For over two centuries thatch was the standard material for pitched roofs at the Cape. At the museum this tradition is maintained as the buildings are still thatched in the traditional manner.
The reeds are placed on laths and are tied to them with tarred twine, but before the ends are tightened the thatcher pushes up the ends of the stalks with a special wooden board that is perforated with hundreds of holes halfway through its thickness in such a manner that only one straw overlaps another.
The reed when dried takes on a brown colour which is rapidly transformed by wind and rain into black. Average thatch lasts up to 25-30 years provided it is well cared for.