Thatched Roofing Anyone?

Going “green” is great and all, but it’s actually not as easy as it may sound. Back in the day, things like wood stoves and thatched roofs were considered signs of poverty – but not anymore! When demand goes out the window, affordability goes with it. But with all these moves in the direction of green living and sustainable energy sources, more and more people are looking to their “roots” when making decisions on future home-reform styles. – So yes, it does seem thatched roofing is coming back in folks!

I mean, are you talking about “those” thatched homes with the moss and lichens growing all over? – Are they really supposed to be all green like that?? Gross! Well, it’s actually not all that bad. I personally think thatched homes are pretty cool – kinda mysterious, creepy, cute, and cozy all at the same time. I’ve heard it said that history repeats itself, and this is but another confirmation. There are some drawbacks however, to thatched roofing, and I’ll try to outline them here:

– Even with the best craftsmanship available, thatching only lasts for about 45 to 50 years. With mediocre or shoddy craftsmanship, the lifespan goes down significantly. In other words, if you don’t do it properly, it simply won’t last.

– It can attract vermin due to residual grains and seeds in the thatching – this of course depends on the thatch material used.

– Birds can also damage the roof when foraging for grubs that make their homes there.

– Insurance premiums are higher for houses with thatched roofing due to the cost of replacing the material – NOT because of the fire risk, which common sense may suggest. Statistically, thatched roofing does not catch fire any more frequently than other types, but is more difficult to extinguish once aflame and therefore often sustains more damage.

Ok, we’ve heard the cons, but it would be unfair to pass judgment before hearing the pros. So here goes:

– Good insulating qualities. Due to the air pockets within straws and other grass types used, thatched roofing has excellent insulating properties.

– Nullifies the need for ventilation on the roof side of the house due to its ability to let air bleed right through, providing additional insulation. Back in the day, residents used to burn open fires in the center of the house for warmth, funneling all the smoke upward right through the thatched roofing – no need for a chimney OR vent. This kept all those nasty critters at bay! – I thought this was absolutely brilliant.

– It’s extremely versatile in terms of shaping to fit irregular roof structures due to it being many individual pieces bound together.

– It sheds water well, and is naturally weather-resistant. When maintained properly, it does not absorb all that much water and therefore does not become significantly heavier with time.

– And we cannot forget its unique, mysterious appearance. I suppose this might be the reason many of us turned our heads in the first place am I right?

So the question is whether or not the negatives are tolerable in light of the positives. One thing is clear however, and that is that currently, it is more expensive to maintain a thatched home than a “modern” one due to the comparatively shorter lifespan of the thatched roofing. Basically, what this means

Thatched Japanese Tea House

is that it’s easier – AND cheaper – to be an “ozone depleter” than a tree-hugger. But I guess we kinda knew that already.

But regardless of what “side” you’re on, some of us would just like a house with thatched roofing – no strings attached! I say fair enough. I pray you can either find and purchase that mystical thatched hut of your dreams, or build it yourself one of these days! Don’t let the naysayers tell you it can’t be done. Just make an educated decision taking into consideration all the various pointers and tips!

(Images: courtesy of Wikipedia articles Thatching & Palloza.)


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