How long will my roof last?

Not an easy answer. Many factors play a part in the roof’s life, from the direction the roof faces, if it’s in a valley or on a hill or whether there are trees over hanging the roof. The pitch of the roof and quality of material and craftsmanship all play a part. So as you can see it’s not a clear cut answer but generally speaking 20 to 30 years for the main roof and 8-10 years for the ridge. If the ridge is left too long it will affect the top layers of thatch. Water reed will last longer than wheat reed in most cases.

How long will it take to thatch my roof?

Depending on roof size, complexity, style of ridge and access will all play a part in the time it takes.

What is the thickness of a thatched roof?

On an old roof, depending on how many previous base coat layers, it can be from approximately 14 inches thick (a single coat) to anything up to 4-5 feet thick. A new coat of thatch on a roof would be between a minimum of 12 inches to 15 inches.

Will I get pests?

Some roofs avoid getting any vermin damage for the whole life of the roof, whilst others for some reason get targeted. Mainly by woodpeckers, crows, jackdaws and squirrels pulling at the reeds to get at any flies inside. Generally this is later in the roofs life when it is warn back. When the roof is tight and there is wire on the ridge, there shouldn’t be any problems. If there are problems in the area then the whole roof can be wired. When this is done well, it is not unsightly at all sitting tight to the roof.

Can I have a spark arrestor?

I would not recommend this because keeping it clean is an issue, a chimney should be 1.8 metres above the thatch.

Should the moss or lichen be removed?

A small amount shouldn’t be a problem, but it isn’t good long term. If there is a heavy covering it stops the thatch from breathing, holding the moisture in and not allowing it to dry out properly, thus speeding up the rotting process. When the roof is old and in its very last year’s I would have to see what the reed is like underneath, because removing it could cause more harm than good so a closer inspection would be needed.

Can I choose the material for my roof?

Roofs that are listed or in a national park have to be replaced on a like for like basis, keeping the traditional look of the area alive.

What benefits does a thatched roof have?

Thatch is a great roofing material. It keeps the heat in remarkably well in the winter and in the summer it keeps it cool. Thatch is organic and decorative having a patina like no other when it has had a few years of weathering on it.

Can I have my summer house thatched?

Yes. Depending on structure, strength and pitch a lot of roofs can be thatched as long as a few basic fundamentals are achieved. A roof should be 45 degrees or more in pitch to have the desired effect of water runoff, although roofs can be thatched with a lesser pitch but will not last as long.

Where is the reed from?

The water reed is from Europe and because of the high demand the well known Norfolk reed doesn’t get down as far as Devon or Somerset. I use a reed from suppliers who import from known reliable growers. Each type of reed has different properties that lend itself to a particular building that I would chose accordingly.

The Wheat reed I use is always grown by farmers in Devon and Somerset, growing reliable consistent quality reed with hardly any travel miles. It is then put through an old threshing machine to remove the grain before being bundled and baled ready for use.

Is it waterproof?

A question I get asked more often than you’d think. Yes it is waterproof. It’s only the top few inches of reed that the water penetrates. Gravity causes the droplets of water to fall from one reed to the next, shedding it from the roof in the same manner as slates or tiles would.

Do you work all year?

Yes I do. There aren’t many days I don’t work due to the weather. Contrary to popular belief, the baking hot summer days are where I lose most time due to there being no shade on a roof. Strong wind can also stop play due to it being dangerous working at heights.