Thatch roofing

olivia.tate2's Avatar


26 Nov, 2015 05:40 AM

What is thatch roofing?

I was in the Caribbean and noticed huts or houses with what looked like big leaves of some kind as roofing. I remember watching a beautiful young woman with little children walking out of her hut-home. I was surprised that people lived in homes with roofs made of leaves. So I did some research. Thatch roofing is roofing made from natural reeds, leaves and grass that is dried the overlapped to form a waterproof roof. Thatch roofing is actually more common in other countries than in The U.S. for everyday homes.  However, thatch roofing is beautiful and is used in resorts and vacation destinations, in and out of the U.S. in theme parks, tiki huts, cabanas, restaurants and zoos.

Raffia palm leaves

Raffia palm leaves is what I believe is saw in the Caribbean. These leaves are commonly used for roofing in Nigeria, Africa and Madagascar as well as Central America and South America.

Water reed

Water reed is used in Ireland and Turkey. This is the most durable thatched roofing material. Water reed can last 60 years. Some rivers produce an abundance of water reed but runoff from farm fertilizers in the past decades has decreased the amount of water reed naturally produced.

Wheat straw

Wheat straw is used most commonly in England, France and other parts of Europe. If wheat is growing locally, wheat straw is used for the roofing.

Rice straw

A traditional Korean roof is a rice straw roof also known as a Neowa shingle roof. Other areas of Eastern Asia also use rice straw roofs. Mountain villages have a hard time getting any other roofing material to them so they will use rice straw which is actually made of the bark that is very thick of 200 year old red pine trees. Heavy logs are put on the roofs to keep them from blowing away in wind storms.


Seagrass roofs are common in coastal areas, especially Scotland. It has a life span of 60 years and is made of local seagrass that is dried and interwoven and is waterproof and insulates. It is stronger and more durable than wheat grass and is extremely plentiful in some areas making it very cost affective.

Rye straw

Rye straw roofs were common in Eastern Europe. Rye was plentiful, being the main agricultural crop. After removing the grain for flour, the good straw was used as a roof. It was cheap, long lasting and insulted well. Tall, thin straw was tied into bundles and used as roofing.

Elephant grass

Elephant is hardy and stronger than it looks but sways in the breeze creating a soft look.

Tahiti Thatch

Just as it sound, Tahiti Thatch is used in Tahiti generally and looks like palm tree fronds. It is durable, thick and yet rustic giving it a rugged look.

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