If you want to protect your porch or covered patio from rain, wind, or snow, this type of clear, vinyl sheeting is strong and durable and lasts for years.
For more money-saving garden ideas also see 7 Cheap (But Smart) Tips to Create Your Dream Garden.
Cheap Way to Enclose a Patio for Winter
Here’s the problem I was trying to solve.
Our covered patio is a favorite outdoor space but it’s nearly impossible to keep clean or dry.
It’s entirely screened in, but, because it faces direct winds. During the summer, sand and rain blow in. And winter means snow and cold.
I really wanted a way to keep the elements out and protect our patio furniture at the same time.
Better Than Windows
I looked into ways to add windows, but I didn’t really want to do anything permanent that would require framing. Windows get expensive and I still want to use the area as a screened patio in the summer.
Eventually, I found this thick, 40-gauge clear vinyl sheeting and, after installing it last fall, I can say so far, so good!
After using it for a winter, I opted to become an affiliate of the online fabric store because I can definitely recommend this product.
Plus, the way it’s installed, I can easily remove it if I don’t want it there in the warmer months.
I’ve answered frequently asked questions about vinyl sheeting below.
This is the product description:
40-Gauge Clear Vinyl
- Online Fabric StoreProduct ID: 4098
- Content: 100% Polyvinyl Chloride Width: 54″
- Length: sold by the yard;
- 14 yards max per roll
- Thickness: 0.040″ (±5%)
- Cold Crack: -30º F (-34º C)
- Features: Double Polished
- UV Rating: 750 hours
- Samples: 4×4″
With the patio protected from the weather, there are no more bone-chilling winds, no sand, no snow, and it’s a few degrees warmer in the patio area than it is outside. And everything stays clean!
The vinyl windows also help keep the adjoining lean-to greenhouse stay a few degrees warmer.
Plus, without the wind, the area gets used more.
Here’s a snapshot of the patio door with the vinyl. If it looks sloped, you’re right!
The entire patio was built on a sloped concrete foundation and that’s just the way it is. The whole thing is so crooked, I had to custom build the screen door because the framing is not square.
But the vinyl is great, and I love how the hex head roof screws give the whole thing an industrial look.
Vinyl Sheeting – 40-gauge
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m going to answer everything I wanted to know when I was researching vinyl sheeting options.
Keep in mind that I have only tried the 40-gauge vinyl sheeting, not any other thicknesses, and only from the onlinefabricstore.com, not any other supplier.
If you are unsure of how it may work for your project, order a sample first and test it out.
1How is vinyl sheeting used?
This product has many uses:
- patio window and door coverings
- dog house door
- boat windows
- snowblower cab
- table cover
- deck rail protection
- unheated greenhouse
- cold-frame and raised bed covers
It can also act as an industrial strength see-through curtain. Say, for example, you have a workshop with a heated area and a separate unheated area. You could use the vinyl to make a curtain for the doorway to keep the heat in yet be able to see what’s going on in the other area.
Not Recommended For:
I see some people asking if they can use it under a dining table or as floor mat under a desk. No! It’s not like those solid sheets sold for that purpose.
This vinyl sheeting is pliable and chairs would certainly dent it, the static electricity would make it a dust magnet, and it would be slippery to walk on.
2Is the vinyl really clear?
I say, it’s very close to clear. It’s clear but it’s also thick so, when you look straight through it, it appears clear, but it can appear slightly distorted from an angle, the same way windows do.
On the onlinefabricstore.com site they note: “waves and slight distortions may be present as a result of the manufacturing process but are not considered to be defects”.
And I agree. The slight distortion is not a problem. This product is very good.
3Will vinyl sheeting turn yellow over time?
4How durable is vinyl sheeting?
The product shown here is 40-gauge which means it is 0.040″ thick and can withstand temperatures down to -30ºF (-34ºC).
I specifically chose this gauge because it is made to withstand our lowest outdoor temperatures. If your climate is warmer, you could use a thinner product.
We often get winds up to 100 km/h (62 mph) when it rains so there’s quite a bit of force against the vinyl.
So far, it looks new other than some sand dust sticking to it from the garden (our soil is very sandy) which I can brush off.
5Does vinyl sheeting shrink?
6Can vinyl sheeting withstand heat?
I couldn’t find any research notes on it, but I do see people use the 40-gauge vinyl sheeting to cover car windows where the interiors get very hot in the sun and they say there is not a problem. But don’t hold me to it, it’s just anecdotal evidence.
7Is vinyl sheeting scratch resistant?
Yes. I’m sure you could damage it if you really tried, but it is resistant to fingernails and what not. If this is a concern, get a sample and test it. But it’s not suitable as a floor mat, as mentioned.
8How do you cut the vinyl?
The vinyl comes in rolls, lined with protective paper.
It would be ideal to have a giant table to lay the whole thing out, measure, and cut, but that would be a very big table!
I took all the door and window measurements several times (to avoid Murphy’s Law), and then marked each piece with a yard stick and fine sharpie pen to create a cutting line.
It’s better if you have a helper to hold the vinyl steady while you cut because it does want to roll back up.
A good pair of all-purpose, heavy duty cutters make it very easy to cut the vinyl. My regular scissors worked too, but the super sharp cutters (made for vinyl and leather) went through like soft butter.
9 How do you install or attach vinyl sheeting?
You should always test first (order sample pieces) if you will be putting a lot of strain on the vinyl, but generally speaking it is possible to:
- sew (with an industrial-strength sewing machine)
- nail or screw
If you wish to use an adhesive, there are rubber and vinyl adhesives like this one by 3M that work.
It is not suitable for heat-sealing because it is too thick.
I didn’t want to frame my vinyl in with wood slats so I did it differently.
I cut the vinyl pieces a few inches bigger than the area I was enclosing and attached it with hex head roof screws with neoprene washers using the cordless drill with a driver bit. It could not have been easier.
I attached everything to the exterior of the patio so the wind could not blow the vinyl windows in.
These are the same screws I used to attach the polycarbonate panels on my greenhouse. The built-in rubber washers help form a nice tight seal without damaging the vinyl.
And I love how they become part of the design, kind of like rivets, framing each area.
10Does vinyl sheeting get noisy in the wind?
That was a big concern for me. I’m guessing thinner vinyl would rattle in the wind, but this stuff does not.
Thankfully, it’s heavy enough that it does not move at all, even when the wind is howling. We’ve had winds up to 100 km/h since I installed it and it just stays steady in place.
That’s another reason I’m so glad I installed it: I can be out on the patio during a wind storm and still be comfortable.
11Can you paint vinyl sheeting?
I’m guessing paint would or could chip or peel off, but perhaps with gentle sanding and primer it would adhere? But I have not tried it. I would order a sample to test it.
I hope this has helped. As you can see, I’m so glad I found this product. I was able to enclose our patio without spending too much money and the vinyl sheeting has held up really well.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛