A thatched roof imparts a unique charm to properties throughout the UK, reflecting the country’s rich architectural heritage. However, owning and maintaining such a roof comes with a responsibility to ensure its longevity and beauty. Both are dependent on a robust preventive maintenance routine.
In this blog, we will share essential tips on how to care for a thatched roof, preserving its rustic elegance for generations to come. These tips vary from regular cleaning and maintenance to specialised preservation techniques; thus, let’s dive right into the art of caring for a thatched roof.
According to Heart of England Thatchers, a thatched roof can last 15-40 years, if properly maintained. That is why it is so important!
Keep the debris to a minimum
Thus, start your regular maintenance by removing debris from your thatched roof. Fallen leaves, branches, and other organic matter can accumulate on the roof and trap moisture, leading to potential damage and rot. To prevent that from happening, gently brush off any debris by using a long-handled broom or a soft-bristled brush. This simple practice maintains the integrity of your roof while stopping any underlying problems from arising.
Get rid of algae, moss and fungi
Next, remove any algae, moss, and fungi. These pesky organisms cause the greatest threat. They often thrive in damp or shaded areas. If they are left to their own devices, algae and moss can cause premature rotting which can affect the performance, as well as aesthetics of the roof.
Fungi feeds on the cellulose in the thatch material, causing it to decompose. To prevent this overgrowth, inspect your roof. If you notice any moss or fungi on the surface, brush the area to remove as much of the growth as possible. Avoid using harsh chemicals or pressure washers, as they can damage the thatch and reduce its lifespan.
Make sure nothing is loose or damaged
Thatched roofs are exposed to the elements, constantly. Therefore, some areas may become loose or damaged. Regularly inspect it to ensure you address any issues promptly, preventing further deterioration. For damaged sections, replace the thatch with new material that matches the existing thatch, to ensure a seamless appearance and its general integrity. However, keep in mind that it is not always an easy thing to do. Thatching materials must be installed, removed and worked on by professional thatchers.
Apply a thatch sealer
Consider applying a thatch sealer, which extends your thatched roof’s lifespan by approximately 2 years by locking out moisture. It makes your roof more resistant to humidity and the elements. It also keeps out bacterial and fungal growths, hay fever, and dust, all the while making the thatch easy to clean.
Apply a fire retardant
Additionally, apply a fire retardant treatment to the outside of your thatch to protect it from embers and sparks from chimneys, fireworks, and UV rays. On average, these are reapplied every 5-7 years due to the natural degradation of the thatch. To be certain regarding what to use on your roof, consult with a thatch specialist or supplier to find the most suitable product for your specific thatch type. Regular re-application, following the manufacturer’s instructions, maintains the roof’s resilience to the elements. A thatch retardant product may also assist in reducing insurance premiums for these specialist roof coverings.
One of the most attractive features of thatch is its ability to be thermally efficient. It is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, which means it does not require attic ventilation like conventional roofing systems. The reason is: historically, thatched roofs had very little ventilation as gaps at eaves and abutments were filled with straw dollies or clay infill. However, proper ventilation of the roof void is still essential in keeping condensation, a natural threat to the underside of the thatch layer, at bay.
Keep an eye at overhanding branches
The natural beauty of a thatched roof is enhanced by its surrounding but pay attention to overhanging branches. Nearby and overhanging trees and branches can take years off the best laid thatch. Yew and Leylandi are the worst culprits because they produce sugars, which blow on the roof and feed the bacteria that rot thatch. Therefore, trim any trees or branches hanging over the roof.
Keep the birds away
Thatched roofs, with their nooks and crannies, are great nesting spots for birds and rodents.
Implement deterrents like bird spikes or a narrow mesh net over the thatch can act as a barrier from birds and rodents burrowing and getting in. However, before installing wire mesh over a thatched roof, you should check with your insurers. Fire officers do not normally advocate the use of wire mesh, as it inhibits the ability of the Fire Brigade to pull burning thatch easily from the roof surface in the event of thatch fire. For this reason, the presence of a wire mesh layer could increase your insurance premiums or even prevent you from getting insurance cover.
Promptly address rodent infestations too, especially if your roof includes thatching straw. Thatching straw might have grains left in the ears of the material, which is a food source for vermin. Also, if you are having rethatching work done, check for any creatures before it is wired in. Do not repair any damaged areas too until you are sure it is free of mice or rats living in the roof. It is a waste of time mending a hole if rodents or their young are still present. They will still wreak havoc. A bonus tip for rodents and birds: if there are any electrics in your roof space, install them in metal conduit, so they cannot be chewed through.
While the above tips provide a solid foundation for caring for your thatched roof, it is essential to recognise the value of seeking professional advice. Consulting with a reputable and experienced thatcher provides valuable guidance, inspections, and repairs tailored to your specific roof needs. These professionals have in-depth knowledge of thatching techniques, materials, and preservation methods ensuring your roof receives the best possible care. This upholds the authenticity of your thatched roof and provides you with peace of mind (knowing that it is in capable hands).
Need more help?
If you are unsure who to call, contact us at Trinity Rose anytime. We understand how much a thatched roof needs proper care and consistent maintenance. Thus, we can help you find the right thatcher for your property.