A roof over your head: Natural thatch Vs Synthetic thatch
A thatched roof building is an architectural style that carries with it an ancient and close-to-nature aesthetic. It reminds one immediately of tropical paradises and invokes feelings of space and relaxation. Several locally available materials are used to build these beautiful naturally sloping roofs. Palm fronds, grasses, reeds and straws are a few such materials. However, these materials tend to have many disadvantages when used in modern buildings. Synthetic thatch roofs, made of artificial palm leaves are proving to be a great alternative that provide several benefits to a thatched roof while maintaining the architecture. If you are considering a thatch roof building anytime, here are a few pointers you might want to consider when picking your roof material.
INFESTATIONS: GETTING RID OF UNWANTED GUESTS
Natural thatch roofs provide a home not just for you but for a variety of creatures. While this may seem like a closer-to-nature idea, it isn’t the most practical one. Birds, insects and even smaller mammals such as rats and squirrels can nest and damage them. Birds such as weaver birds looking for nest making material can ruin natural thatches. Pests and insects also mean that substantial amounts of harmful insecticides are sprayed to repel them. This increases the time and cost of maintaining these structures, but more importantly, harms the environment and the creatures attracted to natural thatches.
A synthetic thatch roof on the other hand preserves the style and look of thatch roofs. But it is also substantially less prone to attacks and infestations by animals. Thus requiring no harmful chemicals to repel them.
FIRE-RESISTANCE: TRIAL BY FIRE
Fire is a major concern when it comes to natural thatch roofs. The organic materials used tend to be easily inflammable. With natural thatch in place, one needs to take special precautions to keep it safe from electric wires and chimneys. If a fire does occur, it can be very difficult to bring under control.
Synthetic thatch roofs today provide fire-retardant options. This is a particularly significant advantage if you want to be cautious about the safety of inhabitants in your building. Here’s a video from Palmex that tests fire on synthetic and natural thatch. It’s easy to see what makes for a safer option!
MAINTENANCE: LOOKING AFTER WHAT YOU HAVE
Natural thatches are vulnerable to degradation by natural elements. Wind, rain and even lightning expose it to damage over a period of time. Depending on local weather they can experience decay such as fungal attacks. Natural thatch requires at least annual maintenance and regular checks for leaks and other damages.
If you are low on time and want to save yourselves the effort of constant maintenance, synthetic thatch roofs will make a better choice. They provide good exterior coverage and are resilient enough to endure weather changes and conditions. These are products that are designed to be ‘storm and wind-resistant.”
Natural thatch on the left, versus Palmex on the right
LABOUR: HOW MANY WILL IT TAKE
Thatching with natural materials requires skilled labour that is scarce and hard to find. With maintenance required at least once a year, one requires labour periodically, a worry that’s best avoided.
Installing artificial palm leaves is considerably less labour-intensive. They come in ‘easy-to-lay’ options and their maintenance tends to be both less labour-intensive and less time-consuming.
ECO-FRIENDLINESS: WHAT LEAVES THE EARTH GREEN
Since Natural thatches are made of natural materials that are often agricultural by-products, they do tend to be eco-friendly. However the fact that they need to be maintained and replaced makes them a short-term option.
Synthetic palm leaves are produced to be as sustainable and eco-friendly as natural options. Palmex India for example, provides a 20 year warranty, making it a long-term solution that ensures very little waste of resources. Not only is it likely to last well over 20 years, but when it is time to replace your roof, the old thatch is 100% recyclable.
When picking your thatch roof, consider the above factors. Then, go ahead and make a great choice!
By Elizabeth Raj | Blogger- Arsha Consulting