• Q What are thatched roofs made of? Thatched roofs are made from grasses, reeds, and other natural materials. The most commonly used materials in the UK are water reed, combed wheat reed, and long straw, although other materials such as heather, turf, sedge, rye straw and veldt grass are sometimes used, especially when historic preservation is an issue.
  • Q How often do thatched roofs need replacing? The longevity of thatched roofs depends on several factors, including craftsmanship and the materials used. A good water reed roof should last between 25 and 40 years; combed wheat reed lasts 25 to 35 years, and long straw has a lifespan of about 15 to 25 years. Regardless of the materials used, ridges generally have to be replaced within 10 to 15 years of installation.
  • Q Are thatched roofs expensive? There is a general misconception that thatched roofs are too expensive for the average homeowner. Actually, this is not true. Thatching is comparatively priced in most cases. Master thatchers price their work based on squares (a measurement of 10' x 10') and the average UK home measures between six and 12 square. Pricing also depends on the style of the roof, ridge type and style, and materials used.
  • Q Can you replace thatched roof with tiles? Yes, it is possible to replace a thatched roof with tiles. Some people choose to do so because their thatching is in such poor shape that it's not worth replacing. Others simply like the look of tiles better. However, be aware that replacing thatch with tiles requires your roofing contractor to strip everything down to the bare timbers and start from scratch.
  • Q How do thatched roofs work? A thatched roof provides both insulation and a water barrier by taking advantage of the natural properties of the materials used to construct it. Master thatchers layer bundles of thatched material on top of a roof's underlying structure to provide a top coat of up to 12 inches thick. No venting is needed because thatching material naturally breathes by itself.
  • Q How much do thatched roofs cost? It's not possible to provide a base price to work with as all master thatchers charge according to the materials they work with and the design of the roof in question. Thatchers base their prices on the amount of labour they have to put into the project plus the cost of materials. Water reed tends to be the most expensive material while long straw tends to be the cheapest.
  • Q How thatched roofs are made? Thatched roofs are constructed from the eaves up, by laying bundles of thatching material in overlapping layers working all the way up to the ridge. The thatcher then caps the roof with a ridge and finishes the job by trimming eaves and verges, installing flashing around chimneys, and installing box gutters underneath windows if necessary. If a custom ridge is desired for artistic purposes, it will require extra shaping and trimming.
  • Q How long will a thatched roof last? A well-constructed thatched roof could last between 40 and 60 years before having to consider stripping it down to the bare timbers and starting over. However, re-coating is often recommended in line with the general lifespan of the original materials used. For example, a water reed roof may need a re-coat after 20 years and then total replacement at the forty-year mark. Or, a second re-coat at 40 years may do if the base layer is still in good condition.
  • Q How often do thatched roofs Need Replacing? Thatched roofs only need replacing when thatching materials break down to the point of no longer being effective. On the low side, a long straw roof might have to be replaced or re-coated after 15 years; on the high side, a well-built water reed roof could last between 40 and 60 years before needing to be replaced.
  • Q What is thatched roof? A thatched roof is a roof made of natural materials that can include straw, grasses, and other plant-based materials. Thatching materials are bound together in bundles and then attached to the underlying roofing structure using plastic or metal fasteners.
  • Q Are thatched roofs dangerous? Thatched roofs are completely safe for residential use. In fact, they have been successfully installed in homes and commercial properties throughout the UK for hundreds of years. As long as property owners are careful to avoid fire hazards and certain kinds of household pests, there is absolutely nothing to worry about from a safety standpoint.
  • Q Are thatched roofs any good? This is a really tough question to answer. Thatching is a personal preference more than anything else. In terms of structural integrity, insulating properties and protection against the weather, thatched roofs are every bit as reliable as slate and asphalt. Those who prefer thatched roofs are usually more pleased with the historic look thatch offers.
  • Q Are thatched roofs waterproof? Yes, thatched roofs are completely waterproof. The natural materials themselves absorb only a small amount of moisture, and property owners who choose to have their roofs fireproofed with a fire retardant spray enjoy the added benefit of an extra moisture barrier.
  • Q Are thatched roofs fireproof? No roofing material is 100% fireproof, including thatching. Master thatchers can apply fire retardant spray, thatch batts, and an aluminium foil fire barrier to significantly reduce the risks of fire. For the record, thatched structures are statistically no more likely to catch fire than conventional structures.
  • Q Are thatched roofs safe? Thatched roofs are completely safe if installed correctly and maintained properly. Obviously, property owners must be careful not to allow contractors to walk on the roof and, in the event of rough weather, roofs should be inspected to ensure structural integrity.
  • Q Can you replace a thatched roof with tiles? A thatched roof can be replaced with tiles if the property owner decides to do so. Thatching materials must be removed all the way down to the bare rafters, so the job can be somewhat pricey. Property owners wishing to replace thatch with tile should get multiple estimates from roofers with plenty of experience working on thatched structures.
  • Q Can you insulate a thatched roof? Thatch is an excellent insulating material by itself – it generally doesn't require additional insulation. However, insulation can be added to the underside of a thatched roof if a property owner desires. Master thatchers generally recommend that insulation is kept to a minimum so as not to prevent roofing materials from naturally breathing.
  • Q Do thatched roofs have gutters? No, thatched roofs generally do not have gutters, and for two reasons. First, attaching gutters would be very difficult due to the nature of thatching material. Second, gutters are unnecessary. The thickness of the thatch coat at the eaves creates a natural overhang that projects water away from the structure.
  • Q Do thatched roofs attract vermin? Thatched roofs do not, as a rule, attract vermin. Still, there are always exceptions. In the event a thatched roof does attract vermin or birds, there are steps property owners can take to rid themselves of the pests. Doing so is important so as not to allow vermin or birds to compromise the structure of the roof.
  • Q How do thatched roofs keep water out? Thatched roofs keep water out in two ways. First, the materials themselves are naturally waterproof. Second, thatchers construct a roof by stacking bundles of thatching material on the roof in overlapping layers. The density of the thatch is such that it keeps moisture out.
  • Q Do mice live in thatched roofs? It is not normal for mice to live in thatched roofs, but that's not to say it's impossible. There may be times when mice find a thatched roof the perfect place to build their nests. Property owners should carry out routine inspections just to ensure their roofs are not housing pests; if pests are found, they should be dealt with immediately. Simply adding plastic or metal netting to strategic parts of the roof is often enough to keep mice and other pests away.
  • Q Why have a thatched roof? There are plenty of valid reasons to have a thatched roof on a residential property. Many people love the snug and cosy feel of thatch while others appreciate the historic nature of the construction method and materials. Thatching is certainly a nod to the UK's past, and something local councils are working very hard to preserve. Owners of listed properties may have no choice but to stick with thatching.
  • Q How to paint thatched roof? Thatched roofs are generally not painted; nor should they be. Thatching is a natural material that provides excellent insulation and a barrier to moisture if allowed to remain in its natural state. The only materials that should be added to thatching are plastic or wire netting along with certain fire-proofing materials, including fire retardant spray.
  • Q How to repair thatched roof? Repairing a thatched roof should always be left to a professional. Repairs can be made to eaves, verges, flashing or any portion of a roof's main surface area. They are generally made by removing the affected material and replacing it with a new coat of thatch.
  • Q How to maintain thatched roof? Thatched roofs do not generally require a lot of maintenance under normal conditions. However, it is recommended that property owners routinely inspect their roofs to make sure all is well. Simple maintenance tips include keeping the area above the roof clear (to allow for air circulation) and making sure no one walks on the roof. Indoors, loft spaces should be kept clear for easy access to the roof.
  • Q Where to buy thatched roof? Property owners should only work with master thatchers to install a new thatched roof or replace an old one. There are not nearly as many master thatchers in the UK as there were just 100 years ago, but their numbers are again growing thanks to a resurgence of this time-honoured roofing tradition. Your best bet is to fill in your details from our quote area at the bottom of the pages in this website and one of our carefully selected master thatchers will contact you to discuss your requirement. Alternatively, you could do an online search to find master thatchers in your area. Your local council might also be able to help.
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