Frequently Asked Thatching Questions
Please see below answers to questions which I am frequently asked. If there are any other queries please don’t hesitate to contact me.
How Long Will My Thatched Roof Last?
The life span of a thatched roof depends on a number of factors; the materials used, the orientation of the house (North or South), any overhanging tree’s, as well as the style and shape of the property, i.e. valleys, windows etc. One of the main factors is the pitch of the roof; the steeper the pitch the faster the rain water is dispersed. Generally, Water Reed is thought to last the longest around 30-40 years and Combed Wheat Reed on average 25-30 years, there are always exceptions. Ridges on average 10 -15 years, with the block ridge generally outlasting the traditional flush ridge.
What type of thatch should I choose?
If you live in a listed building you may have to replace like for like. Some local councils look favorably upon the reinstatement of the traditional materials such as wheat reed. If your building is not listed i would be happy to advise you on the benefits of each type. Please see my section on Thatching Materials for more information.
How can I tell if my roof needs re-thatching?
Thatch is usually more evident when it is nearing the end of its useful life or needs maintenance. Look out for fixings starting to show e.g horizontal lines across the roof or spars sticking up. The coat-work should have a nice even look, if gullies or dips are forming work will be required.
Dark wet patches under the eaves show how much water penetration there is. Thatch roofs need to shed the water as quickly as possible so valleys which have a larger volume of water will generally not last as long as the flatter steeper coat-work, also moss and lichen can slow the progress of the rainwater down and speed up deterioration. A roof which still looks a little worn, may still be doing its job. Please send me a photograph if you have any concerns.
If my property is Listed, what does this mean for my thatch?
Listed building consent is required for alterations affecting the character of these properties, from doors and windows to thatch. A change of the thatching materials is also included in this. For example, if you have a wheat reed coat-work and a flush ridge, then you will have to replace like for like.
If you would like to find out if your thatched cottage is Listed, you can search on the National Heritage List for England or alternatively you can contact your local authority.
What are the benefits of thatch?
Thatch has numerous benefits; both aesthetic and practical. It is a very good insulator; it will not only keep you warm in the winter time, but cool in the summer. It is also an excellent sound insulator. Being an entirely natural material it has no carbon footprint, as well as blending beautifully into the landscape. The character of the material allows moisture to escape naturally allowing the whole house to breathe. A very important factor in older buildings.
What are the fire risks?
Some people are put off thatch by fear of fire. However this is a pre- conception as statistics show that thatch properties are less likely to be involved in fires, mainly due to the extra care taken by their owners. By far the biggest cause of thatch fires is due to wood burners, either through faulty flue liners, burning inappropriate materials or poor chimney conditions. Please see my section on Chimneys for further information (link)
Many of these fires can be prevented, It is advised that your chimneys should be swept at least once a year, or more frequently if wood is burnt. If you do have a woodburner, only use seasoned wood.
When can I start?
The more notice you can provide, the better, as at peak times of the year, I do have a waiting list. I will always come and provide advice and an estimate, if required at the earliest opportunity.
In case of emergency, such as having a leak, I will carry out a repair as soon as possible, keeping your roof safe and dry.
For any work I quote for, I will always provide an expected start date for the work to begin and keep you updated on the progress throughout the job, even if you do not live at the property.