Thatch roofing: Which is better, natural or synthetic reed?

by | Jul 4, 2022 | Blog, Outdoor Inspiration

There is nothing quite like a gazebo, pavilion, summerhouse or tiki hut with thatch roofing to transport you to a tropical paradise. Es el lugar ideal para pasar largos y relajados días tomando el sol con la familia y los amigos.

Creating the beautiful sustainable and long-lasting thatch roofing is a skill which required not only plenty of practice, it requires good quality products. A professionally made bespoke thatch roof that has been treated with the right products should last more than 20 years. This is why beautiful thatch roofing can be seen in a wide range of commercial environments from beach bars to hotels and also in private residences.

So, this leaves the question of which to choose: Natural thatch or synthetic reed?

Let’s imagine, you have decided to invest in an outdoor kitchen and a lovely wooden gazebo with traditional Cape Reed thatch roofing. Perhaps you are not aware that you have a choice between natural and synthetic reed. It is important to know this, because in some parts of the world where there is higher rainfall and humidity synthetic thatch roofing would be the better option. . .

Natural thatch roofing

African reed thatch roofing is a natural renewable material which when harvested is prompted to naturally replenish, albeit at a slow rate. Skilled artisans use centuries old skills to create beautiful sustainable structures, which can be made from straw, palms or reed. The preferred material used for Cape Reed’s thatch roofing is cape reed (Thamnochortus insignis) which is found on a relatively small patch of land in South Africa. Hence the name Cape Reed!

Slow growth = durability and strength

This type of reed is harvested after six years. The long maturation period is necessary to ensure a strong core for greater strength and durability, than other less developed materials which are harvested after a matter of months. The longer the reed has to mature the more resistant it will be to the elements, preventing rot and decay. This allows Cape Reed to deliver each natural thatch roofing structure with a 15-year guarantee. However, it can last up to 50 years in many climates.

Sun protection and rain cover

The natural material protects from both the heat and the cold, making it perfect for the hot Spanish summers when high UVC protection and shade is essential. Although you may be surprised, a natural thatch roof is also waterproof! Cape reed is extremely adaptable, it can be used for a number of outdoor structures including pergolas, gazebos, summerhouses, pavilions… you name it we can make it happen!

Synthetic Thatch roofing

After extoling the virtues, versatility, and beauty of natural Cape Reed thatch roofing, you may be wondering why we are now going to talk about synthetic thatch roofing. Yes, it is true that in general we prefer to create traditional natural cape reed thatch, however, there is a time and a place for the synthetic alternative.

Coping with extreme climates

Natural reed is the ideal. However, in areas that experience heavy rain and wind, humidity and strong sunshine, the combination of these extreme weather conditions can adversely affect the lifespan of natural reed. In which case an attractive synthetic thatch material would be preferable to traditional cape reed thatch.

Stylish synthetic reed

Synthetic thatch can be created to mimic the real material and is available as palm leaves and reeds. The benefit of using the synthetic materials is that you can expect the structure to last in the region of 30 years!

The leaves and palms are created in tiles which can be securely fixed to a wooden outdoor structure. This method is used on many high-class establishments in tropical environments, from hotels to beach bars, parasols and Tiki huts. This option means that the structures will remain UVC protected, waterproof and mould-free for a very long time, no matter what the elements throw at them.

Choosing synthetic palm or reed fibre doesn’t mean you are settling for second best, there are lots of colours to choose from and the guarantee that your thatch roof will last a lifetime.

If you would like advice about the benefits of natural or synthetic reed thatch, get in touch with our team of designers and craftsman at [email protected]