Thursday, 27 December 2012

Miniature Thatch Roof Tutorial

Thatch Cottage Roofing Turorial

I was asked to do a little tutorial on thatching a miniature cottage so here goes...

To thatch a roof you will need:
Coconut fibre (about two bundles were used on my little thatch cottage so if it’s a big job you will need a lot!)
2-3 large tubes of Calk or Clear sealant (the sort used for bathrooms etc)
Thick card

I believe there is a degree of personal judgment required so during this process step back often and take a look and use your personal judgment, perhaps you need less space between the rows of thatch or maybe they should be closer together, do you feel they should be thicker or thinner etc, it’s really up to you so have fun and enjoy the process.

Firstly, make sure that any roof decoration/alteration/painting around the edges etc is complete and dry before you begin.

 Mark a line from one side of the roof to the other, around 6cm from the lower edge of your roof as a guide then cut some coconut fibre into 10cm (aprox) strips. 

Generously spread some sealant or calk onto your roof (aprox 6cm square).

Tip: I use both calk and sealant, the sealant does not dry ‘bouncy’ like it would around a bath, it also stretches a little more and dries clear so that you can’t see it through or on the thatch so it’s great for finishing off the top layer. 

Push/slide a thin layer (aprox 0.5cm thick, 3-4cm wide) of coconut fibre upwards from the base of your roof into the sealant/calk and leave a large overhang of 4cm and press down. 

Tip: this is a messy job so it’s a good idea to wear a pair of thin latex gloves, if not have an old flannel/face cloth in a bowl of water close buy so you can clean your fingers regularly. 

Continue filling up the bottom layer in the same way.

The second layer should sit around 2cm up from the first layer; again mark a line from the top of the first layer 2cm up.  Spread a generous layer of calk or sealant and overlap it onto the previous layer leaving the bottom 3/4 free from any sealant.  Again push or slide a section of the pre-cut (10cm) coconut fibre into the sealant and onto the roof.

Continue until you have completed a full row.  Then repeat this whole process on both sides of the roof until you have approximately 4cm left of roof to cover.

This is where the artistic bit starts.

Take a piece of card 8 cm wide x the length of your roof.  Fold the card in half length ways so you have two sections 4cm x roof length and set aside.

Take a small bunch of coconut fibre and the string, bend the coconut fibre in half and tie tightly with string, do this with several bunches, enough to cover the top of your roof.  Wet the coconut fibre bunches and then hang up to dry.

Take the card and spread some sealant down one side.  Next press a thin line of coconut fibre (aprox 0.5cm) onto the sealant being sure not to overlap the fold line.  Do the same on the other side, be sure there is no sealant showing through and cover with a piece of paper.  Stack some heavy books on top to weight it down and leave overnight.

When you return to the thatched card lift the books and paper and leave it to sit for a little longer, before going any further be sure that it is fully dry.

Take another piece of card and make a template for your pattern.  Place the pattern onto the thatched card and using some sharp scissors cut the shape into the card and thatch on both sides.

Tip: to help you gain the shape you want you may have to cut the basic shape, step back and take a look from a far then gently trim any straggly strands a few at a time like clipping a hedge until the desired effect is achieved. 

Trim a straight line around the base of the roof, I like to leave a wide overhang but use your judgment here.

Next you will need to trim the thatch on your roof.  It’s much like a haircut, using sharp scissors aim the length of the scissors upward towards the top of the roof and cut upwards only on a sort of diagonal.  In this way you will avoid cutting chunks out of your new roof and it will achieve a much smoother finish.

Tip: if the thatch is sticking up to much or moving as you try to cut it. Place your hand on top and press down gently to hold it firm while you cut.

Tip: if you do end up with a couple of gaps or chunks missing, cut some thatching quite small, cover the end with sealant, open up the hole and slid the thatch into place, leave to dry and trim later.


Now cover the top of your roof with a thin layer of calk, place the dry, folded card on top and press down firmly and hold. If possible apply a small amount of pressure in the form of a clip or something to hold it in place for a few hours. 

When the roof is set, take the bent bunches of coconut fibre and stick a thin layer over the very top of the roof (and thatched card).  Once these are stuck in place trim to match the pattern you have already cut out. Repeat this until you can no longer see any card and the top of the roof is completely covered. 
Lastly take the string and glue it with PVA glue into a pattern to finish off the roof and make it look more authentic.  

Be sure to send pix to my facebook page of your roof when finished.


  1. Love this! Where did you find the coconut fiber in straight bundles like that? Can I purchase some directly from you? I've always wanted to try making a thatched roof like this for my daughers doll cottage.

  2. That is adorable. Just love the thatched roof!

  3. Yea, where the heck did you find that fiber??

    1. Try bird suppliers. They sell it in bundles of straight fibers for birds to pick out.

  4. You can get it on ebay fairly easily... it is coconut fibre. :)

  5. Can you tell me where you buy the conconut coir? I brought some on ebay but it is not like yours (straight and ready to glue)

  6. Will the roof be suitable for outdoor use ? My son wants to build a round house style bug hotel and he wants a thatched roof !!