Cape Reed Ceiling Boards: Masonite And Shutter Ply

Our Cape reed ceiling boards were developed to provide a natural-looking internal finish that balances a rustic feel with modern assembly methods. It is perfect for many types of structures, and has been effectively applied in hotels, outside gazebos and complements virtually any other resort structure. The Cape reed ceiling boards are manufactured with versatility in mind, but we use it in conjunction with Fiber Roofing’s line of synthetic thatch systems.

When we did our first Fiber Thatch synthetic projects we were faced with the problem that seen from the inside we wanted to have a natural Cape reed look but the few companies that were manufacturing ceiling boards with natural material glued to the one side made very substandard, low quality boards. We argued: “What is the use giving our customers a Fiber Thatch synthetic roof with a 20 year warranty, a life expectancy of more than 50 years but the reed on the ceiling boards start falling off after only a few years!” So…We decided to make our own!

African Cape reed tiles




Years of developing and testing went into perfecting the manufacturing process. We specified glue that would be colourless and would glue reed, which would always have moisture content, to a board and stay glued as the reed loses its moisture content over the years. We partnered with one of the leading glue manufacturers in the world and eventually had the glue perfected. It is needless to say that we see the “reed glue” as our property and will keep the formulation a secret. We have agreements in place that the glue will not be sold to any other company.

Our first major project with the new Cape reed ceiling boards was the ceilings of the Nelspruit International Airport’s interior. The complete Airport roof is thatch but because of health regulations, the possibility of insects that could drop on visitors, passengers being allergic, fire hazards, and, and the architects insisted on a ceiling underneath the thatch. Any types of ceiling accept a natural Cape reed ceiling would have destroyed the ambience and natural rustic Africa look they wanted. We received an order for nearly 6,000 boards. Today, 10 years later, we still get orders from visitors going through the airport, asking the management where they could buy the boards from and then ordering for a resort somewhere in the world. An agent such as Safari Thatch & Bamboo in the USA has over the years bought and sold thousands. Our Cape reed ceiling boards is a definite money maker!

Cape Reed Ceiling Board Manufacturing Process

The standard boards measure 1200mm x 2400mm and are manufactured with Masonite / Shutter ply boards as the base, with Cape Reed (Thamnochortus Insignis) glued to the other side. Manufacturing is a massive labour intensive task. Each reed particle is glued onto the board by hand to ensure proper alignment and to eliminate gaps. We have tried to mechanise the process but the end result was simply not the same. Although costly and labour intensive we derive some satisfaction from the fact that the Cape reed ceiling board division provides a sustainable living opportunity for many women who do not have access to other viable earning opportunities. (We employ between 30 to 100 woman and take pride that they are earning a wage much better than the average wage making this beautiful boards)

  • Standard Ceiling Boards: The standard Cape reed ceiling boards measure 1.2m (4’) by 2.4m (8’), but can also be manufactured in 600mm x 600mm (24” x 24”) dimensions. If customization is necessary, Cape reed ceiling boards can be cut into any shape.
  • Shutter Ply Boards: Cape Reed Ceiling-boards are also available in an exterior shutter-ply board version that is often used as a sub roof for our Fiber Synthetic Thatch Tiles. Our standard exterior shutter-ply board is 12mm in thickness.
  • Suspended Ceiling Systems: Cape Reed Ceiling boards are also used very successfully with suspended ceiling systems, either in 600mm x 600mm squares or in 600mm x 1200mm rectangular versions.

For any advice give us a call and we will advise and assist you. We have had more experience with the installation of Cape reed ceiling boards than anyone else in the industry.   Feel free to either give us a call at (+27) 11 903 9204 or drop us a line here.

African Cape reed tiles