Finding the right mil thickness of plastic sheeting for your project can be overwhelming if you aren’t familiar with all the options available. The mil thickness of a plastic sheeting product can affect the durability of how it performs, as well as the weight of the product. So, let’s dive into what a mil thickness is.
What is a Mil?
When it comes to plastic sheeting, “mil” is not a millimeter, but a unit of measurement equivalent to one one-thousandth of an inch. A grocery store plastic bag for example is about .5 mils thick or .005. 6 mil or .006 is a common mil thickness for construction grade plastic sheeting. A thickness gauge or micrometer can help you determine the mil thickness of your plastic sheeting.
How to Measure Plastic Sheeting Mil Thickness
Measure plastic sheeting at its thickest point. If you are measuring the thickness of a string reinforced plastic sheeting product, take measurement from the cross-section of the string lacing.
Why are there so many different Plastic Sheeting Mil Thicknesses?
Plastic sheeting can be as thin as a 1 mil or as thick as 120 mils. Hundreds of applications use plastic sheeting, but each one has a different requirement. In some cases, you need a highly durable liner designed to last a lifetime. In scenarios where you only need a temporary cover something thinner can suffice.
In construction, there are various standards for how thick certain plastic sheeting materials are required to be. For instance, a vapor barrier has to be a minimum of 6 mil, while the EPA requires hazardous waste HDPE liners to be a minimum of 60 mils.
Does Mil Thickness Always Determine Durability?
It’s common to think that the thicker the plastic sheeting is, the more durable it is, but other factors can contribute to the durability of a plastic sheeting material. Consider reinforced plastic sheeting. The scrim adds resistance against punctures and rips.
Plastic sheeting density is another factor to consider. Polyethylene can range from high to low density. High-density polyethylene sheeting (HDPE) is more heat resistive than Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) so it performs well in applications under direct UV exposure. However, HDPE is rigid and less flexible than medium or low-density polyethylene which makes it more susceptible to cracking during installation.
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