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Plastic sheeting has a variety of uses and comes in a range of sizes. It is commonly used in the building and decorating trade to protect floors and other surfaces, as well as furniture, from the mess made during building or decorating work.
Common uses for plastic sheeting
Plastic sheeting is particularly popular with builders, plasterers, painters and decorators. It is used to protect carpets, floorboards, soft furnishings and furniture from the potential collateral damage caused during the building or decorating process.
Builders rolls - dimensions
Commonly referred to as builders rolls, plastic sheeting traditionally comes in rolls 1m wide. As you roll the plastic sheet off these rolls, they fold out to either a 2m-wide sheet or a 4m-wide sheet, if using a multi-fold roll.
Generally, the wider the plastic sheet that is rolled onto the builders roll, then the shorter that sheet will be. For example, a 2m-wide sheet rolled onto a 1m-wide roll will only need to be folded once, whereas a 4m-wide sheet will need to be folded twice (multi-fold).
Therefore, a standard single-fold builders roll will contain a 100m length of 2m-wide sheeting, whereas a multi-fold roll will contain a 50m length of 4m-wide sheeting. These two rolls contain the same amount of plastic (200m2) and there weight the same (18kg if using clear, medium duty polythene).
Builders rolls - polythene gauges
Not only is plastic sheeting available in different sizes, it is also available in different thickness, depending on the type of work you wish to do. If you only need a light covering (e.g. for painting or sanding work) then you may choose a medium duty builders roll, made from 400 gauge polythene.
If you need something a bit more durable (e.g. when working on a building site or with heavy tiles or bricks lying around), then you may prefer to choose a heavy duty builders roll, made from 800 gauge polythene.
Following the same logic applied to the width of builders rolls, heavy duty sheets of equal width will come in rolls of half the length compared to medium duty polythene. As 800 gauge polythene is twice as thick and twice as heavy as 400 gauge polythene, a 50m heavy duty roll will weigh the same as a 100m medium duty roll (18kg).
Builders rolls are not the only polythene product that would come in useful to people in the building trade. Heavy duty builders bags are a must for any building site or for any major renovation work taking place.
Much of the waste generated through building and renovation work is heavy - rubble, bricks, stones etc. - which means that standard waste bags are not strong enough to store this collected waste.
Instead, specialist builder bags - otherwise known as rubble bags or rubble sacks - are the ideal bag for the job. Made of extra thick polythene - ranging from 320 to 520 gauge - rubble bags are strong enough to hold the heavy waste generated on a building site and do not tear or puncture when the rough edges of bricks or stones catch against them.
Damp proof membrane
A damp proof membrane is an extra-thick polythene sheet designed for use in building new floors (or repairing old floors) to protect building from damp rising from the ground.
The polythene used to make a damp proof membrane (or DPM) is extremely thick - typically a minimum of 1000 gauge. DPMs are usually made from recycled polythene and come in black or blue.
If you are buying a roll of DPM, check that it is approved by the British Board of Agreement (BBA) before buying, to ensure that you are getting a suitable-standard product.
Plastic sheeting and polythene film
Polythene film is similar to plastic sheeting, but generally comes in a thinner, more flexible form of polythene.
Plastic sheeting better describes the thicker type of polythene that is widely used to cover and protect floors and surfaces in the building trade, for example.
Polythene film, on the other hand, is a thinner type of polythene that is often used as packaging. Polythene film is particularly useful to wrap or cover items of unusual shapes and sizes when more standard one-size-fits-all packaging is not suitable.
Both polythene film and plastic sheeting are dispensed from a roll but, as a rule of thumb, the length of polythene film available on a single roll will be much greater as the polythene film is much thinner than the plastic sheeting, which also needs to be folded over on the roll.
Where can I buy plastic sheeting?
Manufacturers and suppliers of plastic sheeting include:
Heat Sealers Direct
Discount Layflat Tubing
Damp Proof Sheeting
Research & Resources
For further information about plastic sheeting, including details of how it is manufactured and the different types of builders rolls and other polythene sheeting available, please visit:
Goldstork: "best of the web" free directory. On Goldstork you will find very useful hand-picked information and specialist plastic sheeting websites.
PlasticBags.uk.com: Free web directory specialising in packaging. Submit your product listings for free or browse the site for useful plastic sheeting websites.
PackagingKnowledge: Read in-depth information and news about the flexible plastic packaging industry including this article on plastic sheeting.
Layflat tubing is made from polythene film and comes in the form of a continuous tube of film, manufactured and sold by the roll.
A popular product, layflat tubing - or LFT for short - is widely used in the packaging industry and is ideal for packing items of a similar width but varying lengths. Without LFT or some other poly-tubing, these items would otherwise require lots of different-sized polythene bags.
Layflat tubing is supplied in a roll, wrapped around a central reel. The film is sealed at the center of the roll and then open at the end, allowing people to wrap products as they dispense the tubing.
To package an item using LFT, simply place it inside the open end of the tube, pull off the required length to cover your product before cutting it and then sealing it around the object with either tape, staples or a specially-designed heat sealer.