Since before the time of Christ humans have been using thatch materials to construct durable roofing for homes and communal buildings. This offered the protection from the elements and was a resource effective way of utilising the raw materials freely available around them.
In the modern age thatch is no longer a “cheap” roofing option, but when properly installed offers an attractive yet practical way to roof a building. However, thatching is not a craft that is taught in a building school and is a traditional craft that has a number of pros and cons attached to its use.
The Advantages of Thatching
Thatch is one of the best insulated roofs known and used by humans today. This helps to make it cost effective in that although there is a higher building cost involved no additional insulations costs are involved. Almost all other roof types however will incur additional insulating costs when first installed but thatch roofs automatically provide insulation due to the material they are built out of. This makes thatch roofs ideal for both hot and cold climates such as the heat experienced in Africa and Australia and the cold of Europe.
When thatch roofing is laid correctly, especially if using thatch tiles, it becomes a virtually maintenance free roof for long periods of time. However, the roof will have to be checked from time to time for any weather damage. This however can be repaired quickly and with ease (especially if thatch tiles have been used).
Thatch is also extremely beautiful to look at! It is in fact one of the most sort after roofing materials in many of the more affluent areas of Europe, Africa, Australia and America.
The Disadvantages of Thatching
A thatch roof is very vulnerable to being damaged and stripped by birds. Roofs that are exposed to weaver birds are especially susceptible to this type of damage and can be stripped bare within the space of 12 months. Thatch roofs can be protected from bird damage with the use of plastic or wire mesh. This prevents the birds from stripping the thatch, but does tend to take away from the attractiveness of the roof. It must be noted however that wire mesh has the additional disadvantage of also rusting. This means that it has to be replaced from time to time.
Thatch roofs also tend to have a weak point at the ridge of the roof. However, one can get this covered with either a fibreglass hood or mortar and this weakness completely disappears. It will however need to be constantly maintained to ensure that it is watertight at all times.