Timber and thatch structures in Northern America

Thatching material around the world – Part 3

In the northern parts of America, the craft of thatching was introduced by early European settlers. As history has shown us, the most common thatching material would be whatever suitable material was readily available.
Sedge and slough grass was a popular choice before straw become available as a byproduct of wheat cultivation. Mud or clay was typically used to fix bundles of thatch onto a roof structure of wood.

Not surprisingly, Native American tribes also built thatched roof shelters. Switchgrass or palmetto palm leaves was a popular choice to build ‘chickees’, structures that could be easily dismantled and rebuilt as circumstances required.

Moving towards the Caribbean, palm and plantain leaves as well as sugar can ‘trash’ (basically the leftovers after the sugar cane harvest) were laid and tied in an overlaying fashion and attached to timber roof structures.

In Mexico and other central American countries, palm leaves and fronds were woven into mats and fastened to timber structures to roof their palapa huts.
Ancient civilizations such as the Maya, Inca and Aztec also used thatch as roof covering. These master builders constructed walled shelters of stone or mud bricks and roofs thatched with woven sticks, grass and palm leaves.

If you missed our previous blog Thatching material around the world – Part 2 click here!