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How long does a thatched roof last?


How long does a thatched roof last?

The lifespan of a thatched roof is mostly dependent on the thatching material used and how well the roof is maintained. It is estimated that a roof will need rethatching anywhere between 15-40 years.

Water reed is thought to last the longest having a lifespan of around 25-40 years, with some lasting up to 60 years. Combed wheat reed is estimated to last anywhere between 25-35 years while long straw may need rethatching after 15-25 years.
Thatched roofs need regular maintenance and upkeep to limit deterioration. Thatch will naturally degrade over time however small repairs and maintenance will help prolong the roof until it is required to rethatch the whole roof. It is highly recommended that checks are carried out prior to and after the winter season in particular.
The ridge of a thatched roof is most vulnerable to adverse weather and requires more maintenance than the main body of the roof. Ridges are strong and durable however need replacing on average every 10-15 years.
Thatch is a natural material and pollutants in the environment or high humidity levels will have an effect on the lifespan of a thatched roof. The thatch must also be able to dry effectively after becoming wet, with no trees or plants hindering the drying process or blocking sunlight. 
On average it takes 2-3 thatchers around one month to thatch a standard sized roof. When a roof needs completely rethatching it is advised to research and seek multiple quotes to ensure a reputable and experienced roof thatcher is used. 
If other tradesmen need to add fixtures or fittings to the roof, try to limit any damage caused by equipment, ladders or walking on the thatch as this will cause it to wear quicker.
Indication of wear
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  • Patching may occur in the thatch, usually caused by animals as opposed to adverse weather. It is always best to check that patching isn’t associated with other issues of the thatched house or thatched cottage. To repair this, patches are applied in the same material as the thatch and held by wooden spars or screws.
  • Moss or lichens may appear on the thatch. These can be removed however if it is severe, it may be advised to leave them until the entire roof is rethatched.
  • On the ridge, any wire netting may be raised slightly following the wearing of the thatch. If the thatch has deteriorated, wooden spars may appear loose or sticking out.
Around 75% of thatched properties are listed buildings, therefore when rethatching a listed property, it is essential to consult your local council listed building department prior to the work being carried out. 

In the event of any damage cause when rethatching, it is essential to have adequate thatch insurance in place. 

To find out how Higos can help, visit our thatch insurance page or call our dedicated thatch team on 01458 270 352.

Posted by: Higos Insurance Services Ltd