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Tropical Buildings' Quintessential Feature


Pergolas are a quintessential element to tropical buildings!

They are great decorative pieces to use in gardens and around Anguilla homes. They are commonly used in the Caribbean... They look good, but they also shield from the sun.

This was Mike's next task!

Pergolas are made of columns, beams, and louvers that rest on top of the beams. The bulk of the shielding is provided by the upright standing louvers.

MIke and I discussed the placement of the pergolas on our tropical building. One placed on the Eastern side with louvers running North to South would provide shade in the morning when the sun would be rising. Consequently, a pergola placed on the western side of the house with the louvers running once again in the same direction will provide afternoon shading when the sun is setting. Hm...

A pergola loses any functionality when the sun is close to it or directly overhead. The profile, height, and the spacing between louvers dictates how effective the pergola is in providing shade. Decorative type pergolas can be identified by the large spaces between louvers.

Since we had large 6ft high by 8ft long windows on the eastern and western sides of our Master Bedroom, we decided that using pergolas here would be a great idea. It would embellish the second floor terrace and also give us shading the morning and afternoon!

Pergolas can be constructed with a variety of materials ranging from concrete to metal. We opted for the more traditional and popular wooden construction although we used concrete columns. What protects us from the sun is exposed to the sun. There are some woods that fair better than others when it comes to exposure.

We decided on using a Greenheart from Guyana. This wood is very strong, very dense, and very durable. Sun, sea blast and termites do not affect it and it ages great, therefore, making it a very popular choice for most.

Mike and I took the time to run some test using different height, thicknesses and spacing of louvers to see which combination would be the most effective and would also please the eye.

To run these tests we got some scrap pieces of dimensional lumber of different configurations from South American Lumber, our supplier. We also took the time, at an earlier stage of construction, to make sure that the columns that would hold up all that weight did not obstruct our view of St. Martin from the bedroom.

As mentioned earlier, Greenheart is very dense and therefore weighs a ton. A solid column is a definite must. Mike calculated the weight of each pergola to be roughly 5000 lbs.

Pergola Columns
tropical building

Tiger and Jeannine Gittens, owners of South American Lumber, are so knowledgeable and helpful. The quantity of lumber we needed is not usually stocked here in Anguilla. Tiger and Jeannine were instrumental throughout the whole order process from Guyana... from purchase to transport right up to final on site delivery.

Mike used Nick Proctor (Master Carpenter) and his helper Al to co-ordinate the build and assembly of the pergolas although everyone on the team put in the muscle to erect these structures.

Moving the Lumber to the Second Floor
tropical building

We did not use any metal fasteners to assemble the wooden parts of the pergolas. Instead Nick made some 1 inch dowels made from the same Greenheart. For glue we used resins. Mike selected Nick not only for his home master carpenter abilities but Nick also happens to be a boat builder! He is the one who built the Satellite Race Boat... the pride and joy of North Hill and 2009 end of year championship winners.

tropical building

It took the guys about 3 days to get the job done from start to finish. All the planning and preparation for this project paid off. The pergolas looked great and they offered a world of shading!

They looked perfect...

Perfect Tropical Building Pergolas!
tropical building

anguilla pool

Just as an aside, we decided to install air conditioning in case the trade winds, foam insolation and shading of sun was not sufficient to keep our Anguilla home cool enough.

Mike and the team tried to break through the thick solid concrete walls of our Anguilla home to install the last air conditioning unit...

It takes two of them to get through!

Mike sure did build us a solid Anguilla home!

It would turn out that we would rarely use any of the air conditioners. The house is cool on even the hottest of days.

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