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S M Master Thatchers
Pool Road
DE73 8AA

01332 863572

07890 958730

The Art of Thatching

The art of thatching has been used in this country for centuries; Romans, Saxons, Tudors and Elizabethans all constructed buildings with thatched roofs. Thatch means roof made from material derived from plants.

Today many thatched roofs are constructed from water reed, wheat reed or long straw. Water reed being the most durable of all the materials.

A thatched roof needs a pitch of at least 45 degrees with water reed and 50 degrees using straw. This is obviously steeper than roofs with tiles. In simple terms thatching is a way of laying bundles of thatching material upon the roof and securing them in place but the process of doing so is highly skilled.

Water Reed Thatching

Water reed thatching is like most waterproofing of roofs, starting at the eaves of the roof and the fixing each course overlapping until the apex is reached. The reed face is dress back into position by using a tool called a Leggett. After the apex is reached the roof must be ridged, because water reed is not flexible enough to bend, straw or sedge(marsh grass) must be used to construct the ridge.

Long Straw Thatching

As above started at eaves. The straw has to be drawn out of a straw bed into yealms(small straw bundles) before being applied to the roof. Straw roofs are mainly thatched by hand rather than tools. The straw can be coated over an old thatch roof or be laid onto new rafters. At the apex, the roof can have a flush ridge or a block cut ridge as with water reed.

Combed Wheat Reed

As with water reed this is thatched virtually the same but this is a straw that has been put through a combing machine rather than a thrashing drum as with long straw. This material can also be coated over old thatch or thatched straight onto new rafters. Combed wheat reed will look similar to water reed from a distance.

When to Repair

Water reed should last approx 50 to 60 years.
Wheat reed should last approx 30 to 40 years.
Long straw should last 20 to 30 years.

Ridges should be replaced every 10 to 15 yrs the body of thatch should be maintained at these intervals and if needed patched.

These timescales also depend on a few factors: climate, material used and obviously the thatcher used.

When to Replace

Usually if the body of thatch has deteriorated so badly that the fixings are visable on the surface of the roof or if large scale slippage is evident.

Find Out More

Please feel free to download our brochure for more information