Thatch Decay And How To Prevent It

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Because thatch raw materials are for the most part 100% organic there will always be the risk of thatch decay. However, with the right maintenance and storage procedures before the raw materials are used these risks can be minimized if not almost completely eliminated.

Thatch Raw Material Storage

Freshly cut thatching grass is best kept out of the sun in a dry covered area. This is because thatch tends to physically decay through a combination of both physical (from the rain) and biological (from the sun) decay. This helps prevent thatch decay from starting before the raw material is used.

Thatch Fact #1: The thatching technique used by master thatchers around the world helps to prevent thatch decay as it is designed to keep to a minimum the portion of the thatch that is exposed to the elements. This helps to minimize the effects of weathering on the finished thatch product.

What Causes Thatch Decay?

Thatch decay starts from the very moment that the individual thatch grass stem is physically damaged. This damage can be caused by hail, rain or strong winds as well as temperature changes. Often it is even a combination of the above factors that both start and accelerate the thatch decay process.

Thatch Fact #2: Exposure to ultraviolet sunlight affects the epidermis (surface cells) of the grass stems. This causes them to split over time and exposes the softer more easily damaged parenchyma (internal plant cells). This allows fungus to take route within the thatch grass stem and hastens the thatch decay rate.

To prevent both sun and fungal damage to thatch structures they need to be built by qualified thatching teams so that the correct thatch building procedures are followed. This will ensure that the thatch grass stems are laid in such a way that only the smallest amount of thatch stem is exposed to the elements. This minimizes the amount of natural decay to a small outer layer of the thatch roof and lengthens the product lifespan of the thatch itself.

To help prevent the spread of fungal spores in a thatch roof it is prudent to keep the roof free of any leaves and branches that can help introduce spores into the roof structure. To do this it is advisable to build all thatch roof buildings away from trees.

Thatch Fact #3: Fungal activity in thatch is at its optimum in conditions where moisture content of the thatch grass exceeds 20% and the temperatures range of the roof does not go lower than 20 C or higher than 30 C. To minimize this effect it is advisable to keep an eye on thatch roofs in areas that are warm and wet.
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