11 Alternative uses for Thatching Materials

The Thatch Advice Centre receives a lot of random enquiries.  A recent couple of calls were both about alternative uses for thatching materials.  Knowing all the problems with plastic pollution it was great that people were thinking about using thatching straw as drinking straws.  It then got us thinking about how many different uses we knew for thatching materials…. Other than for thatched roofs!

Straw Finials

Our first thought was the wide range of fabulous finials that adorn the ridges of many thatched cottages.  From straw birds to foxes and other animals, even aeroplanes have adorned the rooftops.  This fits in well with our current Finial Fun picture competition too!

Thatch Finial - pig - alternative uses of thatching materials


Water Reed has also been used for matting for floors, although not so much in the UK.

Wattle and Daub

Some older properties have reed used as woven wattles in construction of the wattle and daub walls and ceilings.

Straw Bee Skeps

Many beekeepers have the skill of turning thatching straw into a bee skep.  Some of us have even been on a course and used some of our thatching straw to make a bee skep.  In the past, skeps were mostly used to house whole bee colonies but now tend to be used for collecting swarms.

Bee Skeps - alternative uses of thatching materials

Corn Dollies and Straw Work

The length of thatching straw lends itself to the making of corn dollies and other straw works.  This is a fascinating skilled craft and the designs are wide and varied.  Thanks to Elaine from Something Corny for the pictures.

Corn dollies and straw work - alternative uses of thatching materials

alternative use of thatching straw - corn dollies and straw works


This is Water Reed used as a woven mat over rafters instead of battens.

Animal Bedding

Thatching Straw which doesn’t make the grade and old thatching materials can both be used for animal bedding.  Recycling at its best.


Straw is used to make large targets for archery.

Target - alternative uses of thatching materials


Water Reed is used to make attractive and substantial fencing panels.  At Thatch HQ we have several reed panels on the boundary.  These fencing panels are sometimes used as “pretend thatch” on small structures eg garden buildings or mobile beach bars etc.

Reed Fencing - alternative uses of thatching materials


More recycling!

In some European countries the old thatching reed is composted and then sold to the public for their gardens.

Alternative uses for thatching materials - compost


Boats of varying styles and sizes have been made from Water Reed over the centuries.  Ancient Egyptians were thought to have navigated as far as the Black Sea on reed boats.

Do you know any other uses for thatching materials?

This is the limit of our ideas on alternative uses for thatching materials.  If you know any more, let us know and we will add them to our list. We’d also love to see any pictures of skeps or corn dollies you have made yourselves – send us an email or leave us a comment on our social media posts.

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