Thatched Roof Lifespan  

Are you looking to have your thatch roof repaired or replaced? If so, you’re going to need to ensure that you’re hiring the best team for the job. All NSMT member thatchers made informed decisions concerning the care and maintenance of listed buildings, drawing on their professional skills and experience. When it comes to thatched roofs, our member thatching specialists consider the current condition of the property and the past performance of the thatch to offer the best possible solution.  

As the leading body of thatchers in the UK, we’ve cultivated a database consisting of the best thatch specialists in the country. Our members work to the highest industry standards, so you can trust that you’re in safe and capable hands. So whether you need to have your thatch roof or ridge replaced, require insurance repairs, or need a different thatch-related service, you can count on our NSMT members. Use our ‘Find a Thatcher’ feature to get started or call the NSMT on 01530 222954 

All About Thatched Roof Lifespan   

The lifespan of thatched roofs is something that should always be taken into consideration when having a thatch roof fixed or replaced. The materials used, such as straw, water reed and wheat reed, can directly impact the lifespan of thatched roofs. But these aren’t the only factors to consider. At the NSMT, we assist owners and thatchers with maintaining thatched roofs on properties of historical significance and beauty.   

NSMT members utilise raw materials that have been judged and documented against specifications required through the NSMT materials quality programme. Such an assessment plays a vital role in the lifespan of the roof as it can help us determine whether a change in materials, material preparation techniques or other roof elements is necessary. Consideration like this helps greatly ensure the lifespan of thatched roofs and is what sets NSMT members apart from other thatching companies.  

How Long Does a Thatched Roof Typically Last?   

The lifespan of a thatch roof is largely determined by the material used. Water reed is considered to be the most durable material; thatching comprised of water reed will usually last upwards of 40+ years. Combed wheat reed is a lighter alternative that’s less durable than water reed. Wheat reed thatched roofs will typically last around 35 years. Next up is a type of straw known as longstraw. Longstraw thatch roofs will usually last up to 25 years.  

The ridge that runs along the roof’s top centre is often made from straw and has a life expectancy of around 10-15 years, though most companies recommend replacing the ridge after ten years.  

Factors that Affect Thatched Roof Lifespan   

Other factors that can affect how long a thatched roof lasts include:  

  • Quality of the Material Used  
  • Pitch of the Roof  
  • The Skill of the Thatcher  
  • Property’s Geographical Location  
  • Proximity of Tree  
  • Pollutants and Other Environmental Factors  
  • Presence of Birds/ Vermin  
  • Damage Caused by Other Trades Unfamiliar with Thatch  
  • The Breathability of the Roof  
NSMT - Best Thatched House Competition 2017 - 18

Roofing Materials   

As mentioned above, different roofing materials are used: water reed, wheat reed, and a type of straw known as longstraw. New properties are usually always thatched using water reed as it’s far more durable than wheat reed and longstraw. In addition, water reed typically provides a straighter, less rounded appearance than other materials. While it can be made to look like wheat reed, this will depend on the skill of the thatching specialist doing the work.

For decades, combined wheat reed was the thatching material of choice produced as a by-product from grain production. Today, it is a specialist product as combining harvesters means that only older equipment can still produce it. These roofs usually have a more rounded appearance than water reed but lack some of the durability. Ridges are usually made from combed wheat reed, though some can be made from rye straw, sedge, or heather.  

Longstraw is essentially the same as combed wheat reed but is produced using a different method once brought in from the field. Longstraw roofs sport a shaggier appearance and are the most labour-intensive thatched roofs to install. Not all thatching specialists are trained to work on longstraw roofs, so make sure you keep this in mind when looking for a company to work on your thatch roof.  

The Quality of Roofing Materials   

The quality of the roofing materials will undoubtedly have an impact on the lifespan of a thatch roof. For the best results, thatching materials grown in the same local region are typically used as these are far better suited to the local environment. At NSMT, we have our NSMT quality materials programme that judges and documents the materials we use against a strict set of specifications. This ensures the longevity of both thatched roofs and ridges.  

Weather Conditions   

Weather conditions can, of course, impact the lifespan of thatched roofs. Thatch roofs are all susceptible to humidity, high winds, and heavy rain, which will all serve to shorten the lifespan of the thatch. A trained team of thatch roof professionals will be able to discern the best solution based on the weather conditions present.  

Quality of Craftsmanship   

The quality of craftsmanship is easily one of the most important factors when it comes to thatched roofs. If you choose a thatch company with a less experienced team, you might find that the results aren’t what you expect. Thatched roofs worked on by NSMT members will showcase impeccable workmanship as we only endorse thatch companies that meet our high standards.  

Find a Master Thatcher   

If you would like to find a capable team that excels at working on thatched roofs, look no further than the NSMT. Our members are highly experienced and fully certified thatchers with a proven track record for excellence.  

Contact Us

For properties equipped with a thatch roof, the decision of which thatching company to call can sometimes be a tricky one. A team of thatchers might promise you the world but ultimately leave you disappointed. You’re likely not an expert when it comes to thatched roofs, so how do you go about making life easier for yourself? Simply leave it to the National Society of Master Thatchers to recommend the best local thatched roof specialists to come work on your thatch.  

The NSMT is the leading body of thatchers in the UK, with members dedicated to installing and maintaining thatch roofs up and down the country. We only work with the best, so you can trust you’re in capable hands. So whether you need a new thatch roof, roof or ridge repair, insurance work carried out, or something else entirely, you’ve come to the right place. Phone the NSMT now on 01530 222954, complete our contact form or email    


Roof Thatchers - National Society of Master Thatchers