[Click to enlarge ]
Wooden Louvers ("piarem").

Mary Ann's Tropical Building Page

Building Material Sources and Information


My husband Bob and I acquired land on a Caribbean island, then designed and built a complex of three buildings: our home, a software lab and guest villa. This page contains suggestions and feedback from readers.

In our search for appropriate materials and supplies, we have received advice and assistance from a wide range of source, including people from the other side of the world.

High Humidity Cabinets

Patrick Mcalpine (antiqueidea@videotron.ca) wrote:

I am a wholesaler; we take care of anybody that wants to fill a container from Montreal. Our specialty is manufacturing marine plywood kitchen and custom made cabinets for high humidity areas. We have had a very good response to our cabinets. We can provide references from architecs and contracters.

We have been selling in Bermuda for 15 years. We can consolidate containers and we can find any product anybody needs. FROM: MCALPINE DEPOT TEL/FAX: 450-347-1633.


Roberto Guerra (itdegroup@earthlink.net) wrote:

Hello Mary Ann:

Browsing I found your site, I was curious because you referred someone to find SUPERTHERM to a dealer site and they stated that a response was not timely. Here is the site that will give quick responses.


Mary Ann replied:

I was always curious as to how much ceramic crystals are in the paint? I don't push the product much because i have no way of proving that it is better than white elastermeric roof paint. Do you know?

And Roberto answered:

Yes Mary Ann. SUPERTHERM is 52% solids, and it has 4 different types of ceramics in it's formula. These ceramics are manufactured for specific functions but their shape in combination with their type is what makes this formula become a true insulator and not just a reflective coat. R28 is achievable with two coats of this product.

Stainless Hinges

Irene & Caius St George (caius@coralwave.com) wrote:

Really enjoyed looking through your project. Well done. Probably too late but if you need them in the future, JEFFCO in Ft Lauderdale make stainless hinges. I think they have ready made but will also make to order. JEFFCO is at P.O.Box 14843, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl 33302. Phone (954) 527-4220 Fax (954) 527-4229. Here is their web site with catalogue (Their prices are good too. Ask to speak to Steve):


Fan Mail

Sherry Schwandt wrote:

Dear Mary Ann,

Just wanted to let you know that I stumbled upon your website some months ago while doing a search on "quiet room air condioners". I so loved it I made it a favorite, and every now and then I check in to see how things are going. My dream has always been to own a beautiful place like yours, in a tropical setting such as you enjoy - and even if it never materializes, viewing your gorgeous pictures brings a peace and joy to my heart that is ALMOST as good as having it myself! Thanks for sharing with all of us, via your website. I LOVE IT!!!

Sincerely, Sherry

Mosquito Magnet

We have acquired several of these amazing machines, which we acquired from Home Depot in Florida. Click the link above for their web page, which also has the user manuals in PDF format. Here is how the manufacturer describes it:

The Mosquito Magnet® mimics a large mammal by emitting a plume of carbon dioxide (CO2), heat and moisture, which when combined with an additional attractant, octenol, is irresistible to female mosquitoes (the ones that bite), no-see-ums, biting midges, black flies, and sandflies.

Our patented scientifically proven Counterflow Technology™ allows the Mosquito Magnet® to emit a plume of carbon dioxide, heat, and moisture to attract biting insects, while simultaneously vacuuming the insects into a net where they dehydrate and die.

The Mosquito Magnet® operates 24 hours a day in order to capture day-biting, as well as night-biting blood-seeking insects.

We have had these for about 6 months and they work great.

The operation of the Magnet is quite simple, but when you are out of propane, or something else goes wrong, it communicates with you by lighting and/or blinking 3 lights (green, red, yellow). If you lose the manual, you have no idea what the codes mean. When that happens to you, refer to this excerpt below from Magnet manual:

Marbletite Coverage

We use a product called Marbletite as the stucco for our exteriors. It comes in several colors (white, tan, yellow, sand, peach, pink etc.) in premixed bags of cement, marble dust and pigment from Florida. The advantage is that you never have to paint your buildings. One bag covers 64 square feet of wall space.

Prefabricated Wood Homes from St. Lucia

Recently we received an interesting email from Michael Hinds (bulzik@hotmail.com) about hardwood homes:]

I have been following the construction of your beach house for a while. It has taken very interesting form and the garden is beautiful. This should be a real inspiration for others like you who want to enjoy a piece of paradise. I too live in the paradise haven of St. Lucia. I an native to the island. Presently, I have established a unique business in St. Lucia that involves the design, construction and supply of complete hardwood homes of prefabricated components and also included the entire interior fiinshing kit, with all very high quality materials from Brazil.

My company is called Tropcon Enterprises Caribbean Limited, and we are located in a Duty Free Zone Trade area in the Southern Town of Vieux Fort, St. Lucia.

We are the only company in St. Lucia to have acquired a franchise from the largest supplier of prefabricated hardwood homes in Brazil.

We have a portfolio of over 50 pre-designed homes in our collection, namely the Louvet Collect, Chabot Collect, Moule-a-Chique Collection, La Borne Collection, Amazonas Collection and more to be added in the future. We provide our clients a unique and complete approach to building hardwood homes, in our unique tongue&groove, Post & Beam building system.

We are interested in introducing our products to Anguilla.

Best regards.

Michael Hinds, Managing Director, Tel # (758) 383-0679 cell (758) 468-2227 (w)


Gaston Boudreau wrote:

Good Morning, Quoting a job for Sunset Homes and having many of our products in Anguilla, I wonder if you can be interested by linking our Web site (pvcwindoors.com) with yours.


Coral Stone

Cool and Non-Slip.

In San Juan, Puerto Rico there is a store called Multipisos that carries natural coralstone tiles from the Dominican Republic. They are excellent for around pool areas, since they are cool (the irregular surface disapates heat) and non-slip (the irregular surface again).

313 De Diego Ave. Puerto Nuevo, Puerto Rico 00920 tel: +1 787-793-5136, fax: +1 787-782-0110 e-mail: mutipisos@prtc.net Owner: Rafael Batista.


More on coral stone.

Email from Readers

Doors & Windows in Puerto Rico: 2002 Update

Dear Mrs. Green,

Surfing on the net I found your nice page about the contruction of your villas in Anguila.

I noticed that you found some dificulties in get proper supply of doors and windows in Puerto Rico.

I may suggest you that next time you should contact Madeco the Puerto Rican largest supplier of Brazilian hardwood carpentry. They have two fancy show-rooms with hundred of models mainly from Imbuia (Brazilian walnut) and South American Cedar. They also have all finishing mouldings you may need, as door-jambs, panneling, floors, baseboards, astragals, etc.

You can contact them by phone (787) 250 1737 or by e-mail :madeco@caribe.net

Cid Lang, glcid@terra.com.br
Pomerode- SC Brazil

Questions About Cisterns

At 08:26 AM 3/27/2002 -0500, a web-site visitor wrote:

I do enjoy your site and appreciate your sharing your experiences with those of us who have not tackled what you have (yet). I'm 'collecting' books from your list - and others' - but can't locate any specifics on the technical aspects of cistern construction:

does a house foundation touch the cistern walls?
what kind of top/roof/cover goes on a cistern?
is access provided in the top/roof/cover for
inflow of rain water?

Can you point me to a site or a specific book title that deals with construction and maintenance?

Answers About Cisterns

Mary Ann replied:

Cistern construction is something that all the locals know. Cisterns are usually placed under the decks with the deck forming the roof of the cistern. However, you can have the cistern under any part of the house. You usually pick the place according to any drop-off of the ground level, so you don't have to dig or in the case of Anguilla pound out the rocks.

The deck becomes the roof of the cistern. The cistern is finished with a water sealant. I recommend a product available in Puerto Rico and St. Thomas called Vandex. The other common one is thuro-seal. The down spouts are run on either the outside or inside of the walls. There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods- inside often leak and outside the walls don't look as good and are prone to damage from sun and weather.

Louver Doors and Windows

Roger (roger@mardeoro.com) writes:

I have lived and worked as an architect and contractor in tropical locations for over 15 years. Your site is tremendous. I have had "gazebos" that were boys also, and some girls.

I now own a factory in Peru where we manufacture louvered products. We also build standard doors, and entry systems.

Our products are available in the Caribbean through Triangle Exports, Miami. Tel-305 418 4221. Jeff is the owner, Jeff@triangleexports.com. We also sell directly to contractors and developers in the US and Central American markets.

We use Mahogany, Spanish cedar, and Requia. Other species available on request. We normally produce for individual jobs on a quote basis, and our lead times are good. 8 weeks if we have the wood already kiln dried, and 10 to 12 if we have it in log form.

We can ship directly from the port of Callao, Peru to some of the islands.

Good luck to you. Again, a great site.


Louvered Windows

We wanted to use wooden louvered windows and doors, plus French windows and doors. Most of these are made in South America.

In the summer of 1999, we purchased wooden louvered doors and windows from 3Cs lumber yard in Puerto Rico. PO Box 11279. San Juan, PR. 787-783-8260. They will take a credit card over the phone and deliver to the inter-island shipping dock. Followup may be required.

1997-1998: What We Found in Puerto Rico

Links elsewhere on our site:

What a Friend Found

A friend who is also building a house on Anguilla found the following sources:

Doors For a 12' Opening?

We created three 12' door openings in our house (one in the pink bedroom, one in the master bedroom, and one in the master bathroom). All were filled with bifolded, 8' high, Brazilian wood louvered doors.

This did not work out very well, because the doors are so heavy that they sag when bifolded, even with super-strong hinges. The door itself would warp in the corners.

We tried hanging the doors on a track, but that did not work completely either. The doors now do not open completely, and even if they did, it would not be a 12' foot opening anymore.

We are still looking for a solution.

Door hardware Idea, 2002

Roger (roger@mardeoro.com) writes:

I have used Hafele hardware with good results. It’s expensive, but it works. I also use an extruded Aluminum track and roller system made in Brasil. Very heavy duty. Each roller has 4 nylon ball bearing wheels, and supports up to 175 lbs. Two per door will hold up about anything. I get these in Costa Rica at a local hardware store. We have a custom woodworking studio in Costa Rica also. www.mardeoro.com

1999 Plans: For the bedroom door which opens to the ocean view I am considering a unique approach. The rest of the house has French doors and wooden louvers for windows. Glass sliding doors are no longer fashionable, but for view purposes and wind control they are hard to beat. They do of course only open half-way. What I’m proposing is a door that will look like a French door, function like a sliding door, and be framed like a barn door. Using the South American wood French doors, four of them 3’X8’ (after they are hung, attach 2 doors together) hung from the top using sliding "barn door" hardware. When pushed aside, I will have a 12' opening. I might double the inside wall so the doors disappear when open. Since the porch will be screened, we don't need screens on the sliding doors.

On Bob's trip to Vancouver in June he purchased standard Stanley barn door hangers and other hardware for the 12' opening for about C$100. The two 12' rails are another C$26 each, but American Airlines would not check them!

Travis Ferlund writes "My parents went through an agent in Miami who helped them get all of their materials, including everything from door handles to countertops. Just be sure not to use ANY metal, unless it is coated. Sliding glass doors are fine, you just need to know what to do with them and which way to use them to make them more appealing. Take a look at my parents house. You've probably seen it. It's the big yellow house with the blue roof sitting up on Isaac's cliff on the way to west end. You can see it anywhere from South Hill to Shoal Bay West.

Update: May 14, 1999. In the master villa, we decided to use a pair of one-light French doors, flanked by louvered doors that are stationary (i.e., the louvers move the but doors do not). In the secondary villa, we are using four louvered doors, the inner two opening and the outer two stationary. In the summer when the air conditioner is needed, the screens on the louvers will be replaced with clear plastic insulating panels.

Millwork/Cabinetry Puerto Rico

Rob Cahill, owner of a millwork shop in San Juan Puerto Rico wrote to offer advise and the services of his shop. He does mostly commercial and some upscale residential cabinetry in wood, plywood, plastic laminate and solid surfacing (CORIAN), and a few other esoteric materials. According to his friend Mike Kerschner (Radiant Barrier ) Rob is THE premier wood worker in Puerto Rico and where Hollywood goes to get sets for movies etc. (Mike use to live and do construction work in PR)

Rob can be contacted by

Custom Millwork System 787-766-4455 fax 787-766-4466
email: pata@m1.sprynet.com

Radiant Barrier

For several years I have been researching methods of insulating or designing a home for a tropical climate. Radiant barrier appeared to be the answer for insulation. Next I tried to find a builder who understood and had actually used Radiant barriers in a construction project.

Finally, my Web page has attracted the attention of Mike Kerschner. I have asked him oodles of questions which he has patiently and knowledgeably answered. He has even spent time living and building in the tropics. Mike has lived in Puerto Rico- built on several Islands, currently building in Saipan, Rota and Tinian. Even though his company manufactures radiant barriers, he will supply radiant barrier insulation - (several different types) in residential quantities to home builders anywhere in the world. Mike Kerschner of Seattle writes (summarized by editor )

I own an international construction firm and a manufacturing company. My company, Quantum International Corporation manufactures and distributes thermal foil radiant barrier insulating materials. In addition to international construction management services we also offer design expertise in various low level heat transfer situations. This radiant barrier material, that resembles aluminum foil, is used in construction to reflect all types of radiant energy (heat).

In your new home, radiant barrier material could be installed quite easily under the roofing material and probably reduce as much as 80 percent of the natural heat gain normally acquired in typical structures as yours. It can be purchased and installed at very inexpensive cost, usually at 10 cents to 50 cents per square foot of material used. Its compact size allows for very inexpensive intercontinental freight forwarding. Simply stated, Radiant Barriers are the best known way to fight excessive utility costs with respect to heat loss or gain while maximizing comfort. Conventional mass fiber insulation cannot block radiant energy transfer, which can account for as much as 93 percent of summer heat gain, and up to 75 percent of winter heat loss in conventional structures.

Contact Mike Kerschner

Quantum International
11519 Canyon Rd. E.
Payallup, WA 98373-4359
Toll Free USA (888) 854-8543

Site Map: Links, Plans and Other Info

Latest News from our Construction Site

Periodic Progress Reports

Plans of the Main House

Plans of the Software Center

Plans of the Guest Villa

Tropical Construction Bookstore

Links to Related Sites

Building Material Sources

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Beach Shack Contact:

Mary Ann Green
Shoal Bay,
Anguilla, Eastern Caribbean
Bellamare Villa, Anguilla
Azu Villa, St Barts

Bellamare Villa: www.bellamare.ai

Azu Villa: www.azuvilla.com

Home: www.beachshack.ai