Over-Sheeting a Thatch Roof: Convert your Thatch Roof Now

This roof conversion system involves cladding or over-sheeting the original roof with tiles or roof sheeting

Before and after picture of a large thatched rondavel which we converted to corrugated roof sheeting
Before and after pictures of a large rondavel over-sheeted in metal roof sheeting

Can you convert a Thatch Roof to another type of Roofing?

If this is the first page you’ve landed on you’re probably thinking about converting your thatch roof to another type of roofing. The good news is that you can! At Bosazza Roofing & Timber Homes we offer three different systems to convert thatch roofs: Structure Stays, Renovate/ Reconstruct and Over-sheeting. While we recommend using the Structure Stays system which removes all of the thatch from your roof, in some cases it is possible to over-sheet the original roof.

This article explains the over-sheeting system in more detail. It also introduces some of the roofing products that we use for conversions.

To find out more about roof conversions and the other systems, visit our main page Thatch Roof Conversions >

Over-sheeting a Thatch Roof

First thing’s first – when over-sheeting a thatch roof the original roof needs to be in a very good condition! What does that mean?

  1. The thatch must not be showing serious signs of rotting
  2. It must be totally dry without moisture in the layers of thatch
  3. The thatch needs to be properly compacted
  4. The roof structure needs to be strong and solid

If you are getting problems like dust falling from your roof, it is not in the right condition for over-sheeting because these problems will continue even after the roof is covered. In fact, it will be harder to attend to them after the roof is covered. You will be better to consider the Structure Stays system.

Pros and Cons of Over-sheeting

Pros:

  • Less invasive
  • Cost effective
  • Keep the look and feel of thatch inside

Cons:

  • Doesn’t remove all of the thatch
  • May still be considered a thatch roof by some insurers
  • More difficult to access thatch if there is an issue

Taking a look at the pros to start with, during the actual time of the conversion, the work is less invasive than the other conversion systems. That’s because the original roof is kept intact and the house is not open to the elements at any point.

This system can also be more cost effective because thatch is a great insulator. In systems where the thatch is removed totally, new forms of insulation have to be fitted to make sure that the roof is thermally efficient.

Keeping the original thatch roof also means that you can keep the look and feeling of the thatch roof on the inside. Let’s be honest – thatch has a look and charm of it’s own!

On the other side – looking at the cons – you might be ready to get rid of the thatch and want it stripped completely. The over-sheeting system will not do this for you. Some insurers may still consider the roof thatched so if you were looking for a reduction in insurance premiums, you will need to check with your insurer what their specifications are. Finally, if there is any kind of issue with the thatch roof underneath the new roofing, it can be more difficult to access as it is covered with the new roof.

What Roofing Products can you use to Over-Sheet a Thatched Roof?

We currently use two different roofing products for thatch roof conversions. We have been converting thatch roofs for approximately 10 years and CEO Jonathan Bosazza has hand-picked these specific roofing products because they offer reliable, long lasting roofing solutions in a variety of harsh climates. They can also be installed successfully over thatch.

Our preferred roofing products are:

  • Metrotiles
  • Aluminum / Aluzinc roof sheeting

A note on choosing the new roofing: not all roofing products suit all roof shapes! Some thatch roofs are built with beautiful curves, smooth corners and contours. While these new roofing products have some degree of flexibility, there are not as flexible as thatch. You have to bear this in mind when choosing a new roofing product.

Over-sheeting a Thatch Roof with Metrotiles

Thatched roof in Hogsback, converted to Woodshake Metrotiles
This thatched roof in Hogsback, Eastern Cape was converted to Metrotiles

Metrotiles are a light-weight metal roof tile coated in stone. They are specifically designed to look like traditional roofing and blend easily into the surrounding environment. Metrotile offer a range of different tile profiles and finishes. We prefer to use the Woodshake profile when converting from thatch because the texture and shape of the tile imitates that of a thatched roof.

The Woodshake range is available in a variety of colors. We recommend using Pepper or Charcoal as these are neutral colors, similar to thatch when it is aged.

The range of colours available in Woodshake Metrotiles
This is the Metrotile color range

Metrotiles are made out of pressed, high grade zincalume protective steel, coated in natural stone chip. Metal tiles can be used to over-sheet thatch because they offer more flexibility than traditional cement tiles so they can be molded to a more shapely roof. The tiles are also light-weight so you can install them over the original structure without adding too much extra weight to the original roof.

Metrotiles are made from layers of zincalume and coated in stone chips
This image shows the layer composite of Metrotiles

The tiles are interlocking and overlap when installed which makes them very wind and water resistant. Metrotile offers a 40 year warranty on the product.

Why Choose Metrotiles to Convert your Thatched Roof?
  • Close match in color and texture to your original thatched roof
  • High wind and water resistance
  • Offer some flexibility to accommodate curves in the roof
  • Lightweight
  • Suitable for coastal areas
  • Great product warranty (up to 50 years, 40 years close to the coast)
  • Weathers well as the product ages
Picture of metrotiles installed on a thatched roof
Metrotiles are a close match to the look of thatch and blend in well with the surrounding environment

Over-sheeting a Thatch Roof with Metal Roof Sheeting

This large thatched beach cottage was converted to corrugated roof sheeting
We converted this thatched beach cottage in the Dwesa Nature Reserve to corrugated roof sheeting

Metal roof sheeting has made a come back in South Africa. Where it used to be considered unappealing and was used mainly for industrial buildings, it’s now considered an attractive, environmentally conscious roofing solution.


Fun facts about steel
  • Steel is a permanent material that can be infinitely recycled and is 100% recyclable without loss of quality
  • Recycling steel saves precious raw materials and minimizes energy consumption
  • Even steel made 150 years ago can be recycled into new products
  • Steel is considered to be one of the most innovative and sustainable man-made products of the 21st Century

    Facts cited from the World Steel Association.

Our choice of roof sheeting for over-sheeting thatched roofs is the classic corrugated profile from Safintra. The sheeting is made of aluminum-zinc (AZ) coated steel which is lightweight but strong, thermally efficient and fire resistant. The sheeting comes in various weights and thicknesses catering for both inland and coastal climates.

The roof sheeting is coated in Colorplus® which is the latest technology for pre-painting roof sheeting. The painting system is designed to ensure that the finish of the roof sheeting can endure the harsh African climates of both inland and coastal areas.

Cross section of the Colorplus® roof sheeting
A cross section of the Colorplus® roof sheeting

The sheeting is available in a wide variety of colours – the most popular among our clients is Thunderstorm grey.

Thatch roof which has been converted to aluzinc roofing
Thatch Roof Converted to Roof Sheeting in Thunderstorm Grey, Eastern Cape
Why Choose Corrugated Roof Sheeting to Convert your Thatched Roof?
  • Although the sheeting does not offer the flexibility to curve to shapely roofs, it looks great when installed on more traditionally shaped roofs and has real curb-side appeal
  • Reflects heat and is thermally efficient
  • Low maintenance
  • Lightweight
  • Suitable for inland and coastal climates
  • Product has a warranty of up to 15 years

Your Choice of Roofing Product Depends on a few Factors

Ultimately the roofing product that you choose depends on quite a few factors including the shape of the roof, the climate that you live in and of course, your personal taste. We offer advice on which product would be most fitting for each roof that we assess. We are based outside of East London in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and service roofs in the wider Eastern Cape area.

The Process of Over-sheeting a Thatch Roof

It is important to remember that not all thatch roofs are in the right condition to over-sheet. The thatch needs to be in a good condition to make this a problem free roofing solution. Covering rotten, old, dusty thatch will not stop it from deteriorating further and dropping more dust and debris in the home. If your thatch roof is not in a good condition we would recommend using the Structure Stays system (find out more about the other conversion systems on our Thatch Roof Conversions page).

Preparing the Thatch Roof

If the roof is in a passable condition the thatch will likely need some maintenance before over-sheeting. This could include brushing, compacting and re-tensioning of the thatching twines. Some insurance companies require the thatch layer to be a maximum thickness of 50mm underneath the new roof so the thinning of the thatch needs to be done before it is covered. Fire retardant spray can also be applied both inside and out during this preparation work.

This thatched roof was brushed to thin the thatch and fix any rotten areas before it was covered
This thatched roof was brushed to thin the thatch and remove any rotten areas in the roof before it was covered
Installing the Support Structure

We install a lightweight wooden structure over the thatch with specialist valley sections in the drainage valleys on the roof. Our preferred valley sections are made of a polypropylene composite which is lightweight, weather-proof and long lasting.

Polypropylene sections are fitted in the valleys of the roof to ensure clear drainage
Specially made polypropylene sections are fitted in the valleys

The process is the same for both round or curved roofs, and for roofs with more traditional straight angles, corners and edges. The wooden structure covers the roof and follows the shape as closely as possible.

This is an example of a curved or rounded thatched roof with dormer windows. The timber structure is applied in the same way.
This is an example of a curved roof with dormer windows. The timber structure is applied over the original roof shape
Fitting the New Roofing

We install the new roofing on top of the wood structure; both Metrotiles and corrugated roof sheeting use specific fixings that match the roofing product.

We fitted Metrotiles to this roof in Hogsback, Eastern Cape
We fitted Metrotiles to this roof in Hogsback, Eastern Cape
AZ200 corrugated roof sheeting was installed on this roof in the Dwesa Nature Reserve
This rondavel was fitted with AZ200 corrugated roof sheeting
The Finishing Touches

Once we have installed the new roofing over the whole roof, we add the finishing touches which includes the ridging, hip sections, painting of the fascia’s and fitting the gutters. All of the roofing products that we use come with matching ridges and hip sections which ensures that your new roof has a beautiful finish.

*A quick note that we always recommend painting the outside walls of the house when the roof conversion is completed as they can appear shabby in comparison to the new roof! We can quote to do this when we do the roof conversion.

In Conclusion

Yes! It is possible to cover or over-sheet your thatched roof with another type of roofing, as long as the thatch and roof structure are in a good state. We recommend using one of the two products discussed above: Metrotile or corrugated aluminum/ aluzinc roof sheeting. Your choice of roofing product may be determined by the shape of the original roof structure so it’s best to ask advice from a professional thatching and roofing contractor if you’re unsure of what is the most suitable. In all cases, you should use a professional contractor to work on your roof.

Are you thinking about a thatch roof conversion? Feel welcome to contact us or comment below and ask any questions that we haven’t already answered above.

POST LAST UPDATED Jun 08, 2022

39 thoughts on “Over-Sheeting a Thatch Roof: Convert your Thatch Roof Now

    1. Hi Adrian,

      Thanks for taking the time to read our articles and apologies for the delay in reply – we were closed for the festive season. Please look out for an email in your inbox – I will contact you directly for more details on your inquiry.

      Kind regards,

      April

  1. Good day April,we have a thatched roof house and have had many problems with leaks. We hace spend lots of money,firstly by rethatching problematic areas and then doing it again and again…..but we still have leaks….Is it true that they say the thatch starts to ferment if it gets closed after being exposed to the elements and that you get a smell indoors because of the old thatch? We dont know what to do anymore and would like your opinion if possible.

    Kind regards
    Elani

    1. Hi Elani,

      Thank you so much for your comment and for reading our article. Apologies for me slow reply! I’m sorry that you’re having so many problems with your thatched roof. You are correct that if the thatch on a roof is in a bad condition (this includes damp or rotting), then it should not be over-sheeted. Covering the problem will just lead to more issues. In your case I would recommend that the thatch is totally stripped and your roof is either re-thatched by a professional contractor or converted to a different type of roofing. Can I ask where you are based?

      Kind regards,

      April

  2. In this article you will get to know about the over sheeting a thatch roof. It is a wonderful article. This article makes the work straight and easy for us. I am sure many people will come to read this in future.

    1. Hi Lauren,

      I hope you’re well and thanks for your question – we are based in the Eastern Cape. We work mostly in this province but are available to work on large projects nationwide. Do you have an idea what the m² of the roof is?

      Thanks,

      April

    2. Good day

      We are based in Bloemfontein . I would like to talk to you about the cost to over sheet a thatched roof .

      Kind regards
      Adré Kleynhans

  3. Good day
    I would like to know how much will it cost to over sheet a thatched roof for a house in St. Francis bay with coragated roof sheeting colour black, 384 square meters.
    I would love to buy in the area but need to change the roof .

    1. Hi Wahieda,

      I hope you’re well and thanks for taking the time to read our article. I will send you an email with a few questions so that we can give you an idea of the cost of over-sheeting.

      Kind regards,

  4. we are looking at possibly reroofing our existing thatched house with chromadek what is the approximate price indication per m2 …. approximately 250m2

    1. Hi Barrie,

      I hope you’re well and thanks for taking the time to comment on our article. We would need to see the roof to assess the shape and design, and to check that the thatch is in an appropriate condition to over-sheet. Can I ask where you are based? If you’re in the Eastern Cape you are welcome to email us some pictures (a plan with dimensions would also be great if you have one): info@bosazzaroofing.co.za

      Many thanks,

      April

    1. Good morning Chris,

      We are based in the Eastern Cape and do not operate in Johannesburg.

      Kind regards,

      April

  5. Good day

    We need a quote to cover our thatched roof in Gansbaai in the western cape, do you have a contractor or agent in the western cape that can give us a quote?

  6. Hi, I have a thatch house in Somerset West and am considering overlaying the roofs with a coloured metal sheeting. Do you work in this area? Regards Alan Veasey

  7. Hi could you please contact us regarding roof tiles or sheet g to cover our thatch roof live in Kloof Durban

  8. Good Day. I notice from previous comments you don’t work in Jhb
    Area. Can you recommend a company that can cover thatched roofs with corrugated covering? Have in total approximately between 800 and 900 squares to cover. Roughly how much will it cost per square? Roofs are in good condition. Urgent response please. Thanks

  9. Would you be able to put me in touch with an agent in the Centurion area, Gauteng. We have a thatch house and would love a quote to install roof sheeting over the thatch

    Kind regards
    Fiona Carver

  10. I have a 300 square meter double story house with a thatch roof and I would like to install a roof sheeting. Would you please assist with a quote in Johannesburg,.

  11. Greetings from Port Edward, lower south coast, Kzn.
    Our thatch dwelling is in need of a covering of some sort- too many repair jobs over the years, leaks etc, etc..
    Do you have a rep/ contractor nearby( we’re in the middle of nowhere, so presumably unlikely) that might advise and quote for us?
    Regards,
    J d G ( Cell 0736166578)

    1. Good morning Jerry,

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to get in touch with us. I have replied directly to your email address – please check your inbox 🙂

      Kind regards,

      April

    1. Good afternoon Anabelle,

      Thank you for your message – we unfortunately do not work in Gauteng.

      I wish you all the best with your project.

      Kind regards,

  12. Good morning

    Hope you are well? Wr are based in Aliwal North in the Eastern cape. We have a rondavel with a broken roof. We would like to redo the roof with corrugated roof sheeting. The rondavel is 7m in diameter. What would the cost be to redo the roof?

    1. Good afternoon Liezl,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I will send an email to your inbox with more information.

      Kind regards,

      April

      1. Good evening

        Is there a company that does “Over-Sheeting a Thatch Roof” that you can refer me to in Johannesburg.

        Kind Regards

        Nonnie

        1. Hi Nonnie!

          Apologies for the slow reply – I have been away. Unfortunately we don’t have a contact in Johannesburg that we can recommend.

          I hope you find someone to assist with your project.

          Kind regards,

          April

  13. Good day. I am resident in Gordon’s Bay, Western Cape and would like a quotation to cover my thatch roof. Thank you.

    1. Good afternoon Daniel,

      Thanks for taking the time to read our article. Unfortunately we are based in the Eastern Cape so travelling such a long distance to cover your roof would likely make the job extremely expensive for you.

      I hope you can find someone in your area to assist with the roof.

      Kind regards,

      April

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