What are thatched roofs made of?

What are thatched roofs made of?

Generally, thatched roofs are made from one of three types of materials; either water reed, combed wheat reed or straw. There are other types of thatching materials such as palm, heather and rushes, however these are less common. Each method varies in application, style and longevity, however, each material is known for being an environmentally friendly alternative to other roofing methods.

Thatch Roof Materials

All thatched roof materials have their own benefits and uses. One of the most enduringly popular thatched roof materials is reed. Reed tends to be the most durable material and reed thatched roofs have a lifespan of 25-40 years. Another popular thatched roof material is straw. Straw roofs are one of the trademark characteristics of rural British structures. They have a shaggy and attractive appearance and tend to last around 15-20 years. 


Straw roof thatches have long been a traditional feature of rural British constructions, owing to the abundance of the material. Dating back to the Bronze Age in Britain, straw roofs have a shaggy and picturesque appearance. As well as being attractive and enduringly popular, straw roofs have a number of advantages. They’re waterproof and offer protection and insulation against winter weather conditions. Straw roofs also provide ventilation and UV protection during the summer months. As a natural and sustainable building material, straw roofs are environmentally sound.

Straw is a fairly durable natural thatching material. On average, straw roofs have a lifespan of 15-20 years. If properly cared for, and in the right conditions, straw roofs can survive for over 45 years.


At Simply Thatch, we offer a complete reed roof thatching service. Reed roofs have been popular in the UK and across Europe for centuries, owing to the ready availability of reed. Any location with a reed bed around a river is a resource for thatching reed roofs. The historic prominence of reed roofs lends reed roof thatches a rustic and attractive appearance associated with fairy-tale cottages.  As well as being sustainable and waterproof, reed roof thatching has a number of benefits. Reed roofs are durable and offer insulation from colder weather conditions. Thatched roofs also offer ventilation and UV protection during the summer months. Ultimately reed roofs are incredibly versatile and visually striking, making them an asset to any building.

Reed is also considered to be the most durable of thatching materials.

Heather, Rye Straw, Rush, Palm

These obscure thatching materials are more old-fashioned, but they can actually work just as well as long as you choose experienced thatchers. Contact us if you want to discuss your options, as materials can be difficult to source.

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