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The pros and cons of installing a thatch roof

19 Oct 2015

Thatched roofs have endured for thousands of years. Offering a durable roofing option, they not only add character to a charming cottage, but to a modern home as well.

Because thatch is a sustainable material (although more expensive than a tiled roof), it’s becoming a more popular roofing option for new cottages and modern and contemporary styled homes.

There are pros and cons to having a thatched roof, and it helps to know what to expect if you are considering adding a thatched roof on your house.

There's no denying that a thatched roof adds appeal to any home. Because thatch is a sustainable material (although more expensive than a tiled roof), it’s becoming a more popular roofing option for new cottages and modern and contemporary styled homes.

Grown locally in abundance, thatch is an eco-friendly roofing option. Here in South Africa, we have an abundance of grasses that are suitable for thatching, and the timber framing system used to mount a thatch roof consists of pine or eucalyptus from local forests around the country.

Advantages of a thatch roof

1. When installed professionally, regularly maintained and sited away from overhanging trees, thatch can offer a durable roofing option that has a lifespan of anywhere from 15 to 20 years.

2. As a natural material, thatch is the best insulated roofing option for a home.

One of the most beautiful features of a thatched roof home is when it is crafted into natural free-flowing shapes, adding character and personality.

In South Africa, and in many other warm climate regions around the world, thatch is the preferred roofing choice due to its natural insulation properties. A thatched roof maintains a cool house in summer and a warm home in the cold winter months.

3. Over time, the natural material becomes darker, blending with the surrounding countryside, offering a more natural approach to roofing a modern home. This is why so many game farms and lodges use a thatched roof option.

4. A thatched roof is one of the most eco-friendly ways of roofing a home. Materials are easily grown, and harvesting this natural resource requires little or no machinery. And, although more labour intensive and therefore more expensive than other roofing options, most thatching materials are harvested in rural communities, providing much needed jobs and support.

5. One of the most beautiful features of a thatched roof home is when it is crafted into natural free-flowing shapes, adding character and personality. Thatch is a versatile material when it comes to covering irregular roof structures.

The risk of fire cannot be ignored and many thatchers recommend a fireboard as an added security measure.

6. Thatching creates a relatively low-cost means of adding on to your home by utilising roof space that would otherwise have been wasted. Plus, the high open ceilings give rooms a spacious feel.

Disadvantages of a thatch roof

1. Because of the labour intensive installation technique involved, a thatch roof is more expensive than most other roofing materials.

2. Insurance premiums will be higher on your home in comparison to other roofing materials.

3. A thatch roof requires annual inspection to ensure that any minor repairs are addressed to prevent the need for expensive repairs at a later stage. The ridge cap, the part of the roof that gets the roughest treatment from the elements, will require more frequent attention. This will not only prevent leaks into the property, but also maintain the structural integrity of a thatch roof.

4. Thatch should be regularly treated with a fire-retardant, especially in drier parts of the country where thatch material can quickly ignite.

Infestations by insects, intrusion by birds or vermin and other forms of damage to the thatch can occur if it is not properly laid and adequately protected.

Methods for treating thatch are based on the impregnation of grass or reed, and other similar products with a combination of biological preservative and fire retardant. 

The risk of fire cannot be ignored and many thatchers recommend a fireboard as an added security measure. Discuss these options with the contractor to select the best method for your thatch roof.

5. The installation of a lightning rod or lightning protection system is required by law. These devices are designed to intercept, conduct and disperse the otherwise disastrous effects of a lightning strike.

6. A fireplace should be properly walled, with a minimum double-wall thickness surround, and the chimney should be fitted with a spark arrestor and be located high enough to reduce the risks associated with stray embers.

7. Infestations by insects, intrusion by birds or vermin and other forms of damage to the thatch can occur if it is not properly laid and adequately protected. Discuss any special treatments with your contractor.

If you decide to install a thatched roof, ensure that the contractor you employ has references from previous installations, and can apply suitable treatments to extend and protect your investment.

Article courtesy of www.home-dzine.co.za.
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Home - Dzine

Home - Dzine

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