If you're looking for a roofing material that provides a unique aesthetic touch, is relatively easy to work with, will last for years, and is an eco-friendly option, thatching may be what you need to consider for your next project.
Both functional for residential roofs in many parts of the world and decorative for tropical-themed venues here in the United States, thatching is an incredibly popular way to create shade and protect a space from light wind and precipitation. When installed correctly, thatch can help an outdoor area feel comfortable and relaxing, while offering high-quality, environmentally friendly shelter.
You may be wondering how to install a thatched roof in your home or business. Is it something you can do on your own? With the right tools and products — absolutely!
Tools You Will Need to Install a Thatched Roof
In many civilizations around the world throughout the centuries, the methods on how to install roof thatch have involved intensive processes. These procedures included drying palm leaves, straw, cane reed or other organic matter, followed by cutting them into thin strips and then weaving them into a stable structure for repelling rainfall from rooftops.
For most of our customers nationwide, that sort of a project is far too time-consuming and, frankly, unrealistic. So we have a better solution. By providing pre-made runners and occasionally pre-cut panels, we at Backyard X-Scapes have made it much more manageable to build a thatched roof.
Thanks to the moderate ease of use that these products offer, the tools you will need to correctly install them, no matter the type of thatch you choose, are straightforward:
- A staple gun to attach your thatch to the roof structure you have in place, whether an open or solid surface.
- Measuring tape to make sure you know where to place your panels for best coverage.
- A permanent marker to draw marks to indicate where you will place your thatch runners beforehand.
- Sharp scissors or a razor blade to cut the thatch runners to fit the size you need. Even with pre-cut panels, you may want to modify them for areas like the hips and ridge of your roof, where a full panel may be too large.
- Standard safety equipment: such as googles, hard hats, gloves or anything else you feel will be helpful to prevent injury during this process.
The good thing about using such every day, regular tools is that anyone can master the art of installing a thatched roof, no matter the roofing material or previous roofing experience! At Backyard X-Scapes, we've seen many a customer construct their new thatched shelters single-handedly, creating that rich rustic thatch look for a tropical island design.
In addition to the few essential tools listed and thatch runners or panels you will need, sometimes, your roof may require extra supporting materials. To fully optimize your thatched roof for waterproofing, you may need to start with a stable and dependable plywood roof base underneath. However, some types of thatch are durable enough to create a beautiful aesthetic with an open frame instead.
Installing Natural Thatch: Tips and Benefits
Natural thatch is an enormously useful roofing material thanks to its beautiful look. While installing artificial thatch might be preferred in some cases as we'll address below, natural thatch has proven to offer considerable advantages thanks to its lightweight yet cost effective properties. If you are unfamiliar with the numerous benefits of natural thatch roofing options, here are a few of our favorites to get you started:
- Appearance. As an entirely organic option, natural thatch at times exhibits some variation in color and size, even after the precise inspection we go through to ensure a high level of quality in our products. Perhaps because of this wholly unique look, a natural thatch roof brings a lot of added character to a living or outdoor space. It's as though onlookers are momentarily transported to a warm, tropical hideaway without the added travel costs!
- Environmental sustainability. Growing and harvesting natural palms and reeds is a process that requires comparatively few resources and very little time, making the creation of natural thatch products a highly sustainable industry. Disposal of natural thatch products is eco-friendly as well, and new panels can replace damaged ones with a relatively low cost both to you and the environment.
- Resistance. Natural thatch is best suited for dryer, low-rainfall climates, but can be used in all environments. Natural thatch is weather-resistant in the best ways. It is also a highly effective natural insulator, maintaining your structure at a comfortable temperature in both warm and cold climates.
Natural thatch can really evoke that sense of a fun-in-the-sun island theme environment. Here are some special tips you may want to keep in mind when installing your natural thatch roof:
- Rinse and dry: Palm thatch and other natural thatch varieties may have some residues that you may want to rinse off to avoid staining floors or other areas that are affected by runoff. While this isn't an essential step, it can be beneficial. Rinse your thatch with a garden hose and allow to dry before installing your roof.
- Select a natural base: Unlike synthetic thatch, your natural thatch roof surface doesn't always require durable, sturdy boards underneath to work its magic. In fact, if you don't mind potential drooping, natural thatch can be placed on top of a simple framed open structure, and it will still provide suitable shelter.
- Remember risk-factors: Brush up on fire safety codes and keep your natural thatch distanced from open flame situations as much as possible, as natural thatch is not flame-resistant. Natural thatch might also be prone to deteriorating in highly humid seasons, but to worry, this can be treated with a solution of five parts water and one part bleach to spray on and let soak over the course of a hot, sunny day to treat it.
Keep these natural thatch installation and care tips in mind as we explore the most popular natural thatch roof varieties Backyard X-Scapes has to offer: the exotic and unique Mexican palm and African reed thatch.
How to Install Mexican Palm Thatch
At Backyard X-Scapes, our natural Mexican palm thatch products are a unique renewable alternative to traditional roofing materials. Created with natural palm fronds that have been dried and hand-woven, these thatch runners offer three to five years of usability depending on climate conditions and care.
Our Mexican palm thatch is our most popular commercial-grade thatch product. At cost effective prices, and with its ability to insulate well and shield from the elements, this tropical roofing resource is hard to resist.
Once you have all of your tools ready, you can begin installing your new Mexican palm thatch roof. For optimal installation, complete the following steps:
- Measure and mark: Whether you have a solid surface or an open, "framed" one, use your measuring tape and marker to indicate where you will apply your thatch to your roof.
- Cut: Using heavy-duty scissors or a box-cutting blade, cut the roll of thatch beginning at the knots on one edge of the runner and work your knife down between the knots to create even sections.
- Start at the bottom: Begin your installation at the bottom of the roof and work doing one horizontal row at a time. Use your staple gun, and make sure to install with the shaggy side up and the knotted, woven side down. Leave a 12 to 16-inch overhang at the fascia for authentic and full coverage.
- Work up to the ridge: Complete row after row, installing approximately 12 to 15 inches on center, moving toward the ridgeline at the top. We recommend double-layering your thatch for a complete look.
- Accent: Cut smaller sections of thatch to create accents for the hips of your roof.
- Touch up: In case there's a variance in the reeds due to the product's organic character or if you decide the overhang of the roof is too low in the end, use scissors to even it out or do additional trimming as you see fit.
Just like that, you'll have your Mexican palm thatch roof installed and ready for some fun. Enjoy!
Use palm thatch on your Tiki hut or bar, pool house roof or a different custom shade structure. You can even fasten it to walls to fit a festive, summery occasion in your home or business. For exotic and affordable solutions, Backyard X-Scapes has got you covered with our extensive and versatile selection of natural Mexican thatch products.
How to Install African Reed Thatch
If authenticity is your objective, look no further than the earthy charm of African reed roof thatch. It is a beautiful banded paneling material with vibrant golds, tans and browns to offer genuinely rustic textures to any outdoor space. In addition to roofing, African thatch is popular as an umbrella and gazebo paneling resource.
What makes African reed thatch most appealing perhaps is its enhanced durability. Depending on climate conditions, African Cape reed can last between eight to 10 years. Its sturdiness makes it suitable for roofing in areas with higher winds and stormy seasons.
It's also a natural insulator and will keep indoor temperatures at a mild, comfortable level. It does not let air pass through easily, so it can remain cool underneath the roof during humid and hot summer months.
Installing African reed thatch panels is a simple process, and with the right tools, you'll be able to get the project done in no time!
- Measure and mark: Start with an open or solid roof structure and measure and mark the area on which you want to apply the thatch.
- Prep your panels: Remove the clips from the top portion of the thatch panels before you try attaching them to the roof.
- Begin applying: Since they are pre-cut panels, you'll be able to start installing immediately. Place the panels on the lowest pre-marked areas and attach row by row with your staple gun.
- Eve installation: Manufacturer recommends a double layer of panels on all linear eve surfaces for a thicker/fuller look.
- Work upward: Overlap the panels 14 inches on center for full coverage to work your way up to the ridge.
- Cover the hips: You can fill in the gaps along the hips or corners of the roof structure by cutting panels in half, starting at the bottom and working up to the ridge, overlapping your other layers as you go. Again, stay near the 14-inch on center range for the overlap.
- Accent the ridge: Split bamboo poles can be used to cover up the peaks of the roof structure for a classic African thatch look. Rather than attempt to staple these poles to the roof, use an electric drill and screws to fasten them securely to the ridge. With the right care, your panels won't be going anywhere anytime soon, even in high winds!
Before you know it, your African reed thatch roof will be all set. Since these thatch panels are as durable as they are, they have many uses. In addition to roofing, you can apply them to walls to create rustic, tropical feel — and you can expect them to last for years.
Make sure to browse Backyard X-Scapes various African reed thatch samples and panel sizes to learn what product will work best for your next project.
How to Install Tahitian Palm Thatch
For an authentic and rustic tropical style, look no further than Tahitian Palm Thatch. Tahitian thatch, also known as Fiji thatch, is hand-women from palm leaves and attached together using nylon strings. These palm groups give a natural look that works best when overlapping about 20 inches on center.
When your thatch panels last 10-12 years, depending on climate and maintenance, you can be sure that this durable, long-lasting thatch option will be around to transform your space for years to come!
Be sure you have the following tools on hand before beginning your installation project:
- Measure and mark: Begin by measuring and marking out the areas where you want to apply the thatch. Be sure to keep in mind the 20 inch overlap space!
- Begin applying: Tahitian thatch panels are pre-cut, so all you need to do is begin attaching them to your structure!
- Work upward: Overlap the panels 20 inches on center for complete coverage and begin working your way upward, starting at the bottom and moving towards the top.
- Cover the hips: To ensure any corners of your structure look natural and have full coverage, cut smaller portions of the thatch panels and attach them over the ridge, keeping in mind the overlap area.
- Accent the ridge: Try placing smaller cut portions of thatch paneling horizontally on the ridge for a nice finishing touch on your thatched roof!
And voilà! Your Fiji thatch installation is complete! Browse our complete selection of Backyard X-Scapes Tahitian Palm Thatch products to find the best option for your next project!
Installing Artificial Thatch: Benefits and Tips
Natural thatch has many advantages for creating a durable and decorative roof. But sometimes synthetic materials are better suited to get the job done. Let's talk about why artificial thatch panels might be your best choice:
- Appearance. Our synthetic materials at Backyard X-Scapes are nearly indistinguishable from our natural thatch products. Some customers express worry of artificial thatch appearing "fake," but our experience has shown that to the untrained eye, what is real and what is synthetic looks very much the same. These premium High-density polyethylene (HDPE) synthetic materials have the appearance of realism, giving you all of the aesthetic benefits of our Mexican palm thatch, for example.
- Affordability. If you're renovating your outdoor space or replacing old thatch panels, synthetic thatch might be a great economical alternative for you. These panels can last up to 20 years or more, meaning that you won't have to maintain or replace them quite as often.
- Nature-resistance. Compared to the natural palm thatch products, synthetic materials have a higher chance of a longer lifespan against decay, wind and pests. They also won't be as likely to shed or be susceptible to pest damages. Our maintenance-free subpanels also happen to be recyclable and eco-friendly, despite being composed of artificial materials.
Now that we've addressed some of the attributes of synthetic thatch that make it both attractive and cost effective, let's go over some tips that will help you install it correctly, as there is a difference between installing natural panels and artificial ones:
- Requires solid surface structure: Unlike natural thatch panels, synthetic palm subpanels must be installed on solid sheathing like plywood secured over rafters.
- Waterproof before paneling: Over the solid sheathing, you will need to apply a waterproofing underlayment, since these thatch panels do not provide protection from rain on their own, and you wouldn't want the moisture to damage your plywood base layer.
For a long-lasting thatched roof, artificial thatch panels may be just the solution you've been looking for. One of the most durable and versatile options here at Backyard X-Scapes is our synthetic Viro Java palm thatch.
How to Install Synthetic Viro Java Palm Thatch
Using the same toolkit we've addressed for other forms of thatch installation, applying synthetic Viro Java palm thatch products can offer a convenient and artificial alternative for your roofing project. These subpanels provide the best of synthetic thatch advantages and are incredibly versatile because of their easily adjustable size and layering capabilities.
In appearance, this synthetic thatch looks comparable to our Mexican thatch to give your roof a near-natural look and feel. It's a three-layer subpanel made from HDPE synthetic material, and it's designed to cover up to a 1.7 square foot area. Here are the steps on how to install Viro Java Palm thatch on a roof:
- Make your measurements: Begin by measuring and marking the desired area on which you want to apply the Viro Java thatch. As with the other methods in this guide, use your measuring tape and a permanent marker that will show up well on your solid roof surface.
- Get ready to staple: These subpanels are pre-cut, so they are immediately ready for application. Use your trusty staple gun to attach the panels to the roof on your marked locations.
- Start at the bottom: Begin at the edge of the roof, attaching your subpanels horizontally, row by row. For complete overhang coverage, double up on the first bottom layer, and continue layering over any gaps.
- Work upward: Overlap horizontal panel rows approximately seven to eight inches on center, and work your way up, layer upon layer, until you reach the ridge.
- Finish up the hips and ridge: To cover the hips and the peak of the roof structure adequately, you'll have to measure and cut smaller sections of thatch and then apply.
Follow this synthetic thatched roof installation guide, and your Viro Java palm thatch roof will look good in no time, being perfectly safe and functional.
For more information on synthetic Viro Java palm thatch, check out our artificial thatch product selection. Your exploration of tropical decor doesn't have to end with roofing, however. In fact, your journey may just be getting started.
Taking Your Thatched Roof to the Next Level
Why stop at a thatched roof when you can coordinate other tropical pieces for a complete look? Browse every angle, from bamboo paneling and fencing to full umbrella kits with thatched walls and roofs. There are also various accessories to complement any thatch product, such as tables, frames and thatch umbrellas — and don't forget the Flame Retardant solution — for an attractive and safe outdoor renovation.
A common accent product used is matting, which can be placed under the plywood base of your roofing structure. Line the underside of your roof with matting rolls for a gorgeous aesthetic accent which can be seen from underneath the roof! Backyard X-Scapes offers a variety of matting options for every style and preference:
- Lauhala Matting: Handwoven and constructed from sun-dried Hala leaves, this option is a perfect light-toned choice for those who are a fan of the one-inch checked pattern that is signature to the Lauhala matting style!
- Bac Bac Matting: The gorgeous coffee bean and coconut tones of our Bac Bac Matting make this material the perfect choice for someone looking for a slightly darker look with versatile tonality.
- Lampac Matting: Arguably the most elegant matting option we offer, Lampac matting is constructed by skilled craftsmen from dried blades of reed grass. This choice is great for anyone who is looking for a medium brown look!
- Viro Synthetic Matting: Looking for something that is more resistant to the elements? Try our synthetic matting options! Our viro synthetic matting comes in a variety of color and texture options, making this a great alternative to natural matting materials.
With all of the natural and synthetic paneling options and decor possibilities here at Backyard X-Scapes, there are countless directions your tropical transformation can take you.
Thatching Made Simple With Backyard X-Scapes Thatch Products
Traditional straw or reed roof thatching is an exact, time-consuming and exhausting process — that is, without the pre-made woven runners and pre-cut panels that we provide at Backyard X-Scapes. Fortunately, we've discovered a better way to add exotic flair to any property. This foresight and innovation have led us to be the nation's number one provider of tropical decor.
Serving both the East and West coasts through our U.S.-based locations, we boast the largest inventory and best customer support in the industry nationwide. Our eco-friendly solutions are optimized for use anywhere, for moderately easy installation in amusement parks, resorts, zoos and other recreational, fun-oriented environments.
Don't hesitate to contact us online or give us a call at (866) 222-1422 to discuss plans for your next tropical project!