The Freshness of the Palapa and building a palapa

The benefit of this simple and comfortable dwelling

This interesting construction, originally from the Philippines, involves the use of natural and renewable long-lasting materials such as wood, bamboo, and dried palm. The purpose is to form an open-air construction that protects from the sun and keeps its interior cool at the same time, allowing a pleasant flow of air during the oppressive heat. Its resistance to warm weather makes it a recommended option, thanks both to the affordability of its materials and its installation and durability. It not only withstands hot weather but also withstands the increasing humidity that may be present in the area, unlike what a traditional concrete house might offer. In a concrete home, the heat would be more than bothersome, and the durability of the building would be affected by the constant heat and ever-present humidity.

Palapas create an ideal refreshing environment.

Mesh resistance with the weather

building a palapa
Building a palapa is quite an economical investment since the materials are easily acquired.

The construction of a palapa:

The roof of the palapa is covered with dried palms, whether they are coconut palms, banana palms, or royal palms (sometimes straw is used), and the rest of the structure is made of wood. The reason for choosing these completely natural materials when constructing a palapa is due to their easy acquisition, economical cost, simple installation, and incredible resistance to the weather conditions present in warm climates; in addition, they can widely absorb heat, which allows for the coolness generated inside, being the most outstanding characteristic of this building. Another favorable point regarding a palapa is its pleasant appearance, adding a rustic touch to the environment and providing a look that matches the place where it was built.

Building a palapa with natural products:

The materials used to make this structure are entirely natural, except on certain occasions when installing the palm roof, a wire mesh is used. For the bases of the building and the base where the roof will be placed, wood is also used. The use of lianas like coamecate or henequen ropes is common when joining the wood, mostly in the roof part. For the structure itself, lianas or ropes can also be used, although the use of four or five-inch nails is common to provide more support and endurance. Essentially, speaking of the construction of a simple palapa, these are the only materials needed. There are more complex types of palapas where the use of concrete and advanced architectural mechanisms are incorporated.

In addition to being economical, the construction of the palapa is very straightforward.

Requirements for building a palapa:

The first step in building a palapa is setting up the base. For this, a number of posts are needed, depending on how large you want the construction. In this case, we will use five posts, with four and six posts being common in palapa construction. Each post should be about two or three meters long and must be thick and sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the roof as well as the onslaught of wind and rain. The choice of wood is up to personal preference, but it’s essential to choose a durable type, not just one for its aesthetic appeal. A wood that isn’t strong enough could mean the structure collapses suddenly. After obtaining the posts that will serve as the base, they must be buried to a sufficiently stable depth.

palapa  installing
Great caution must be exercised when installing palapas.

Steps for installation:

Once in place, proceed to coat the posts with varnish or any other similar product; it’s essential to remember that the posts will be continuously exposed to sunlight, rain, and humidity, so the varnish will help them resist these weather effects more effectively. Once these bases are installed, a slightly longer and wider post is set up in the center of the palapa area. This post should be a meter longer than the other base posts and have a larger diameter as it will be the main post of the structure, giving that domed or vaulted shape to the building. The installation of the central post can be done before or after the base posts; this is up to the builder’s preference. The important thing about this step is that the bases are installed correctly.

Care for the palapa:

An essential point before setting the bases is to remove the imperfections that the posts might have. When we talk about imperfections, we refer to splinters or sharp parts they may have. This is done to prevent possible injuries during the palapa installation or future injuries during its use, as well as to preserve the lifespan of the building. The next step in building the palapa is the construction and installation of the roof support. This is done by taking the rods to be used (like the base posts, the rods for the roof structure should be resistant) and, starting from the top of the main post, they are oriented and fixed to the base posts. Four or five-inch nails are used to attach the rods to the base posts.

Protecting the Palapa with some type of net will preserve its integrity.

Types of uses for the palapa:

As observed, the palapa is an open-air dwelling that provides a cool space inside, being used in tropical warm climates. Its construction is straightforward, ranging from building a traditional palapa to the more elaborate and complex ones. Nonetheless, they all serve their primary purpose: to keep the interior cool for its occupants. Its high resistance to these warm climates makes it the choice both for the comfort they offer and for their economical and easy construction among the various alternatives available for warm climates. Apart from this, the sense of balance they provide with their surroundings makes them a heritage that, for many, has been passed down from generation to generation for many years in many rural areas.

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