Patching and Repairs to Thatched Roofs.

It is often unnecessary to thatch a complete roof. Instead, patching or replacement of the straw or reed can be undertaken to remove the decayed material. This enables the lifetime of a whole roof to be extended.

There are several indications to show when repairs are necessary.

Assessing the remaining life of a thatch is not easy. The rate of deterioration varies greatly, according to the location, thatching material, the thickness of the coat and the skill of the thatcher.

If it is possible to obtain details from the previous owners about the history of the roof, it is best to do so. It is not advisable to disturb the thatch and maintenance by way of climbing onto the roof should be kept to a minimum. If you have any doubts about the length of life span left in the roof, it is always best to consult the original thatcher. If he is not available seek another member of the Master Thatchers Association.

A long straw thatched roof is not normally stripped to the rafters. The lowest layers of straw tend to be left in place, often dating from the time of the first coat. These layers provide an invaluable historical record of the traditional thatching techniques, such as tarred cord ties and split hazel sways. A water reed roof is completely stripped to the bare rafters and new reed applied.


How will I know when repairs are necessary?

Where the netting is loose and the long straw has begun to shift, it may be possible to patch the appropriate area. In particular, repairs around the chimney and to the ridge must be carried out every ten years or so - this gives an opportunity to check the condition of the chimney as well. However, there will come a time eventually when the whole roof will require replacing.

Signs to be aware of are obvious vertical lines in the thatch, which show that the courses of long straw or reed are rotten and exposed hazel ties and spars that have moved, or visible holes.

The holes show that birds and animals are attacking the roof.

A further major sign of the failing of the thatch is dampness. A damp thatch will often have patches of moss and fungus growing on it. The dampness weakens both the thatch and the roof structure, and the roof will require rethatching imminently.


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