How About A Thatched Roof For Your Home

"It's the most beautiful roofing material in the world -- an old idea whose time for revival has finally come," says Weston Warwick, a California entrepreneur whose fledgling company, after about three years of research and development, is now ready to sell and install thatched roofs.

Although a common sight in Europe and other parts of the world, thatched roofs are virtually unknown in the U.S. and Canada where, because of fire danger, they haven't been popular. Warwick, founder of Warwick Cottage Enterprises based in Anaheim, has high hopes of cultivating a new image for thatched roofs. He imports real thatch, a water reed, and treats it with a fire retardant material in much the same way wooden shingles are treated. The treated thatch, he says, meets certification standards for fire resistance for both residential and commercial structures.

Warwick initially experimented with thatch made from plastic or fiberglass but scrapped those "substitutes" in favor of the "real thing" which, he says, is "more durable, attractive and easier to make virtually fireproof. What's more, termites and other insects hate the stuff and want nothing to do with it. Our thatched roofs will withstand winds exceeding 100 mph and have a life span of 70 or more years," Warwick points out.

His technical director is John Cousins, a certified master thatcher in England, his native country. Cousins and his staff will install all thatching jobs sold by the company.

"Thatching is a slow, tedious process requiring the skill of experienced craftsmen," Warwick told FARM SHOW. "It's not a project for inexperienced do-it-yourselfers. A professional thatcher can do about 50 sq. ft. of roof area per day. Because it's much more labor intensive than conventional roofs, thatched roofing costs twice as much or more. But, dollar for dollar, you get a better roof," says Warwick. "It'll last much longer, is less fire prone than most conventional home roofing materials, and the 12-in. thickness of hollow reeds makes a terrific insulation blanket which reduces heating and cooling costs.

"Another exclusive advantage of thatched roofing is the distinctive rustic charm it gives to a home or other structure," notes Warwick. "This isn't just a new business. We're developing a whole new industry right from scratch."