How Long Does a Thatched Roof Last?

All you ever wanted to ask about maintaining thatch roof and its lifespan

Even though nowadays the majority of roofs are covered with modern roofing materials like cladding or asphalt, some homeowners still want to make their homes look unique and not like others.

Some people make use of tiles for this purpose, but some of them go further and get thatched roofs!

However, once you decide to get a thatched roof on your house, you will sooner or later face one big issue: how long can this type of roofing material last?

And it is a reasonable point of concern since thatching a roof is quite a tiresome task, and nobody wants to do it every year or two!
So in order to help you out, we have prepared this article for you.

After you read it, you will learn how much time a typical thatched roof is able to last without any fixtures or renovations. Also, we will tell you what lifespan different types of thatching materials have in particular.

Finally, you are going to learn what factors might influence the lifespan of your thatch roof.

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How Long Do Thatched Roofs Last?

If you are wondering about a thatched roof lifespan, you will be quite surprised to learn that this type of roof can last for quite a long time! Typically, a thatched roof will last for around sixty years.

Of course, yours will be able to last that long if you take proper care of it and the roof is well maintained regularly.

However, it is not only the maintenance routine that impacts the roof durability. The lifespan of your thatched roof will also depend on the type of material that you are going to use.

For example, you can compare the lifespan of different types of thatched roofs below:

  • Water reed thatch should last from 25 to 40+ years
  • Combed wheat reed from 25 to 35 years
  • Long straw thatch lasts from 15 to 25 years
  • Ridges need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years

Also, the quality of the material matters since it can contribute significantly to the life expectancy of your roof. So before you start thatching your roof, make sure that you find the best quality thatching material.

Otherwise, even with proper maintenance, your roof will not be able to last long enough.

How Long Do Thatched Roofs Last
leungchopan by crello

What Is a Thatched Roof Made Of?

Of course, everyone knows how thatch roofs look: eye-catching straw roofs, they remind us of those fairy tale houses from a children’s book! But are all these roofs made of only straw?

You will definitely be surprised to learn that they are not.

To be short, thatched roof is a type of roof that is made from organic plant materials. Those typically include the following alternatives:

  1. water reed
  2. straw
  3. grass
  4. bracken fern
  5. sedge plants
  6. wood shingles

In some areas, these roofs are referred to as “thatch roofs” or “thatch-thatched roofs”. However, the term applied can vary widely depending on the dialect or language of the region in which these roofs are used.

Thatch is a very old roofing material, as you probably know.

If you open any history textbook, you will surely find pictures there showing old houses with thatched roofs, like those of the Middle Ages.

In fact, historically there were periods where thatched roofs were even more common than, for example, wooden ones.

In some countries, thatch was even used for building homes instead of stone due to ease of construction and the availability of many different types of thatch!

Thatched roofs - how does that work?Thatched roofs – how does that work?

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What Factors Might Influence Your Thatch Roof Life Span?

The type of material used for thatching the roof matters greatly since it will influence the time that your roof will be able to last properly. We would say that this is probably the most important and deciding factor when it comes to how long a thatched roof lasts.

However, since there are so many different types of materials being used to thatch roofs, there are also many different qualities that each one of those materials brings.

Just to make it clearer for you to understand, check out a few most widely used thatching materials.

  • Water reed. This type of material comes closer than others to competing with traditional hardwood and stone roofing materials in terms of durability. Not only does it look aesthetically pleasing, but it also lasts for a very long period of time even if not maintained regularly.
  • Longstraw. This thatching material appears much more shaggy than the water reed. The install process takes way more labor and such a roof has a lifespan of only 15-25 years.

Nevertheless, it is not the end yet! There are a few more factors that we would like you to know about.

Each of them also plays an important role in your thatch roof durability and lifespan, so make sure that you take all of them into consideration.

What Factors Might Influence Your Thatch Roof Life Span
Torsakarin by crello

How Often Does the Roof Need Maintenance?

The frequency of maintenance that needs to be done on the roof after it has been built depends on its location. But also, environment matters, as well as how well it has been constructed.

For example, a thatched roof that is located somewhere in a crowded area with lots of people will certainly need more attention than an isolated self-built hut that is not frequented by people directly.

How Often Does the Roof Need Maintenance
paulvinten by crello

Weather And Climate

The weather conditions and climate of the area in which the roof resides have a great impact on how long a thatched roofing will last. For instance, areas with high humidity often lead to mold growth on thatch, as well as rot due to the moisture.

Of course, this will shorten your thatched roof durability.

The same is true for the areas with heavy rainfalls or high wind speeds. In this case, this weather can damage the structure of the roof over time, especially if it is not built well enough to withstand such extreme conditions.

Nevertheless, it is still possible for such roofs to last as much as 50 years (and in some cases even longer!) depending on their material, location, environment, and how well it was built, to begin with.

How Well Is It Built?

The structure of the roof itself also has a large effect on how long a thatched roofing material is able to last. For example, if the walls have not been properly attached to the roof, this may lead to serious damage over time.

The reason for this will be simple: environmental factors such as wind and rain erosion.

This is why it is very important that such roofs are built strong enough and with good quality materials.

This will help handle the majority of weather conditions, especially for those roofs that are intended to last longer than average.

How Well Is It Built
1markim via crello

Protection From the Elements

The roofing material that is used on your roof is a very important aspect that impacts a thatched roof lifespan.

The more protected it is in terms of the structure, the higher the chances for your roof to last for many years without much damage or wear and tear.

There is no need to explain that a roof with numerous tears and holes will sooner or later get damaged because of weather-related erosion! This is why regular repairs need to be done in order to ensure its well-being.

Location

You might not be aware of the fact that the positioning of a thatched roof on any given building affects how long a roof will be able to last greatly.

It happens because of the exposure these roofs have to different variations of weather which can cause damage over time if not properly maintained or taken care of.

This is why it is crucially important that you check out what sort of environment your roof will be exposed to, as well as how well it can withstand different weather changes, especially if the climate in your area is prone to frequent changes.

Species Of Thatch Used

The type of species that is used for thatching roof also affects greatly on how long a thatched roof lasts. See, there are many different types of thatching material (as you already know).

And each one of them has its own special and often unique set of characteristics. All that makes it suitable for certain environments over others.

If you want your roof to last longer than average, you should consider using the right material for your particular location.

Species Of Thatch Used
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Maintenance

Besides the location, there are other factors that affect your thatched roof durability. One of those factors is proper maintenance. It is very important that you act immediately once you spot any damage or wear and tear!

This is needed in order to prevent further damage and thus more expenses.

If your roof is left unattended for a long period of time, the roofing material may not be able to function as it is supposed to, and thus it will shorten its life expectancy.

So these are all the major factors that determine how long a thatched roof lasts.

The location, environment, duration of exposure to sunlight, type of material used, and how well it’s built are all essential factors in determining its overall lifespan.

While it may be possible for some roofs to last up to 50 years if things go right some may only manage 10 while others could end up lasting far less depending on how they’re affected by environmental factors.

Extra Issues That May Affect Your Thatched Roof Durability And Lifespan

As we have already mentioned, the quality of the thatching material, as well as proper and regular maintenance matter a lot when it comes to your thatched roof durability.

However, these are not the only factors that must be taken into consideration!

  • The skill of the thatcher also contributes to how long your thatched roof will be able to last for. Some thatchers can damage the roof if they are not familiar with the thatch or type of property.
  • The geographical location of your property. A thatched home on the sea coast will experience tougher weather conditions such as high winds and high humidity.
  • Vermin and birds can cause damage to a thatched roof if it isn’t correctly protected.

If you don’t pay attention to these factors, each of them could become a cause of leaks and other damage to your roof. In turn, it might lead to higher fixing costs.

This is why it is best to get your roof thatched to a high quality in order to avoid any additional unnecessary costs further down the line.

England's thatched roofsEngland’s thatched roofs

Thatched Roof Maintenance

Although a thatched roof can have quite a long lifespan, you might still need to do slight maintenance on a regular basis due to the factors listed above.

In addition, thatch tends to degrade naturally over time which means it needs fixture now and then. Luckily, in order to keep your thatched roof in a good condition, there are a few things that can be easily done.

  • Keep an eye on your roof throughout the year, especially before and after winter. It will help you to see where your roof needs repair.
  • Removing any trees and plants that cover your thatched roof is also mandatory. It will allow your roof to dry much faster after rain. The better sunlight can dry your roof, the less likely moss will grow on it.

Like this, now you are aware of not only the general lifespan of a thatched roof.

You have also learned what types of thatching materials are mostly used, and how you should maintain this type of roof so that it serves you longer than it usually does.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Are thatched roofs simply piled up?

No. Thatched roofs are woven together extremely tightly to form a nearly impenetrable surface that keeps out natural elements, rodents, and pests.

⭐Is thatched roof a bigger fire hazard than other types of roofs?

Not at all. Thatched roof can be set on fire the same easily as any other roof made of other materials.

⭐Can a thatched roof be infested by pests?

Yes, it can. This is why it is important to maintain it properly and regularly.

Written by Melinda Sherween
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Melinda worked as an art consultant and Home Designer for eight years in total. As an art consultant, she was first employed in a local art gallery in San Francisco where she was responsible for picking the most suitable artwork for her clients depending on their goals and budget. At this job, Melinda showed herself as a confident specialist and a true art lover with exceptional taste and artistic sense. Melinda is a passionate author of Housekeeping Bay and we are really happy that she is our Expert.
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