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When building a distinctive home, thatched roof installation will immediately give the property a unique appearance. Thatch has been used for thousands of years in cultures around the world. While Medieval European homes and taverns tended to use one style of thatch work, other cultures have used a wide range of other styles to provide waterproof coverings for huts and larger structures. Since shingles, tiles, and other alternatives have become more commonplace, many people have questions about this older material.

1. What kinds of vegetation are used for thatching?

Historically, this roofing choice has been a reflection of materials locally abundant. In communities that farm a lot of wheat or barley, for example, the stalks from the grain are widely available after harvest. In Europe, wild types of grass and reed were also common choices. Cattails, water reeds, rushes, and heather were commonly used. In more tropical environments, palm leaves and fibers sugar cane leaves could be used.

2. Will the roofing be waterproof?

No matter what style is chosen, a trained professional should perform roof installation. People tend to assume that “primitive” thatched buildings would tend to drip or leak in wet weather. That simply isn’t the case for buildings that have been properly built and maintained. Certainly, periodic maintenance is required after installation, and an amateur DIY job would likely cause leaks, but the same can be said with any other material. Layers of tightly packed and properly arranged bundles of reeds are quite effective at shedding water.

3. Is thatched roof installation expensive?

The material itself is not expensive, but not many roofing technicians are experienced with the techniques involved. As a result, the initial roof installation can be expensive in the sense that it costs more in labor than more commonplace alternatives. On the other hand, the wooden supports underneath are less expensive, and so the overall cost for materials can be comparable. Particularly in America, there is no guarantee that local contractors would be willing or able to take on the project, and so bringing in a qualified thatcher can be a significant expense.

4. Will thatch require a lot of maintenance?

Whether the homeowner has chosen to use reeds, hay, or some other local vegetation, the main part of the structure should last for several decades. Water reeds can last up to sixty years without needing to be replaced. That said, the material along the crest or peak of the structure may need to be replaced more frequently, as often as once a decade. When poorly maintained, nearly any type of roof can become a refuge for wildlife and pests. Since this option consists of bundles of vegetation, the loose and open sections in a poorly maintained structure will understandably be tempting to area wildlife.

Many special considerations come with the choice of this classic material. While it will certainly make any home look more iconic, experienced professionals must perform this type of roof installation.

Four Common Questions About Thatched Roof Installation