How Long Does a Thatched Roof Last? (UK)


How long do thatched roofs last? How long will my thatch roof last? What is the lifespan of a thatch roof? Is it really possible to get a new thatch roof for free? Does your thatch roof need replacing? Fortis Roofing Farnborough have answers to all these questions and more.

Water reed thatch lasts for approximately 30 years; combed wheat lasts for approximately 30 years, and straw lasts for approximately 20 years. While it may be true that thatched roofs can last up to 60 years when regularly maintained, they will eventually need replacing.

A thatched roof usually lasts for several decades if its construction is good enough and maintenance is regular. It may last even longer if made from certain materials. Rainfall is another important consideration. If there’s too much rain, some roofing materials may get damaged by water-logging. Also, if the roof has been exposed for a long time without any maintenance, then its lifespan could be reduced significantly.

What is Thatch Made of?

A thatched roof is usually made of three main materials: water reed, combed wheat reed, and long straw. There are some regional differences in the types of each, as well as their qualities and availability. The use of long straw has decreased over the years as farmers prefer shorter varieties of wheat because it is easier to grow and harvest. Thatching is no longer a by-product of agriculture but is now grown exclusively for that purpose.

How is Thatched Roof Built?

In its original form, thatching was applied directly onto the roof timbers. Attached to the timbers at angles of 20 degrees, they’re stacked one atop another until the roof edge forms a slant of 40–50 degrees. As the slope gets steeper, so too does the drainage get better. In addition, the steeper the slope, the greater the volume of rainwater that needs to flow off the roof; therefore, the roof pitch must be chosen carefully to balance these factors.

A thatched roof is waterproof if its layers are tightly bound together so that no air pockets exist between them. Since the dry thatching has a longer lifespan than the rest of the grass, it’s possible to remove the top layer every 10 years or so but keep the bottom layers intact. It can save a lot of time in the long term.

Advantages of Thatched Roofs

Compared to other types of roofing material like slate and tile roofs, thatched roofing offers several advantages including lower cost, easier installation, fewer maintenance requirements, and better ventilation. Some of the other benefits include:

  • Thatch roofs are naturally breathable, preventing rot.
  • They have good insulating properties since there is a lot of trapped air in the bundles and hollow reeds, so there is no need to insulate the loft.
  • In addition to being cool in summer, thatched roofs have low heat conductivity
  • The material is naturally sourced so they are more environmentally friendly.
  • In addition, they are visually stunning.
  • Costs are reduced because gutters and drainpipes are not needed


Disadvantages of Thatched Roofs

Thatched roofing is not suitable for all types of climate. For example, it cannot withstand strong winds. It also requires a lot of maintenance. However, with proper care and regular maintenance, thatched roofs can last for many years and enhance the beauty of your property.  Some other drawbacks include:

  • These roofs can be a fire hazard.
  • They need to be maintained regularly because of rotting that may occur naturally over time.
  • The roof pitch should be adequate to prevent accumulation of snow.

Thatched Roof Installation Cost

To know the cost of thatched roof installation, you have to factor in the material costs as well as the labour costs. In the UK, the price averages about £700 per square foot. Although, this may vary based on where you live. Also, to know the exact cost, it is recommended to reach out to a skilled thatcher in your locality.



How often should a thatched roof be replaced?

A thatched roof should be cleaned once a year and re-tightened. It is generally recommended to install a new roof thatch ridge every 10 – 15 years. The lifespan of the coatwork will differ depending on the material used.

 Is a thatched roof expensive to maintain?

Thatched roofs are cheaper to maintain, but you’ll be paying more for your buildings or contents insurance because they pose a bigger fire risk than slate roofs. Thatch roof repairing can be difficult and sometimes more frequent than most other roof types.. It is not recommended to use thatch roofs on commercial roofing projects.

 Do thatch roofs leak?

Yes, thatched roofs do leak, especially when heavy rainfall occurs. This is why it’s important to check your roof thoroughly before any rainfalls. If you notice water leaking from the eaves or downspouts, then call a professional immediately.

See our previous post here: How to Build a Pitched Roof


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