Wessex Thatchers offer a complete thatching service to its clients. From discussions on plans for new thatched properties to repairs to old listed buildings, we are happy to talk to you about your requirements and work out the best and most cost effective thatching solution.
Wessex Thatchers have been established for over 25 years. In that time we have built up a wealth of experience in thatching all sorts of buildings in all of the three main thatching materials. Water Reed, Combed Wheat Reed and Longstraw. We offer free quotations and are not VAT Registered. Our customers like our friendly team, reliable service and excellent craftsmanship. This coupled with our competitive pricing and excellent references gives you peace of mind that we are a proven business who offer a proven quality service.
See below for more information on Thatch Fire Protection, Thatching Materials and Thatch lifespan.
We have looked after some of our customers for many years and are delighted that they return to us as their preferred master thatchers. Wessex Thatchers are proud of the work we do in maintaining thatched properties and heritage buildings which is important not only for our customers but also for the care of the buildings themselves.
We are pleased to be Associates of the Thatch Advice Centre as we want all our clients to make informed decisions on the best choices for their thatched properties.
We offer :
- Discussion on your thatched property and your requirements
- Assistance to architects on planning for thatched extensions and new builds
- Complete rethatch
- New ridges – both block or flush ridges
- Repairs to thatch
- Tidy of roofs with moss/lichen removal, dressing up.
- Replacement of flashings – lead or cement
- Advice on maintenance programme for thatch
- Advice and provision of up to date fire protection solutions
- Inspection reports for insurance purposes or if you are buying a thatched property
Fire Protection for thatch
Firstly, common sense is important in reducing the fire risk for thatch. Look at the Thatch Advice Centre Fire Safety Leaflet for good up to date advice. The Fire Service often can assess your thatched property’s fire risks and can also offer good general advice.
There are specialist fire protection systems available for thatched properties including fire retardant spray and fire barriers. Some are alarm systems, others suppression systems, others for chimneys etc. It is best to assess your risks and then decide on the best solution. We are happy to advise on any that you think may be of benefit. Have a look at the Burgoynes report (available as a download from www.thatchadvicecentre.co.uk) on the causes of thatch fires so that you understand the most up to date research in to this problem. The main problems is that thatch is hard to put out once it has caught fire so prevention is the word.
Fire Retardant Spray
We are certified sprayers of Magma Firestop fire retardant spray (www.magmafirestop.co.uk) as proven on Grand Designs Live.
This product :
- Is applied to the exterior (or interior) thatch (and/or wood).
- Gives an A rating for spread of flame under BS 476 Part III.
- Is an environmentally friendly product (does not contain Borates)
- Gives peace of mind.
- Gives potential thatch insurance premium reductions
- Dries clear and so does not change the look of the thatch.
- Has been tested internationally and is used throughout the world.
There are many fire barriers on the market to be applied under thatch.
We are familiar with and have supplied and fitted the boards as in the Dorset Model fire barrier solution to meet the B4 building Regulations.
We also like and use the THATCH-SAFE fire barrier which also meets the B4 building regulations but as it is the most breathable product we know of on the market (has the least detriment to the ability of the roof to breathe) and is also excellent for older roofs and those with less straight designs.
Many products are available but we have concerns that suppliers play on words which not everyone understands, fire, flame, insulation, integrity, resistance etc. They all have different meanings and their use can be misleading. Be careful that you understand what you are being offered and that it is fit for purpose and does what you think it does. Wessex Thatchers will not provide cheaper fire barriers which do not meet building regulations.
Thatching Materials Used
Wessex Thatchers have experience in crafting roofs with all thatching materials, Which one is yours?
Combed Wheat Reed and Longstraw
Both these thatching materials originated as a by product from grain production. Nowadays the varieties grown for food production have short straw so that thatching straw is grown specifically using the old varieties with the longer straw suitable for thatching. Popular varieties include Maris Widgeon, Maris Huntsman, Aquilla and N59.
Hybrid varieties of straw eg Tricale are also used for thatching and have shown good results.
These materials are grown and cut with a binder. Once cut their different treatment in production is what makes the straw Combed Wheat or Longstraw.
Combed Wheat Reed roofs will have all the butt ends of the straw showing. The roofs will have the soft cozy traditional thatched cottage look. The material is produced by putting the straw through a thrashing machine and then ‘combing’ the straws. These roofs generally thought of to last 20 – 25 years but we have one client whose roof has sections which are at least 60 years old.
Longstraw roofs have the straw prepared so that both ears and butt ends are visible. The appearance is therefore softer and shaggier than that of the combed wheat roof. Longstraw is generally thought of as having the shortest lifespan of all the thatching materials but it is thought of as similar to Combed Wheat.
This material is grown all over the UK, Europe and even China!. The most well known is Norfolk Reed which is the name given to Water Reed grown in Norfolk. Water Reed is the longest and are generally thought of as the strongest and longest lasting of the thatching materials. It is used for coatwork and not for ridging. Water Reed roofs are generally more angular and have a straight look but can be applied in a more ‘cozy’ looking fashion. Water Reed may last up to 30+ years but we have one client whose water reed roof has sections which are at least 50 years old.
Longevity of Thatch
The production of the material, skill of the thatcher in application, roof design, location, aspect and weather conditions are the main factors known to affect the longevity of the thatching materials. There are, of course, always exceptions to the rules.
NB If you own a listed thatched property you must replace the thatch with the same material as it was originally thatched in or obtain Listed Building Consent to change it.
Our understanding of the production of the materials means that we pride ourselves on sourcing quality materials to give you the best we can.