The Art of ThatchingThatching is a craft, one that is, or was, traditionally passed down from father to son, each generation perfecting or improving the craft a little more. Because of this “apprenticeship” method of thatching, not much has been documented about the craft which is unfortunate for many homeowners living in South Africa.
It is a labour intensive procedure and while perhaps one of the oldest building materials in history, our modern building practices use innovative methods for laying it down which gives a cleaner interior finish, leaving no hanging bits for insects to make their homes in.
Thatch as mentioned before is a natural material, a grass or more aptly, a reed. In South Africa we use indigenous grasses which are readily available and eco friendly by their very nature. However there are some types of grasses or reeds that will not do the job properly. It is all about thickness. Thatch has to be of a certain thickness to be effective. It can also be either hollow or solid.
Thatching found in KZN for example has a finer texture than its counterpart found in Gauteng and is often preferred because of this quality. However there are certain grades of thatching and Dekriet stalks used are purportedly of the best quality. It is 3-4mm in diameter and is solid. It is also one of the most expensive options.
Thatch has the ability to form lovely curved shapes and once aged, thatch blends in with its natural surroundings beautifully, especially here in South Africa.
Because of its beauty thatch allows for high open ceilings that give space and light and allow for cool breezes in hot climates, in fact that is an almost perfect natural insulator which keeps the interior cool in summer and warm in winter.