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Please send recommendations for perfectly clear plastic film

 
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My wife and I are building a small cabin on a remote island. We want some big south windows, not just for solar gain, but for the view.

The idea of transporting large windows in a 'tin' boat is dodgy. We do want big windows for the view.

Has anyone ever found a perfectly clear 'poly' or other film that we could fasten very tightly that would suffice as a window.

Hast to be: perfectly clear, not stretch and start to make noise in the wind, last at least a few years.

Any recommendations on material and fastening methods would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks george
 
pollinator
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Greenhouse plastic would be the closest it will stay clear for a few years before going cloudy, exactly how long depends on your sun.
How about perspex? more expensive but lasts a lot longer.
 
pollinator
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Have you 100% ruled out glass? Maybe you could build a raft? Sandwich the glass between cloth and sheets of ply? Apart from the transportation issue, glass really does tick all your requirements. Sorry, I haven’t come across anything that meets your requirements. The ‘greenhouse’ experts here though are very knowledgable and may have a better answer.  
 
pollinator
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If glass is not an option, plexiglass is the next best thing.

Big box hardware stores also sell transparent vinyl sheeting by the yard. It's tough and durable, but not entirely lovely for the  environment.  

 
master gardener
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I am with Edward.  How big are the big windows?  I would give serious thought to transporting one or two smaller windows.  If you do go with plastic film, make plans for a possible mid winter replacement.  Pexi glass is another possibility.  But as has been said, it will cloud up/scratch up at some point.  Other than that, look at supplies for high tunnels and green houses.  They sell up to 6 mil uv protected material.  The transparency varies according to how much money you are willing to spend.....but perfectly clear ....I haven’t found it.
 
master pollinator
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Moving large sheets of glass is easier than you may think.  I have moved a lot of it.  If you aren't tied to a very specific size, you can get tempered glass free from almost any pretty large glass factory.  Tempered glass can't be cut, so it isn't cost effective to do anything with it.  Glass factories will give it to you so they don't have to dispose of it.  I recently got 8 4'x8' sheets of it free.  

As far as moving it, I normally stand it on edge, but lying down works well too.  If you lie a piece of tempered glass down on a sheet of blue board insulation or the like, you can use cork stickers between pieces of glass.  I like this kind:  Cork Stickers on Amazon   but other materials work well too.  The size of the glass  will determine how many pieces of cork you need.  You just don't want the glass to sag.  Tempered glass is very strong with straight downward pressure, you just need to be very careful not to knock the edges against anything.  It shatters easily from that direction.

I think you will be disappointed in plastic from reading your description of what you looking for.  Perfectly clear doesn't really go hand in hand with plastic.
 
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I personally really want to get my hands on some ETFE. It seems to last quite a bit and is transparent to UV.
 
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My first thought about a clear plastic film is that birds might fly into it and damage it, so at a minimum I'd get plexiglass if actual glass isn't an option. Mr. Chickadee put out a Youtube video the other day about hand-made storm windows using single pane glass to make two windows with several inches of air space between them without needing to seal it up like a double pane window.
 
Trace Oswald
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Mark Brunnr wrote:My first thought about a clear plastic film is that birds might fly into it and damage it, so at a minimum I'd get plexiglass if actual glass isn't an option. Mr. Chickadee put out a Youtube video the other day about hand-made storm windows using single pane glass to make two windows with several inches of air space between them without needing to seal it up like a double pane window.



I've wondered about that myself.  I've heard if you leave too big a space, the warm air inside and the cold air outside have enough temperature difference to set up a loop of air rising and falling and you lose some of the effects of double panes.  Anyone have more details?
 
pollinator
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I have often seen 5/8" quoted as the spacing with a full spread being 3/16" to 3/4" between glass panes.
 
pollinator
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What is ETFE please?

Is Singapore a new building covered with glass was causing the death of birds who flew into it.
A bloke who worked in it and had an interest to solve the issue, came up with a series of vertical lines drawn on the glass.
The spacing was critical for the type of bird and by experimenting he solved it.
No more birds flew into the glass.
I will find the facts somehow again.

How to stop birds flying into windows and how it works
 
steward
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John C Daley wrote:What is ETFE please?


ethylene tetrafluoroethylene
It's a fluoropolymer that can be extruded as a clear film.  It is one of those plastics that doesn't break down and hangs around "forever".
 
gardener
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The cheapest durable clear film I have found is vinyl shower curtains.

These next ideas are less transparent.
Glass block is durable enough to survive trip.
Glass or plastic bottles can be made into a (non-opening) window, and they can even float along side the bag in a net bag if necessary.
I never tried these yet but how about window netting with a layer of transparent hot glue, or vinyl flooring glue?

 
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forgive me if I'm wet behind the ears on this. but permaculture the way I understand it is all about working with nature and doing whatever each of us can do in preserving the natural systems on the earth.
plastic and the entire plastics industry is a complete and total polar opposite of this philosophy.
but there is already so much plastic on earth that repurposing something that already exists does not cause more plastic to be made
 
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Have you considered making large windows from smaller windows that would be easier & safer to transport on your boat?
 
master pollinator
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I used the below product on a car's driver's side window. It kept out the wind and rain for two years, would have lasted longer, but the car expired. I applied my new window with duct tape. I don't think that would work in your appliation... I have no other suggestions for attaching it.

Do read the full specifications on the site, they list a cold cracking temperature at which it will fail.

This 20 Gauge Clear Vinyl is a mid-weight, durable, flexible, and waterproof material. It is shatterproof, stain resistant and can withstand hot and cold temperatures. Use it to make storm windows, in tents and canopies, or to enclose and insulate screen porches, patios, greenhouses, and chicken coops. Sew vinyl to create pockets in suitcases and garment bags or in theater productions where a strong and clear material is needed. This versatile plastic is ideal for everyday household use and is a practical choice for all sorts of projects.


From Online Fabric Store

I'm not familiar with this particular fabric store.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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Yeah, I can think of a hundred places to use clear vinyl. In terms of its material properties, it's great stuff. It also meets the OP's specs quite well. Still, I've avoided it because of the impact on workers during production and the lingering impacts of its disposal or (worse) incineration. And yet my car is made with a boatload of it. Hard to avoid the nasty sometimes; all you can do is try to offset the damage in other ways.
 
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I bought a 100 foot roll of clear vinyl, don't know the gauge, pretty thick, 12 at least.  I like it, and if really felt I couldn't get glass, that's what I'd be using.

Big windows don't have to be big sheets of glass, multipane windows are easier to move.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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bruce Fine wrote:forgive me if I'm wet behind the ears on this. but permaculture the way I understand it is all about working with nature and doing whatever each of us can do in preserving the natural systems on the earth.
plastic and the entire plastics industry is a complete and total polar opposite of this philosophy.
but there is already so much plastic on earth that repurposing something that already exists does not cause more plastic to be made



I respect what you're saying, and yet I personally see this as a process of trying to do better, smarter each time. Single use plastics are a scourge, except maybe in medical use; long-use plastics have a place. Not perfect by any measure, but then again some purists would argue (often from armchairs) we should not be using steel either, nor dental anaesthetics, nor computers -- all things I am fond of. For me, constantly and consistently tilting the scale towards sustainable methods is the practical choice, with (I think) practical results. My 2 cents.
 
pollinator
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Comments on several posts here

1.  On long term use plastics I agree they have their place.

2.  As for vinyl be aware it gets brittle over time and slowly scratches getting foggy from them.  Plexiglass also tends to scratch over time and get brittle with some yellowing.  Now it at least can be solved a bit by polishing the scratches back out.  Laborious and time consuming but at least doable.

3.  As for ETFE  (One brand name for it is TEFZEL) the real killer is price.  It is the clearest window material you can possibly get with a 95% light transmission if you go for the clear version.  By comparison low iron glass is 91% or 92% at best and normal window glass is in the low to mid 80's.  As greenhouse film they are doing warantees to 20 years and some of the uses as architectural windows with proper pressure systems go clear out to 30 years.  Some of the accelerated aging testing says it might be good for 50 years or more.  It has been one I have been tracking for solar collectors.(really high melt point too)  Now do your homework here because it is so slick that without special preparation it is nearly impossible to glue or hold by friction.(this also make is very self cleaning too)  If it actually runs 20 to 30 years it is actually competitive with greenhouse film.  But the up front cost is a shock.

4.  As for glass I am going to agree with proper preparation it is far more shippable that one would first think.  rigid box to prevent flex and kept nearly vertical it can be shipped a lot of places.  Big thing is not to flex it so the box needs to be rigid and to protect the edges from impacet Now one other thing if you are meaning really small boat can you mount the glass in a float immersed vertically in the water and tow it in.  The reason for asking this comes from a trick learned 20+ years ago.  If I told you that you could shape regular glass with tinsnips you would go try it and then come tell me I was crazy because you broke it 100% of the time when you tried.  I would then go immerse that same piece of glass in water and take the same tinsnips and proceed to successfully nibble the corners off.  The water damps the shock waves enough to keep the glass from breaking while you do it.
 
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I had a little look for inspiration on using smaller windows on houses (as opposed to greenhouses - lots of lovely ones there.
Here are some ideas:












I'm always a bit nervous when people build in big windows on their houses here - the wind can suck them out! I go outside for my views.
 
Sebastian Köln
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I didn't had much time yesterday on the EFTE post, so here is a longer version.

Regular plastic is made from hydrocarbon chains. That is a carbon chain with hydrogen on the sides. The problem lies in the bond between hydrogen and carbon. UV rays have enough energy to open that bond and thus slowly nibble away on the plastic. This does not make it disappear, it changes the material property in a way that usually makes it unusable.
EFFE (Ethylen-Tetrafluorethylen-Copolymer) replaces the hydrogen with flour and creates a much stronger bond that withstands UV radiation.
The catch is that burning it creates very toxic gas. (It does not burn by itself). So if there is even a small risk that it could be exposed to fire with people nearby, I would not even consider using it. This also creates the second problem: It needs to be recycled as there is no easy way to get rid of it and the risk of it getting burned in the end is too high.

With this out of the way, I think it has a place in supplementing traditional glass constructions, because it weighs much less, does not shatter and transmits UV radiation. As with any high-tech product it needs to be handled with care.
 
gardener
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I agree with using glass.  There are houses made with second hand windows screwed into new frames, a bit like a jigsaw.  You can get the windows and door sections then construct the wall onsite.  The image below is an example. Though I would think that this was all made to measure.  You can get the windows and doors from a recycler and do the set out before you take it all to the island.  
If there is a need to, you can tie the top wall plate and roof to the ground by using threaded rod and concrete ground slabs or spiral ground ties.  All the plastic type cladding yellows and breaks down.
external-content.duckduckgo.com.jpg
Wall design with different types of windows and doors - A very attractive result
Wall design with different types of windows and doors - A very attractive result
 
Paul Fookes
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George,
Your tinny is probably not going to be stable with a load on.  And no doubt there will need to be a number of trips with house bits and hardware.
The easiest solution for you may be to construct dual pontoons and lash either side of your tinny.  A bit like a trimaran. That way you can carry heaps and you will be safe.  The pontoons will double as a landing platforms when not in use.
How to make a pontoon: https://pontoon-depot.com/blogs/news/117203204-make-a-diy-pontoon-boat-in-1-day-for-250-bucks
Same on YouTube:


With a decent pontoon system, you can cut all the timbers and float them over - think ikea 🙄👍 Flat packs or make wall sections and screw together 19mm (3/4") 4800 X 2400 (4'X 8') ply - the cheapest you can get.  Works very well when it is boxed with 2 X 4 and then when screwed together it can be insulated and lined also with ply.  The external ply can be clad with what ever look you want.  Add your window wall and set you roof.  It is easy builds and warm as toast in the winter.
 
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I admit I will side with the "smaller window still give a great view" contingent.

That said, no one's stated my concern about either large plastic or large windows:  if it breaks for any reason, you've got a seriously big hole in a remote place, possibly in crappy weather for repairing it.

You haven't actually stated whether you plan on living there full time, but if you're away for some reason, breakage while you're gone could be a factor also.

I'd rather have to patch up something smaller myself. The idea of using glass panels from sliding glass doors is appealing due to their strength and shatter-resistance. They're used a lot in my neck of the woods on decks so you can see through but still meet code. (We don't need any arguing about building codes - regardless of whether this building is under any, the reason for railing codes is to hopefully keep people alive. We nearly lost a respectable well-known citizen when he fell off a deck that he was constructing and he had to be airlifted out to  have his spinal cord stabilized. Some codes are really just common sense safety standards written down for anyone to read and evaluate.)

That idea of towing a pontoon boat of building materials is an interesting one!
 
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I used a thick plastic on my greenhouse, in February 2021, and the California sun has already destroyed it.  I ordered greenhouse plastic that is supposed to be UV resistant, it's pretty clear, but it doesn't seem that thick, I would worry about it standing up to strong winds.  One option I considered I don't think I saw mentioned it marine grade plastic.  They used it for windows on boats, so it's designed to handle sun and all types of wind and weather.  It was out of my budget for a cheap little greenhouse, but it might be a good option for a house window.
Of course the permies option would be to reuse glass windows. Reuse, recycle, repurpose is a very important part of permaculture.  In a perfect world it's exactly what we would all do.  Unfortunately in the real world it's not always an option.  All we can do is the best we can at the time with the resources we have. We forgive ourselves if we know it's not the best option, and keep trying to do better.  Good luck to you, I hope you find something that works.  I look forward to hearing what you choose, and maybe seeing a picture.
 
I didn't say it. I'm just telling you what this tiny ad said.
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