Thatching is one of the oldest roofing methods in the world. Its techniques have been passed down through generations for hundreds of years in almost every continent. Thatching involves the weaving and layering of dry vegetation ranging from plain grasses (straw, sedge, rushes) to tropical waterproof leaves (coconut and banana palm leaves, etc.) to create a roof cover that diverts water away from the inner roof.
Thatching has been employed in temperate and tropical regions, and is still used in various parts of the world today as the primary method of roofing. In the West, thatch umbrellas and thatch-roofed kiosks, among other things, have become a popular stylistic choice for decorating one’s backyard, as thatch lends a rustic, tropical ambiance to a backyard design. Being natural thermal insulators, thatch roofs provide warmth in the winter and keeps cool in the summer.
Quality thatch usually requires little maintenance. During the lifespan of a thatch roof of any kind, though, it will require re-ridging from time to time. Thatch ridges last for about 15 years, on average, though various factors such as the material used and location will affect the ridge’s lifespan. Every time one re-ridges a thatch roof, the wire netting should be fully replaced.
Thatch also tends to grow thinner as it experiences gradual wear over the years. When a thatch roof’s fixings start getting close to the surface, it can be a sign that it needs to be replaced soon. However, if put together correctly, thatch can be relatively sturdy and easy to maintain. Thatch is effective at keeping water out and the presence of moss is not always detrimental. These are some of the things thatch owners can do to ensure that their thatch roofs or umbrellas are properly maintained:
Inspection – Thatch will inevitably need periodical repairs, even if they are just small ones. Get in the habit of regularly inspecting your thatch so that you can detect and fix any problems (like rot or vermin damage) before they become a serious issue.
Professional Thatcher – Thatch umbrellas do not really require professional care. However, owners with large thatch roof structures (outdoor kiosks, poolside cabanas, etc.) should call a professional thatcher to ensure proper repairs.
Leaking – Signs of thatch leaking are not always obvious. If you see that dark wet patches have appeared on the eves close to the wall of the structure covered by the thatch, this is a possible sign that the thatch is leaking and needs repair.
Drying – Thatch roofs need to be dried out properly from time to time. If you see moss accumulating, it could mean that the thatch is not getting enough air.
Unwanted Guests – Birds especially have a tendency to nest in thatch. To discourage them, owners often install wire netting on their thatch roofs. Another thing that helps keep birds away from thatch is too set up nest boxes around your garden to encourage them to nest in them instead of your thatch roof.