Thatch is a renewable material and is grown in all parts of the country. It is part of the seasonal cycle. At the end of the dry season it is gathered and what is not gathered is burned in the fields.
Tall grass starts growing during the rainy season and is cut and gathered in the dry season when the grass has dried out.
Types and sizes
These three images show different stages of the thatching process on three different houses.
Water runs off the thatch
Thatch is first started on the bottom and is layered upward. These layers are overlapped to prevent water from seeping in.
An overhang is usually quite large to take the water away from the walls and prevent leakage.
The grass is combed out to make the grass uniform and straight. The comb is a piece of wood with nails.
The grass bundles are tied down on the wood poles (battens). Spacing is the length of the grass and a little bit extra to allow for overlapping.
Elephant Grass
Mupani Grass
between 10cm-30cm
between 5cm- 10cm
first layer of thatch
second layer of thatch
topping off
The ridge is often a decorative feature. This needs to be a tight seal to prevent water from entering
It has precedent of being used all over the world, including this example of an English cottage.
This homes roof is made from banana fawns. This is very common in countries such as Zaire. This home was built in Northern Zambia.
In the extreme northwest corner of Zambia, this unique style of roofing was found. The ridge is exaggerated for no apparent reason except that " it is the way that it is done".
These pictures are examples of overhangs.
It is desired to have straight poles so the thatch does not sag and leak
After time, the poles sag due to weight and the thatch begins to leak
This church in Northern Province is thatched by the "cake method". It is obvious where one layer of thatch begins.