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Choosing and Erecting a Wooden Greenhouse

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 27 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Greenhouse Wooden Slab Concrete Glass

There's no doubting that a wooden greenhouse looks better and more traditional than an aluminium framed one. It's also intrinsically warmer so it's more pleasant to be in. But what sort of wooden greenhouse do you want in your garden and what's involved in erecting one?

There are a variety of different woods to choose from and generally, the more expensive the wood the longer it will last. Your budget may limit your choice more than you want it to, but if you aren't intending to move house for a long time, give your garden the best you can afford.

Wood Round-Up

Norway pine is probably the cheapest wood used for greenhouses but it will need preservative or painting to make it last, with British Columbian pine next, although that doesn't take preservatives so well. Baltic redwood is split resistant and responds well to preservatives while western red cedar looks great and if treated with oil will allow the colour to slowly fade.

Hardwoods are the best although significantly more expensive than pine. Teak or oak are both strong and long-lasting but ecological considerations are making them m ore expensive. Make sure any hardwood greenhouse is made from FSC certified wood.

Fixtures and Fittings

Most greenhouses come in sectional panels that need to be mounted on the base and bolted or screwed together. Find out whether the hinges and other metal fixings are brass, galvanised or plain steel. Brass or galvanised won't rust over the years and are obviously the better investment.

Also make sure you know whether the fixings and fittings come with the greenhouse or whether you will have to go out and buy some of them in preparation. The glass or plastic glazing will be held in with putty, wooden battens or metal clips but all greenhouses are different. The best advice we can give about erecting the greenhouse is to comply with the manufacturer's instructions.

Erecting a Wooden Greenhouse

The basics of erecting a greenhouse are the same whether you are going for an aluminium frame or a wooden one. The size will be determined by the available space and what you want to use it for, as will the concrete slab or other surface that you put down as a base.

In fact the base is one area where a wooden greenhouse can suffer more than an aluminium one, if it's not done correctly. The concrete base should exactly match the size of the base of the greenhouse so that rain falls off it. If the base is slightly larger, then rain will pool at the base and seep into the frame. It should go without saying that if a damp-proof membrane is installed it will further protect the frame.

Brick, Concrete or Slab Base

Many wooden greenhouses require a brick course to be laid to act as a base, again raising the wood away from the earth and the detrimental effects of rainwater. The brick course must be exactly level and flat (and no, they are not the same thing!), to the millimetre.

On the other hand there are smaller, lighter wooden framed greenhouses, with polycarbonate windows rather than glass, that can be placed on a level surface, wood chips or rolled earth. We would suggest these would last a lot longer if they were put on a proper base though.

In the middle of those two extremes is a paving slab base. This is faster to lay but you still need to prepare and level the ground and mix concrete. It's tempting to lay a slab base without cementing them in place but if you don't fix the slabs down the greenhouse will move around and the glass will break.

Consider an Erecting Service

If this all sounds a bit too much like hard work, many garden centres will sell a greenhouse with erection built in to the price. That may be well worth paying for. Even if they don't they will often know of local handymen who offer a greenhouse and shed erection service.

You are far less likely to get erection included with a greenhouse you buy over the internet but you may save money that you can then put toward an erection service.

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