Maintaining and Fixing a Thatched Roof 

Tracing back to the Bronze Age, thatched roofs are an essential element of the traditional English countryside scenery. Though these roofs have existed for centuries, they haven’t always been universally admired.

Throughout the years, people have had a love-hate relationship with thatched roofs. They have been compared to Marmite in the property world and fell out of favour during the 1980s and 1990s.

However, times have changed, and the concerns associated with thatched-roof properties have diminished. Furthermore, with the rising focus on sustainability and reducing energy costs, thatched roofs have made a comeback as an eco-friendly construction material. As a result, new country homes are now being built with thatched roofs.

Having suitable non-standard home insurance is crucial as it can cover the costs of repairing or replacing a damaged thatched roof.

When to refurbish a thatched roof?

One of the most significant decisions regarding thatched roofs is whether to rethatch or repair them.

If a roof has been leaking or losing thatch for an extended period, and traditional repairs have proven ineffective, rethatching might be the best solution.

However, if the roof looks slightly worn (with thin or patchy thatch, visible fixings, or an increase in moss and algae), a repair should suffice.

Repairing damage caused by birds or storms on a thatched roof is relatively simple and cost-effective if addressed quickly.

How to maintain a thatched roof Proper roof maintenance can extend the life of a thatched roof.

If you own a house with a thatched roof, it is advisable to clean it annually. Removing leaves, fir needles, moss, and algae enhances the roof’s durability and allows it to dry more quickly, preventing the growth of fungi that can decompose the thatch.

Consider these key points during maintenance:

Hand-clean your roof – Cleaning a thatched roof should be done by hand.

Various rakes can be used to remove leaves and moss without damaging the roof. Contrary to popular belief, raking does not spread fungal spores.

Control trees and shrubs –  Maintain nearby trees and bushes to keep the roof dry. Excessive shade slows drying, while too much overhang causes continuous dripping and dew, creating ideal conditions for fungus growth.

Manage algae growth –  Algae on the thatched roof inhibits natural drying by the sun and wind, reducing the roof’s lifespan. Spraying an algaecide can kill algae or moss, adding ten to 15 years to the roof’s lifespan and enhancing its appearance.

Avoid unnecessary damage –  Take care to prevent damage caused by ladders or walking on the thatch. Divots can accelerate thatch wear, and ridge damage can severely affect the roof’s lifespan.

How often should a thatched roof be replaced?

A professionally thatched roof should last between 40 and 50 years, similar to other types of roofs. However, the roof ridge needs replacement roughly every eight to ten years.

The longevity of thatched roofs can vary due to factors like the thatcher’s skill, material quality, roof pitch, and aspect (sun exposure).

Monitor your roof closely for any changes, particularly before and after winter. If your property is listed, consult with a conservation officer before rethatching.

How much does thatched roof repair cost? The cost of repairs depends on the roof’s size and complexity. Ridge replacement costs around 25% of replacing the entire thatch.

Investing in a well-designed ridge and fire retardant application can add value to the cottage. Netting to minimise bird and wildlife damage comes with an additional cost, but minor damage may not be significant.

Scaffolding is another expense to consider when planning repairs.

Non-standard home insurance for thatched roofs

Thatched-roof houses are classified as “non-standard” in the insurance world.

If you face difficulties in finding insurance coverage for your thatched-roof home, reach out to Mike Bartlett. We offer non-standard home insurance tailored to a variety of homes, ensuring a hassle-free experience for insuring your home. Get a quote today.