How to Thatch a Roof

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Thatch rooftops were used almost all over the world for centuries and are still used today by those who want a rustic look to their homes. This type of roofing material is made by tying different types of grass, reeds and straws together in bundles. It is used in all types of climates keeping a home cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. Even if you’re not a professional, you too can make your own thatch roof.

Things You'll Need

  • Straw
  • Rope
  • Spike or thatching nail
  • Gather the type of straw, grass or reeds that you want to use. Barley, rye, oat and wheat straws are often used in thatch as well as water reeds.

  • Fasten your thatch in bundles of about 2 feet in diameter with rope. Do this with all of your bundles.

  • Lay the thatch bundles on the roof and secure to the beams with butt ends facing out. Peg them in place with the spike or thatching nail.

  • Add another layer of thatch bundles to the roof, securing and pegging in the bundles in place.

  • Finish with a layer of thatch at the top of the roof. This is called the ridgeline and there are a couple of ways of making it. One way is to use the butt up ridge, which is when you force the butts of the top layers on both sides into the shape of a triangle. The other way is the wrap over ridge, where you force a layer of thatch bundle over the roof point and fasten it to the roof on both sides.

Tips & Warnings

  • Thatch rooftops, if made correctly, can last up to fifty years or more. If water reeds are used then they will help to keep out snow or rain. Water reeds are naturally waterproof and if the reeds are bundled together correctly they will help keep water out of your home. Thatch rooftops make it unnecessary for homes to have upstairs ventilation and help to them to maintain a comfortable temperature.
  • Thatch rooftops are highly flammable. It is best to consider some fire prevention techniques, such as an early detection fire alarm system or applying a flame retardant on your thatch. Another problem you might face if your thatch roof was not constructed properly is rodents and birds. In some climates, you could have an attack by fungus.

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