Thatching is the oldest form of roofing still in existence today, it has been in use for an estimated 10,000 years and is still popular even though an expensive way of roofing your house. However, there has been an increase in thatching's popularity over the last few decades in particular, thatched roofs have become fashionable! Today thatching is widely used on country houses and cottages, and even on some new builds and converted barns for a traditional look. Thatching offers many benefits, it is an ecologically renewable source, a superb insulator in winter and cool in the summer, offers an individual look, is comparatively cheap, raises the value of a house and is looked upon favourably when it comes to planning applications.
Thatching is available in a range of materials including Norfolk Reed, Combed Wheat Straw and Long Straw. Thatched roofs last up to 65 years depending on a variety of factors including the pitch of the roof, the weather and the type of thatch. Norfolk Reed is the most durable lasting up to 65 years, Combed Wheat Straw can last up to 40 years and Long Straw up to 20 years.
Before thatching the roof begins, the existing roof beams will be inspected, treated and repaired if necessary. The actual thatching process begins by setting up the eaves and attaching yealms to the ridge and apex with spars. Making a solid eave is the foundation of the thatching process and is called the brow course. Further yealms are then added in the same way until the apex is reached. With each yealm is laid in the same direction overlapping the layer beneath over the entire roof.
The weathering thatch is the main body of the thatch which is laid in vertical strips called "strakes" or "stulchs". These strakes are laid in layers and attached to the rafters using steel thatching crooks and horizontal sways. The thatch is then combed with a rake to get rid of any loose straw or reed and to ensure it is lying vertically. Long lengths of split hazel or willow tapered at each end called liggers are then attached to help fix the thatch in place.
The eaves and apex are then cut to make the thatch neat and straight. For re-thatching, normally the original thatch needs to be removed only down to the brow course, then a new thatch layer can be laid over the top. However, sometimes damage to the original thatch is so bad that an entire new roof is required.
The cost of thatching a roof varies greatly depending on the size, shape and design of the roof; type of thatching material, type and pattern of ridge, ridge and apex height, if there is existing thatching to be removed, condition of the underlying timber and the required thickness of the thatching coat. As a rough price guide, thatchers price work in 10 feet by 10 feet squares which will cost on average between £600 and £800. To get a quote for replacing or repairing your thatched roof, please use the free quote service on this site by clicking the "post your job" button to receive a number of quotes from thatching specialists in your local area.