May 14, 2023 5 min read 0 Comments
The baseboards and hip braces of your hoop house build are the final attachment points between each hoop. Once you have completed this step, each hoop will have at least five points of contact keeping it in place, seven if you have chosen to add a purlin kit. This works extremely well to keep the hoops from shifting over time and adds strength to the overall structure. Read more about how they work together in this article.
Depending on where you are from, hip boards and baseboards in a hoop house may go by a different name. We have heard them called braces or ribbon boards as well. In the case of our all metal greenhouse kits, we don’t use boards at all but metal hat channels. This hat channel is used as the lateral support both at the base of your structure and at the “hip,” which can be anywhere from three to six feet off the ground.
Baseboards serve a number of functions in your structure. They connect all of the hoops together at the ground post which keeps them from flexing. This also helps keep the ground posts in line and level even as ground saturation levels change. The baseboard is also the attachment point for your plastic securing system, whether that will be lock channel and spring wire or batten boards.
If you will be putting any kind of fill inside your hoop house whether it is gravel, mulch or compost, the baseboards will help keep it inside the house. They will also protect the plastic and insect netting from any pokey bits in your fill that could cause small tears.
Hip boards or braces likewise have a number of jobs to fulfill. They act as an important structural element to prevent hoops from shifting over time. Hip braces are also going to be the “top” of your roll up sides. If you will be using lock channel, which we always recommend, you can use this to attach shade cloth as well as acting as an additional attachment point to keep your 6 mil greenhouse plastic secure.
There are a few reasons that we chose to use metal hat channels in our kits.
Check out this video for a visual of how the hat channels work.
Hip boards can be placed between three and six feet off the ground. For a shorter, narrower high tunnel placing the hip board about three feet above your baseboards will work well.
If you live in an area with high daytime temperatures and will be relying on roll up sides for ventilation, having them higher will give you greater airflow in your high tunnel. Wider, taller structures can support the hip braces being placed higher up on the side walls.
If your hoop house style greenhouse kit specifies a height for your hip board, know that there is some wiggle room in this measurement. However, it may affect the overall stability of the structure if they are placed too far above or below the recommended height.
Do one row at a time so you are not trying to keep track of multiple levels at a time. For efficiency's sake, have someone go along and lay out all of the pieces of hat channel (or board) and lock channel you will need for that row ahead of you for the hoop house build. This will keep you from having to walk back and forth or get up off the ground every time you need more.
We recommend starting with the hip braces. Start by cutting two feet off of your first piece of hat channel. Because the hoop spacing on our kits is four foot on center, if you do not cut the first piece you will be trying to splice the lengths at the hoop attachment point which is a little more difficult.
Keep the lock channel lengths as they are until you cut the final piece at the end. This ensures that your splices will all be offset and increases the overall security of the structure.When you are building the hip braces on one of our kits you will be putting up the hat channel and lock channel at the same time.
Using clamps to hold your braces and lock channel in place and level as you attach them is ideal. Even if you have extra hands around to hold the materials for you, it will save fatigue and frustration to clamp.We recommend you have a minimum of four clamps on hand for this. Two to hold the brace to the hoops and two to hold the splices together as you drill.
Clamps with rubber covers on the clamp surface hold more securely and protect the metal you are working with. Bar clamps and larger spring style clamps will both work here and you may find that having both on hand is helpful for different sections. Read Prequel to Building Your First Hoop House for a list of tools needed for the job.
Splices in hip braces and baseboards should be facing the inside of the hoop house regardless if you are using steel hat channel or wood. This protects the plastic from rubbing on the splices and creating possible tears over time. It also prevents the splices from interfering with lock channel installation. Screw together from the outside of the house so that there are no sharp screw tips to poke your plastic.Splices should be at least 8”-12” in length.
If you are building one of our All-Metal Kits the splices are made of 10” lengths of square tubing. The hat channel will slide between the lock channel overhang and the splice. You will clamp the splice, hat channel and lock channel together and screw through all three layers at once.
Because hip braces and baseboards have so many functions to fulfill in your build it is important that they be installed correctly. Level boards, strong splices and carefully placed screws will make attaching the plastic and optional rollup sides much smoother. Having a few good sets of clamps will make this whole process go much faster and easier. Make the most of your time and help by planning for efficiencies of labor. Lay out the materials ahead of each step. If you have enough people and drills on hand, you can work on both sides of the hoop house at the same time.
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