Polycarbonate cold frames are affordable and lightweight, making them perfect to transport and relocate in the garden. While glass is more traditionally used in cold frames, it is also more susceptible to breakages and damage, and examples of why polycarbonate is such a great alternative material to use.
Being UV resistant, polycarbonate helps protect your plants from the sun, while its weather-resistant properties keep them out of the blustery gales that would normally uproot any seedlings.
One of the main reasons polycarbonate is such a popular material for use in greenhouses and cold framing is that it’s incredibly insulating, so you can be sure that your plants will be in warm conditions during the colder months.
Because polycarbonate can be cut to any size, you can build your own bespoke cold frame to the exact measurements you need as all our acrylics are fully customisable.
Up to 10 times stronger than glass our clear Perspex® acrylic sheets don’t show any sign of ageing with continual use, meaning you can expect at least 20 years of use from your clear acrylic sheet without showing signs of deterioration.
Further to this, Clear Perspex® Acrylic sheeting also provides up to 92% light transmission, higher than most types of glass, so becomes a preferable option to glass for use in windows or roofing.
Clear polycarbonate sheeting on the other hand is an ultra-tough, versatile material with a wide range of possible uses, from secondary glazing to riot shields, to external panels. This superior strong material can be purchased in varying thicknesses to provide further levels of insulating for your cold frame plastic. Two hundred times stronger than glass, our polycarbonate replacement cold frame glass alternative is available as a durable, safer option for replacing the glass.
Lastly, high-impact polystyrene (HIPs) is the cheaper option and much like polycarbonate is designed for functions that require enhanced impact resistance ideal for use as a cold frame glass alternative.
However, when compared to the other two sheeting, HIPs sheets do have a noticeable optical difference often showing vertical lines distorting light slightly which is worth considering if you are aiming for total clear optics. For this reason, our polycarbonate or clear acrylic sheets are perfect for cold frame plastic window replacements, though HIPs is a great alternative if optics are not of concern.
All three of our options as an alternative to cold frame glass panels are lightweight and easier to install than traditional glass. While glass would normally deteriorate as a cold frame glass pane, either by losing transparency or warping, the long-lasting consistency of clear acrylic, polycarbonate, or HIPs panels makes them an easy replacement, repurposing your greenhouse plastic windows and giving the whole feature a second wind.
We are able to provide HIPS, clear acrylic, or polycarbonate exactly to your specifications and measurements, as well as adding options for customization should you require. We have also constructed a helpful guide to assist you with your installation.
Clear Perspex® acrylic, polycarbonate, and high impact polystyrene sheets give excellent optical clarity, ranging up to 92% light transmission, higher than most types of glass, making our clear plastic sheets an advantageous option for use in windows or as a skylight.
Clear Perspex® acrylic sheets are incredibly durable, so are often used as a secondary glazing alternative to glass, as it is resistant to impact and is shatterproof, making it a safer option. Further, clear plastic sheets are particularly useful for sheds and around the home with children and pets.
Comparably, our polycarbonate is 300 hundred times stronger than glass and 30 times stronger than our Perspex® acrylic sheets, as well as being shatter-resistant. You can expect at least 20 years of continued use from these long-lasting panels without showing signs of deterioration.
Clear acrylic sheeting is UV and weather-resistant, as well as being resistant to prolonged exposure to sunlight. In addition, clear acrylic sheets are also resistant to most chemicals and have a low moisture absorption rate, so clear plastic sheets are useful for a host of different environments and are perfect for outdoor applications.
With a higher impact tolerance to acrylic sheeting, clear polycarbonate sheets make a stronger, long-lasting alternative to both acrylic and glass. At its thickest point polycarbonate is also resistant to bullets, and its brake form is a tenth of an inch thick.
Clear cast Perspex® acrylic sheeting is easy to fabricate and can be cut, drilled and shaped to any requirements, so it’s a flexible material to work with. The cut surfaces can be polished and sanded easily for a more professional finish to your sheeting.
HIPs works out at one-third of the price of clear acrylic relative to square meter sheets, allowing cold frame panes to become an accessible inexpensive task to complete.
All of our cold frame plastic options are equally easy to clean, with just warm soapy water and a microfibre cloth needed to ensure a hygienic finish.
Acrylic Cold Frame Glazing Specifications
|Maximum Sheet Size||3050mm x 2030mm|
|Available Thicknesses||2mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 15mm, 20mm, 25mm, 30mm|
|Light Transmission||> 92%|
|Fire Rating||UK Class 3 fire rating|
|Manufacturers Tolerances||+/- 10 % plus 0.4mm (e.g. 5mm cast sheet could vary from 4.1mm to 5.9mm)|
|Cutting Tolerances||+/- 1mm|
Polycarbonate Cold Frame Glazing Specifications
|Available Thicknesses||2mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, 12mm|
|Maximum Sheet Size||3050mm x 2030mm|
|Minimum Sheet Size||100mm x 50mm|
|Fire Rating||UK Class 1 Fire Rating|
|Manufacturers Tolerances||+/- 10% plus 0.4mm (e.g. 5mm cast sheet could vary from 4.1mm to 5.9mm)|
|Cutting Tolerances||+/- 1mm|
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cold frame?
A cold frame is a transparent roofed area built low to the earth to protect plants from adverse weather. The transparent lid creates a blanket for heat, allowing sunlight to pass through and preventing the heat from escaping.
Can you use acrylic for a cold frame?
Acrylic or polycarbonate are ideal for cold frame glazing due to their optical properties and affordability and durability when compared to a similar material like glass. Alternatively, high-impact polystyrene (HIPs) is a budget option for the clear acrylic qualities.
How beneficial can cold frames be?
During spring and early summer, cold frames and any size greenhouse are useful to harden tender plant stems preparing them for harsher environments. For instance, cold frames become a great place to grow seedlings of vegetables and any tender plants. Transitioning into the autumn, cold frames are fantastic at protecting plants from a harsh cold snap that can kill plants unforgivably.
Can you start seeds in a cold frame?
Starting your seeds in a cold frame is typically a preferred option as during the process when the seeds are developing their roots, the cold frame protects the bud in allowing it time and space to grow, without the risk of it being uprooted.
Does a cold frame need to be airtight?
A cold frame doesn’t need to be airtight to be effective. In fact, the best cold frame allows circulation of both oxygen and carbon dioxide as the plants photosynthesise and develop.