Plastic sheeting is used throughout farms and gardens as a protective cover, to line ponds and media beds, and prevent erosion. The needs on the farm and in the garden are vast and complex, but plastic sheeting is flexible, versatile, and multi-functional. You wouldn’t think that the color of plastic sheeting matters, but it does when you consider how you want it to perform in any given application.
“Clear plastic sheeting is better as a greenhouse cover, if you want maximum sunlight, but if you want indirect sunlight, you may want to consider using white plastic sheeting” says Charlie Adkins, Account Manager at Americover Inc., a leading supplier of greenhouse plastic sheeting. “When choosing the color of plastic sheeting you have to look at what you expect the plastic sheeting to do and where you are installing it.”
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In this blog, we will talk about the differences between white, clear, and black plastic sheeting and the proper uses for each color when it’s used on the farm and in the garden.
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Why Does the Color of Plastic Sheeting Matter?
The color of plastic sheeting can affect light transmission, temperature control, and visibility. For example, when light hits clear plastic sheeting, the sheeting acts as a prism, letting the full spectrum of visible light in. White sheeting absorbs the full spectrum of white light but disperses it more evenly than if it were to hit clear plastic sheeting. This phenomenon is akin to the reason clouds, which disperse sunlight, are white.
In contrast to white or clear plastic sheeting, black or black/white colored plastic sheeting will block light completely.
What Color Plastic Sheeting is the Best for Farm Application?
Most plastic sheeting used in the agricultural and horticultural markets is either clear, black, white, or dual-sided with black on one side and white on the other.
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Clear Plastic Sheeting
Clear plastic sheeting is usually translucent or transparent. It is ideal for applications that benefit from natural sunlight.
Greenhouses for plants that need direct sunlight benefit the most from clear plastic sheeting. It can also be used for soil solarization because it traps the heat from the sun that shines through and warms the soil. Soil solarization is effective to aid field crops in conserving water and encouraging growth.
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White Plastic Sheeting
White plastic sheeting is either translucent or opaque and depending on the thickness of the plastic sheeting, it can diffuse light or block light. For example, a 4-mil white, non-reinforced plastic film will allow light to shine through, but you will not be able to see through the material. Whereas, 20 mil white reinforced plastic sheeting may block light completely.
For more evenly distributed light or a soft light, white plastic sheeting makes a great greenhouse cover, as well as a weather protective covering for barns, and silage because it helps to reduce hot temperatures.
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Black/White Plastic Sheeting
Black/white plastic sheeting is opaque black on one side and white on the other, combining some of the benefits of both black and white plastic sheeting into one.
When black/white plastic sheeting is used with the white side facing out, it reduces heat build-up, the black side would attract heat to make it warmer underneath the cover. Light deprivation is a common application for white/black plastic sheeting, but it is also ideal as a silage cover, media bed liner, and ground cover.
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Black Plastic Sheeting
Black plastic sheeting, which is typically opaque, blocks light and visibility.
In agricultural applications, black plastic sheeting can be used as a weed barrier because it completely blocks the sun while absorbing heat. This smothers the weeds, protects garden soil in the winter, and ground cover for mulch.
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Trusted by Growers, Builders, and Distributors
Americover is the smart source for plastic and polyethylene sheeting. Trusted by contractors and distributors across the construction and agriculture industries, our American-made products combine reliability with quality and innovation.
As an Americover customer, you will receive the personalized support of a dedicated account manager to simplify the ordering process and ensure the best solution for every one of your projects. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff is here to answer your questions and fulfill orders Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time. If you would like to speak with a representative, call us at 760-388-6294 or follow this link to complete our contact form.