The use of plant matter as thatching material to create roofs has been around for centuries and can be found all over the world. As we delve into this rich tradition, we explore the different types of thatching material that can be found in different areas of the world. This week, our focus is on Asia.
In marshy, wetland areas, the leaves of palm leaves are commonly used. Leaves from nipa, mangrove, rumbia or sugar palm trees (depending on the region) are prepared in various ways – mostly either plait into mat like sheets or split along the ribs to be used as shingles. If properly harvested, treated, stored, built, and maintained, such a roof may last up to 10 years.
This tough, resilient species of grass has the ability to grow in harsh conditions and works well for the purpose of thatching. Blades of grass is woven around a batten (mostly bamboo is used) to form a thatch panel which is then attached to the roof structure. The lifespan of this type of thatch ranges between 10 to 15 years.
This term refers to the use of many types of grass, reed, and straw to form a roof, however, the most popular to be used for thatching, is silver or pampas grass. After harvesting, the grass is tied into bundles, dried, and sometimes smoked before it is used for thatching. This type of thatched roof can last up to 20 years, if well maintained and built.