5 August 2015

King West

The Virtues of a Thatch

The quintessentially British Chocolate-Box-house of our childhood drawings. The image of rural village greens. The British craftsmanship of trades older than most Churches, a thing of beauty and heart-felt nostalgia.

Or, are they mice-infested money pits superseded in modern building methods by slate tiles topped with solar panels to ease our ecological conscience? 

When looked after, a thatched roof can last, on average, 40 years. When you see a thatched roof in good order, the question ‘Why thatch a roof?’ will never again enter your thoughts. No other roof type has the texture, swoops and rolls of a thatch. No other roofing option offers a home a personality like a thatch.

It is a widely prophesied misconception that insuring a thatched roofed home is an impossible or prohibitively expensive task. However, a dedicated insurance company can offer savings on both home and contents insurance whether the thatched property is your main or second residence. 

Thatch is natural and forms a waterproof roof when correctly cut, dried and installed. Traditionally, thatcher’s would use whichever crop was being grown locally; wheat, reed, straw, rye, barley or oat straw and even heathers have been used. The most durable of thatching materials is water reed or Phragmites Australis which can be expected to last as long as 60 years when installed properly. 

Thatched roofs are naturally waterproof. Crops used for thatching are chosen not to be waterlogged plants, soggy and bloated with water, but hollow inside. Water is kept out of thatcher’s materials by the tight overlapping of cells on the outer layers of the plants. Bundling enough of these water-shedding plants together in tight bales means water can’t penetrate and water does not absorb further than the first couple of centimeters into the roofing. 

The art of thatching consists of careful placement of bundles of reeds often five or six foot in length on top of one another. Each layer of thatch sits at approximately 12 inches. This style of roof is extremely thermally efficient and requires no attic ventilation. The thatch allows the home to remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter without trapping heat and moisture in the attic as with tiled roofs. Thatched roofs are also one of the strongest type of roof able to battle high winds with much better results than common asphalt strip shingles. 

From an ecological viewpoint, thatch is less demanding on the land and requires no mining or quarrying for the raw materials. Instead, crops promote wildlife and potentially grow in areas which are otherwise unviable as farmland. There is no waste from the production of thatch crops and no drain on natural resources.

When weathered to produce a deep, textured patina over decades of provision, the appearance of warmth and charm coupled with the performance, ecological profitability and durability, there is nothing better than a thatched roof. Prince Rupert’s Cottage, Clipston, on the market with King West is a fine example of just this.

If you have the opportunity to view a thatched property, we wholeheartedly suggest you do.


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