FAQs about Greenhouses

Order by calling 800-334-4115 or 503-244-4100

What is the difference between greenhouses and solariums?
Where should I locate the greenhouse?
How does snow affect greenhouses?
What different kinds of greenhouse styles are available?
What to look for in a greenhouse design?
How big should your greenhouse be?
Why does Sturdi-Built Manufacturing use redwood for their greenhouses?
What glazing material is best?
What accessories are needed in greenhouses?
Do I need a foundation for my greenhouse?
Do I need a building permit for my greenhouse?
What do I get with my greenhouse kit?
How are Sturdi-Built greenhouses delivered?
How do I order my greenhouse?

What is the difference between greenhouses and solariums?

Garden Sun Room-odd shaped porch Greenhouses are glazed structures primarily for horticultural use while garden rooms or sunrooms are greenhouse additions, attached to the house, used for “incidental” living space such as a spa enclosure or sitting area in addition to gardening. Usually a wall or sliding door separates the sunroom from the house. A Solarium is primarily living space. We specialize in horticultural greenhouses for plants. Our Garden Sunroom is designed for incidental living space, separated from the house by a door. Custom situations can be accommodated. Click here for more info.

Where should I locate the greenhouse?

Greenhouse designed for gardenConsider how your greenhouse will best fit in with your home’s landscaping, exposure to sunlight, wind, convenient access and ease of construction and installation. For sun exposure, generally a southeasterly exposure is best for gardening, with east, south, then west exposures following in that order. Adequate light is essential for successful greenhouse gardening, although it is possible to supplement with artificial lights. For solar heating, southerly exposure is best. More info here.

How will snow affect greenhouses?

Tudor Greenhouse in snowSturdi-Built greenhouses are strong but it is important to prevent too much snow from accumulating on any greenhouse. A steep roof pitch (such as what our Tudor model uses) allows snow to easily slide off as well as keep the greenhouse slightly heated in winter. Remove shade cloth before winter because it prevents snow from sliding. Avoid locating greenhouses below a house’s roof overhang as heavy snow buildup might suddenly “avalanche” down upon the greenhouse. More info.

What different greenhouse types are available?

Nantucket Greenhouse 10' x 16' on 18" baseThere are many greenhouse styles. Lean-to greenhouses are attached to the wall of a building and are easier to heat because one side is a solid wall. A freestanding greenhouse stands on its own and can be located anywhere.  A bench-height base wall (or knee wall) offers storage under the benches and the greenhouse is easier to heat because the base wall can be insulated while a shorter base wall allows light under the benches for more growing space and solar heating. Regardless, greenhouses should be tall enough for you and your plants. More info.

What to look for in a greenhouse design?

20151201_122539A good greenhouse structure must handle wind, rain, and snow, and allow for benches, shelves, hanging baskets, light fixtures and other accessories, such as heaters, coolers and fans. We have 50 years of experience behind our designs. To keep moisture from dripping on you and your plants, condensation control is handled with a smooth inside roof surface and sufficient roof pitch. Top-opening roof vents provide natural, gentle, quiet venting. Combining top vents with base wall vents and/or jalousie (louvered) windows allows hot air to exit through the roof while cooler air flows in down low, preserving humidity. Roof vents should be automated. Sturdi-Built custom designs and equips our greenhouses so we make sure you get the best design features for your situation.
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How big should your greenhouse be?

Lean-to Greenhouse full of plantsSelect a greenhouse as large as your site and budget will allow. Greenhouse gardeners inevitably wish they had more space to accommodate their growing plants. Adequate height is important for your comfort as well as providing room for shelves and hanging plants. Additional growing space can be provided with a shorter base wall that allows for more under-shelf growing space as well as shelves along the walls.
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Why does Sturdi-Built use Clear All Heart redwood in our greenhouses?

Milled Redwood for greenhousesWood has a warm, natural beauty. Redwood and cedar are naturally resistant to deterioration (specifically top quality, All Clear Heart Redwood & A Grade Cedar we use). Redwood can be stained to match the decor of your home. We strongly recommend oiling or staining the wood to preserve its good looks. Wood is energy efficient. Aluminum transmits heat 1400 times faster than wood – a problem in freezing temperatures. Wood also allows easy addition of accessories such as shelves, hooks, hanging bars, light fixtures and shade cloth. Every wood piece in a Sturdi-Built Greenhouse is custom molded to a smooth surface, sloped to drain water and contoured for optimal use. More info.

What glazing material is best?

Alternative glazing materialsGlass is strong, attractive, clear and long lasting. Our standard glazing is regular window glass. If there is a high risk of breakage (such as large hail or trees with large cones) or when overhead safety glazing is desired, tempered glass or twin-wall poly-carbonate can be used. Twin Wall Poly-carbonate is translucent, more expensive but also more energy efficient than glass and will last 12 to 15 years with UV treatment. Factory insulated glass, like that used for houses, deteriorates in moist conditions, therefor is not appropriate for greenhouse use. More info.

What accessories are needed in the greenhouse?

A well equipped greenhouseSturdi-Built draws on our 50 years of experience to set you up with the proper equipment for your situation. This usually includes:

Circulating fan: Air movement is essential for a healthy greenhouse environment and helps reduce heating costs and condensation. We recommend continuous, gentle air movement 24/7 provided by an oscillating fan. Buy now

Heater: Type and size of heater depends of the size of the greenhouse and the inside and outside temperatures involved. Gas (natural or LP, vented or non- vented) or electric (120V or 240V) heaters can be used. To make a 120V heater more effective add an additional thermostat to turn the heater on and off at specific temperatures.

Coolers: In very hot climates, often times positive cooling is needed. Air conditioners de-humidify the greenhouse, so we recommend evaporative air coolers which draw hot air through wet pads using a fan or blower. Water evaporates from the pads, providing cool, clean, humid air.

Humidifier or mister: Plants need adequate humidity in a hot greenhouse. Generally, wetting down a porous (bricks, gravel) floor is the easiest method for creating humidity. An automatic humidifier or a misting/fogging system may be added if more humidity is desired.

Shading:  Depending on sun exposure and plants being grown shading might be needed. Ways to shade include shade cloth, shading paint, roll-up shades and fiberglass panels. We recommend custom-fit shade cloth panels added to all or part of the greenhouse. Attached on the outside of the greenhouse, they are effective, neat in appearance, reusable and available in a variety of densities.

Propagation Mats: With good bottom heat, propagation is easy and fast, even in a cool greenhouse. Propagation mats are great for supplying heat to plants in containers.

Shelves & Benches: Generally some type of benches and/or shelves are needed. Many options are available and depend on the size and style of your greenhouse. More info.

Do I need a foundation for my greenhouse?

a level & square foundationYes. An existing patio or deck if well-built can be used, or a perimeter foundation built from concrete, concrete block, railroad ties or treated timber. A Sturdi-Built greenhouse can be adapted to fit many foundation situations. For the greenhouse floor we recommend gravel or bricks set in sand or other porous material.
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Do I need a building permit for my greenhouse?

Greenhouses tend to be in a building code “twilight zone”. Local codes and code interpretations vary greatly between counties and even between individuals within the same department. Compliance is the responsibility of the buyer. We have found that a freestanding greenhouse less that 120 sq.ft. in size usually does not require a permit. Lean-to greenhouses attached to a wall of the house or garage, even if less that 120 sq.ft., are sometimes considered living space and subject to stricter rules. Getting a permit can be as simple as providing basic greenhouse plans and as complicated and costly as having a state licensed engineer approve the plans. If you choose to obtain a permit, get it before placing a greenhouse order in case there are changes needed to comply with codes. We will do our best to help you through this process.

How are Sturdi-Built greenhouses delivered?

greenhouse ready for shipmentOur greenhouses are delivered via truck. They are large shipments. Often truck drivers will help off-load the shipment but you should be prepared to assist. If you live in a remote rural location or other area difficult for trucks to access, let us know ahead of time. Sturdi-Built crates every shipment in fir or pine for protection and has the trucking company call you in advance to arrange a delivery time. Units delivered in the Portland, Oregon area are delivered directly by us.
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What do I get with my Sturdi-Built Greenhouse Kit?

Deluxe free-standing greenhouseMany greenhouse kits come in dozens of small pieces with a great deal of assembly required. While this saves on shipping, it costs you time! We have tried to find a compromise between freight costs, size limitations and your time. A Sturdi-Built Greenhouse comes partially assembled. End walls are prefabricated in large sections; the sides and roof are cut and marked, ready to assemble; the door is pre-hung in its frame. We sell a complete kit, ready to be put on your foundation or base wall. The kit includes greenhouse frame and door, hardware, glass( or other glazing material), caulking, vents and instructions. You will be proud of the result. More info.

How do I order a Sturdi-Built Greenhouse?

Call us (503-244-4100) or email to talk through your greenhouse gardening needs. We talk through issues such as location, glazing materials, ventilation, circulation, heating, cooling, shading, etc., and share our experience and knowledge to create the greenhouse you desire. Our greenhouses are not “one size fits all”. We work with each customer to put together the best greenhouse possible. We use our 50 years of experience working with customers all over the U.S. (many of whom we have visited), and apply this knowledge to your situation. Let us help you with your greenhouse dreams.

Visit Us

If you’re in the Portland, Oregon area, please stop by our showroom! We’re open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm PST and weekends by appointment.

11304 S.W. Boones Ferry Road Portland, OR 97219

503-244-4100 or 800-334-4115

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