When most people think about far off places, like the Pacific islands or a country in Africa, they might picture homes with grass roofs. This may seem like a very outdated or impractical roofing choice, but there are several unknown benefits. And surprisingly, there are quite a few large structures throughout these regions with thatch or grass roofs.
No one seems to be sure when the first thatch or grass roofs came about, but we’re certain that these thatching methods were traditionally passed down through the ages.
Thatch or grass roofs have many advantages. Thatched roofs tend to be weather resistant, and don’t retain or absorb a lot of water. Because the pitches on roofs with thatch roofs are steeper, the water runs off quite quickly.
Thatch or grass roofs are very light and don’t place much weight on the roofing structures. Thatch is also a very pliable form of roofing and is able to cover irregularly-shaped roof structures and designs. Most roof shingles or sheets need exact dimension to be able to fit well.
By far the greatest aspect of thatch or grass roofs is its properties as an insulator. It’s naturally thermally efficient. These roofs easily keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Regular roofs require attic spaces to trap heat and moisture to insulate the home, which is not needed by thatch roofs. No fiberglass is needed either. Thatch roofs also provide excellent sound insulation. It is said that an inch of thatch roof will prevent a microphone from picking up any noise or sound.
There are several concerns that thatch roofs are prone to fires, which isn’t entirely accurate. If they were to catch on fire, they would burn slowly, much like a closed book. This risk can be solved however by putting a solid layer of fire retardant between the thatch and the rafters.
The final downside of thatch roofs is the cost. They aren’t cheap to purchase or maintain. However the costs do balance out somewhat because of the lack of need for gutters, downpipes, soakaways, or any sort of attic structure.