Plastic Sheeting Blog. Click on Home for all our product categories...

Is Polyethylene Sheeting Plastic Sheeting?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Mon, Nov 05, 2018 @ 02:55

Do you know the difference between polyethylene sheeting , poly film and/or plastic sheeting? Of course you do- Polyethylene sheeting is another name for poly film, plastic sheeting, poly liner, "visqueen", plastic film, containment plastic, vapor barrier, geomembrane, green house plastic, and plastic film. Polyethylene or polythene is the most common plastic. As of 2017, over 100 million tons of polyethylene resins are produced annually, accounting for 34% of the total plastics market. Its primary use is in packaging(plastic bagsplastic filmsgeomembranes, containers including bottles, etc.). Many kinds of polyethylene are known, with most having the chemical formula (C2H4)n.

There are a variety of names that boil down to the main component polyethylene.
Let's take a look at some of the varying product terms and their functions all that are made from polyethylene.

Heavy Duty Plastic Sheeting

Deckprotek with rolls of tape on it

What do we mean when we say, "Heavy Duty Plastic Sheeting" or heavy duty poly sheeting?  The dictionary defines "heavy duty" as, "made to withstand hard use or wear" and "made to withstand great strain or use".  When Global Plastic Sheeting refers to "heavy duty plastic sheeting", we are referring to a plastic sheeting product that is made to withstand hard use or great strain based on the application the plastic sheeting was designed for.  Therein lies the difference.  A plastic liner is not heavy duty in every application it is presented with.  A liner/ film is heavy duty when the plastic was engineered specifically for an application and the film is capable of doing the job it was designed for. It will stay strong, and protect what it was employed to protect.

Another liner/ film that falls into the category of "heavy duty plastic" is a liner called, HDPE.  HDPE stands for high density polyethylene.  This plastic which is also called a "geomembrane" is engineered with a specially formulated polyethylene resin.  It contains approximately 97.5% polyethylene, 2.5% carbon black and trace amounts of antioxidants and heat stabilizers; no other additives, fillers or extenders are used.  What you get is a film that has excellent chemical resistance, very low permeability- high tensile strength and more.  This liner stands up to UV radiation and can survive outside in harsh conditions.  Now that is heavy duty!

Containment plastic must be heavy duty as well to do its job correctly. What is contaiment plastic?  It is plastic that is used to cover the object that needs covering.  Take scaffolding.  You have seen where it is covered in plastic- that is a specialty plastic called heat shrink wrap.  This engineered plastic is made to shrink when heat is applied to tightly cover the building, boat, or object it is protecting. Pictured below is the Mars Rover protected by our specialty heat shrink wrap called, GPS Anti-stiati Fire Retardant Heat Shrink Wrap.

Greenhouse covers- are they also made from polyethylene plastic YES! Can greenhouse plastic be heavy duty? Absolutely.  Take SolaWrap greenhouse covering film.  This bubble wrap looking plastic will last 10 years in the harshest of environment.  It is made to withstand heavy snow loads, high winds, sun, heat, rain- you name it...and it won't yellow or degrade. Other greenhouse covers made from 6 mil polyethylene will only last a few year. And while they will get the job done for a time period, they are not as heavy duty as Solawrap. 

Polyethylene sheeting under concrete slab

Under-slab vapor retarders play a very important role in retarding moisture from coming up through the concrete and into the structure. Today most experts feel very strongly that engineered films designed specifically for use as vapor retarders should be used as vapor retarders.  These products are made from 100% virgin resins, and have excellent quality control.  Most are tested to a standard called the ASTM E1745, which is the standard for vapor retarders in contact with soil or granular fill used under concrete slabs.  These materials are engineered not to decay in this type of application, whereas most construction grade poly will begin breaking down almost immediately and will have lost most of its structural integrity within 2 years.  How many times have you dug up plastic sheeting in your life that is just destroyed from being buried in the ground?  I know this is a bit off subject here, but the principles are even more important when dealing with vapor retarders for hardwood flooring, which is considered a critical application for vapor retarders.

Vapor Retarders for under the home or in the crawl space

Vapor retarders for the most part are made from polyethylene. They too area form of plastic sheeting. It makes some difference what part of the country you are in, what kinds of humidity levels are common in your region, whether or not your home has a good quality vapor retarder under the slab, basement, or in the crawl space.  If you already have an excellent vapor retarder, then the one you use under your hardwood floor is far less critical.  If you are putting a hardwood floor over a damp crawlspace, and use a poor quality vapor retarder, you are  asking for a lot of problems with the hardwood flooring, and will likely suffer problems with buckling, warping, noisy flooring, lots of expansion and contraction, and often finish problems, just to name a few. 

Should you be in an area where Radon is prevalent, or methane, then the use of a barrier with capabilities to retard these gasses becomes important also.  Again these films are engineered to have a very tight cell structure capable of keeping these very small molecules from passing right through the membrane.  These gasses, and to a very large extent water vapor pass quite easily through the cellular structure of common construction grade polyethylene (aka Visqueen).                                                                                                           

Shelters or Temporary Protection

When hurricanes strike or disasters ensue, its plastic sheeting that is often used to create temporary shelters.  Often string reinforced plastic is used because it is stronger and will hold up to wind. 

Coverings for Outdoor Equipment, Wood Piles, Furniture

String Reinforced plastic sheeting is commonly used as well as non-reinforced plastic to make covers for a variety of items.  Grommets and hems can be added to the plastic so it can be held down in place.

Waterproofing Ponds, Lakes, Canals with a poly liner

Liners for ponds, lakes and canals use a variety of plastic sheeting called, High Density Polyethylene or HDPE to line their basins.  This virgin poly will hold up to the sun and elements. 

Recreational Uses such as Ice Skating Rinks, Slip and Slides

The beauty of plastic sheeting is it can be engineered for specific uses.  With the addition of special additives, plastic sheeting can work long and hard for the application it was designed for.  Ice skating rinks and slip and slides are an example of this.  Very large or long rolls of plastic can be ordered from a manufacturer to serve these purposes.

Closing Off Rooms for Remodeling

With the help of an amazing product called ZipWall which will hold plastic sheeting up to the ceiling- you can close off a room where work is being done.  This is especially great if dust is flying around from workman activities.

Abatement work for Lead Paint

Lead paint abatement is a big deal.  It is very important that lead paint that is being scrapped off a surface does not contaminate other rooms in the house.  This is a great place to use plastic sheeting. Anti-static fire retardant plastic is a great choice for this application because the lead dust won't stick to the plastic sheeting. It can be swept up and removed.

Protecting flooring, carpeting, counters, Tubs

There are full lines of plastic that have adhesive on one side so they can stick to the surface they are protecting!  Each type (Carpet Plastic, Tile Plastic, Countertop Plastic, etc) have specially formulated adhesive so it sticks just right to that surface.  For example, you need a stronger adhesive to stick the plastic to carpeting than you do for plastic being applied to counter.  Self-adhesive plastics are great for protecting surfaces from dogs, children's activities, adult parties and more!

Aquaponic lines made from polyethylene

Today there is a specialized type of plastic sheeting that has been created especially for aquaponics. It is called Ultra FGC. Ultra FGC is a food grade compliant liner that was engineered to be not only better for the environment, but better for your business.  When we speak of the environment we mean minimizing the raw material usage- thus leaving a smaller environmental footprint. It's better for your business because we reduced the weight of the liner while increasing the capabilities and strength of the plastic.

Plastic sheeting is a polyethylene film that comes in many different colors and thicknesses. It also comes in a variety of grades or qualities.

Grades of Plastic Sheeting

 "Virgin Polyethylene" is the highest form of plastic sheeting today.  This varies wildly from Visqueen. Visqueen has become one of the generic names for plastic sheeting, just as Kleenex has become the generic name for tissue. When someone asks for Visqueen, they are referring to a lesser grade of plastic sheeting. The plastic sheeting known as Visqueen has become a generic name for Construction and Agricultural Grade Polyethylene sheeting (C&A film). C&A film contains up to 25% post consumer recycled content, and is made from the least expensive resins available at any given time. While it is excellent for use in many projects, it is not ideal for any use that requires sustained strength such as a tarp or for use as a vapor/moisture barrier or retarder. People will often do a search for "visqueen vapor retarder", or fire retardant visqueen" when they may be looking for an engineered plastic. An engineered plastic is one that is intentionally designed to meet certain measurable criteria to insure its suitability for the job it is intended for.

Thickness/ Gauge

The thickness of polyethylene is measured in mils, which equals one-thousandth of an inch, or 0.001 inch. Many of the local hardware or box stores will carry very light duty plastic sheeting that could be 1 to 2 mils thick.  Depending on the application will dictate how thick the plastic needs to be.  6 mil is a very common thickness for plastic sheeting- but it can go all the way up to 100 mil! Some refer to the thickness of plastic as "gauge"- but a more precise term is "mil".  Plastic wrap, typically sold on rolls in boxes with a cutting edge, clings to many smooth surfaces and can thus remain tight over the opening of a container without adhesive or other devices. Common plastic wrap is roughly 0.5 mils, or 12.5 µm, thick. Please note that the term "gauge" generally refers to the thickness of metal.

The Price of Plastic Sheeting- Why does the prices go up and down?

Polyethylene comes from petroleum oil which vacillates in price.Why are some rolls of plastic more expensive than others? Is there really a big difference between them? Why is one 6 mil roll cheaper than another? As a consumer should you care or just buy the best priced roll?

Tarps, Drop Cloths and Plastic Sheeting

Have you noticed that rolls of plastic that are boxed and sold at big box stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's are better priced than rolls that state "virgin polyethylene"? It's all about the quality of the plastic that is used to make the roll. Inexpensive rolls of plastic may be made from reground scraps. It's referred to in the industry as "regrind". This plastic may have debris churned in which weakens the plastic. This inexpensive plastic does a great job protecting/ covering things where the long term is not important. Tarps, drop cloths and short term covers will do just fine with this film as long as there isn't too much stress put on the plastic.

If however this same 6 mil plastic is being used as a vapor barrier in your basement- now that is a problem. Once the plastic is laid and cement goes over it, what happens to the plastic cannot be seen. It is covered up. What is happening to that plastic is its decomposition over time. That sense of security that you had just may be a false sense of security. This is why reputable crawl space companies consider the following things:

  • How rocky is the soil which will be covered with plastic?
  • Will there be concrete on top of the plastic, or will it just be bare plastic in the crawl space?
  • Will people be storing items in the crawl space and walking on the plastic?
  • Is there radon in the area?

All of these factors will determine how thick a crawl space liner should be used plus selecting a vapor barrier that is made from virgin resins and passes tests that prove the plastic will hold up over time. These tests performed on the plastic by a testing lab document the strength of the plastic liner. Suddenly that 6 mil liner from the big box store is not such a good deal when your family's home is involved. Just like a family 4 wheel drive may be suitable for little off road jaunts, that same vehicle may not be suitable for tough terrain that a Hummer is designed for.

If the application is important, select a liner/ plastic sheeting roll that is designed for the job it will perform. Global Plastic Sheeting has very intentional films to do specific jobs accordingly.

Is Plastic Sheeting Bad For The Environment?

Polyethylene can be recycled. It it is out in the sun it will breaks down in the sun if it doesn't have a UV additive to protect it.

 

Tags: heavy duty plastic sheeting

Is Plastic the Big Bad Wolf For The Environment?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Thu, Sep 13, 2018 @ 10:05

Is plastic the enemy when it comes to the environment? What about plastic sheeting AKA polyethylene sheeting also wreak havoc?

Plastic sheeting comes riding in on a big white horse when it comes to protecting the environment. Yes it's true. Let's look at  HDPE (high density polyethylene) and LDPE (low density polyethylene). Here is an extenisve list of the acids and compounds that don't effect HDPE and LDPE at 20 degrees C - 50 degrees C:  For example, Hydrochloric acid 20%, Hydrochloric acid 35%, Hydrochloric acid 5%.  To see a full listing click here.  

Plastic sheeting under concrete slab

Under-slab vapor retarders which are made of plastic play a very important role in retarding moisture from coming up through the concrete and into the structure. Nobody wants their newly installed wood floors or carpeting to become moist and moldy due to moisture coming up through the ground. Today most experts feel very strongly that engineered films designed specifically for use as vapor retarders should be used as vapor retarders.  These products are made from 100% virgin resins, and have excellent quality control.  Most are tested to a standard called the ASTM E1745, which is the standard for vapor retarders in contact with soil or granular fill used under concrete slabs.  These materials are engineered not to decay in this type of application, whereas most construction grade poly will begin breaking down almost immediately and will have lost most of its structural integrity within 2 years.  How many times have you dug up plastic sheeting in your life that is just destroyed from being buried in the ground?  I know this is a bit off subject here, but the principles are even more important when dealing with vapor retarders for hardwood flooring, which is considered a critical application for vapor retarders.

Plastic Sheeting Vapor Retarders for under the home or in the crawl space

It makes some difference what part of the country you are in, what kinds of humidity levels are common in your region, whether or not your home has a good quality vapor retarder under the slab, basement, or in the crawl space.  If you already have an excellent vapor retarder, then the one you use under your hardwood floor is far less critical.  If you are putting a hardwood floor over a damp crawlspace, and use a poor quality vapor retarder, you are  asking for a lot of problems with the hardwood flooring, and will likely suffer problems with buckling, warping, noisy flooring, lots of expansion and contraction, and often finish problems, just to name a few. 

Plastic Sheeting- Can It Save Lives?

Should you be in an area where Radon is prevalent, or methane, then the use of a barrier with capabilities to retard these gasses becomes important also.  Again these films are engineered to have a very tight cell structure capable of keeping these very small molecules from passing right through the membrane.  These gasses, and to a very large extent water vapor pass quite easily through the cellular structure of common construction grade polyethylene (aka Visqueen).

This is kind of a long answer to your question, but the plastics in the flooring aisle are hopefully engineered to be better vapor retarders than the ones in the construction aisle.  If one wants an even better vapor retarder, then one might want to contact a plastics company specializing in vapor retarders so you can find out which is most appropriate for your application.  The engineered plastic sheeting vapor retarder is fairly inexpensive insurance for having a great experience with a hardwood floor as compared with what can be a nightmare experience when the wrong product is used.

Plastic Sheeting in Construction

Plastic in the form of flexible plastic sheeting is man's best friend (well almost) when it comes to the construction industry.Flexible plastic sheeting is used in a million different ways to protect surfaces. It's used to protect carpeting, flooring, cabinets, wood, building exteriors, windows, fixtures...and the list goes on and on. Additionally, additives can be added to the poly to make it fire retardant, anti-static, withstand the sun's UV rays, etc.Best of all, polyethylene can be recycled.

So while we agree it is so tragic to see bottles and plastic bags flowing in our oceans, we are compelled to give a positive plug to plastic in sheeting form when it is making our environment cleaner and safer.

 

 

 

Red Wine On Your Carpet is No Big Deal When...

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Tue, May 29, 2018 @ 02:47

Red Wine Stain Removal Problem Solved!

Why research red wine stain removal when you should be researching "How to protect your carpet from red wine spills". When you are having a party featuring anything that could permanently damage your carpeting such as barbecue wings, red wine, foods with red dye etc, roll out a layer of GPS Carpet Plastic which will stick to the carpet and stay there until you pull it up? Your neighbor with the 5" stiletto heals will not puncture this film. It is tough. If you are hosting a children's painting party this is a perfect time to roll out the Carpet Plastic!

Red wine spills on carpeting- no problem.

Surface protection films are a growing segment in our business because home owners and contractors alike realize the benefit to preserving what exists, and not taking a chance on damaging it. Consumers now realize that there is a product out there that will adhere to the carpet and protect it vastly better than throwing a drop cloth or draping some visqueen type plastic.  This highly touted and greatly regarded carpet covering is called, GPS Carpet Plastic.  GPS Carpet Plastic is a self adhesive flexible film that can be safely rolled out onto the carpet to keep debris or paint off the carpet while work is being done. This carpet covering is also used for protecting the carpet during parties! Yes sir, GPS Carpet Plastic will keep Aunt Millie's glass of red wine off your carpet, when she starts waving her arms and throws her red wine onto your carpet!

CarpetPlastic-resized-600

The secret behind GPS Carpet Plastic is the state of the art adhesive.  Not just any old adhesive from outside the U.S. will do.  The adhesive has met certain unique criteria that will insure that when you lay it down on your carpet, that your carpet won't turn colors when you remove it.  Imagine your horror, if you pull up a sub-standard product only to find your fine wool Berber carpet is now orange!  NO Thanks!  It's best to play it safe and use GPS Carpet Plastic, that has safely covered the most expensive carpets to regular old carpet. 

 Clean-up is a small fraction of the time when proper surface protection is used.  

How to install the Red Wine On Carpet Spill Protection

1) You want to roll GPS Carpet Plastic out starting at one end of the room. You don’t want to install it in a stretched state.  This happens mostly when people adhere one end, then walk or run to the other end of the hallway or room with the roll in the air, then adhere the film.  It will appear to adhere well, but will be floating by the next day.  This film has a ton of memory, so wants to go back to the original length.  I liken it to trying to adhere a stretched rubber band.

 

2)  Make sure your carpeting is completely dry if it has been recently cleaned.  If it is brand new carpeting, make sure it has a few days to off-gas before you adhere GPS Carpet Plastic to it.

3) Check wool or wool blend carpeting, where the carpet is losing a lot of fibers. GPS Carpet Plastic may not work on Wool carpets that contain a lot of oils. They also tend to have a direction where the carpet feels like it shifts when you step on it.  This causes the film to move on the surface, and often works its way loose.

4)  The adhesive system is pressure sensitive.  Make sure you apply pressure, so you get a good bite to the carpeting.

5) BRRR it’s cold in here…Make sure the temperature is warm. The initial grab strength is important.  Adhesive basically gets less and less sticky as it is colder and colder, up to the point where it is frozen and loses adhesion all together.  This product uses a "soft" adhesive which becomes less soft as the temperature decreases.  It gets its bite by flowing microscopically around the ends of the carpet fibers.  Being able to do so makes a big difference on how well it adheres, both initially, and over the next couple of days..

 

 

Tags: heavy duty plastic sheeting, sticky plastic

Plastic Sheeting Revealed

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Fri, Mar 02, 2018 @ 04:16

6 mil greenhouse plastic.jpg black_plastic_sheeting.png fire_retardant_anti_static_6_mil_plastic_sheeting_white.png

Have you ever wondered why plastic sheeting is so prolific? You see it on buildings, on dirt piles, covering machinery- it's everywhere. Plastic sheeting which is also referred to as "plastic film, visqueen, poly".  The poly sheeting we are discussing in this blog is industrial sized rolls of plastic. An analogy would to plastic wrap one uses to cover food, only much thicker and it much bigger rolls. Don't be confused. Visqueen is a brand of polyethylene plastic sheeting that is usually LDPE and is not necessarily made from virgin resins. The plastic sheeting on this site is known as  "engineered plastic" not "visqueen".  Engineered plastic is made from virgin resins.

Polyethylene plastic has many useful uses that really make a difference. Let's look at some of the areas it is used that can improve ones quality of life immensely.

Polyethylene sheeting under concrete slab

Under-slab vapor retarders play a very important role in retarding moisture from coming up through the concrete and into the structure. Today most experts feel very strongly that engineered films designed specifically for use as vapor retarders should be used as vapor retarders.  These products are made from 100% virgin resins, and have excellent quality control.  Most are tested to a standard called the ASTM E1745, which is the standard for vapor retarders in contact with soil or granular fill used under concrete slabs.  These materials are engineered not to decay in this type of application, whereas most construction grade poly will begin breaking down almost immediately and will have lost most of its structural integrity within 2 years.  How many times have you dug up plastic sheeting in your life that is just destroyed from being buried in the ground?  I know this is a bit off subject here, but the principles are even more important when dealing with vapor retarders for hardwood flooring, which is considered a critical application for vapor retarders.

Vapor Retarders for under the home or in the crawl space

It makes some difference what part of the country you are in, what kinds of humidity levels are common in your region, whether or not your home has a good quality vapor retarder under the slab, basement, or in the crawl space.  If you already have an excellent vapor retarder, then the one you use under your hardwood floor is far less critical.  If you are putting a hardwood floor over a damp crawlspace, and use a poor quality vapor retarder, you are  asking for a lot of problems with the hardwood flooring, and will likely suffer problems with buckling, warping, noisy flooring, lots of expansion and contraction, and often finish problems, just to name a few. 

Should you be in an area where Radon is prevalent, or methane, then the use of a barrier with capabilities to retard these gasses becomes important also.  Again these films are engineered to have a very tight cell structure capable of keeping these very small molecules from passing right through the membrane.  These gasses, and to a very large extent water vapor pass quite easily through the cellular structure of common construction grade polyethylene (aka Visqueen).                                                                                                           

  • Shelters or Temporary Protection

When hurricanes strike or disasters ensue, its plastic sheeting that is often used to create temporary shelters.  Often string reinforced plastic is used because it is stronger and will hold up to wind. 

  • Coverings for Outdoor Equipment, Wood Piles, Furniture

String Reinforced plastic sheeting is commonly used as well as non-reinforced plastic to make covers for a variety of items.  Grommets and hems can be added to the plastic so it can be held down in place.

  • Waterproofing Ponds, Lakes, Canals

Liners for ponds, lakes and canals use a variety of plastic sheeting called, High Density Polyethylene or HDPE to line their basins.  This virgin poly will hold up to the sun and elements. 

  • Recreational Uses such as Ice Skating Rinks, Slip and Slides

The beauty of plastic sheeting is it can be engineered for specific uses.  With the addition of special additives, plastic sheeting can work long and hard for the application it was designed for.  Ice skating rinks and slip and slides are an example of this.  Very large or long rolls of plastic can be ordered from a manufacturer to serve these purposes.

There is special plastic sheeting that does not harm fish or humans and can thus be used for rain collection or aquaponics.  Plastic can leach out chemical especially if it is construction and agricultural grade- as that plastic is mixed with regrind that is not pure virgin polyethylene.

  • Closing Off Rooms for Remodeling

With the help of an amazing product called ZipWall which will hold plastic sheeting up to the ceiling- you can close off a room where work is being done.  This is especially great if dust is flying around from workman activities.

  • Abatement work for Lead Paint

Lead paint abatement is a big deal.  It is very important that lead paint that is being scrapped off a surface does not contaminate other rooms in the house.  This is a great place to use plastic sheeting. Anti-static fire retardant plastic is a great choice for this application because the lead dust won't stick to the plastic sheeting. It can be swept up and removed.

There are full lines of plastic that have adhesive on one side so they can stick to the surface they are protecting!  Each type (Carpet Plastic, Tile Plastic, Countertop Plastic, etc) have specially formulated adhesive so it sticks just right to that surface.  For example, you need a stronger adhesive to stick the plastic to carpeting than you do for plastic being applied to counter.  Self-adhesive plastics are great for protecting surfaces from dogs, children's activities, adult parties and more!

  • Black Out Curtain for Halloween, Movie Sets, Museum Work

Black fire retardant plastic sheeting is used all the time by commercial haunted houses, movie sets, aerospace companies and museums to list a few.  This plastic is certified to be fire retardant- thus not contributing to a fire should one ensue.

Plastic polyethylene sheeting has been used for years and years to create greenhouses.  Today there are state of the art coverings for greenhouses that last a lot longer than the old school 6 mil plastics of yester-year.  This remarkable product is called, SolaWrap! It is plastic sheeting with bubbles in the layers.  The bubbles act to insulate the house from heat and cold, while adding strength. There are a lot more attributes that you can learn about by clicking on the link.

  • Aquaponic

Today there is a specialized type of plastic sheeting that has been created especially for aquaponics. It is called Ultra FGC. Ultra FGC is a food grade compliant liner that was engineered to be not only better for the environment, but better for your business.  When we speak of the environment we mean minimizing the raw material usage- thus leaving a smaller environmental footprint. It's better for your business because we reduced the weight of the liner while increasing the capabilities and strength of the plastic.

Plastic sheeting is a polyethylene film that comes in many different colors and thicknesses. It also comes in a variety of grades or qualities.

Grades of Plastic Sheeting

 "Virgin Polyethylene" is the highest form of plastic sheeting today.  This varies wildly from Visqueen. Visqueen has become one of the generic names for plastic sheeting, just as Kleenex has become the generic name for tissue. When someone asks for Visqueen, they are referring to a lesser grade of plastic sheeting. The plastic sheeting known as Visqueen has become a generic name for Construction and Agricultural Grade Polyethylene sheeting (C&A film). C&A film contains up to 25% post consumer recycled content, and is made from the least expensive resins available at any given time. While it is excellent for use in many projects, it is not ideal for any use that requires sustained strength such as a tarp or for use as a vapor/moisture barrier or retarder. People will often do a search for "visqueen vapor retarder", or fire retardant visqueen" when they may be looking for an engineered plastic. An engineered plastic is one that is intentionally designed to meet certain measurable criteria to insure its suitability for the job it is intended for.

Thickness/ Gauge

The thickness of polyethylene is measured in mils, which equals one-thousandth of an inch, or 0.001 inch. Many of the local hardware or box stores will carry very light duty plastic sheeting that could be 1 to 2 mils thick.  Depending on the application will dictate how thick the plastic needs to be.  6 mil is a very common thickness for plastic sheeting- but it can go all the way up to 100 mil! Some refer to the thickness of plastic as "gauge"- but a more precise term is "mil".  Plastic wrap, typically sold on rolls in boxes with a cutting edge, clings to many smooth surfaces and can thus remain tight over the opening of a container without adhesive or other devices. Common plastic wrap is roughly 0.5 mils, or 12.5 µm, thick. Please note that the term "gauge" generally refers to the thickness of metal.

Roll Sizes

There are so many different roll sizes, thicknesses, and colors on the market.  Here are a few examples:

Notice in the above examples that the last two examples have additives added to them.  An anti-static additive as well as a fire retardant additive can be added to make the plastic both anti-static and fire retardant. 

Plastic sheeting has come a long way with the applications and jobs it is able to assist. Bottom line is, plastic sheeting is a work horse for a variety of projects.

The Price of Plastic Sheeting

Why are some rolls of plastic more expensive than others? Is there really a big difference between them? Why is one 6 mil roll cheaper than another? As a consumer should you care or just buy the best priced roll?

Tarps, Drop Cloths and Plastic Sheeting

Have you noticed that rolls of plastic that are boxed and sold at big box stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's are better priced than rolls that state "virgin polyethylene"? It's all about the quality of the plastic that is used to make the roll. Inexpensive rolls of plastic may be made from reground scraps. It's referred to in the industry as "regrind". This plastic may have debris churned in which weakens the plastic. This inexpensive plastic does a great job protecting/ covering things where the long term is not important. Tarps, drop cloths and short term covers will do just fine with this film as long as there isn't too much stress put on the plastic.

If however this same 6 mil plastic is being used as a vapor barrier in your basement- now that is a problem. Once the plastic is laid and cement goes over it, what happens to the plastic cannot be seen. It is covered up. What is happening to that plastic is its decomposition over time. That sense of security that you had just may be a false sense of security. This is why reputable crawl space companies consider the following things:

  • How rocky is the soil which will be covered with plastic?
  • Will there be concrete on top of the plastic, or will it just be bare plastic in the crawl space?
  • Will people be storing items in the crawl space and walking on the plastic?
  • Is there radon in the area?

All of these factors will determine how thick a crawl space liner should be used plus selecting a vapor barrier that is made from virgin resins and passes tests that prove the plastic will hold up over time. These tests performed on the plastic by a testing lab document the strength of the plastic liner. Suddenly that 6 mil liner from the big box store is not such a good deal when your family's home is involved. Just like a family 4 wheel drive may be suitable for little off road jaunts, that same vehicle may not be suitable for tough terrain that a Hummer is designed for.

If the application is important, select a liner/ plastic sheeting roll that is designed for the job it will perform. Global Plastic Sheeting has very intentional films to do specific jobs accordingly.

Is Plastic Sheeting Bad For The Environment?

Polyethylene can be recycled. It it is out in the sun it will breaks down in the sun if it doesn't have a UV additive to protect it.

 

 

Tags: Plastic sheeting. LDPE Plastic Sheeting

Price of Plastic Sheeting

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 @ 02:13

Why are some rolls of plastic more expensive than others? Is there really a big difference between them? Why is one 6 mil roll cheaper than another? As a consumer should you care or just buy the best priced roll?

Tarps, Drop Cloths and Plastic Sheeting

Have you noticed that rolls of plastic that are boxed and sold at big box stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's are better priced than rolls that state "virgin polyethylene"? It's all about the quality of the plastic that is used to make the roll. Inexpensive rolls of plastic may be made from reground scraps. It's referred to in the industry as "regrind". This plastic may have debris churned in which weakens the plastic. This inexpensive plastic does a great job protecting/ covering things where the long term is not important. Tarps, drop cloths and short term covers will do just fine with this film as long as there isn't too much stress put on the plastic.

If however this same 6 mil plastic is being used as a vapor barrier in your basement- now that is a problem. Once the plastic is laid and cement goes over it, what happens to the plastic cannot be seen. It is covered up. What is happening to that plastic is its decomposition over time. That sense of security that you had just may be a false sense of security. This is why reputable crawl space companies consider the following things:

  • How rocky is the soil which will be covered with plastic?
  • Will there be concrete on top of the plastic, or will it just be bare plastic in the crawl space?
  • Will people be storing items in the crawl space and walking on the plastic?
  • Is there radon in the area?

All of these factors will determine how thick a crawl space liner should be used plus selecting a vapor barrier that is made from virgin resins and passes tests that prove the plastic will hold up over time. These tests performed on the plastic by a testing lab document the strength of the plastic liner. Suddenly that 6 mil liner from the big box store is not such a good deal when your family's home is involved. Just like a family 4 wheel drive may be suitable for little off road jaunts, that same vehicle may not be suitable for tough terrain that a Hummer is designed for.

If the application is important, select a liner/ plastic sheeting roll that is designed for the job it will perform. Global Plastic Sheeting has very intentional films to do specific jobs accordingly.

 

Tags: Types of flexible plastic sheeting

Which Plastic Sheeting Should I Use?

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Wed, Dec 20, 2017 @ 10:20

OK, there are so many different types of plastic sheeting! Which plastic sheeting roll should I select? What is meant when someone mentions “flexible plastic sheeting” ? What kinds of “flexible plastic sheeting” are there? And what are the additives used to make flexible plastic films?

In its simplest terms, the main difference between the different types of plastic is the way their cellular structure, or molecules bond with each other, and how tightly they are formed. Beyond that, this incredible polymer allows us to add additives to improve the performance of the plastic.

Which is the most flexible plastic sheeting?

Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) is the most flexible of the plastic sheeting films. LLDPE is blended form of LDPE where the film has much more flexibility, tensile strength, and more conformability. It is more pliable and softer. LLDPE is used for pond liners or blended into other films to give them more flexibility and extra strength. LLDPE is used for films that need a tremendous amount of strength to absorb impacts while not tearing or puncturing. An example of this is a carpet plastic film that adheres to the carpet. It is strong enough to withstand foot traffic, even from stiletto high heels! The molecules all line up and strongly hold together as the film is stretched. The most common thickness range is from 0.5 mil to 40 mil in flexible plastic sheeting.

Which is the most common poly sheeting?

Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) is the most common type of plastic sheeting. It is very flexible, most often from 0.5 mil thick to about 40 mil in flexible sheeting forms. Due to its flexibility is conforms well to a variety of surfaces.  Low Density Polyethylene has a .92 density. The downside is that this LDPE is not as strong or dense as some other types of plastic sheeting. It is not nearly as puncture resistant either. LDPE is used quite widely in construction, agriculture, surface protection applications, covers of all sorts, tarps and much more. It is white translucent with working temps of 0-140 deg F. and a forming temp of 245 deg F.

Which is least commonly used of them all?

Medium Density Polyethylene (MDPE) is the least commonly used form of polyethylene for flexible plastic sheeting. Its positive attributes is that it is stronger than LDPE and has a little more chemical resistant. It has a tighter cell structure making it more tear and puncture resistant. When pond liners are manufactured they are often made with MDPE and blended with LDPE or LLDPE to achieve a strong yet flexible pond liner.

Which poly film is the toughest of them all?

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE, aka HD), has the distinction of being the strongest, toughest, most chemical resistant and least flexible of the four types of flexible plastic sheeting referenced in this article. HDPE is also the most UV resistant- holding up to the harsh rays of the sun without needing UV additive packages. HDPE’s strength comes from its tight cell structure that makes it very difficult for other molecules to pass through its structure on a microscopic level. High Density Polyethylene has a density .95.  When applications call for very large liners such as pond liners, HDPE is the most easily seamed or “sewn” together. Used industrially, the thickness range from 12 mils to100 mil thick. HDPE is used as secondary containment liners for oil tanks, and most industrial ponds and canal liners where chemical resistance is needed. It is white-tan, translucent with working temperatures of 32 deg F to 210 deg F and a forming temp of 310-325 deg F.

What Additives can be added to the plastic?

The image below of the Mars Rover section is using GPS Anti-Static Fire Retardant Heat Shrink Wrap. This is a good example of plastic sheeting that has a fire retardant additive as well as an Anti-static additive. The film shrinks when heat is applied to essentially seal in the contents.

Anti-static Fr Heat Shrink wrap Mars Rover

Anti-static:  An anti-static additive can be added to polyethylene to make it resist sparking.  Anti-static films are used in the telecommunication industry as one example.  Certain types of equipment can be prone to sparks which could result in a devastating fire.  Anti-static fire retardant films solve this problem.

UV Stabilizers:  Sunlight eats up plastic.  Perhaps you have seen black plastic on piles of dirt that are flapping in the wind? That is because that torn plastic didn't have any UV stabilizers to combat the strong rays of the sun. Heavy duty plastic sheeting adds these stabilizers for films that will be used for ponds, covering anything outdoors, exposed to sun light. 

Color/Pigment:  It's no surprise that pigment can be added to polyethylene to make the plastic look a certain color.  Just about any color can be created.

Flame/Fire Retardant:  Plastic goes up in a flash if it is exposed to an open flame.  Today there are fire retardant films that when exposed to a flame will not add to the fire. They will self extinguish.  Note that the plastic may melt, but it won't be a fuel source to the fire.

Sip/Anti-block agents:  This additive is used to improve film to film slipping.

External Coatings:  Coatings can be applied to the surface of the plastic, which is designed to help wet out the surface of the film.  This in turn decreases the contact angle of the water droplets and improves transparency.

Tags: flexible plastic Sheeting, Types of flexible plastic sheeting

Which is better- Polypropylene or Polyethylene?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 @ 02:13

Polypropylene vs Polyethylene

We get asked, which is better, polypropylene or polyethylene. It is not a matter of better- it's more a matter of- what is your application? What are you trying to do? Both plastics are considered commodity plastics. These are plastics that are used in high volume for a wide range of application. Plastics that compose commodity plastic are polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride. poly(methl methacrylate), polyethylene and polypropylene. A step up from commodity plastics are engineered plastics which are specialized plastics that are more expensive and are used for low-volume applications.

Both Polypropylene and polyethylene are a form of plastic- a plastic material known as a polymer. Their molecular structure looks similar with carbons and hydrogen molecules- but then the differences arise.

Let's compare some of the properties of each.

Mechanical Properties:

The density of polypropylene (PP) is between 0.895 and 0.92 g.cm. The density of polyethylene can vary from a low of 0.857 g/cm3 and to a maximum of 0.0975 gm/cm3. As you can see, PP has the lowest density. Polyethylene is further broken down into weights or densities which is done so the plastic can serve a more specific purpose. This is done during manufacturing

The categories of Polyethylene are as follows. (To learn more, see Wikipedia.)

  • Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) is tough and resistant to chemicals. It is used to manufacture moving machine parts, bearings, gears, artificial joints and some bulletproof vests.
  • High-density polyethylene (HDPE), recyclable plastic no. 2, is commonly used as milk jugs, liquid laundry detergent bottles, outdoor furniture, margarine tubs, portable gasoline cans, drinking water distribution systems, water drainage pipes, and grocery bags.
  • Medium-density polyethylene (MDPE) is used for packaging film, sacks and gas pipes and fittings.
  • Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is flexible and is used in the manufacture of squeeze bottles, milk jug caps, retail store bags and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) as stretch wrap in transporting and handling boxes of durable goods, and as the common household food covering.

Polypropylene which is normally tough and flexible can have its density altered with the additon of fillers.

Chemical Properties:

PP is resistant to fats and almost all organic solvents when it is at room temperature. It can with-stand non-oxidizing acids and bases in containers made from polypropylene. Contrast this to polyethylene which is more chemically resistant. 

Polyethylene consists of non polar, saturated, high molecular weight hydrocarbons. Therefore, its chemical behavior is similar to wax or paraffin. The individual macro molecules are not covalently linked. Overall polyethylene is partially crystalline. Higher crystallinity increases density and mechanical and chemical stability.

Optical Properties:

PP can be made translucent when uncolored but it's not as transparent as acrylic or other plastic. Often colored pigments are added.

PE on the other hand can vary between almost clear, milky-opaque or opaque. The color is dependent on the thermal history and film thickness. LLDPE is the most optically clear with HDPE being the least opaque.

Uses of Polypropylene and Polyethylene:

Every day we have contact with PP or PE.  Polypropylene is used to make bottles, hinges, packaging materials, parts for automobiles, clear bags, ropes, rugs, roofing membranes, geotextiles, erosion control mats and so much more.

Polyethylene is vastly used in packaging (plastic bags, Plastic films. geomembranes and plastic sheeting to protect the environment to construction projects.  

Both Polypropylene and Polyethylene play a huge role in the world as we know it today.

 

Greenhouse Plastic, Greenhouse Film, Greenhouse Covering...What?!!

Posted by Team SolaWrap and the Green Thumbs. on Tue, Aug 15, 2017 @ 01:13

Greenhouse Plastic, Greenhouse Film, Greenhouse Covering

What is the difference between greenhouse plastic versus greenhouse film versus greenhouse covering?

Greenhouse Covering

The broadest term for this article is "greenhouse covering".  It is used to describe anything that is typically used to put on the roof of a greenhouse. Those coverings are:

  • Vinyl
  • Glass
  • Polyethylene Plastic Film- SolaWrap Bubble film or 6 mil plastic that may or may not be reinforced
  • Polycarbonate either rigid or flexible rolls
  • Polyethylene panels that can be semi rigid or flexible rolls
  • Fiberglass-either rigid or flexible rolls
  • Acrylic which is rigid.

Greenhouse Plastic

The most common term used on the internet to search for a greenhouse covering that is made of plastic is the term, greenhouse plastic.   But even this term can be misconstrued.  Most people think of polyethylene plastic when they search for greenhouse plastic.  Even though acrylic, polycarbonate and fiberglass are made of plastic, it is not thought of as a greenhouse plastic. It is best to be specific when you are looking for the specific covering as poly film is very different from polycarbonate.

Greenhouse Film

Polyethylene film and greenhouse film are used interchangeably. For all practical purposes, greenhouse film falls into the polyethylene category.  It is often thought of as the smooth rather thin plastic material but SolaWrap film is also made of polyethylene, but due to the bubble wrap air bubble design, it may not be the first thing you think of when you say, "greenhouse film".

There is a brief look at the various terms that are used when referencing Greenhouse Coverings.

Tags: Greenhouse Covers

What is the difference between 6 mil plastic sheeting and SolaWrap Greenhouse Plastic?

Posted by Team SolaWrap and the Green Thumbs. on Thu, Jul 27, 2017 @ 02:33

Are you looking to cover a greenhouse? Have you narrowed your choices down to a 6 mil plastic and Solawrap greenhouse covering? Are looking for the best greenhouse plastic you can find? This article will look at 6 mil plastic that has been used for years and Solawrap- the greenhouse covers that has a proven product that has a track record for 30 years in Europe, but is fairly new in the United States.  It is like nothing else that currently exists on the market.  You will see that it out-performs all its competitors, and is more cost effective in the long run.

 What factors are you taking into consideration for your greenhouse?  You are probably considering the amount and type of light reaching your plants, the overall appearance of your greenhouse, its ease of maintenance, safety and longevity. Most of all, you want something that is cost effective.

What are your greenhouse covering choices? 

Let's start with polyethylene films.  It comes in a variety of thicknesses with 6 mil being very common. When selecting a 6 mil greenhouse plastic, you need to make sure it is not a product out of China.  . Typically a single layer of polyethylene film has an R value of approximately 0.85. A double poly cover consisting of two layers of poly has an approximate R value of 1.25.  This is a quick inexpensive fix- but is it really inexpensive when you add in the labor cost to replace it more often than other options. Greenhouse plastic will offer some UV protection, and some versions have better tensile strength than others.

Greenhouse plastic tears One thing to be aware of is the plastic ripping where the plastic touches the PVC. This seems to be reported from growers who don't use a film that offers UV protection  The PVC may absorb the heat and speed up the breakdown of the plastic.  As we all know, sun is an enemy to all sorts of plastic sheeting. Another reason for the breakdown and tearing of the plastic could be the chlorine that is in PVC.  This too is a problem for greenhouse plastic.  There is a polyethylene greenhouse film that won't give you these problems called SolaWrap!  Read on to learn more.

6 mil greenhouse plastic coverings also come in white. They are often referred to as, white opaque greenhouse films. White greenhouse films are popular when reducing heat in the greenhouse is the goal.   Being white will however reduce the light transmission by almost half per layer.

Another option is to look at the reinforced polyethylene greenhouse films.  This product comes in a 3 ply laminate where a cord grid is placed between two layers of plastic.  The goal is to offer a high strength film that is durable yet light weight.

Greenhouse plastic Bubble Solawrap.png

SolaWrap Greenhouse Plastic Cover:  SolaWrap Greenhouse Plastic (Greenhouse covering) offers:

  • R-Value 1.7
  • 83% transparency
  • 10 year warranty against UV degradation (better warranty than polycarbonate)
  • up to 83% diffused light (only product on the market with both high transparency and high diffusion)
  • 120 lbs per square foot snow load rating (approx 15 feet of snow)
  • 100 mph wind rating (has survived 135 mph windstorms in Alaska)
  • Has been shown to last up to 27 years on greenhouses in Europe
  • Does not yellow or get brittle

Green_house_Plastic_SolaWrap.png

Bottom line: 6 mil plastic sheeting is a smaller initial investment, but won't last too many years. If there is a storm, heavy snow or hail it could rip.  SolaWrap holds up under heavy snow loads, high winds and rough weather.  It costs more initially, but in the long run you won't be recovering you greenhouse in a few years.

Tags: Polydress Sola Wrap

Tension Fabric Buildings Early Beginnings

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 @ 02:21

So often we forget to think about how or where a building type got it's origins- such as tension fabric buildings. I had seen these types of buildings for years but never stopped to recognize what type of a building it was. How about the Denver Airport?

 

Tension fabric building Denver Airport

What about the magnificent Taichung Convention Center?

 

Tension fabric structure

 

 

Tension fabric building  Taichung

 

To read more about fabric building and how they got their start please click here.

 

 

 

Tags: fabric buildings