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Add a thatch lapa to your outdoors

Thatch lapas are a popular choice for adding a covered entertainment or extra living space to outdoor areas. The natural insulating properties of thatch create a structure that is cool in summer and warm in winter.


There's no doubt that our summer months are ideal for spending time outdoors and relaxing and a thatched lapa stays cool during the heat of the days, while providing the perfect cover for a rainy day. Plus, thatch is not only attractive, it is naturally insulating. In our hot climate, it is the thermal properties of thatch that make it extremely practical for adding an outdoor structure.

Thatch is a natural grass that is cut and dried and combined with materials locally available. Whether you decide to build your own thatch lapa or have someone build it for you, thatch offers homeowners an easy way to add shade and living space to an outdoor area. Here in South Africa, the materials used for thatch are abundant and there are local craftsmen and contractors (see bottom of this page for more information) that offer a variety of design options that allow you to erect a thatch lapa to meet your needs.

A thatch lapa can be as basic as a simple thatch roof mounted on treated poles to provide a shade covering, to a full on entertainment room that allows for year-round time outdoors. However, when considering the option of adding a thatch lapa, it is important that you get in touch with your local building authority to find out the local regulations - before you build. The regulations concerning erecting a permanent structure vary from region to region, and there may be restrictions in terms of location relating to walls and existing structures on the property.

Any structure with a roof requires building plan approval before the structure can be built.

Most thatched lapa designs consist of upright posts that are embedding in a concrete base approximately 600mm square by 600mm deep. These posts are topped off with ring beams that are secured to the posts and support the main (king) posts that are used to support the roof itself. A series of hips and rafters are then fitted to allow thatching laths to be fitted to form the roof, which is then covered with thatch.

The elements that form the basic structure can be fastened together using threaded rods, nuts and washers, or with galvanised fittings

Building your own thatched lapa will reduce the cost of erecting a lapa substantially, and you simply need to do your homework to find local labour with the requisite skills. Apart from the thatch, the materials used to build the structure can be found at pole yards that supply treated timber poles.

We have included a list at the bottom of this page to get you started in you want to add a thatch lapa to your outdoor area. Click here to download A Guide to Good Thatching Practices written by the SA Thatcher's Association where you will also find valuable tips and links to reputable installers.

As with any thatch structure, thatch should be treated with a fire retardant, and this is especially important if the structure houses or is close to an outdoor braai. Larger thatch lapas should also be protected with a lightning rod.

Suppliers of thatch materials and DIY plans:


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