What is Plastic Sheeting?

Plastic sheeting and plastic films are pieces of flat plastic (polyethylene) that are designed to cover or protect an item. Plastic rolls and sheets will differ in terms of material, properties, and product dimensions.
Construction and Agricultural FilmTypes of Plastic Sheeting Polymers
  • Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer that is used in packaging, textiles, stationary, laboratory equipment, and plastic parts. It is rugged and unusually resistant to many chemical solvents, acids, and bases.
  • Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic polymer used in electronics, construction, data storage, automotive, aircraft, and security applications. It is a very durable transparent material with a high impact resistance but a low scratch resistance.
  • Polyvinyl chlorideis a thermoplastic polymer widely used in construction because it is cheap, durable, and easy to assemble. It can be made softer and more flexible by the addition of plasticizers. It is a controversial material because of the toxins it may liberate during its production and lifetime.

What is a Mil? How do I decipher mil thickness?

Size is generally the key specification for most plastic sheeting uses. Dimensions include the plastic thickness (referred to "mil"), width, and length.

The thickness of polyethylene is measured in mils, which is equivalent to one-thousandth of an inch, or 0.001 inch. If you wanted to visualize the thickness of a mil, think about the thickness of a piece of copier paper. That is approximately .004", or 4 mils, thick.

To convert the decimal to actual mils, simply shift the decimal to the right three places, so .004 would be the same as 4 mils.

How do I know what plastic sheeting mil thickness to use?

To help clarify what type of usage each mil thickness coule be used with, take a look at the list below:
  • 1 mil plastic sheeting- short term, lightweight storage
  • 2 mil plastic sheeting- lightweight protection from dirt, dust, and moisture
  • 3 mil plastic sheeting- Protection for products being shipped or stored.
  • 4 mil plastic sheeting- Added product protection for heavier items such as nails, screws, parts, etc.
  • 6 mil plastic sheeting- Extra heavy duty protection, with the benefit of increased puncture resistance, and decreased tears
In terms of features, some plastic sheeting provides anti-static control, protection against electrostatic discharge (ESD), shielding from electromagnetic interference (EMI), or radio frequency interference (RFI). Plastic films can also contain additives to make them flame retardant, flexible, dampened, or approved by organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), who play a role in the development of national and international standards.

Plastic Sheeting Grades and Definitions

  • "Virgin Polyethylene" is the highest form of plastic sheeting today. It is found in our High Clarity plastic sheeting.
  • Visqueen - often referred to as Construction and Agricultural Grade Polyethylene sheeting (C&A Film), or basic plastic sheeting - containes up to 25% post consumer recycled content, and is made from the least expensive resins available. This plastic film is generally purchased in clear and/or black rolls.
  • Engineered plastic sheeting ("vapor retardant" or "fire retardant") - plastic sheeting intentionally designed to meet certain criteria.

How is plastic sheeting used?

  • Plastic sheeting can be used for shelters, tarps and ground sheets.
  • Covering large containers, lumber, or pallet loads - an economical alternative to drop clothes
  • Waterproofing large containers, ponds, lakes, canals
  • Protecting flooring, carpeting, counters, tubs
  • Covering outdoor furniture, floors, machinery, etc
  • Winterizing windows and doors
  • Home repairs
  • Black out curtains
  • Safe room / clean room applications
  • Greenhouse sheeting
  • Recreational uses such as ice skating rinks, slip and slides
  • Construction Enclosures
  • Abatement work for lead paint

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