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Maintaining a Metal-framed Greenhouse

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 20 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Metal-framed Metal Frames Aluminium

Metal-framed greenhouses are light and relatively cheap compared to their wooden alternatives although harder to heat and more prone to condensation. Regardless of the preference for wood or metal frames there's no doubt that regular maintenance and care of any greenhouse will make it last a lot longer.

Corrosion on Aluminium and its Prevention

Of course one of the selling points of metal-framed greenhouses is that they require less maintenance than their wood framed counterparts but don't assume that means that they can simply be ignored. Most metal-framed greenhouses are made of aluminium or an alloy that's high in aluminium content so they will corrode, although not to the same extent as iron or steel.

Corrosion on aluminium takes the form of a white bloom that grows on the metal. It's the aluminium version of rust but it's far slower to appear and grow and it's not as devastating to the structure of the metal. It can be wiped off with a cloth or brushed off but don't use water as the process will simply begin again

Protection from Corrosion

You can lacquer aluminium greenhouse frames to prevent this occurring. But to some extent you are then giving yourself an extra job, that of checking the lacquer every year and repainting where necessary. In addition, any disassembly, for whatever reason, will be more difficult as the lacquer will dry over the nuts and blots that hold the frame together.

Some aluminium framed greenhouses come with a powder-coated finish applied at the factory. This is decorative as well as protective and comes in a variety of colours but of course puts the price up. It's worth considering if you want the greenhouse to blend in with an existing colour scheme though.

Nuts and Bolts

In the annual clean and check that you should be performing, tightening nuts and bolts is very important. Because aluminium isn't as resistant to twisting and bending as wood there will be reinforcing plates at the frame junctions. The nuts and bolts that hold these corners together should be kept tight to help prevent distortion of the frame which if unchecked can lead to stress on the panes and subsequent breakage.

Taking Care of Glass

The glass should be kept clean by washing with a damp cloth and then drying as it off. It doesn't do to use too much water as this will promote that corrosion mentioned earlier. If any panes do break they are usually simple to replace, being held in with wire clips. These can be undone and the broken pieces of glass removed.

When refitting a replacement pane it's best to have someone to help you. One of you can hold the pane of glass in place while the other deals with the clips. They are tricky to fit in place and can fly off viciously during attempts so be sure to wear eye protection during the fitting. There are usually rubber or fabric seals around the window frame and these should be replaced if they show any signs of damage or significant wear.

Plastic Window Panes

Some metal-framed greenhouses have plastic window panes rather than glass and although these are lighter and less prone to breakage they do discolour with age and scratch easily. Care is no different to glass windows but be careful not to use any cloths or sponges with a rough finish as these will scratch the surface.

Regular maintenance and care should not be too arduous but will keep a metal-framed greenhouse in service for years if not decades.

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