Thatch roofing: The pros & cons
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THATCH ROOFING – The pros and 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
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 very attractive.
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.
The thatching process is a labor intensive activity and,
therefore, of practical economic value where unemployment
among the lower income groups is common.
A thatched roof will ensure that a building will be cool in
summer and warm in winter.
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.
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 surface.
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.
Article by JB, founder & architect of dreamhouses.co.za.
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.