How to Build a Thatched Roof

Nathaniel Miller

Thatched roofing has been around for centuries as an effective way to build weatherproof roofing with materials at hand. To this day, thatched roofing is still used in "green" house construction as well as roofing for outside structures, such as landscaping huts and poolside cabanas.

A thatched roof requires routine maintenance.

If you are thinking of building a thatched roof either on your house or on a smaller building around your grounds, you can follow these simple steps to get started today!

  1. Build the roof structure for the thatching by nailing a 2 by 4 inch piece of lumber from each of the four corners of the building up to a center "ridge pole" that runs parallel to the ground. Tie the four corner boards together by nailing in cross members extending from each corner, parallel to the ridge pole and 24 inches apart.

  2. Obtain the dried reeds either from a local source or by purchasing from a dealer. The best reeds are harvested during the winter as standing dead material. This ensures that the reed is dried completely and that another reed plant will grow in its place the following year.

  3. Gather the reeds into bundles about 8 inches in diameter and then twist the tops twice to hold them together until you can place them. Starting at the bottom corner on one side of the roof, use the wire and pliers to wire one bunch of reeds at a time to the cross members. Continue across the entire cross member, making sure to leave minimal space between each thatch bunch. Continue this process all the way to the ridge pole, making sure to overlap each upper layer of thatching at least halfway across the lower thatch layer.

  4. Tip

    You can tie each thatch together with string if twisting the reeds does not hold them together tight enough to bundle them.


    It is best to use prebuilt scaffolding to stand on while thatching the roof because thatch roofs do not have a base structure and could easily allow you to fall through.