Ways to Simulate Thatch

Written by mason howard
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Ways to Simulate Thatch
Simulate an English country cottage with fake thatching. (thatched cottage by river image by Paul Hunt from Fotolia.com)

Thatching is a time-honoured method of roofing and thatched roofs often speak to a historical period or specific culture. In a thatched roof, dried plant material is bunched and layered on a roof in overlapping rows. Creating an actual thatched roof is often impractical for the application. When building a scale model or a theatre prop, for example, it is possible to simulate thatch easily and inexpensively.

Artificial Grass

For making scale models or miniatures, thatch can be simulated using artificial grass. Bind the artificial grass together with thread and adhere them to the structure with hot glue. Incorporate bits of dried moss into the roof to add a naturally aged appearance.


Simulate thatch using brown paper. Cut strips of paper to the width of a thatch row. Cut successive, skinny flaps along the paper with scissors the create fringe. Crumple the fringe a bit in your hands to give it an organic feel. Apply a bead of glue along the non-fringed part of the paper and roll it up to create a thatch bundle. The bundles are then glued to your structure.

Joint Compound

Simulate the texture of thatch in joint compound. Apply a thick layer of joint compound to the surface being thatched. Use an implement such as a rake, broom or fork to comb through the joint compound in long, successive rows. The imprints left behind will be akin to the texture of thatching. Once dry, prime and paint the surface the colours of dried grasses.


Distress felt to look like grass thatching. Use a wire brush to scrape the felt in combing motions. The felt will become mottled. Staple or glue swatches of mottled felt to the structure in overlapping rows to create a thatched effect.

Static Grass

Static grass is commonly used by model train enthusiasts to simulate grassy areas of the model set's landscape. Static grass comes loose in a plastic bag. Simulate a thatched roof by painting an even coat of glue on the roof base and sprinkling the loose bits of static grass until the roof is completely covered. Once the glue is dry, shake off the excess static grass.

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