7 Points to Consider on Thatched Roof Condition

One of the questions we are regularly asked is “what is my thatched roof condition and does it need maintenance?” This is a bit of an open ended question as it depends on a variety of factors including who is asking the question and why.

Fixings showing on a worn thatched roof.

Who wants to know about Thatched Roof Condition?

This question may be asked by a variety of people:-

  • A tenant or homeowner
  • A thatched home owner’s family member
  • Someone thinking of buying a thatched property
  • An architect working on plans for a client
  • A builder renovating or extending a thatched property
  • A conservation officer who is dealing with a Listed Property situation or even a Building at Risk

Why do people ask about the Thatched Roof Condition?

Some of the reasons:-

  • Insurance requirements
  • Planning for future maintenance costs
  • Wondering whether to rethatch the whole of a property or just some sections
  • Considering adding an extension
  • Adding a thatched extension and unsure whether to re-thatch the whole lot or leave the existing roof as is.

Thatched Roof Condition – 7 signs that it may need Maintenance

There are a few common indicators on thatched roof condition which identify that the roof may need to be looked at by a specialist eg thatcher. Their response may mean that some maintenance work is required.

1 – Leak

This is a definite indication that the roof needs attention.  Leaks may often appear as damp patches inside a property, but be aware that water can run and the site of the leak may not be so obvious.

Problem with thatch - leak in ceiling


2 – Cracks and gaps in Cement/lime fillets/flashing

Where thatch joins sections of a property e.g. chimney, a cement or lime flashing is used to watertight the joint.  Over time this can become broken and therefore fixing it is recommended, before any gap allows the rain to penetrate the area.

Damaged cement fillet on thatch

3 – Horizontal lines across the roof.

If horizontal lines can be seen across a thatched roof it could be a sign that the roof is wearing down to the fixings. It may therefore need some attention in the near future.

4 – Gulleys vertically down a roof

If there is a gully going down a roof, it is a sign of wear.  Gullies often appear beneath a chimney or in a valley due to being areas which take more water flow when it rains.

gulley forming in thatched roof

5 – Raised Wire Netting

Netting placed over a new roof should be close to the thatch.  Once netting looks raised e.g. on a ridge it is often showing how much wear the thatch has had since new.

Raised wire netting on thatch

6 – Ridge Spars

Ridge spars which are broken, slipped down or sticking up are a sign of ridge wear.  It may still be serviceable, depending on whether the spars are only decorative or actual fixings.  Ridges can last from 10 – 12 years or sometimes longer depending on the material used and quality of thatching.

Broken and raised spars on thatched ridge.

7 – Holes in the thatch

Holes can often be a sign of vermin or bird damage.  Rats in a roof can do a lot of damage so need to be dealt with immediately.

Vermin in thatched roof

If theThatched Roof Condition indicates maintenance required.

Some of the above points on thatch condition obviously require immediate attention to avoid any potential further damage to property.  Other points are just indicators of wear and that the thatch may need looking at in the near future.  Getting the thatch checked by an appropriate specialist, and if works are required, booked in, would therefore be a good idea.  We always recommend you get more than one quote, compare like with like and make sure that you have all the information you need in writing to avoid any misunderstandings.

Remember that understanding a thatched roof condition will allow you to manage its care and that a roof which does not look pristine may still have good life left in it.  Look at your thatch regularly or take pictures so that changes over time can be monitored. Then you can be aware of any indicators that your thatched roof needs maintenance.

If in doubt, ask.  We are always happy to help.

Share this article