Thatch roofing - The Pros & the Cons
Traditional thatch roofing is arguably the most beautiful and
natural looking roofing material available, with its high
volumes and rustic & cool atmosphere you might want to overlook
the fact that there are various considerations to be taken into
account before setting your mind on this particular roofing
material for your dream home. Consider the advantages and
1. As local materials always tend to harmonize with the
landscape surrounding their place of origin, thatch, as a
natural material, will always blend well with a rural
environment. After one season's exposure thatch will lose its
fresh, straw color and take on a dusty grey appearance which is
2. There is an ecological advantage to be gained by using thatch
in that it is produced by natural processes that do not use
scarce and expensive resources of energy.
3. The thatching process is a labor intensive activity and,
therefore, of practical economic value where unemployment among
the lower income groups is common.
4. A thatched roof will ensure that a building will be cool in
summer and warm in winter.
5. High volumes allows for mezzanine floors to be built, to
which costs can be offset to the cost of the roof allowing a
viable ‘double storey’ solution.
6. It is beautiful and natural.
Costs: Initial cost up to about 60% more expensive than most
other roofing materials readily available. Also, because of the
various perceived risks involved with this roofing choice your
insurance premiums will also be higher on your home in
comparison to other roofing materials.
Thatched houses are more vulnerable to fire risk than those
covered with other materials, and it is therefore imperative
that precautions be taken to reduce the risk.
Being an organic material, thatch is susceptible to decay and
decomposition and precautions must be taken to minimize the
possibility of this process taking place. Firstly, the grass
must be mature when laid, which may be green when delivered but
will gradually take on a light brown appearance. Leaves falling
from nearby trees must not be allowed to accumulate on the roof
The pitch of the roof must not be less than 45° to facilitate
rapid runoff of water. Generally speaking, the steeper the
pitch of the roof the greater will be the durability of the
thatch. However, it is not recommended that any vegetation
should be allowed to grow on the thatch as water flow from the
roof can thereby be impeded.
5. Thatch can provide a harbor for vermin, but normally such
infestation does not reach serious proportions. However, if such
problems arise the thatch can be sprayed with one of the
commercially available toxicants.