Thatched house

Article

Thatch care guide

If you succumb to the lure of life beneath a thatched roof, you and your family will be well rewarded.

Your home will keep you warm in Winter and cool in Summer and, whether your perfect thatch is a period cottage or a new property.

If you give you're thatched roof the love and attention it requires it will never lose its charm.

Just like any other part of a building, a thatched roof needs periodical maintenance and small repairs. By regularly inspecting and maintaining your thatch, you can prevent problems such as vermin damage or rot from shortening the lifespan of the roof.

Remember, even small repairs are best carried out by a professional thatcher.

  •  Take time to stand and look at your roof - unlike a conventional roof, it is very obvious if a thatched roof is in a poor condition.
  • If fixings are exposed in parts of the roof, it indicates that the thatch is either nearing, or has reached the end of its life.
  • If gullies are appearing (vertical deep patches of rot), these will require the attention of a Master Thatcher.
  • Dark wet patches on the eaves close to the wall indicate the thatch is leaking.
  • If the roof is covered in heavy moss, it could mean that the thatch is unable to breath and is therefore unable to dry out properly.
  •  If you spot any problems contact a professional thatcher for advice - prompt action can often prevent a bigger (and more expensive problem) from developing.
  • If contractors have to work on your roof (to repair a chimney or fix an aerial) make sure they speak with your thatcher first to ensure any roof ladders or equipment they use, do not damage your thatch.

Uninvited guests

Owners of thatched properties are sometimes not the only ones who appreciate the warmth and beauty of their quintessential English roof.

Nesting birds, mice, rats and even squirrels can end up making a hole in your pocket as well as your thatch, if they decide to set-up homes in your roof. However, with vigilance and the right precautionary measures, thatch owners and wildlife can live peaceably alongside each other, by following some simple guidelines:

  • Walk around your property and have a good look at the roof once a week - if pieces of your thatch are sticking out in loose clumps, with holes above, this could indicate that you and your family are not the only inhabitants of your property.
  • If you suspect your roof is playing host to mice, rats or squirrels, contact your thatcher or pest control officer for immediate advice.
  •  Deal with repeat offenders - wire netting applied all over the roof will prevent birds and vermin from gaining entry and is recommended on combed wheat roofs (long straw) and for water reed roofs if birds and rodents are a persistent problem.
  • Birds are particularly fond of nesting under eaves - particularly if the thatch has not been properly fixed in place, or has become loose. To remedy the problem, call in a thatcher before the birds start looking for nesting sites in early spring.
  • Encourage birds to nest in your garden, rather than your roof, by providing a variety of nest boxes around your property.
  •  Watch out for squirrels in autumn and winter - they are particularly fond of hiding their nuts in thatch and also like to sharpen their teeth on the lead flashing around chimneys.
  •  The worst damage is caused by rats, which gain access to the roof space and then burrow their way out through the thatch. For advice about preventing and dealing with rats in and around your property contact your local pest control officer.
  • Rats like an easy food supply, so make life difficult for them by feeding wild birds and poultry in recommended feeders (rather than scattering it on the ground) and removing the feeders at night. Also avoid throwing food waste on your compost heap and make sure your bin bags are stored where rats and foxes cannot gain access to them.