are sure that they will not need to put in more funds to maintain it.

  • High valued

The metal frame used that is aluminium is high valued hence it is prone to theft. This risk can be mitigated by ensuring the greenhouse is located in an area that is secure.

At Illuminum Greenhouses, we offer the installation of both the wooden and metallic greenhouses to our farmers. Our advice to clients is to always consider factors such as quality, durability and affordability when selecting their units. Depending on the needs, preferences and budget of our clients we recommend what will work best.

Based on the pros and cons of both the wooden and metallic greenhouse frames provided above, tell us what would work best for you.

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