Thatch Roof Maintenance

Thatch Roof Maintenance and Repairs, East London
A Thatch Roof after Maintenance, Eastern Cape

Does your Thatch Roof need Maintenance or Repairs?

Is your thatch roof leaking or in need of maintenance and repairs? Our specialist thatching team is available to assess it and fix any leaks or problems.

We offer the following thatch roof maintenance services:

  1. Brushing, filling & compacting the roof
  2. Patching problem areas
  3. Installing and clearing drainage valleys
  4. Capping and ridge repairs
  5. Flashing repairs
  6. Remedial work on pole structures
  7. Re-thatching

We can also advise you on a longer term maintenance plan so that you have an idea of when your roof will next need attention.

Contact us now to arrange a free assessment and quotation to fix your roof.

Why do Thatch Roofs need Maintenance?

You could think of a thatch roof as a “living” thing because it naturally changes over time and can be affected by external things like the weather and the climate that it lives in. Maintenance done at the right time can prolong a roofs lifespan and help to keep it problem free. Also, when small problems do happen it is best to address them as soon as possible to stop them becoming a bigger issue later on.

Some of the issues that affect thatch roofs are:

  • The natural degrading of the thatch over time
  • Inadequate thickness or compacting of the thatch when it is installed
  • Overhanging trees and shady areas
  • Humid climates
  • Maintenance that has been done incorrectly or before the time it is needed
  • Incorrectly fitted or blocked drainage valleys
  • Extreme weather like wind or hail
  • Bird and monkey damage

We can address these issues and help you to understand the best care for your thatched roof.


Client Referral:

“Jonathan did an excellent job in repairing leaks and re-thatching parts of my house. After trying several other companies over a few years time-frame, I can honestly say that he did the best job of them all.”

Mr. N. Wagenaar
Maclear Manor B&B

Thatch Roof Maintenance Explained

Brushing, Filling & Compacting the Roof

A thatched lapa before and after maintenance
A thatch lapa BEFORE and AFTER brushing and filling. You can see the golden colour of the thatch has returned.

A thatch roof generally needs to be brushed every 5 – 8 years (depending on the climate and condition of the thatch). The process of “brushing” or “combing” cuts the ends off the reed which has been slowly degrading since it was put on the roof. When we thatch the roof originally, we thatch to a thickness of 180-200mm which accommodates 2-3 brushings over the lifespan of the roof. A roof that has been newly thatched is golden brown or yellow in colour, as the thatch settles and begins to decay the colour darkens. A roof that has been brushed is a lighter colour again.

At the same time as brushing the roof we will fill in extra bundles and make sure the roof compaction is correct. This is important because it makes sure the thatch is tightly packed together.

Always consult a professional thatching contractor before you undertake any maintenance because some thatchers brush the roof incorrectly – this can actually shorten the lifespan of the roof.

Patching Problem Areas in the Roof

Thatch roof with areas fixed by patching
Several areas of the roof are patched – you can see the difference in colour between the old and new

If there is a particular area in your thatched roof that is leaking or creating problems, that specific area can be repaired. Sections of the roof might have been damaged by hail, monkeys or birds, or trees overhanging the roof where moisture builds up. We remove the damaged sections of thatch, put new bundles in where they are needed, check the thatch is properly compacted and then brush the sections to leave a neat finish.

Installing & Clearing Drainage Valleys

Valleys are a common problem area in thatched roofs if they’re not installed and maintained properly. There should be valleys in the roof in all places where water runs or gathers so that the water can drain off the roof. The valley section should be made of a material that won’t rust or rot and should be cleared of leaves and other debris regularly so that the water can drain properly.

A thatched roof BEFORE and AFTER the drainage valleys were installed
An example of a drainage valley BEFORE and AFTER it has been fitted properly
Capping and Ridge Repairs

Another problem area can be the cement capping or ridge at the top of the roof because over time the cement is likely to crack which can let water in. The best way to deal with this is to seal the capping with a waterproofing membrane or rubberized paint. When we fit the cement ridge we automatically paint it, but the paint will need to be applied again at some stage.

Flashing Repairs
Flashing around chimneys and where thatch meets other walls can be a problem area. Proper flashing needs to be fitted to avoid leaking.
This is an example of a chimney flashing after it has been waterproofed, this stops water getting in between the thatch and the chimney

Flashing is installed where a roof meets a chimney or parapet wall. These areas often cause problems in thatched roofs because they are not installed properly. In some cases the existing flashing can be sealed with waterproofing to stop it leaking, in other cases the existing flashing needs to be removed and a new one installed.

Remedial Work on Pole Structures

Unfortunately some structures are built without plans or an engineers design, and with inadequate pole structures or fixings. If your pole structure is failing it could be for the following reasons:

  • the structure has been built with poles that are too thin
  • the builder has not used enough poles to support the weight of the structure
  • the poles are untreated
  • poles are not secured with the correct fixings so the structure is unstable

In some cases we can fix the pole structure using extra bracing but in more extreme cases the entire structure has to be re-built.

This lapa was collapsing and the pole structure failing
This thatch lapa collapsed so we had to rebuild and rethatch it
Re-Thatching

We can rethatch part (or all) of your roof, sometimes this is the best way to repair it. We have worked with our thatching team for almost 20 years and provide high quality thatching with premium Cape Reed. If all of the thatch is stripped from the roof, we can also assess the pole structure to make sure that it is solid.

This roof was re-thatched; the original roof is stripped down to the pole structure and new thatch is installed on the roof.
This roof was re-thatched; the original roof was stripped down to the pole structure and new thatch was installed

Does your thatch roof leak or need some general maintenance? Contact us now to get a free consultation and quotation for repairs.

Visit our main thatching page to find out more about our other thatching services >