How to Thatch a Tiki Roof

Updated February 21, 2017

Tiki huts are small, thatch-covered, open-sided shelters found in tropical climates to shade people from the sun. Tiki huts were originally found in Polynesia, Hawaii, Java, Mexico and South Africa. They became a common sight on residential properties during the 1950s and 1960s and are now seeing a resurgence in popularity in back yards and on commercial waterfront properties. The roof of the tiki hut is constructed of natural materials like thatch and palms leaves that eventually deteriorate and must be replaced.

Choose your thatch material. Builders have more options today for thatch roof material than the original palm frond. Synthetic polymer thatch is available that carries a 20-year warranty. Rolls and panels of natural thatch are also available to make the job faster and easier. Panels come in a variety of sizes.

Measure how much you will need. Calculate the area of your roof in square feet (length times width). Multiply by 10 per cent and add this amount for wastage. If you buy thatch in panels, divide by the square area of the panel and round up to the nearest panel. If buying rolled thatch, buy enough to make it five or six layers thick. Remember to allow the thatch to hang over the roof edge about 1 foot for the proper effect.

Apply the thatch. You will either cut the thatch from a roll to the proper size or apply thatch panels. Overlap the edges of the panels. Staple the thatch securely at various points along the roof.

You can also use regular palm leaves, but you will have to prepare them in advance by stripping off one side of the palm leaves, then lining them up one after another and wiring them together at evenly spaced points along the stems. Put enough palms together to make a manageable panel. Lift these connected panels onto the roof and secure them into place with overlapped edges. Using palm leaves is more labour-intensive, but less expensive because you can use available yard waste that would only be thrown away.You will need to make this type of thatch 15 inches thick.

Remove any loose thatch from the roof. Make sure the thatch sits evenly on the roof and has no loose pieces. Make sure thatch overhanging the roof is even and has an attractive appearance.

Check that the roof is secure. You may live in an area that experiences heavy rains or winds. Take these conditions into account and add additional staples

Add a fire retardant if desired. This safety measure gives extra peace of mind, particularly for outdoor parties and barbecues.


Have someone help with the lifting and securing work. Do not try to thatch the roof on windy days. Leave the work for another day.

Things You'll Need

  • Thatch material
  • Ladder
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Wire
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