Adding A Thatch Roof: What You Should Know

A thatch roof can add a tropical atmosphere to any outdoor structure, but looks particularly good on a bamboo tiki hut.

The woven covering provides both shade and cover from the rain, which means that you can enjoy your outdoor space in any weather. Anyone with basic do-it-yourself skills and a reasonably well-equipped tool kit can have a go at building their own tiki hut and thatching it.

Materials Needed for a Thatched Roof

You will need the following tools and materials for installing a thatched roof.

  • The thatch itself: The material you use for this will depend on the style you prefer and the environment you live in. For example, the key thatch palm is native to North America so might be the cheapest and most widely available substance there.
  • Saw to cut poles to size
  • Bamboo or hardwood poles
  • Hammer and appropriate nails
  • Gloves to protect your hands

How to Build a Bamboo Tiki Hut: Suggested Designs

The design of your thatch roof will depend on the building it is intended to protect from the elements. If the structure you are coating is a long oblong bar, the best design to choose for the roof is two “A” frames, raised on bamboo poles to form a pitched effect. The main advantage of this design is that it can be as big or small as you need it to be. It is also straightforward to thatch, as the two sides are flat.

For covering very small areas like an outdoor patio set, consider a giant umbrella design. Here the roof is supported by a central strong pole, which has shorter poles lashed around it.

Applying the Thatch Itself

In years gone by, craftsmen would have added bundles of thatch handful by handful to the roof. Fortunately for you, thatch is now available in panels, which can be bought as sections (like giant “tiles”) to be added until the surface is covered, or premeasured complete roofs to suit common sized tiki huts. These resemble blankets, which are wrapped around the structure and nailed into place.

Maintaining Your Thatch Roof

Assuming that your roof does not have to endure hurricane or severe storm conditions, it should last between 3 and 5 years. The part of the roof that will really need attention the soonest is the ridge at the top, which can be replaced as often as necessary. Given that the material is woven, it does not resist the wind and can withstand surprisingly windy weather. Thatch is such a versatile material because the rain runs straight off it. In a very dry climate, hose the roof down a couple of times each summer to prevent any build up of dirt or grime. You could also spray the thatch with a very diluted bleach solution, to keep unsightly mold at bay.