Combed Wheat Straw / Long Straw Thatcher / Reed Thatcher

Materials used in Thatching

There are three main forms of thatching materials used in the UK today. These are Combed Wheat Straw, Water Reed and Long Straw. When re-thatching your roof you will often have to replace “like for like” materials for which some County Councils may offer financial assistance. Contact me or your local County Council for more information


Combed Wheat Straw

Combed Wheat Straw (or Wheat Reed) come in bundles to the Thatcher, thrashed to remove the wheat and combed leaving the butts of the stalks exposed. It is laid on the roof leaving only the butts showing as this is the most durable part of the plant and will ensure a long life.
When complete the wheat reed house will have a close-cropped, neat look and will possess excellent water shedding qualities. A well thatched roof in Wheat Reed should last approximately 30 years, although this is subject to elements.

Water Reed

water_reed_image2Water Reed is also known as “Norfolk Reed” as for the past few decades reed has been widely used from the this location. However, high demand has meant that most Water Reed is now imported from abroad.
Cut from marshes and waterways, this reed can be distinguished by it darker brown colour, feathery seed head, coarse look and feel.water_reed_image1
Applying water reed is similar to wheat reed and at a glance the two can be confused. Water reed can last for approximately 50 years.


Long Straw

Unlike Combed Wheat Straw, Long Straw exposes not only the butts of the plant but also the ears giving a more authentic and rustic appearance. A completed Long Straw roof has a rougher finish than combed Wheat Reed and is often bordered with liggers and Pattern spars to hold it tightly together.
The life expectancy of a long straw roof ranges from 10-20 years which is significantly shorter than wheat and water reed counterparts. Sadly, as a result of this and before local County Councils insisted on “like for like” coating, Long Straw, the most traditional form of thatching has begun to die out.

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