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Polyethylene Film, More Than Just Paint Supplies

painters corner | Posted: 6/30/2021

Polyethylene film can be used for many applications in construction, agriculture, or for just keeping things clean. But what makes this sheeting so versatile and useful is its design.

Types of Polyethylene

There are many different types of polyethylene, too many to get into today, but the two most common are Low-Density Polyethylene and High-Density Polyethylene.

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Low-Density Polyethylene (or LDPE) is super flexible and has good flow properties once melted down, which makes it great for plastic film applications like shopping bags. Low-Density Poly is easily stretched, but not very strong, which becomes obvious when you’re trying to carry too many overfilled plastic bags home from the store.

Polyethylene film, or sheeting, is made from High-Density Polyethylene (or HDPE). It’s created by stringing together ethylene molecules. High-Density Polyethylene is one of the most versatile plastics—used in everything from hard hats to plastic sheeting. It’s also widely recycled, both in its more rigid form, containers, and its more flexible form, plastic bags. This material really took off in the U.S. in the 1950s and has skyrocketed in popularity since, making it today’s most widely-used type of plastic.

Why is Polyethylene Popular?

Polyethylene is lightweight, yet super-strong. That’s why a High-Density Polyethylene milk jug that weighs 30 grams can carry 4 liters of milk. That’s about 9 pounds of liquid or 140 times its weight! It’s also why most modern car manufacturers use High-Density Polyethylene fuel tanks—the lighter weight of the parts can help to increase fuel efficiency, while the strength of the material makes sure the tank will last.

It’s also impact resistant—there’s a reason it’s used for hard hats, after all. It’s long-lasting and weather-resistant, which is why so many people use polyethylene sheeting to provide weather protection on windows and doors, or as a barrier for greenhouses. It also resists mold, mildew, rotting, and keeps insects out, which means that when the chilly Canadian frost comes to destroy your beautiful tomatoes, you are better prepared to protect them.

Uses for Polyethylene Film

Now, hard hats and greenhouses are all good, but what can you use this high-density polyethylene film for, and why are there so many different weights, sizes, and thicknesses?

First, let’s take a look at the thickness. Polyethylene film’s thickness is measured in “mils.” As these numbers go up, so does the strength of your film. For instance, an “11mil” film is not nearly as strong as a “3-mil” film. Here at, we carry between a 1-mil and 3-mil thickness, in varying roll sizes. A 1 to 2-mil film can be used for lighter-duty applications, such as covering equipment. A 3-mil film is considered self-adhesive, which means it will stick slightly to the surface you use it on. For instance, have you ever been painting a wall and had your drop sheet move? Well, not a concern with a 3 -mil polyethylene sheet. 3-mil polyethylene sheeting is great for covering counters, carpeting, floors, hardwood, tile, bathtubs—anything you might be getting paint on when you’re flipping that hot-pink bathroom over to something a bit more modern.

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Now, what if you want to protect against something that’s not grime, dust, or paint—but water vapor? That’s where the 6-Mil Poly Vapor Barrier comes in. You know that “dampness” that you feel after it’s rained or the wet feeling you get on a particularly humid day? That moisture can wreak havoc on the foundation of your home if left untreated, leading to condensation in the walls and wood rot. A good vapor barrier will not only keep unwanted water vapor out but also allow any vapor already inside to move out as well. The poly vapor barrier should be installed on the warm side of an exterior wall since water vapor moves from the warmth to the cold. This will keep that pesky water vapor from getting through the air outside and into the walls of your home. This poly vapor barrier also contains stabilizers that are designed to keep moisture out during the lifetime of your house, so it’s built to last!

In Canada, the Canadian General Standards Board (or CGSB) has developed a standard for the creation and use of improved vapor barriers. This standard is now required by building codes for new home construction. So, before you add that themed rec room onto the back of your house, don’t forget the vapor barrier! But if you have any questions feel free to contact us here, and make sure to subscribe to our email list so you can keep up to date with the latest offers, flyers, new products, and giveaways here at

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