Thatch Roof Maintenance – Prepare and Prevent, Don’t Repair and Repent!

Winter is around the corner and therefore the timing is perfect to look at the maintenance required for thatched roofs.

Within the thatching industry, we are fighting the maintenance battle between NO, NO, NO & GO, GO, GO!

Both these tendencies will drastically shorten the lifespan of your roof:

  • NO, NO, NO maintenance: those avoiding to do any maintenance.
  • GO, GO, GO maintenance: prematurely maintaining the roof.

At JNA THATCHERS we believe in the balance between the two extremes. This blog is to inform our clients and to take a stand against the misconception that a thatch roof needs maintenance every 5 years!

Thatch Roof Maintenance & Re-thatch in Process - JNA Thatchers
After 37 years in the industry, JNA THATCHERS’ opinion is that a well-constructed thatched roof in the Western Cape should have an average lifespan of 20 years!

Environmental factors in the Western Cape


Southern slopes deteriorate faster than others as they receive less sunlight than the Northern slopes (which can last up to 20 years!).

Parts of a thatched roof that is under branches or big trees will also need maintenance sooner and lastly, the valleys are generally thatched of a lower slope resulting in the water running off slower, and thatch rotting faster.

Valleys Deteriorating Faster Due to Water
The following is a brief summary of our proposed maintenance guideline…

After 2 summer seasons: Re-compaction service

Thatch contains a small percentage moisture which makes it pliable enough to thatch with. After two summer seasons, the reed will lose its moisture, shrink and the binding material will come loose.

A re-compaction service is when the bind material is pulled tight again; the thatch is compacted to its initial density and the entire roof is finished off with a smooth and even surface.

At this stage, we offer an additional service to repair all cracks in the cement ridge capping & flashings as well as painting.

Upon completion of the re-compaction, our initial 2 year guarantee is extended for another 3 years.

Years 5-12 should be relatively maintenance FREE

First maintenance should occur from 12 years and onwards. Those areas affected by the environmental factors would probably first be in need of an Overhaul Service similar to a re-compaction, but with the added feature that ±100mm of the rotten ends are cut away.

An Example of a Thatch Roof with Rotten Edges
New reed is also added to re-densify the roof. After this service, the roof should have a uniform “yellow” look, similar to new thatch.

The Colour of New Thatch - A Warm, 'Yellow' Look

Year 20

PREVIOUSLY overhauled areas will be ready for rethatch, while the previous untouched areas might only require an overhaul at this stage.

This is What a Re-Thatched Roof Will Look Like
If you are uncertain about the state of your thatch roof and whether you need maintenance done, be sure to carefully choose your thatching advisor. We encourage our clients to be aware of the misconceptions sold to thatching clients. Rather trust the company that’s been around for 37 years. Rather trust JNA Thatchers.

To enquire about thatch roof maintenance, contact us using the form below.

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