Materials and Finishes

Modern plant containers are an integral part of interior landscape design. A wide range of shapes, sizes and colours are available to suit every decorative style.

Containers are made from a variety of materials and come with an even greater range of finishes. The most common materials are glass reinforced plastic (known as GRP or fibreglass), aluminium, steel, glazed earthenware and stoneware, unglazed terracotta, moulded plastic, wood and concrete. Each material has some distinct properties as well as a range of advantages and disadvantages.

Here we take a look at these materials and give some advantages and disadvantages of each type to help you make an informed choice.

Glass Reinforced Plastic

Properties

Glass Reinforced PlasticLightweight, waterproof, durable and available in a huge range of shapes, sizes and finishes, including some that are almost indistinguishable from other materials.

Advantages

Lightweight, available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and finishes, inexpensive, waterproof, resistant to cracking, resistant to dents, scratches and crazing, ideal for all growing systems, reusable and can be refurbished.

Disadvantages

Special shapes and colours have to be made to order

Aluminimum

Properties

AluminimumLightweight, waterproof and durable. Aluminium containers are usually round as they are often made by a spinning process, however containers can be made in square and rectangular shapes by pressing and folding the sheet metal. Polished and brushed finishes are both readily available. It is also possible to have a coloured lacquer applied.

Advantages

Lightweight, waterproof, available in a wide variety of sizes and finishes, resistant to cracking and crazing, reusable and recyclable, ideal for all growing systems.

Disadvantages

Relatively expensive, limited range of shapes, can get dented and scratched.

Stainless Steel

Properties

Stainless SteelDurable but heavy containers. Available in a similar range of finishes as aluminium. Round containers are common, but there is a wide variety of square and rectangular containers made by folding sheet metal.

Advantages

Strong, waterproof, resistant to scratches and dents, suitable for all types of growing system, available in a wide variety of sizes, recyclable and reusable.

Disadvantages

Relatively expensive, heavy, shows fingerprints and other greasy deposits, limited range of shapes available.

Glazed Earthenware & Stoneware

Properties

Glazed EarthenwareHeavy and sometimes quite fragile containers. Glazed earthenware and stoneware containers come in a wide range of shapes, sizes and finishes and can be very stylish.

Advantages

Available in a wide range of sizes, colours and shapes, deep lustrous glaze, top-quality products look stunning, some ranges are very inexpensive.

Disadvantages

Very heavy and require careful manual handling when being positioned, often need to be waterproofed if they are not glazed on the inside, prone to cracking and breaking, can look a bit rough-and-ready.

Unglazed Terracotta

Properties

Unglazed TerracottaHeavy and fragile containers. Good quality examples look very classy but cheaper ones just look like overgrown flower pots.

Advantages

Mass produced examples are relatively inexpensive, classic plant container for conservatories.

Disadvantages

Very heavy and require careful manual handling when being moved, fragile and prone to cracking or breaking, must be thoroughly waterproofed to prevent surface staining and condensation.

Moulded Plastic

Properties

Moulded PlasticLightweight containers available in a wide variety of sizes and colours, though shapes are limited. Often sold at the budget end of the market.

Advantages

Lightweight, waterproof, inexpensive, available in a wide range of colours, suitable for use with all types of growing system.

Disadvantages

Limited range of shapes, styles and surface finishes.

Wood

Properties

WoodLightweight containers made from a renewable source. Shapes limited to simple circles and polygons. Limited range of places where they can be used to maximum effect.

Advantages

Lightweight, made from renewable materials, ideal where a 'natural' look is required.

Disadvantages

Needs to be thoroughly waterproofed or lined to prevent leaks and distortion, available in a limited range of shapes, surface easily damaged by dents and scratches.

Concrete

Properties

ConcreteVery heavy but can be surprisingly stylish. There is a limited range of shapes and styles available. Increasingly popular in Scandinavia.

Advantages

Custom-built containers relatively easy to make, can fit in well with modern interiors, strong and resistant to surface damage.

Disadvantages

Very heavy and require careful manual handling when being moved, need to be lined or sealed to prevent a reaction between acidic growing media and the concrete, difficult to clean, difficult to reposition once set up.

Whatever the material, containers are able to fulfil more than one function: as room dividers, acoustic screens, barricades or to aid the movement of pedestrian traffic through a building. 

Choose your material today! Call us on 0800 085 8744 or contact us online to arrange a visit from one of our design consultants.

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