Help me fix my wife's greenhouse please!
April 17, 2007 11:00 AM   Subscribe

How would you recommend repairing a heavy plastic (clear tarp like material with what appears to be fiberglass threads in it for strength) green house flexible cover. After about 10 years of use in the cold region of upper Michigan, my wife’s portable greenhouse (door and a few areas along the metal framing) are worn and starting to rip apart. I’ve tried the tried and true “duct tape” and clear plastic vinyl to patch the rips and it only lasted one year. I’d love to get another 5-7 years out of the greenhouse and wouldn’t mind spending up to $100.00 to repair it. Any ideas or suggestions would be certainly appreciated. Thanks in advance….
posted by orlin to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
PS -- again the material I'm trying to fix is like a clear plastic tarp. Thanks again...
posted by orlin at 11:06 AM on April 17, 2007

If you have that much to spend, couldn't you just buy a new tarp?

If you're talking about more solid material like a fishing boat would be made out of, you can purchase fiberglass repair resin from the hardware store. You mix the resin with a separate hardener and it dries solid.
posted by odinsdream at 11:15 AM on April 17, 2007

It seems to me that the plastic has reached the end of its useful life. My only thought is that perhaps you could find the manufacturer and contact them. Ultraviolet rays and wind play havoc on plastic material.
posted by JayRwv at 11:16 AM on April 17, 2007

I'm thinking a strong tape designed for use on tarps would work (like this), although I would wait until a warm day to apply it and thoroughly clean the area before patching.
posted by backupjesus at 11:22 AM on April 17, 2007

Yeah, I'd just buy $100 worth of new clear plastic tarp. You can buy a LOT of plastic for $100. I spent $20 on a roll like a few years ago that would probably have been enough to wrap my house.
posted by DU at 11:45 AM on April 17, 2007

I suspect JayRwv is right. Long periods of exposure to UV degrades vinyl. Once it reaches that point, it's futile to try and patch it. If the greenhouse has flat surfaces, you might cover them with plexiglas sheets glued together at the edges.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:58 AM on April 17, 2007

What about clear corrugated panels? They're more heavy-duty than tarp material and can't be terribly expensive. Try a local big-box store-- they're like corrugated tin panels, only clear plastic.
posted by orangemiles at 12:01 PM on April 17, 2007

I put shrink-wrap plastic on my boat each winter. It's cheap, durable, has UV inhibitors and you can get it in clear.

You would need the plastic, some shrink wrap tape to fasten it to the frame and a $25 propane "weed torch" from Harbor Freight to shrink it. Although, you might be able to shrink small pieces with a heat gun (not a hair dryer).

The only problem is that I don't know where you can buy it in small quantities. I buy it from, but they sell it in 150-200 ft rolls that could probably cover your greenhouse at least four times.
posted by 14580 at 12:49 PM on April 17, 2007

The material is UV stabalised Polyethene or PVC. It's amazing you got 10 years use, most are good for 18 months to somewhere around 5 years. It's going to continue to tear and degrade. Replacement is the only practical option. Most garden and landscape stores should either be able to supply it or tell you where to get it.
posted by Mitheral at 1:16 PM on April 17, 2007

The company went out of business and we can't find a new "skin" for the aluminum frame. The same type of new portable greenhouse would run over $1,000.00.
posted by orlin at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2007

The Greenhouse is about 9' X 6' wide and about 8' high.
posted by orlin at 1:40 PM on April 17, 2007

How about fiberglass patch cloth? (the kind you mix with resin and cure it) or maybe aluminum tape - the kind they patch airplanes with?
posted by clanger at 2:12 PM on April 17, 2007

Have you got pics? you might be able to use a contact or construction adhesive to apply a new plastic skin over your existing frame. Windshield adhesive can be good for this kind of thing as it won't corrode metal.
posted by Mitheral at 2:18 PM on April 17, 2007

Orangemiles has a good idea for the front door and I'll look for better tape (other that duct tape) -- thanks to "backupjesus". And of course, I want to extend a big "THANK YOU" to all for your help...Orlin
posted by orlin at 2:51 PM on April 17, 2007

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