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button11.gif (1022 bytes) Thatch and Rain Capes

Painless Advice

Might take a while to load folks! High resolution pictures!



Tons of pictures to give you ideas

OK now for the info.....






Palm leaf thatch originates from palm trees.
The leaves branches are picked from the palm trees green and laid out to dry in the sun until they turn yellow. The leaves are then stripped from the branches and dried further.


The leaves are then woven together into a mat or panel. If it's woven into a mat, then we have a "knotty" side and a thatch side. Thatch panels are 4ft by 4ft, 1/8" thick and weight 4.6 Lbs.
Thatch also come in umbrella form called "raincapes", these are used to make palapas: dimensions of 7ft, 9ft or 12ft.
All our thatch are hand woven with 120 knots per ft2

Thatch Mat                                                Raincape



If it's a panel, then the leaves are woven back on to a strip of the main branch,
This item is usually smaller than the mat. It is more effective when used for decorating fringes.

Thatch panel



Why Thatch?

  • Simple inexpensive approach to create that authentic beach/jungle look.
  • Can be used on any roof in place of regular roofing shingles, as well as on frame structures and umbrella frames.
  • Thatch provides excellent insulation, therefore is cozy and warm in winter and marvelously cool in summer.
  • It is remarkably energy efficient, with an excellent "R" value which reduces heating and cooling costs.
  • Thatching is a craft and can be erected on most size or shape building since it is a very adaptable material.
  • No gutters, down-pipes or fascia boards required.
  • Thatch requires very little and inexpensive maintenance.
  • Thatch can conform to curving and undulating surfaces like no other roofing material.
  • Thatch also provides very good sound insulation




Back and front of a thatch panel
The backside is an open diamond weave; the front looks like thatching.

Bottom/Back of thatch


Top/Front of thatch


When you are installing this thatch panel, the bottom or back of the thatch is usually seen on the bottom of the roof. To prevent seeing the diamond weave, we advice they you lay two layers of thatch, one facing up and the other facing down. This way thatch will be seen from both above the roof and below the roof and leave the roof with a thicker and bushier look!





Cutting thatch
Very simple.

Just take a sharp pair of shears and cut between between the knots. You can cut vertically or horizontally.









Durability and making thatch last longer

Used indoors: it may last indefinitely:
Used outdoors: from 5-7 years in wet, humid climates, twice as long in hot, dry climates.

There are a couple of options to make your thatch last longer

  • We suggest taking them down and storing for the winter.

  • Install a regular subroof using regular 3/4 plywood . Cover with felt or ice and water shield. Raise the Mexican Rain Cape panels above the plywood using a lattice of vertical and horizontal wood furring strips - this prevents water from building up, and allows the panels to breath, increasing longevity.

  • Spray two coats of waterseal on the top of the exposed thatch. It will keep the thatch waterproof for a short period. This treatment has to be repeated every 1-2 years to maintain the thatch. Waterseal can be obtianed easily from your local hardware store.






Thatch for Bars, Porches

Please see the picture gallery for ideas. You can make a normal plywood pool/house bar. The walls and roof can be staples with thatch to give you a beach look.
Use bamboo poles, to edge/line the thatch on the bar

Please see the picture gallery for more information:

Tons of pictures to give you ideas







Thatch for Umbrellas

This part of the information's how to convert your existing beach umbrella to a thatch umbrella.
If you want a palapa, please see the picture gallery to get some ideas on what to make and how. We also have some palapa kits, available.


OK so lets start with a simple wooden umbrella you get at your local home depot
It has umbrella ribs + a collapsible frame.



Step 1: 
Remove the knob so that you can lay the raincape on the canvas umbrella. Might be easier to disconnect the umbrella above the 1/2 way point just above the table.
Note: you must allow the raincape to be large than the canvas by at least 2". For example if you had a 5" diameter umbrella, use a 7' raincape.
Lay the umbrella on its side, drape the raincape and reinsert the knob.


Step 2: 
If the overhang is too long, trim the raincape to suit.
Use plastic wire ties and tie the raincape to the ribs of the umbrella. Make a small slit with a blade in the canvas next to the wooden ribs. Pass the wire tie thru the canvas around the rib, thru the knots in the thatch and tighten the wire ties.
Use at least 4 plastic wire ties per rib. (use transparent small plastic wire ties so that it cannot be seen). If the holes are too small, use a dab of silicon to seal the holes.




Step 3: 
You are done!
Note this is a double layer of thatch



Some more points to consider

  • Umbrella covers will last much longer if they are not opened and closed constantly. The stress at the very top of the umbrella weakens the top prematurely.

  • During windy conditions umbrellas should be put in the down position.

  • In areas that experience cold or wet winters umbrella covers should be either covered in plastic or removed if possible. Store the thatch in a dry area that does not freeze for the season.

  • Excess cape material can be tied into a finial at the umbrella apex to avoid excess material hanging low.






Thatch for roofs and walls

OK so this ones not rocket science.
Buy the necessary amount of thatch and staple to the walls and ceiliings









OK so how much thatch do I need?
1) If you are using the 4ft by 4ft thatch panels. (each panel is 16ft2)
Calculate you area in square ft, multiply this by 10% (wastage).
Divide your new total area by 16 and roundup to the nearest panel.
Example : If you are trying to cover 100 ft2, the area you require is 110ft2. Divide by 16ft2 = 6.875, you will need to purchase 7 panels of thatch......easy!

2) For umbrellas, just purchase the size of your canvas, add 1" to the diameter, buy the raincape the fits the next largest size.


No special skills are required.
Thatching Tips

  • Install in rows, beginning at lower edge. Overlap several inches side-to-side. Lay your next row of thatch on top of the first row.

  • Minimum suggested pitch is 30 (7in12), steeper pitch increases longevity.
    Installed in layered courses, at 42 on center, stapled to battens or a plywood subroof.

  • Move upward to lay the next row, covering about 9" to 10" of the first row.
    Continue upward in the same manner.

  • Use two or three layers of thatch, depending upon desired thickness. 
    A plush appearance can be achieved with two layers.

  • Staple to wooden framing or roof, using 1/2" or slightly larger galvanized staples.

  • Thatch won't shed and can be cut to fit corners/sides.

  • When attaching thatch panels to a roof's rafters, or furing strips, placing chicken wire between them is a good way to keep the thatch panels from sagging inbetween.

  • Thatch is a natural product and it will breakdown over time. The thatch is simply removed off of the top of the hut and it will be ready for your order of new thatch.

  • Staple gun would be very useful for installations!









Normally, thatch is installed on a plywood base. The plywood makes the roof waterproof.
If you do not have a plywood base, then, you have three options

1) Simplest: Use two or three layers of thatch, stagger the thatch, this will make the roof fairly waterproof.

2) Use a layer of transparent plastic between two layers of thatch. Face one thatch layer down and the other up so that the plastic layer in between cannot be seen.

3) Get an umbrella.







Fire Retarding

Commercial Fire retarding, is a whole long story, it requires certification and several layers of retardant. Not so simple,, so please contact us
Can be retarded to ASTM E-84 Class B (interior or exterior) or Class A (interior only).







Back to Main thatch Page


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