The ridge is the most vulnerable section of a thatched roof and requires more maintenance than the main body of the roof.
Ridges are made from strong thatch materials such as combed wheat reed or long straw with liggers and wooden spars fitted to help protect and maintain the structure of the ridge. Liggers are used to hold the thatch in place while the wooden spars hold and support the liggers. Thatched roof ridges are installed in two different methods: butts up or wrap over ridging.
Butts up ridging consists of installing combed wheat reed with the butts1 facing up, which is a method mainly found in the West Country. Wrap over ridging is more common and tends to be completed using either combed wheat reed, long straw or sedge grass. Both methods can be used for the two main ridge styles: block cut or flush ridge.
Block cut ridges are placed on top of the thatched roof and on average are 4 inches thick. Some block ridges are straight cut while others are patterned (ornamental), dependent on the property owner’s preference. Common patterns include diamonds, scalloped edging or a unique pattern to suit the other features of the thatched house or thatched cottage. The wooden spars may also be installed in a pattern to enhance the visual appeal of the ridge.
Pictured: Block Cut Ridge
A flush ridge is different to block cut in its appearance and the way it is installed. It is fitted in line with the thatch and a shearing hook is used to trim the edges and blend them into the body of the thatched roof. Flush ridges are also supported by wooden spars which can either be placed straight or in a pattern. In the 19th Century it was common for flush ridges to be decorated similarly to cross-stitching however nowadays they tend to be plain.
Pictured: Flush Ridge
Both ornate and simple ridges give the same strong results and the main difference is the aesthetics of the thatched property.
For additional protection, most ridges are covered by wire netting to help prolong its lifespan, especially when the ridge begins to weaken over time. Wire netting prevents damage by animals, particularly birds, as it is harder for them to access the thatch. It also decreases the chances of wind damage by acting as a barrier and preventing the reed lifting away from the thatch in strong winds.
Once the wire netting is installed on the ridge, it provides an additional layer of protection however will cost more in maintenance. When re-ridging, thatchers will need to remove the wiring, remove the thatch from the old ridge and then replace the wiring once the new ridge is installed. The wiring will also need to be taken into consideration with other maintenance work between reridging.
Prior to any work being carried out on your thatched home, it is advisable to have adequate insurance in place. Our dedicated thatch team are highly qualified to find you the right policy to suit your needs. You can find details of our thatch insurance policies here or call the team on 01458 270 352.
1the thickest end of a bundle of reed or straw