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DepartmentofAgriculturalEngineering AEN-15

R/GID-FRAME
GREENHOUSE
CONSTRUCT/ON
b y J . N . W a l k e ra n d G . A . D u n c a n

Universityof Kentucky. Collegeof Agriculture. Cooperative


ExtensionService
Agriculture. Home Economics. 4-H . Development

The developmentof plasticfilm and rigid sheetmate- This publicationprovidesstep-by-step guidelinesfor


rial for the glazingof greenhouses createda needfor a new fabricationand erectionof rigid framesshownby Universi-
classof structuralframes.Such structuresideallyshould ty of Kentuckyblueprintsor other similarplans.
have a minimum of shadingat a minimum of cost. The
surfacesof the framesshould be smooth,to permit easy Rigid-Frame
DesignLoads
coveringwith either film or rigid coverings. To permiteffi-
cient use of equipment for working the soil, interior T h e K e n t u c k yp l a n sw e r e d e s i g n e d( 1, 2 , 3 ) o n t h e
supportsshould be minimal. In addition to theserequire- basisof the main membersbeingof selectstructuralquali-
ments,such factors as simpleconstruction,reducederec- ty. The designloadsselectedwere ten poundsper square
tion time, and a long structurallife are important. More foot live load or wind at 88 milesper hour. Thoughthe live
recently, the availabilityof fiberglasspanelsrequireda load usedis considerably lessthan the designroof loadsfor
structuresuitablefor thesecoveringmaterials. conventionalstructures,experiencewith both glassand
A structurewhich incorporates all thesedesirable
fea- plasticcoveredgreenhouses has shown suchdesignloadsto
tures to a high degreeis the rigid-frame.A rigid-frannis be adequate.However,only high quality dried lumber
essentially/an arch with completelyrigid joints wherethe shouldbe selectedfor the main members.
loadsare transferredto the foundationin an efficientman-
ner. Consequently, lessmaterialis requiredthan for non- Glue-Nailand All-NailedRigid Frames
rigid construction.This resultsin a minimum of cost per
unit of areacovered.Sinceno cross-bracing or chordsare The most efficientconstructionis achievedby usinga
required,there is only one framingmemberto casta shad- v'nterproofglue to fabricatethe rigid-frames.With glue,less
ow; henceshadingis at a minimum.The frarnesshown on plywood is requiredat the joints and fewer nailsneedto be
blueprintsfrom the Universityof Kentucky are of driven. Sufficient rrailsare used,though,to createa
woodenconstructionand haveonly threejoints pressurethat will hold the gussetstightly
per frame.The framesare normallyfabri- againstthe main memberuntil the glue
catedin a jib on a pavedsurfacor sets.
suitable framework and are The all-nailedframesare simi-
thereforesimpleand easyto lar to the gluedframesexcept
construct. larger plywood gussetsare
Th e lack of interior usedfor the joints to achieve
b r a c i n g , c o l l a r b e a m s ,o r the required joint strength.
chords simplifiesthe placing The same designloads were
of the plastic film and/or used.The nailedframeshave
f i b e r g l a s s .F i g u r e 1 s h o w s the advantagethat they can
some details of rigid-frame be built outsidein cold
construction.Figure 2 is an weather; whereasat tempera-
exteriorview of a 28 foot by tures lower than 600 to 70oF
48 foot rigid-frame green- glue will not cure properly
housecoveredwith fiberqlass. unlessused in a heatedarea.
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S I N G L EO R D O U B L E-
L A Y E RC O V E R I N G S
P L Y W O O DG U S S E T S

<-- OPEN INTERIOR

G O O DQ U A L T T YT U O O D E M N EMBERSTpRESERVATIVE
T R E A T E DO R D E C A Y . R E S I S T A N TS P E C I E SR E C O M M E N D E D

S T E E L A N C H O RS T R A P

CONCRETE

Fig, 1.-General features of wooden rigid-frame construction,

masonryfoundationsmust be reinforcedto be adequate.In


commercial buildings, large rigid-framesare frequently
supportedby reinforcrd concrstefootings.Such largefoot-
ingsareexpensive to build and requireskilledlabor.
The support of greenhousesizerigid-frameson con-
crete piers poured in holds dug by a tractor-mounted or
truck-mountedaugerhasbeeninvestigatedat the University
of Kentucky.Thesestudiesshowedthe pier sizeslistedin
Table 1 to be adequatefor greenhouse rigid frames.Piersof
thesesizesarerelativelysimpleand easyto construct.

Table l. Pier Sizes and Depths for Greenhouse Rigid


Franr;sr

greenhouse
Fig.2.-Exteriorviewof 28 by 40 foot rigid-frarne with FrameLegSize(in.) PierDiameter(in.) Pier Depth(in.)
fiberglass
co\rering.

2x4 6 24
Regardlessof the method of fabricating joints, be 2xG 6 30
sureto follow the plansexactly!Strongjoints are extreme- 2x8 I 30
joint con-
ly important in this type construction.Careless 2x 10 10 30
struction can seriouslyweakenthe building. 2x 12 12 36

Foundation Sy*em lThese data are minimum values for typical soil conditions.
The diameters and depths rust be increased 30 to 50 percent for
On transferring load to the ground, the rigid-franc loose, sandy, or wet soil,

developsa relativelylargehorizontalthrust. For the 4Gfoot


greenhouseframe, this thrust is approximately500 pounds Figure 3 shows the construction of a typical pier.
per frame for maximum roof loading. This means that Sheet metal, wood, or heavy cardboardcontainerscan be
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used to form the pier above ground. The aboveground the frame. Toe-nailingof frames to the sill plate is not
portion can be squareor round. A steelstrap is placedin adequateby design standardsand therefore not recom
the pier to reinforcethe pier, permit secureattachmentof mended.Figure4 showsdetailsof properfoundationwall
the frame to the pier, and transferthe horizontalthrust of construction.
the frameto the footing. The positioningof the steelstrap
GALV. METAL FRAMING AIICHOR
must be accurateif the framesare to be uniformlyspaced. ON SILL OR STEEL STRAP
lf framesare to be seton a concreteor block founda- r Nc o N c .
tion, the concretefootingshouldextendbelowthe frostline BOLTS
{ r IO" ANChOR
4'-o'o.c. a 6" MAx.
F R O MS T U O

R I G I DF R A M E L E G
s o L r Dc o N c .
S T E E L A N C H O RS T R A P W A L LO RB L K S .
W/ COFES FILLED
AT FRATES,

SILL SAME
W I D T HA S L E G
S T E E LR E I N F O R C I N C
TO FOOTINOIN CORES
BELOYV RIGIO-FRAME
LEG

S O U A R EO R R O U N D
FORMINA GB O V E
GROUND 8"r t2'CONC.
FOOTING
i+CIRCULARCONCRETE
I p r e nP o u R E D
r NH o L E
Fig.4.-Detailsof continuous
concrete
wall andanchoring
methods
I
for greenhouse
rigidframes.
\
\-
- --/ Concreteblock walls 3-5 blocksaboveoutsidegrade
or wherethe wall is not backfilledrequirecompletefilling
of the coresor similarstrengtheningto withstandthe hori-
of concretepier construction
Fig.3.-Details for greenhouse
rigid zontalthrust of the rigid frames.
frames.

depth, usually eighteeninches deep for Kentucky (use Lumber


properdepth for other locations).A solid pouredconcrete
The lumber for the framingmembersshould be kiln-
foundation or blocks should extend at least six inches
dried, good quality structurallumber (f = 1500 Fsi) or
abovethe highestsoil level. better.This meansthe lumbermust be freeof seriousknots
When masonry blocks are used with a footing to or undesirablegrain direction. For maximum strength,
support rigid frames,the cellsof the block directly under minor defectsshouldbe placedin the lower 1/2 of the leg
the frameshouldbe completelyfilled with concrete.A steel or the upper 112of the rafter.Thoughroughsawnlumber
strap for anchoringthe frame and reinforcingthe founda- can be used,it must be remembered that high-qualityair or
tion must be embeddedinto a concrete-filled cell, as with kilndried materialis required.lf the lumber is not graded,
the piers describedabove.As an alternative,a sill plate care must be taken to select good lumber for the rigid
coufd be anchoredto the blocks with 1/2 inch by 10 inch frames.For high strengthgluejoints it is importantthat all
bolts four feet apart and the framesattachedto the sill with rough sawn lumber be dry (below 20 percent moisture
galvanizedmetal framing anchorssuch as joist hangers,or content,dry basis)and the joint endshaveidenticalthick-
equivalenthardware.Use a framing anchor sized for the nessfor plywood gussetapplication.This generallyrequires
framestudand usepropernailsrequiredby the anchor.The planingto a commonthickness.
foundation, however, must still be reinforcedby placinga No. 2 Southern yellow pine or
Preservative-treated
steel rod or strap in the core spaceof the foundation below standardgrade Douglasfir is most commonly usedfor rigid
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frames.lf redwood is usedfor the largerframes,one size Glue


largerlumber may be neededto compensate for the weaker
strengthand easiersplittingof redwood, The only adhesiverecommended at presentwhich has
capabilitiesdesiredand can be used
the moistureresistance
PreservativeTreatrnent under normal conditions is ResorcinolResin (Figure6).

Due to the high degreeof moisturein greenhouses,


the use of decay resistantor preservativetreated lumber is
recommended. Though lumbercan be treatedby brushing
or soakingwith preservative, the poor performance of such
treatment when compared to pressuretreated lumber
would make the use of the pressuretreated lumber the
most desirableand economical.ln exposuretestsuntreated
pine stakes in ground lasted 2-4 years, whereaspressure-
treated stakeshad 20 to 30 yearsor more of serviceablelife
(e).
Only the water-borne salt-type preservativesare
recommendedfor greenhouses. Thesetypes permit paint-
ing, are not toxic to plants,and do not causedamageto the
plastic or fiberglasscoveringmaterials(5). The oil-borne
Fig.6.-Resorcinolresinis a two-partglueusedfor strongglu+nail
types, like penta and creosote, are not recommended joint construction.
becauseof their toxicity to plantsand coverings.
For more detailsof preservativetreatment for wood, This glue will "cure" at temperaturesof 600 to 70oF or
seereference(9). above.Do not use it if the temperatureis expectedto fall
Plywood Gusets much belowthis leyelwithin twenty-fourhoursafterapply-
ing the glue. This adhesiveis a reasonablygood gap filler
Becauseof the high moisture conditions cited above, and is tolerantof someminor surfaceirregularities. Due to
its exceptional performance regardlessof the exposure
only exterior plywood gradeC-C or better should be used.
For glued frames, the face to be glued should be the condition and it! easeof use,no other adhesiveshould be
substituted. Resorcinolresin glue is availablein most locali-
smooth uniform face. Pressuretreatment of plywood with
the salt-type preservativesor soak treatment of the cut ties throughthe largerhardwareand lumbersuppliers.Tests
gussetedgesis recommended on the gluingof plywoodto treatedlumberat the Universi-
so they havelife comparable
to that of the treatedlumber. ty of Kentucky (7) indicatethat adequatejoint strength
Plywood gussetsare usedon both sidesof the joint. can be obtainedwith the resorcinolresinglueand salt-type
preservative-treatedlumber if visible preservative crystals
Usea jig to hold the lumberin positionand apply gussets
to
one side (Figure5). The framesmay be prefabficatedin are removedby wire brushingor sandingprior to gluing
(Figure7). The moisturecontent of the lumber shouldbe

Fig. S.-Jig used in positioning and holding members for first gusset
application.

halvesthen latergluedtogetherat the erectionsite. (NOTE:


Apply a ridgegussetto one sideonly of a half-frameso the
halveswill fit together properly when assembledlater. See Fig, 7.-Brushing or sandingsurfacedepositsfrom treatedmembers
F i g u r e1 2 . ) beforegluing.
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below20 peroent,dry basis.Preferably,apply a coatof glue Handlethe framescarefullywhen removingfrom the
to each surfaceto be joined (Figure8). lf a liberalcoat is jig. Rotateand lay them asideto apply the remainingeave
gusset(Figure10). The secondridgegussetis not appliedso
the two halveswill mate together properly when later
assembled.

Fig.8.-For glue-nailjoints,applya coatof properlymixedresorcin-


ol resinglueto eachsurface. '..1.,,:"
: r,j',r " ,

applied to one surfaoe,adequate bonds can be achieved Fig. 10,-Applying the renniningeavegusset.
provided a slight bead of glue is squeezedout of the joint
aroundthe edgeswhen the gussetis applied. Stack the framesasideuntil the glue sets.Whenstack-
ing, place wax papersor plastic film betweenconsecutive
Nails framesif any glue is obaervedrunning from the joints. lf
this is not done, the stackedframesmay be gl.uedtogether.
For the glu*nail frames,6d common nails are used. ln the all-nailed frames, the nails are the fastening
Thesenailsserveto hold the gussets in placeand to main- agent and henceare vital. The nail sizespecifiedis 6d com-
tain surface pressureand contact of the glued facesuntil mon or deformed shank (ring or screw shank types).
the gluesets(24 hours at 600 to 70oF or higher).Useone Though the nail patternfor the nailedframesis shown on
nail every3-4 inchesaparton the gusset(Figureg).
the blueprints,some staggering of the nailsmay be neces-
Apply the eaveand ridgegussetto the one sidewhile sary to preventsplitting. Use all the nails specified;any
the membersarein the jig.
fewerwill weakenthe joint proportionally.Figure1 I shoran
an all-nailedjoint beingconstructed.

joints,larger
Fig.11.-Forall-nailed gussets
and6d common
or ring
shanknailsareused.

Fig, 9,-Nails (6d) are driven to hold the gusset snug against the ErectingRigid Frames
rnain members and permit handling until the glue sets. Notice the
beads of glue oozing from the joint, which indicates good glue-wood All concretework (piers,footing,and/or foundatio.n)
contact within the joint. should be completed,kept damp, and allowedto cure at
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leastthree days beforeerectionof the frames.The exposed both on the sidesand along the roof is necessary (Figure
steelanchorstrapsshouldbe paintedwith a rust-inhibiting 1 3 ) . F o u r s t r a n d so f n u m b e r 1 4 g a l v a n i z esdt e e lw i r e p e r
paint. bracecable is recommended; however,plastic-covered guy
lf the rigid-frames havebeenprefabricated in halves, wire cable could be used (two or three strandsper cable).
then completeassemblyof the frames,usingproper glue- Use 3/8 inch eye-bolts(with washerunder the nut) and
n a i l o r a l l - n a i l e fda b r i c a t i o no f t h e r i d g ej o i n t ( F i g u r e1 2 ) . turn-bucklesfor attaching and tightening brace wires.
Allow glue-nailjoints to cure 24 hours at approximately Bracingis specifiedat both ends. but shouldalso be pro-
70oF or warmer weatherand protect the freshjoint from vided about every50 to 60 feet alonga house100 feet long
r a i nw h i l ec u r i n g . or more.
Add 2 by 4 purlins.4 feet on center,cut-to-fit and
butted between the frames for attar:hment of covering
materials.(Caution: Do not notch the 2 bV 4's into the
rigid-frames asseriousstructuralweakeningwill occur.)

FinishingDetails

Touch-,.rpor final paintingof the framesand other


wooden structuralmembersshouldbe completed.A good
paintedsurfaceimprovesappearance and light reflectionof
the structure.
A suitablecoveringmaterialcan be appliedaccording
to manufacturers' recommendations, Informationon types
and characteristicsof greenhouse coveringscan be obtained
from the sourceslistedbelow.
F i g . 1 2 . - A s s e m b l i n g f r a m e h a l v e sb e fo r e e r e c t i n gt h e f r a m e .

Plansand LiteratrrreAvailable
One or two coatsof exteriorwhite latex paint could
be appliedbeforethe framesareerected.
P l a n sf o r r i g i d - f r a m eg r e e n h o u s e isn c o r p o r a t i n gt h e
Carefullyrotatethe first frame into verticalposition featuresdiscussedaboveare listed in KentuckyBuilding
on the piers or foundationand temporarilybrace it with
and EquipmentPlanscatalog,availablefor reviewat your
boardsto groundstakes.Anchorthe legsto the foundation.
C o u n t y E x t e n s i o nO f f i c e , o r P l a n S e r v i c e ,A g r i c u l t u r a l
Erectremainingframes,anchortheseto the first framewith E n g i n e e r i n gD e p a r t m e n tU, n i v e r s i t yo f K e n t u c k y L, e x i n g -
the eaveand ridge boardsin the gussetnotchessnown on t o n , K e n t u c k y4 0 5 4 6 - 0 0 7 5B. l u e p r i n t sa r e a v a i l a b l ea t a
the blueprints,and anchoreachframeto the foundation, s m a l lc o s t .O t h e rl i t e r a t u r eo n g r e e n h o u s eh e a t i n g v, e n t i -
lation, covering and related phases of structures and
PerrnanentBracing e n v i r o n m e n ti s a l s o a v a i l a b l ef r e e o n r e q u e s tf r o m t h e
Sincethe greenhouses aboveoffices.
haveno structuralsheathing to
p r o v i d ep e r m a n e nbt r a c i n gw, i r e b r a c i n gr u n n i n gd i a g o n a l l y

List of References

( 1 ) C u r t i s ,J . O . a n d H a n s e nE, . L . ," L u m b e r R i g i dF r a m e s
f o r F a r m B u i l d i n g s ,U " n i v e r s i t oy f l l l i n o i s ,E x t e n s i o n
Service C i r c u l a8r 1 2 , D e c e m b e1r 9 5 9 .
t2l C u r t i s ,J . O . . " D e s i g no f N a i l e da n d G l u e d P l y w o o d
Gussetsfor Lumber Rigid Frames," University of
l l l i n o i s E x p e r i m e n tS t a t i o n , B u l l e t i n 6 5 4 , M a r c h
1960.
r ( 3 ) Douglas Fir Plywood Association,"Plywood Rigid
- -""t''
FrameDesignManual,"DouglasFir PlywoodAssocia-
* I

I
tion, Tacoma2, Washington, Form 62-170A.
,"' (4) Forest Products Laboratory, "Wood Handbook,"
Fig. 13.-Diagonal bracing with galvanized or plastic-covered steel United States Departmentof Agriculture,Agricul-
wire. tural HandbookNo. 72, 1955.,
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(5) Kaufert, F.H. and Loerch,D.A., "Treated Lumberfor (8) Walker,J.N. and Slack, D.C., "Propertiesof Green-
GreenhouseUse,t' 1il;nn"rotaForestryNotes,No. 36, house CoveringMaterials,"Transactionsof ASAE, In
Universityof Minnesota,1955. Press,1971.
(6) Walker,J.N. and Cox, E.H.,"Designof Pier Founda- (e) Duncan,G.A. and Walker,J.N., "Preservative Treat-
tions for Lateral Loads," Transactionof ASAE, Vol. ment of GreenhouseWood," AEN-6, University of
9, No. 3, pp 41742O, 427, 1966. Kentucky, Cooperative Extension Service, July,
(71 Walker,J.N. and Walton, L.R., "Gluing of Plywood 1973.
to Treated Lumbe4" Transactionsof ASAE, Vol. 9,
No.5, pp 669-670,and 674,1966.
Ofiice, College ol Agticulturc, UniveBity ol Kentucky, Room S-105, Agriculturcl Science Building-North, Lexington, Kentucky 40516.

lssued in turtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts ot May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Charles E. Barnhart, Director ol
Cooperative Extension Service, University ol Kentucky College of Agriculture, Lexington, and Kentucky State University, Frankfort.

lssued6-73,9M to 11-73;2M-2-87