building a traditional palm leaf roof

When I got to the Lazy Man’s Farm the main structure of posts and beams was already built and all we needed to do was just put up the roof, so that’s what I’m going to explain how to do here.

The materials used were local trees for poles and beams, a vine called marica for tying up the main load-bearing structure and the bark of the malagueto tree (Xylopia spp.), which provides long flat fibres that are ideal for tying the palm leaf stems to the rafters.

the raw materials

These are the raw materials: posts for rafters, and the marica vine and malagueto tree for fibres to tie everything together

the fibres of the malagueto tree are long and flat

The bark of the malagueto tree, a nice long fibre for tying the palm leaf stems to the rafters

the base structure

The structure as it was when I arrived

a closeup of the marica vine tying up the main load-bearing joints

A close-up of the marica used to tie up the main structure. It actually gets harder and draws tighter as it dries, turning into a woody clamp

men at work

The guys at work

the structure going up

This is what the malagueto fibres used to tie the palm leaf stems look like from the inside

closeup of nots tied with malagueto

A close-up of the fibres

the palm leaves are tied with malagueto, the rafters with marica

Here we can see clearly the malagueto used to tie the palm stems to the rafters and the marica vine to tie the rafters to one another

tying up the side panels

Fixing the side panels

time to attack the roof

Time to get started on the roof!

finishing off the saddle

Marcelino working on the saddle, which needs to be attached strongly because we get very strong winds in the area, so here we forgot about natural materials and went for wire

the pretty pattern of the roof seen from below

The beautiful patterns viewed from below! 🙂

harvesting more royal palm leaves

We ran out of palm leaves and had to go get some more

cutting the leaves along the stem so they can be folded over

this is how to prepare the palm leaves: they are placed with both sets of leaves facing downwards, for which they must be cut along the stem on the opposite side of the central vein of the leaves, so that it is this central vein that keeps them holding on to the stem

the cut leaves, folded

the cut and folded leaves look like this

placing and tying the leaves as a 3 man job

placing and tying the palm leaves is time consuming, but the time involved can be reduced by getting as much help as you can. Time for community work! 🙂


And the finished structure looks like this. Time to put up a hammock under it and have a siesta! 🙂

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