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Florida dreamin’ with custom cabanas

September 1st, 2012 / By: / Exteriors

Keeping cool at the side of the pool is easy with these custom, yet simple, cabanas.

Even the wealthy are watching their budgets these days; shorter “staycations” substitute for longer vacations and the international jaunt to exotic locales is replaced by back-road journeys to forgotten corners of the U.S. For instance, a visitor to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., would be pleased to know that a stay at this resort will satisfy the travel itch in style. What makes the experience work is the eye-catching design of the cabanas at poolside, each of the eight cabanas a simple lean-to of steel pipe framing with a fabric panel on top and a fabric privacy wall at the rear.

Designed by local fabricator Awnings of Hollywood Inc. (AOH), every aspect of the project was value engineered. “We approached this like writing a haiku,” says AOH’s Martina Robinson. “We asked ourselves ‘how much will this cost?’ and ‘can it be done cheaper?’” The trick, says Robinson, is to design the framing to standard dimensions so that steel stock can be used and cut with a minimum of waste and welding, or “very little drop” (wasted steel) in the industry lingo. Nearly every framing member is in 8-, 10- or 20-foot measure. Frames are painted with silver alkyd paint, a durable finish that if chipped is not likely to be noticed as the tubing underneath is galvanized.

The fabric is attached to the frame by a traditional means called “ship laced,” an economical but still aesthetically attractive method. With the ship laced method, says Robinson, “Sometimes the lace bar and the outer edge of the [awning] frame are one and the same. Sometimes the lace bar is behind the leading edge of the frame.”

Another AOH trick for cutting cost is to make the fabric pipe sleeves (“doubles” in industry parlance) that slip over the frames at strategic places to securely attach the fabric are four feet long or shorter matching the width of the shop RF fabric welding machine that fixes the sleeves to the canvas. “The doubles only required one pass of the RF bar to seal them in place,” says Robinson, which keeps labor costs down.

“The covers were all done in one piece and ship laced—no wrap, no valence—a nice clean look with less material usage than usual and it installs fast and easy.”

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