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What is a thatched roof made of?


What is a thatched roof made of?

Thatch meaning: when straw, reeds, palm leaves or similar are used as roofing material on a property

Thatch is an environmentally friendly, natural material that has been used on roofs for centuries. When produced and installed properly, it forms a waterproof and durable reed or straw roof.
There are three primary thatched roof materials:
  • Water Reed
  • Combed Wheat Reed
  • Long Straw

Water Reed

Water reed_180px

Water Reed has been used by roof thatchers for centuries and has the longest lifespan of all other thatching materials.

It is the most cost effective option for a thatched house or thatched cottage and varies in length and diameter depending on the source. Water reed is the most commonly used material in Europe and is found on reed beds near rivers.

When grown specifically to be used as thatched roof material, it should be harvested every year to ensure it is strong and durable.

Other names: Continental Water Reed, Norfolk Reed.

Combed Wheat Reed

Traditionally produced, Combed Wheat Reed is when wheat is harvested using a
binder, tied into sheaves1 and stooked2 in a field to dry.
Combed wheat reed_180px
In thatching, wheat is passed through a comber to remove the leaf and grain prior to being positioned on a roof.

Combed Wheat Reed appears more rounded than Water Reed when used as thatched roof material, and has a shorter lifespan.

The majority of ridges on a thatched roof are made from Combed Wheat Reed and can be patterned or straight cut depending on the structure of the thatched house or cottage.

Other names: Wheat Reed, Wheat Straw, Combed Wheat Straw, Devon Reed.

Long Straw

long straw_180pxLong Straw is the same material as Combed Wheat Reed however the process of application is very different.

Long Straw seems more rustic and rough in appearance due to the ears and butts3 of the thatch facing down and being visible once the roof is complete.

It is the most labour intensive material for a roof thatcher to apply.

If you own a thatched property and would like to talk to one of our qualified thatch insurance advisers, please call us on 01458 270 352.

For more information on Higos thatch insurance policies, visit our thatch page here.

1 bundles
2 when sheaves are positioned in small pyramid stacks
3 the thick end of a sheaf of reed or straw


Posted by: Higos Insurance Services Ltd