Traditional Thai houses are well designed to fit the lifestyle needs and climatic conditions of Southeast Asia. Thai houses typically have steep roofs arching upwards towards the sky. Both of the walls are inclined towards the center creating the illusion of height.
A functional aspect behind this design and structural element is easy ventilation. Hot air rises so the height of the roof keeps the house cool. Simplicity and open space are the core features of the Thai style house.
Additionally, a large number of windows and doors are aligned to facilitate an uninterrupted flow and circulation of air.
In the hot and humid tropical climate of Southeast Asia, the airy, open quality of a Thai house and the broad overhangs of its roof protect the interiors from both the sun and rain.
Thai house in the central plain has its roof line oriented along east west direction. This is to cut down the amount of sunlight into the main body of the house and at the same time obtain the maximum benefit of the cool winds.
Lanna house or Thai house of the north as a rule faces east with the roof ridge oriented along north south direction. The house is thus exposed to ample sunlight and at the same time protected from northern winds in the cool season.
Thai house of the northeast or "E-Sarn" region has its roof line oriented along the east west direction. The house is built with due considerations for dryness, hot temperatures in the hot season and cool temperatures in the cool season.
Thai house of the south has its longer side oriented in the east to west direction. Doing so would expose the house to full sun light almost half a day and also to strong winds which are liable to blow from east to west directions.
Elevated house facilitates the circulation of air and offers a more comfortable living space. It is cooler to live in and enhances protections from the risk of floods during the monsoon season. It also offers protection from hostile wildlife.
The ample space underneath the house on stilts is versatile. It is used as a living area in the hot season, as storage for farming equipment such as "kwian" (buffalo drawn wagon), planks, boats, ploughing set, large frying pan, etc. and as a place to keep live stocks.
The curved roof-ends which give the tip of the eaves a highly distinctive look and add to the graceful appearance of the Thai houses are symbolic of the 'nagas' or river dragons that adorn most of the Thai temples.
One practical feature of the Thai house is it can be easily assembled or taken down. The entire house is built in light, prefabricated sections with each section forming a wall. Each wall is then fitted together and hung on the superstructure - a frame of wooden pillars - without nails. In former times, the fact that the house could be taken down and reassembled with relative ease was well-suited to the indigenous way of life. Whenever there was a migration, the house would be taken down, stacked on a raft and floated down the nearest river to a new location.
According to superstition and traditional Thai belief, the raised thresholds of Thai houses prevent evil spirits from creeping in at night and disrupting the sleep of the inhabitants. And functionally, the raised thresholds act as a frame. All of the temples in
Thailand also have similar thresholds.
Additionally in the past, the thresholds of the door were raised to prevent babies and small children from falling into the water, Back in those days, majority of the houses were built along the rivers and canals.
In a typical old Thai house, the various rooms would be separate units connected by open walkways and the staircase was on the outside.
Most of traditional Thai houses are or have been made of teakwood. Since there were abundance of teak forests in the past in Thailand, homeowners from all walks of life could easily afford to build their houses with teakwood.