Palmex — Revolutionizing roofing in Panama

This post is also available in: Spanish

Coronado Palmex roof.

Coronado Palmex roof.

Palmex was born when Sylvain Duford and his wife Diane left Canada, moved to the tropics and began marketing and selling an alternative to thatch (palm) roofing from their residence in the mountains of Altos del Maria. Since the Dufords established Palmex operations in 2008 they have completed hundreds of roofing projects across Panama.

An alternative roofing material, Palmex features high-quality polyethylene palm leaves that have the same look as the natural thatch roof but without the inconveniences of dirt, insects, mildew, rot, snakes and leaks. Compared to costs of natural palm thatch roofing, Palmex roofs pay for themselves in less than 10 years and are guaranteed for 20.The leaves are made from a combination of recycled plastic and a by-product created by the process of crude oil refining.

First Palmex roof in Bocas Town.

First Palmex roof in Bocas Town.

Environmentally conscious building

Natural palm “bohios” and other shelters have to be replaced between ten to 15 times in a 50 year period, which can equate to over 2,000 m2 of palm leaves and several hundred palm trees damaged. This combined with the chemicals and man hours and other materials that go into treating the natural palms for waterproofing, insects and mold does not bode well for the environment.

Palmex was reportedly the first palm-covered roof of any fashion used in the town of Bocas for over 100 years. Natural thatch was banned following the historic 1906 fire and metal roofs were the cheap and reliable alternative. Duford feels like he is changing the face of Bocas for the better.

Westin Playa Bonita.

Westin Playa Bonita.

Palmex also covers the 2,000m2 outdoor restaurant at the Westin Playa Bonita which is the largest structure covered with the Palmex product worldwide. Sylvain estimates that it saved over 3000 palm trees from being destroyed.

Palmex is now available in a fire-retardant version and the product has recently been approved for use in projects seeking points towards LEED certification.

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