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"Thatch" redirects here. For the racehorse, see Thatching (horse). For the aircraft maneuver, see Thach weave. For other uses, see Thatch (disambiguation).
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Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge (Cladium mariscus), rushes, heather, or palm branches, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. Since the bulk of the vegetation stays dry and is densely packed—trapping air—thatching also functions as insulation. It is a very old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates. Thatch is still employed by builders in developing countries, usually with low-cost local vegetation. By contrast, in some developed countries it is the choice of some affluent people who desire a rustic look for their home, would like a more ecologically friendly roof, or who have purchased an originally thatched abode.

A thatched pub (The Williams Arms) at Wrafton, North Devon, England
Inside view of an Inca roof in one of the few reconstructed buildings of Machu Picchu

Contents

Thatching methods have traditionally been passed down from generation to generation, and numerous descriptions of the materials and methods used in Europe over the past three centuries survive in archives and early publications.

In some equatorial countries, thatch is the prevalent local material for roofs, and often walls. There are diverse building techniques from the ancient Hawaiian hale shelter made from the local ti leaves (Cordyline fruticosa), lauhala (Pandanus tectorius) or pili grass (Heteropogon contortus).

The multi-tiered Meru towers of the Besakih temple in Bali are thatched with black ijuk fibres.

Palm leaves are also often used. For example, in Na Bure, Fiji, thatchers combine fan palm leaf roofs with layered reed walls. Feathered palm leaf roofs are used in Dominica. Alang-alang (Imperata cylindrica) thatched roofs are used in Hawaii and Bali. In Southeast Asia, mangrove nipa palm leaves are used as thatched roof material known as attap dwelling. In Bali, Indonesia, the black fibres of the sugar palm, called ijuk, is also used as thatching material, usually in temple roofs and meru towers. Sugar cane leaf roofs are used in Kikuyu tribal homes in Kenya.

Wild vegetation such as water reed (Phragmites australis), bulrush/cat tail (Typha spp.), broom (Cytisus scoparius), heather (Calluna vulgaris), and rushes (Juncus spp. and Schoenoplectus lacustris) was probably used to cover shelters and primitive dwellings in Europe in the late Palaeolithic period, but so far no direct archaeological evidence for this has been recovered. People probably began to use straw in the Neolithic period when they first grew cereals—but once again, no direct archaeological evidence of straw for thatching in Europe prior to the early medieval period survives.[page needed]

Many indigenous people of the Americas, such as the former Maya civilization, Mesoamerica, the Inca empire, and the Triple Alliance (Aztec), lived in thatched buildings. It is common to spot thatched buildings in rural areas of the Yucatán Peninsula as well as many settlements in other parts of Latin America, which closely resemble the method of construction from distant ancestors. The first Americans encountered by Europeans lived in structures roofed with bark or skin set in panels that could be added or removed for ventilation, heating, and cooling. Evidence of the many complex buildings with fiber-based roofing material was not rediscovered until the early 2000s. French and British settlers built temporary thatched dwellings with local vegetation as soon as they arrived in New France and New England, but covered more permanent houses with wooden shingles.

In most of England, thatch remained the only roofing material available to the bulk of the population in the countryside, in many towns and villages, until the late 1800s. Commercial distribution of Welsh slate began in 1820, and the mobility provided by canals and then railways made other materials readily available. Still, the number of thatched properties actually increased in the UK during the mid-1800s as agriculture expanded, but then declined again at the end of the 19th century because of agricultural recession and rural depopulation. A 2013 report estimated that there were 60,000 properties in the UK with a thatched roof; they are usually made of long straw, combed wheat reed or water reed.

Gradually, thatch became a mark of poverty, and the number of thatched properties gradually declined, as did the number of professional thatchers. Thatch has become much more popular in the UK over the past 30 years, and is now a symbol of wealth rather than poverty. There are approximately 1,000 full-time thatchers at work in the UK, and thatching is becoming popular again because of the renewed interest in preserving historic buildings and using more sustainable building materials.

Straw-thatched house at the historic village of Shirakawa-go, a World Heritage Site in Japan
Korean traditional straw thatched house

Thatch is popular in the United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, parts of France, Sicily, Belgium and Ireland. There are more than 60,000 thatched roofs in the United Kingdom and over 150,000 in the Netherlands.[citation needed] Good quality straw thatch can last for more than 50 years when applied by a skilled thatcher. Traditionally, a new layer of straw was simply applied over the weathered surface, and this "spar coating" tradition has created accumulations of thatch over 7’ (2.1 m) thick on very old buildings. The straw is bundled into "yelms" before it is taken up to the roof and then is attached using staples, known as "spars", made from twisted hazel sticks. Over 250 roofs in Southern England have base coats of thatch that were applied over 500 years ago, providing direct evidence of the types of materials that were used for thatching in the medieval period.[page needed] Almost all of these roofs are thatched with wheat, rye, or a "maslin" mixture of both. Medieval wheat grew to almost 6 feet (1.8 m) tall in very poor soils and produced durable straw for the roof and grain for baking bread.[citation needed]

Technological change in the farming industry significantly affected the popularity of thatching. The availability of good quality thatching straw declined in England after the introduction of the combine harvester in the late 1930s and 1940s, and the release of short-stemmed wheat varieties. Increasing use of nitrogen fertiliser in the 1960s–70s also weakened straw and reduced its longevity. Since the 1980s, however, there has been a big increase in straw quality as specialist growers have returned to growing older, tall-stemmed, "heritage" varieties of wheat such as Squareheads Master (1880), N59 (1959), Rampton Rivet (1937), Victor (1910) and April Bearded (early 1800s) in low input/organic conditions.

In the UK it is illegal under the Plant Variety and Seeds Act 1964 (with many amendments) for an individual or organisation to give, trade or sell seed of an older variety of wheat (or any other agricultural crop) to a third party for growing purposes, subject to a significant fine. Because of this legislation, thatchers in the UK can no longer obtain top quality thatching straw grown from traditional, tall-stemmed varieties of wheat.

All evidence indicates that water reed was rarely used for thatching outside of East Anglia. It has traditionally been a "one coat" material applied in a similar way to how it is used in continental Europe. Weathered reed is usually stripped and replaced by a new layer. It takes 4–5 acres of well-managed reed bed to produce enough reed to thatch an average house, and large reed beds have been uncommon in most of England since the Anglo-Saxon period. Over 80% of the water reed used in the UK is now imported from Turkey, Eastern Europe, China and South Africa. Though water reed might last for 50 years or more on a steep roof in a dry climate, modern imported water reed on an average roof in England does not last any longer than good quality wheat straw. The lifespan of a thatched roof also depends on the skill of the thatcher, but other factors must be considered—such as climate, quality of materials, and the roof pitch.

In areas where palms are abundant, palm leaves are used to thatch walls and roofs. Many species of palm trees are called "thatch palm", or have "thatch" as part of their common names. In the southeastern United States, Native and pioneer houses were often constructed of palmetto-leaf thatch. The chickees of the Seminole and Miccosukee are still thatched with palmetto leaves.

  • A thatching silvergrass (Miscanthus) field in Sandager, Denmark

  • Grassland with thatching grass on Imba Abba Salama Mt. in Haddinnet, Ethiopia

  • A closeup of English thatching

  • Bundling technique used in straw thatching

  • Inside view of a straw-thatched house

  • Thatched roof with snow, Japan

  • Outside layer of moss and lichen growing on thatch

  • Thatching by hay for making Pandals at Kolkata

  • Thatched roof made of ijuk, or black sugar palm fibres, at Besakih, Bali

  • Heather thatching at Culloden, Scotland

Good thatch does not require frequent maintenance. In England a ridge normally lasts 8–14 years, and re-ridging is required several times during the lifespan of a thatch. Experts no longer recommend covering thatch with wire netting, as this slows evaporation and reduces longevity. Moss can be a problem if very thick, but is not usually detrimental, and many species of moss are actually protective. The Thatcher's Craft, 1960, remains the most widely used reference book on the techniques used for thatching. The thickness of a layer of thatch decreases over time as the surface gradually turns to compost and is blown off the roof by wind and rain. Thatched roofs generally need replacement when the horizontal wooden 'sways' and hair-pin 'spars', also known as 'gads' (twisted hazel staples) that fix each course become visible near the surface. It is not total depth of the thatch within a new layer applied to a new roof that determines its longevity, but rather how much weathering thatch covers the fixings of each overlapping course. “A roof is as good as the amount of correctly laid thatch covering the fixings.”

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by . Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.(May 2014) ()
River houses on the River Kwai

Thatch is not as flammable as many people believe[citation needed]. It burns slowly, "like a closed book," thatchers[who?] say. The vast majority of fires are linked to the use of wood burners and faulty chimneys with degraded or poorly installed or maintained flues. Sparks from paper or burned rubbish can ignite dry thatch on the surface around a chimney. Fires can also begin when sparks or flames work their way through a degraded chimney and ignite the surrounding semi-charred thatch. This can be avoided by ensuring that the chimney is in good condition, which may involve stripping thatch immediately surrounding the chimney to the full depth of the stack. This can easily be done without stripping thatch over the entire roof. Insurance premiums on thatched houses are higher than average in part because of the perception that thatched roofs are a fire hazard, but also because a thatch fire can cause extensive smoke damage and a thatched roof is more expensive to replace than a standard tiled or slate roof. Workmen should never use open flame near thatch, and nothing should be burnt that could fly up the chimney and ignite the surface of the thatch. Spark arrestors usually cause more harm than good, as they are easily blocked and reduce air flow. All thatched roofs should have smoke detectors in the roof space. Spray-on fire retardant or pressure impregnated fire retardants can reduce the spread of flame and radiated heat output.

On new buildings, a solid fire retardant barrier over the rafters can make the thatch sacrificial in case of fire. If fireboards are used, they require a ventilation gap between boarding and thatch so that the roof can breathe, as condensation can be a significant problem in thin, single layer thatch. Condensation is much less of a problem on thick straw roofs, which also provide much better insulation since they do not need to be ventilated.

The performance of thatch depends on roof shape and design, pitch of roof, position—its geography and topography—the quality of material and the expertise of the thatcher.

Thatch has some natural properties that are advantageous to its performance. It is naturally weather-resistant, and when properly maintained does not absorb a lot of water. There should not be a significant increase to roof weight due to water retention. A roof pitch of at least 50 degrees allows precipitation to travel quickly down slope so that it runs off the roof before it can penetrate the structure.

Thatch is also a natural insulator, and air pockets within straw thatch insulate a building in both warm and cold weather. A thatched roof ensures that a building is cool in summer and warm in winter.

Thatch also has very good resistance to wind damage when applied correctly.

Advantages

Thatching materials range from plains grasses to waterproof leaves found in equatorial regions. It is the most common roofing material in the world, because the materials are readily available.[citation needed]

Farm-house in the Netherlands near Alkmaar. The combination of thatch and roof tiles is quite common in that area.

Because thatch is lighter, less timber is required in the roof that supports it.

Thatch is a versatile material when it comes to covering irregular roof structures. This fact lends itself to the use of second-hand, recycled and natural materials that are not only more sustainable, but need not fit exact standard dimensions to perform well.

Disadvantages

Thatched houses are harder to insure because of the perceived fire risk, and because thatching is labor-intensive, it is much more expensive to thatch a roof than to cover it with slate or tiles. Birds can damage a roof while they are foraging for grubs, and rodents are attracted by residual grain in straw.

Thatched hut in Lesotho

Thatch has fallen out of favor in much of the industrialized world not because of fire, but because thatching has become very expensive and alternative 'hard' materials are cheaper—but this situation is slowly changing. There are about 60,000 thatched roofs in the UK, of which 50–80 suffer a serious fire each year, most of these being completely destroyed. The cost to the Fire Brigade is £1.3m per annum. Many more thatched roofs are being built every year.[citation needed]

New thatched roofs were forbidden in London in 1212 following a major fire, and existing roofs had to have their surfaces plastered to reduce the risk of fire. The modern Globe Theatre is one of the few thatched buildings in London (others can be found in the suburb of Kingsbury), but the Globe's modern, water reed thatch is purely for decorative purpose and actually lies over a fully waterproofed roof built with modern materials. The Globe Theatre, opened in 1997, was modelled on the original Globe, which was destroyed by a fire on a dry June night in 1613 when a burning wad of cloth ejected from a special effects cannon during a performance set light to the surface of the thatch. The nearby Rose Theatre was actually thatched with cereal straw, a sample of which was recovered by Museum of London archaeologists during the excavation of the site in the 1980s.

Some claim thatch cannot cope with regular snowfall but, as with all roofing materials, this depends on the strength of the underlying roof structure and the pitch of the surface. A law passed in 1640 in Massachusetts outlawed the use of thatched roofs in the colony for this reason. Thatch is lighter than most other roofing materials, typically around 34 kg/m2 (7 lb/sq ft), so the roof supporting it does not need to be so heavily constructed, but if snow accumulates on a lightly constructed thatched roof, it could collapse. A thatched roof is usually pitched between 45–55 degrees and under normal circumstances this is sufficient to shed snow and water. In areas of extreme snowfall, such as parts of Japan, the pitch is increased further.

Excavation of the thatch at Moirlanich Longhouse
Section through the thatch at Moirlanich Longhouse

Some thatched roofs in the UK are extremely old and preserve evidence of traditional materials and methods that had long been lost. In northern Britain this evidence is often preserved beneath corrugated sheet materials and frequently comes to light during the development of smaller rural properties. Historic Scotland have funded several research projects into thatching techniques and these have revealed a wide range of materials including broom, heather, rushes, cereals, bracken, turf and clay and highlighted significant regional variation.

More recent examples include the Moirlanich Longhouse, Killin owned by the National Trust for Scotland (rye, bracken & turf) and Sunnybrae Cottage, Pitlochry owned by Historic Scotland (rye, broom & turf).

Wikimedia Commons has media related toThatching.
  1. Thomson, Lex AJ; Englberger, Lois; Guarino, Luigi; Thaman, RR; Elevitch, Craig R (2006). "Pandanus tectorius (Pandanus)". In Elevitch, Craig R (ed.). Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry(PDF) (1.1 ed.). Hōlualoa, HI: Permanent Agriculture Resources (PAR). Archived(PDF) from the original on 2012-10-21.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved2014-02-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Peter J. M. Nas (2003). The Indonesian Town Revisited, Volume 1 of Southeast Asian dynamics. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 215. ISBN 9783825860387. Archived from the original on 2017-03-13.
  4. "Houses", Fiji, Polynesia, archived from the original on 2009-07-26.
  5. Sedemsky, Matt (Nov 30, 2003), "Low-Tech Building Craze Hits Hawaii; Indigenous Thatched-Roof Hale Once Out of Favor, Now Seen as Status Symbol on the Islands", The Washington Post.
  6. Letts 2000.
  7. Moir, J; Letts, John (1999), "Thatch: Thatching in England 1790–1940", Research Transactions, English Heritage, 5.
  8. "Cotswold Thatched Roofs". Cotswold Life. 20 February 2013. Retrieved11 December 2018. they are set to increase and some house builders are meeting the demand for new homes with thatched roofs.
  9. Letts, John (2008), Survey (unpublished ed.).
  10. "Magical thatched homes that will enchant you". www.msn.com. Archived from the original on 2 April 2018. Retrieved6 May 2018.
  11. https://www.riet.com/media/vfr/leden/downloads/rapporten/De%20Nederlandse%20rietdekmarkt%2020-5-2010.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  12. Letts, John (2007), Growing Straw for Thatching: a guide, The COHT (Conservation of Historic Thatch Committee.
  13. Legislation, 1964, archived from the original on 2012-01-11.
  14. Andrews, Charles Mclean; Andrews, Evangeline Walker, eds. (1981) [1945], Jonathan Dickinson's Journal or, God's Protecting Providence. Being the Narrative of a Journey from Port Royal in Jamaica to Philadelphia between August 23, 1696 to April 1, 1697, Florida Classics Library (reprint ed.), New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 11.
  15. Pierce, Charles W (1970), Pioneer Life in Southeast Florida, Miami: University of Miami Press, pp. 53–4, ISBN 0-87024-163-X
  16. Thatching from the Bayleaf Palm of Belize, Palomar, archived from the original on June 8, 2007, retrievedJune 4, 2007.
  17. Thatch, UK: HCT, archived from the original on 2012-01-11.
  18. The Thatch & Thatching, UK: The East Anglia Master Thatchers Association, archived from the original on 2011-08-31.
  19. "Thatching Advisory Service". Archived from the original on 25 December 2012. Retrieved10 March 2013.
  20. "Florilegium urbanum - Physical fabric - Regulations for building construction and fire safety". users.trytel.com. Archived from the original on 26 October 2017. Retrieved6 May 2018.
  21. Letts, John, Unpublished photos and sample records.
  22. "Winter Japan at its Best". Addicted to Travel. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved7 September 2011.
  23. Walker, B, McGregor, C.& Stark, G 1996 Thatches and Thatching Techniques: A guide to conserving Scottish Thatching Traditions. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland Technical Advice Note 4.
  24. Holden, T G 2010 Thatch, in Jenkins, M ed. The Traditional Building Materials of Scotland Building Scotland: Celebrating Scotland’s Traditional Buildings Materials. Historic Scotland
  25. Holden, T G 1998 The Archaeology of Scottish Thatch. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland Technical Advice Note 13
  26. Holden, T G 2012 Moirlanich Longhouse, Killin: Changing techniques in thatching. Vernacular Building 35, 39-47.
  27. Holden, T G and Walker, B 2013 Sunnybrae Cottage, Pitlochry. Edinburgh: Historic Scotland Research report.
  • Letts, John (2000) [1999], Smoke Blackened Thatch: a unique source of late medieval plant remains from Southern England, Reading & London: University of Reading and English Heritage.

Thatching Article Talk Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Thatched Thatch redirects here For the racehorse see Thatching horse For the aircraft maneuver see Thach weave For other uses see Thatch disambiguation This article needs additional citations for verification Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources Unsourced material may be challenged and removed Find sources Thatching news newspapers books scholar JSTOR June 2013 Learn how and when to remove this template message Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw water reed sedge Cladium mariscus rushes heather or palm branches layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof Since the bulk of the vegetation stays dry and is densely packed trapping air thatching also functions as insulation It is a very old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates Thatch is still employed by builders in developing countries usually with low cost local vegetation By contrast in some developed countries it is the choice of some affluent people who desire a rustic look for their home would like a more ecologically friendly roof or who have purchased an originally thatched abode A thatched pub The Williams Arms at Wrafton North Devon England Inside view of an Inca roof in one of the few reconstructed buildings of Machu Picchu Contents 1 History 2 Material 3 Maintenance in temperate climates 4 Flammability 5 Performance 5 1 Advantages 5 2 Disadvantages 6 Archaeology 7 Examples 8 See also 9 References 10 Bibliography 11 Further reading 12 External linksHistory EditThatching methods have traditionally been passed down from generation to generation and numerous descriptions of the materials and methods used in Europe over the past three centuries survive in archives and early publications In some equatorial countries thatch is the prevalent local material for roofs and often walls There are diverse building techniques from the ancient Hawaiian hale shelter made from the local ti leaves Cordyline fruticosa lauhala Pandanus tectorius 1 or pili grass Heteropogon contortus The multi tiered Meru towers of the Besakih temple in Bali are thatched with black ijuk fibres Palm leaves are also often used For example in Na Bure Fiji thatchers combine fan palm leaf roofs with layered reed walls Feathered palm leaf roofs are used in Dominica 2 Alang alang Imperata cylindrica thatched roofs are used in Hawaii and Bali In Southeast Asia mangrove nipa palm leaves are used as thatched roof material known as attap dwelling In Bali Indonesia the black fibres of the sugar palm called ijuk is also used as thatching material usually in temple roofs and meru towers 3 Sugar cane leaf roofs are used in Kikuyu tribal homes in Kenya 4 5 Wild vegetation such as water reed Phragmites australis bulrush cat tail Typha spp broom Cytisus scoparius heather Calluna vulgaris and rushes Juncus spp and Schoenoplectus lacustris was probably used to cover shelters and primitive dwellings in Europe in the late Palaeolithic period but so far no direct archaeological evidence for this has been recovered People probably began to use straw in the Neolithic period when they first grew cereals but once again no direct archaeological evidence of straw for thatching in Europe prior to the early medieval period survives 6 page needed Many indigenous people of the Americas such as the former Maya civilization Mesoamerica the Inca empire and the Triple Alliance Aztec lived in thatched buildings It is common to spot thatched buildings in rural areas of the Yucatan Peninsula as well as many settlements in other parts of Latin America which closely resemble the method of construction from distant ancestors The first Americans encountered by Europeans lived in structures roofed with bark or skin set in panels that could be added or removed for ventilation heating and cooling Evidence of the many complex buildings with fiber based roofing material was not rediscovered until the early 2000s French and British settlers built temporary thatched dwellings with local vegetation as soon as they arrived in New France and New England but covered more permanent houses with wooden shingles In most of England thatch remained the only roofing material available to the bulk of the population in the countryside in many towns and villages until the late 1800s 7 Commercial distribution of Welsh slate began in 1820 and the mobility provided by canals and then railways made other materials readily available Still the number of thatched properties actually increased in the UK during the mid 1800s as agriculture expanded but then declined again at the end of the 19th century because of agricultural recession and rural depopulation A 2013 report estimated that there were 60 000 properties in the UK with a thatched roof they are usually made of long straw combed wheat reed or water reed 8 Gradually thatch became a mark of poverty and the number of thatched properties gradually declined as did the number of professional thatchers Thatch has become much more popular in the UK over the past 30 years and is now a symbol of wealth rather than poverty There are approximately 1 000 full time thatchers at work in the UK 9 and thatching is becoming popular again because of the renewed interest in preserving historic buildings and using more sustainable building materials 10 Thatch works on a house in Mecklenburg Germany Fishermen s Church in Born auf dem Darss municipality Germany Thatched cottages in the sand dunes Denmark Thatched roof house in Kilmore Quay Ireland Cahire Breton cottages at Plougoumelen Brittany France Thatched roofs in Kerene EthiopiaMaterial Edit Straw thatched house at the historic village of Shirakawa go a World Heritage Site in Japan Korean traditional straw thatched house Thatch is popular in the United Kingdom Germany The Netherlands Denmark parts of France Sicily Belgium and Ireland There are more than 60 000 thatched roofs in the United Kingdom and over 150 000 in the Netherlands 11 citation needed Good quality straw thatch can last for more than 50 years when applied by a skilled thatcher Traditionally a new layer of straw was simply applied over the weathered surface and this spar coating tradition has created accumulations of thatch over 7 2 1 m thick on very old buildings The straw is bundled into yelms before it is taken up to the roof and then is attached using staples known as spars made from twisted hazel sticks Over 250 roofs in Southern England have base coats of thatch that were applied over 500 years ago providing direct evidence of the types of materials that were used for thatching in the medieval period 6 page needed Almost all of these roofs are thatched with wheat rye or a maslin mixture of both Medieval wheat grew to almost 6 feet 1 8 m tall in very poor soils and produced durable straw for the roof and grain for baking bread citation needed Technological change in the farming industry significantly affected the popularity of thatching The availability of good quality thatching straw declined in England after the introduction of the combine harvester in the late 1930s and 1940s and the release of short stemmed wheat varieties Increasing use of nitrogen fertiliser in the 1960s 70s also weakened straw and reduced its longevity Since the 1980s however there has been a big increase in straw quality as specialist growers have returned to growing older tall stemmed heritage varieties of wheat such as Squareheads Master 1880 N59 1959 Rampton Rivet 1937 Victor 1910 and April Bearded early 1800s in low input organic conditions 12 In the UK it is illegal under the Plant Variety and Seeds Act 1964 with many amendments for an individual or organisation to give trade or sell seed of an older variety of wheat or any other agricultural crop to a third party for growing purposes subject to a significant fine 13 Because of this legislation thatchers in the UK can no longer obtain top quality thatching straw grown from traditional tall stemmed varieties of wheat All evidence indicates that water reed was rarely used for thatching outside of East Anglia 7 It has traditionally been a one coat material applied in a similar way to how it is used in continental Europe Weathered reed is usually stripped and replaced by a new layer It takes 4 5 acres of well managed reed bed to produce enough reed to thatch an average house and large reed beds have been uncommon in most of England since the Anglo Saxon period Over 80 of the water reed used in the UK is now imported from Turkey Eastern Europe China and South Africa Though water reed might last for 50 years or more on a steep roof in a dry climate modern imported water reed on an average roof in England does not last any longer than good quality wheat straw The lifespan of a thatched roof also depends on the skill of the thatcher but other factors must be considered such as climate quality of materials and the roof pitch In areas where palms are abundant palm leaves are used to thatch walls and roofs Many species of palm trees are called thatch palm or have thatch as part of their common names In the southeastern United States Native and pioneer houses were often constructed of palmetto leaf thatch 14 15 16 The chickees of the Seminole and Miccosukee are still thatched with palmetto leaves A thatching silvergrass Miscanthus field in Sandager Denmark Grassland with thatching grass on Imba Abba Salama Mt in Haddinnet Ethiopia A closeup of English thatching Bundling technique used in straw thatching Inside view of a straw thatched house Thatched roof with snow Japan Outside layer of moss and lichen growing on thatch Thatching by hay for making Pandals at Kolkata Thatched roof made of ijuk or black sugar palm fibres at Besakih Bali Heather thatching at Culloden ScotlandMaintenance in temperate climates EditGood thatch does not require frequent maintenance In England a ridge normally lasts 8 14 years and re ridging is required several times during the lifespan of a thatch Experts no longer recommend covering thatch with wire netting as this slows evaporation and reduces longevity Moss can be a problem if very thick but is not usually detrimental and many species of moss are actually protective The Thatcher s Craft 1960 remains the most widely used reference book on the techniques used for thatching 17 The thickness of a layer of thatch decreases over time as the surface gradually turns to compost and is blown off the roof by wind and rain Thatched roofs generally need replacement when the horizontal wooden sways and hair pin spars also known as gads twisted hazel staples that fix each course become visible near the surface It is not total depth of the thatch within a new layer applied to a new roof that determines its longevity but rather how much weathering thatch covers the fixings of each overlapping course A roof is as good as the amount of correctly laid thatch covering the fixings 18 Flammability EditThis section does not cite any sources Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources Unsourced material may be challenged and removed May 2014 Learn how and when to remove this template message River houses on the River Kwai Thatch is not as flammable as many people believe citation needed It burns slowly like a closed book thatchers who say The vast majority of fires are linked to the use of wood burners and faulty chimneys with degraded or poorly installed or maintained flues Sparks from paper or burned rubbish can ignite dry thatch on the surface around a chimney Fires can also begin when sparks or flames work their way through a degraded chimney and ignite the surrounding semi charred thatch This can be avoided by ensuring that the chimney is in good condition which may involve stripping thatch immediately surrounding the chimney to the full depth of the stack This can easily be done without stripping thatch over the entire roof Insurance premiums on thatched houses are higher than average in part because of the perception that thatched roofs are a fire hazard but also because a thatch fire can cause extensive smoke damage and a thatched roof is more expensive to replace than a standard tiled or slate roof Workmen should never use open flame near thatch and nothing should be burnt that could fly up the chimney and ignite the surface of the thatch Spark arrestors usually cause more harm than good as they are easily blocked and reduce air flow All thatched roofs should have smoke detectors in the roof space Spray on fire retardant or pressure impregnated fire retardants can reduce the spread of flame and radiated heat output On new buildings a solid fire retardant barrier over the rafters can make the thatch sacrificial in case of fire If fireboards are used they require a ventilation gap between boarding and thatch so that the roof can breathe as condensation can be a significant problem in thin single layer thatch Condensation is much less of a problem on thick straw roofs which also provide much better insulation since they do not need to be ventilated Performance EditThe performance of thatch depends on roof shape and design pitch of roof position its geography and topography the quality of material and the expertise of the thatcher Thatch has some natural properties that are advantageous to its performance It is naturally weather resistant and when properly maintained does not absorb a lot of water There should not be a significant increase to roof weight due to water retention A roof pitch of at least 50 degrees allows precipitation to travel quickly down slope so that it runs off the roof before it can penetrate the structure Thatch is also a natural insulator and air pockets within straw thatch insulate a building in both warm and cold weather A thatched roof ensures that a building is cool in summer and warm in winter Thatch also has very good resistance to wind damage when applied correctly Advantages Edit Thatching materials range from plains grasses to waterproof leaves found in equatorial regions It is the most common roofing material in the world because the materials are readily available citation needed Farm house in the Netherlands near Alkmaar The combination of thatch and roof tiles is quite common in that area Because thatch is lighter less timber is required in the roof that supports it Thatch is a versatile material when it comes to covering irregular roof structures This fact lends itself to the use of second hand recycled and natural materials that are not only more sustainable but need not fit exact standard dimensions to perform well Disadvantages Edit Thatched houses are harder to insure because of the perceived fire risk and because thatching is labor intensive it is much more expensive to thatch a roof than to cover it with slate or tiles Birds can damage a roof while they are foraging for grubs and rodents are attracted by residual grain in straw Thatched hut in Lesotho Thatch has fallen out of favor in much of the industrialized world not because of fire but because thatching has become very expensive and alternative hard materials are cheaper but this situation is slowly changing There are about 60 000 thatched roofs in the UK of which 50 80 suffer a serious fire each year most of these being completely destroyed The cost to the Fire Brigade is 1 3m per annum 19 Many more thatched roofs are being built every year citation needed New thatched roofs were forbidden in London in 1212 following a major fire 20 and existing roofs had to have their surfaces plastered to reduce the risk of fire The modern Globe Theatre is one of the few thatched buildings in London others can be found in the suburb of Kingsbury but the Globe s modern water reed thatch is purely for decorative purpose and actually lies over a fully waterproofed roof built with modern materials The Globe Theatre opened in 1997 was modelled on the original Globe which was destroyed by a fire on a dry June night in 1613 when a burning wad of cloth ejected from a special effects cannon during a performance set light to the surface of the thatch The nearby Rose Theatre was actually thatched with cereal straw a sample of which was recovered by Museum of London archaeologists during the excavation of the site in the 1980s 21 Some claim thatch cannot cope with regular snowfall but as with all roofing materials this depends on the strength of the underlying roof structure and the pitch of the surface A law passed in 1640 in Massachusetts outlawed the use of thatched roofs in the colony for this reason Thatch is lighter than most other roofing materials typically around 34 kg m2 7 lb sq ft so the roof supporting it does not need to be so heavily constructed but if snow accumulates on a lightly constructed thatched roof it could collapse A thatched roof is usually pitched between 45 55 degrees and under normal circumstances this is sufficient to shed snow and water In areas of extreme snowfall such as parts of Japan the pitch is increased further 22 Archaeology Edit Excavation of the thatch at Moirlanich Longhouse Section through the thatch at Moirlanich Longhouse Some thatched roofs in the UK are extremely old and preserve evidence of traditional materials and methods that had long been lost In northern Britain this evidence is often preserved beneath corrugated sheet materials and frequently comes to light during the development of smaller rural properties Historic Scotland have funded several research projects into thatching techniques and these have revealed a wide range of materials including broom heather rushes cereals bracken turf and clay and highlighted significant regional variation 23 24 25 More recent examples include the Moirlanich Longhouse Killin owned by the National Trust for Scotland rye bracken amp turf 26 and Sunnybrae Cottage Pitlochry owned by Historic Scotland rye broom amp turf 27 Examples EditAttap dwelling Southeast Asia Blackhouse Scotland Ireland Chickee Seminole Palapa Mexico Roundhouse dwelling Iron Age European Teitos e pallozas Asturias and Galicia Spain Historic Villages of Shirakawa gō and Gokayama Shinmei zukuri Normandy Brittany FranceSee also EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Thatching Dethatcher for lawns Houses at Auvers depiction in art Swiss cottage Cahir Thatched cottage orne in Cahir Ireland Vernacular architecture Woodway House A thatched cob cottage orne in Devon England Withy A thatching material from willows The House of the Five Senses the largest thatch roof in the world in Kaatsheuvel NetherlandsReferences Edit Thomson Lex AJ Englberger Lois Guarino Luigi Thaman RR Elevitch Craig R 2006 Pandanus tectorius Pandanus In Elevitch Craig R ed Species Profiles for Pacific Island Agroforestry PDF 1 1 ed Hōlualoa HI Permanent Agriculture Resources PAR Archived PDF from the original on 2012 10 21 Archived copy Archived from the original on 2014 02 01 Retrieved 2014 02 01 a href wiki Template Cite web title Template Cite web cite web a CS1 maint archived copy as title link Peter J M Nas 2003 The Indonesian Town Revisited Volume 1 of Southeast Asian dynamics LIT Verlag Munster p 215 ISBN 9783825860387 Archived from the original on 2017 03 13 Houses Fiji Polynesia archived from the original on 2009 07 26 Sedemsky Matt Nov 30 2003 Low Tech Building Craze Hits Hawaii Indigenous Thatched Roof Hale Once Out of Favor Now Seen as Status Symbol on the Islands The Washington Post a b Letts 2000 a b Moir J Letts John 1999 Thatch Thatching in England 1790 1940 Research Transactions English Heritage 5 Cotswold Thatched Roofs Cotswold Life 20 February 2013 Retrieved 11 December 2018 they are set to increase and some house builders are meeting the demand for new homes with thatched roofs Letts John 2008 Survey unpublished ed Magical thatched homes that will enchant you www msn com Archived from the original on 2 April 2018 Retrieved 6 May 2018 https www riet com media vfr leden downloads rapporten De 20Nederlandse 20rietdekmarkt 2020 5 2010 pdf bare URL PDF Letts John 2007 Growing Straw for Thatching a guide The COHT Conservation of Historic Thatch Committee Legislation 1964 archived from the original on 2012 01 11 Andrews Charles Mclean Andrews Evangeline Walker eds 1981 1945 Jonathan Dickinson s Journal or God s Protecting Providence Being the Narrative of a Journey from Port Royal in Jamaica to Philadelphia between August 23 1696 to April 1 1697 Florida Classics Library reprint ed New Haven Yale University Press p 11 Pierce Charles W 1970 Pioneer Life in Southeast Florida Miami University of Miami Press pp 53 4 ISBN 0 87024 163 X Thatching from the Bayleaf Palm of Belize Palomar archived from the original on June 8 2007 retrieved June 4 2007 Thatch UK HCT archived from the original on 2012 01 11 The Thatch amp Thatching UK The East Anglia Master Thatchers Association archived from the original on 2011 08 31 Thatching Advisory Service Archived from the original on 25 December 2012 Retrieved 10 March 2013 Florilegium urbanum Physical fabric Regulations for building construction and fire safety users trytel com Archived from the original on 26 October 2017 Retrieved 6 May 2018 Letts John Unpublished photos and sample records Winter Japan at its Best Addicted to Travel Archived from the original on 28 March 2012 Retrieved 7 September 2011 Walker B McGregor C amp Stark G 1996 Thatches and Thatching Techniques A guide to conserving Scottish Thatching Traditions Edinburgh Historic Scotland Technical Advice Note 4 Holden T G 2010 Thatch in Jenkins M ed The Traditional Building Materials of Scotland Building Scotland Celebrating Scotland s Traditional Buildings Materials Historic Scotland Holden T G 1998 The Archaeology of Scottish Thatch Edinburgh Historic Scotland Technical Advice Note 13 Holden T G 2012 Moirlanich Longhouse Killin Changing techniques in thatching Vernacular Building 35 39 47 Holden T G and Walker B 2013 Sunnybrae Cottage Pitlochry Edinburgh Historic Scotland Research report Bibliography EditLetts John 2000 1999 Smoke Blackened Thatch a unique source of late medieval plant remains from Southern England Reading amp London University of Reading and English Heritage Further reading EditCox Jo and Thorp John R L 2001 Devon Thatch An Illustrated History of Thatching and Thatched Buildings in Devon Tiverton Devon Books ISBN 9781855227972 William Eurwyn 2010 Chapter 5 Roofs The Welsh Cottage Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales pp 145 203 ISBN 978 1 871184 426 External links EditThe Thatcher s Craft UK Battley Brothers Limited archived from the original on 2015 05 01 Thatching in West Europe from Asturias to Iceland Research Award Europa nostra 2011 archived from the original on 2011 08 15 Thatching with Green Broom in Spain Thatch archived from the original on 2011 09 28 retrieved 2011 09 23 Devon County Council 2003 Thatch in Devon Archived 2016 03 04 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Thatching amp oldid 1091891025, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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