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Care & Maintenance Tips For Your Thatch Umbrella

Thatch umbrellas are beautiful, exotic fixtures that transform any place into a tropical paradise. They're also eco-friendly, easy to install and long-lasting. However, to keep your thatch umbrella looking and performing its best throughout its life, you'll need to perform a few simple maintenance tasks from time to time. In this article, we'll cover the types of thatch commonly used for thatch umbrellas and what type of upkeep you can expect to do for each.

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How to Care for a Thatch Umbrella

At Forever Bamboo, our thatch umbrella products are available in various kinds of thatch. While they all share many similarities, each type calls for a slightly different maintenance routine. In this section, we will describe each kind of thatch umbrella that we offer and provide maintenance tips for each.

1. Mexican Thatch

Mexican thatch, one of our most popular umbrella materials, is a uniquely beautiful material consisting of woven sun-dried palm leaves. The trees these leaves come from are not harmed during harvesting, which means this product is endlessly renewable. Additionally, palm trees don't require many resources to grow, so our supply chain's carbon footprint is relatively low.

Mexican thatch lasts for two to three years, depending on your climate and how well you maintain it. Generally, you can expect your Mexican thatch to last longer in dry, warm climates. If you'd like to alter the size or length of your Mexican thatch umbrella, you can do so by cutting it with a razor blade or sharp scissors.  For the best look, we also recommend you "double layer" these umbrella covers. Double layering helps to give you a fuller look to your umbrella and can extend the life of the products.

2. African Reed Thatch

Our African reed thatch umbrellas are made completely from African cape reed thatch. The strongest, most durable natural thatch product, African reed thatch has been used for roofs for hundreds of years and stands up particularly well against strong winds. It is particularly popular for its natural color combination of greens, yellows, browns and charcoals, which are great for enhancing a wide variety of environments and are commonly used in theme parks and beach resorts.

Our African thatch, which is exceptionally resistant to low and high temperatures, is an excellent insulator. This means it will keep an area relatively warm in cold weather and relatively cool in hot weather. In short, African thatch will make the outdoors comfortable, no matter what time of year. One unique benefit of African thatch is that it's breathable, which means that it allows heat to escape through the roof, unlike roofs made of tin, tile, polycarbonate and other non-breathable materials. It's also extremely resistant to harsh weather and, with proper care and maintenance, can last up to 15 years. If you live in an area with high levels of humidity or rain, this is a fantastic choice for your project!

3. Tahitian Thatch

Our Tahitian thatch umbrellas are designed to capture the architecture and tropical feeling of Tahiti and the South Pacific region. They feature panels made by hand using sun-dried palm leaves, which ensures they are consistent in shape, size and quality. The leaves are also well secured in place, thanks to the strong nylon thread that holds them together, so you can expect them to withstand strong winds.

Also known as Fiji, Fijian or Brazilian thatch, Tahitian thatch is a natural material that features an attractive mix of light gray and tan colors, which are great for creating a tropical ambiance. It is also a preferred material for many Palapa builders and contractors for both commercial and residential applications. Water parks, poolside cabanas and beachfront resorts commonly use Tahitian thatch to create a tropical feel.

Like African thatch, Tahitian thatch also lasts up to 10 years if your climate conditions are not too harsh and you take good care of it. Even if you live in a harsher climate, you can extend the life of your Tahitian thatch umbrella by applying the proper treatment. A treatment we recommend and offer is called Thatch Safe, a sealant and fire retardant made especially for thatch. Applying this treatment will make your Tahitian thatch umbrella resistant to fire and pests.

If you plan to put your Tahitian thatch umbrella outside, keep in mind that some areas may require a certain treatment to adhere to fire codes. If you have bought or are planning to buy a Tahitian thatch umbrella, make sure to research local building standards, especially if you live in a zone where wildfires are common, such as California.

4. Artificial Thatch

Have you had to replace your thatch umbrella multiple times? If you would prefer a material with a longer lifespan and virtually no maintenance, consider switching to synthetic thatch. At Forever Bamboo, we offer umbrellas made of 100% recyclable, eco-friendly polyethylene materials that don't need any upkeep once they've been installed. Artificial thatch can last for 20 years, which is over four times longer than most natural thatch materials. It's also resistant to mold and pests, meaning you won't have to apply any treatment. If you've grown tired of maintaining and re-thatching your umbrella, an artificial thatch umbrella is a fantastic solution.

If you're wondering whether to choose artificial thatch but need more information, consider the following benefits:

  • Attractive: You won't be compromising on the appearance, either, as our synthetic thatch perfectly replicates the ornate artistry of Mexican and African palm thatch styles. To an untrained eye, artificial thatch is practically indistinguishable from natural thatch.
  • Versatile: Artificial thatch can be used in businesses, homes or any other space that could be enhanced by a tropical-style fixture.
  • Cost-effective: Artificial thatch umbrellas are a cost-effective, smart alternative to real thatch umbrellas, which generally must be replaced every five years or so. Artificial thatch resists climate-related wear and tear, which means you'll be spending less time and money on maintenance and replacement over the years.
  • Eco-friendly: At Forever Bamboo, we go to great lengths to make sure our natural thatch products are harvested sustainably. Staying true to this mission, our artificial products are made using eco-friendly, commercial-grade, high-quality plastic extrusions. Whether you opt for natural or synthetic thatch, you're making an environmentally-friendly choice.
  • Variety: Unlike natural thatch, faux thatch doesn't rely on availability or plant growing seasons. Since synthetic thatch consists of manufactured and formed HDPE, manufacturers can make synthetic thatch to imitate a wide variety of natural panel types. With artificial thatch, you could have the look of straight African thatch or frayed Mexican thatch. Faux thatch also has a more consistent appearance than its natural counterpart. As with any product made from dry leaves, the final appearance or natural thatch will depend greatly on the natural variations in the leaves used. If you opt for artificial thatch, you'll enjoy more texture and color consistency, all while still looking very natural.

Preventative Care for Thatch Umbrellas

As we mentioned in the sections above, our natural thatch umbrellas are not naturally fire-resistant. To make your thatch umbrella as safe as possible, we recommend that you apply a fire retardant, which will minimize the risk and damage of fire by removing combustible gases. If thatch treated with fire-rated coating comes in contact with fire, smoke will be reduced by over half, which lowers the chances of inhalation by anyone nearby. The product we recommend is our Thatch Safe Fire Retardant.

In addition to helping protect from fires, Thatch Safe Fire Retardant serves as a water-proofing agent and preservative agent when applied to thatch. It protects your thatch from bugs and other pests, and even provides protection against bacteria, certain fungi and molds, which can degrade the quality of your thatch. With this treatment, you can rest assured that the integrity of your thatch will be well preserved.

Thatch Safe Fire Retardant does not crystallize, weaken or harm your thatch in any way — treated thatch maintains all of its characteristics and structural strength. Furthermore, it doesn't contain any chemicals and solvents that are harmful to humans and the environment. Our sealant is water-based, meaning it's non-volatile and non-toxic, and by applying this fire-retardant coating to your thatch, you're further lowering its environmental impact by extending its lifespan. The more durable a product it is, the less it needs to be replaced, which conserves precious natural resources.

The application process is very straightforward. To apply our recommended fire retardant Thatch Safe to your thatch, follow these steps:

  1. Find a tool to apply the treatment. No special cutting tools or fasteners are needed for this project — you just need a conventional roller, brush or airless sprayer. However, make sure that any equipment contacting the thatch is either plastic or stainless steel. This will prevent chemical reactions and breakdowns.
  2. Make sure your surface is dry and clean. Although minimal preparation is needed for this project, the one thing you want to make sure of is that your thatch is dry and clean before applying any sealant. This will ensure maximum adherence.
  3. Apply the treatment. Apply Thatch Safe without diluting the product. Apply three coats. Each gallon provides approximately 150 square feet of coverage. Try to treat as much surface area as you can reach.
  4. Wait 24 hours. You must wait at least 24 hours for the first coat of Thatch Safe to cure.
  5. If desired, paint or stain your thatch. If you'd like to color your thatching, you can use your sealant as a surface primer and paint over it with latex paint or tint it with a water-based stain. However, you must wait a full 24 hours before doing this.

For more information on this product and how to use it, refer to our brochure.

How to Protect Your Thatch Umbrella From the Elements

Even with a high-quality protective coating, your thatch umbrella may still be vulnerable to certain natural elements. In this section, we will discuss how you can best deal with each.

Dealing With High Winds

While hand-woven thatch is known to stand up to winds up to 50 or 60 miles per hour, its resistance to stronger winds may vary. If you're expecting a storm with high winds, we highly recommend that you remove the thatch and store it inside in a safe place.

Dealing With Runoff

When your thatch umbrella is new and is rained on for the first time, it can leach a runoff that leaves stains and spots on the ground. To avoid this situation and the cleanup it will require, hose down your thatch thoroughly — which means all of the thatch and areas surrounding the thatch — once or twice a day for the first 30 days. However, if you continue to see runoff after 30 days, continue hosing it down every day until you no longer see runoff. If you don't do this, your paving could get stained from the runoff when it rains.

Dealing With Mold and Insects

If you live in a colder, damper climate, mold might start to accumulate on your thatch umbrella. If this happens, the solution is simple: just spray your thatch using a mild mold killer or bleach and water solution. If you live in a warmer climate, you might have to deal with an insect infestation, in which case we recommend that you call a reputable pest control company in your area and discuss treatment options.

Come to Forever Bamboo for All Your Thatch Umbrella Needs

Forever Bamboo is North America's leading supplier of thatch products. We offer our eco-friendly, high-quality products at reasonable prices, and our enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff is happy to help you with all your thatch needs.

We have worked with a vast array of clients, including zoos, theme parks, stadiums, casinos, beach resorts, interior designers, party planners, television shows, movie studios, golf courses, aquariums, home builders, restaurants and hotels. And we attribute our success as a business to our philosophy of providing our customers with superior products and service. We will share with you our comprehensive knowledge of our products, so you can make the best decisions possible and be satisfied with your purchase.

Feel free to browse our selection online, contact us using our form or give us a call at 619-937-2846.

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